Last week I got to share some super exciting news – that Anne and I will be one of two couples getting officially, legally, 4realz married in NYC on 8/25 at the Yay! NY event hosted by A Practical Wedding and Lowe House Designs, to benefit Lambda Legal (be sure to get your tickets if you’re in the area!). Our immediate families are both going to be able to make it, I found a cute dress, we’re going to NY next week to apply for our marriage license. This is all awesome. Really exciting stuff! But…. it has brought with it an interesting set of issues and concerns, which were touched on by Michael’s post this week about his is-legal-more-legitimate wedding coming up shortly. Just as he has struggled with the idea of whether his wedding to his partner is made more or less “real” in the eyes of themselves, their friends, and their families now that it will be legal in their home state, Anne and I keep coming back to whether our legal wedding on 8/25 makes our “real” wedding on 9/25 more or less real? We’ve been afraid that the legal wedding will somehow detract from our ceremony in September. Or that our legal wedding doesn’t really count since we don’t live in NY and won’t really benefit from any of the legal rights we’d be otherwise granted in that state. And, I’ve feared that means in some way the NY legal wedding isn’t really real, because those rights won’t be recognized in our home state or 40+ other states in this country. What’s real about a piece of paper that’s only good within state lines? What’s real about a wedding that comes a month after we’ve signed on the dotted line? And does having more than one wedding take away from either, or add to both?
We’ve made some choices to help us distinguish the two events, philosophically and logistically. We decided only to invite immediate family to NY, and rather than write any personal vows or select meaningful readings we plan to stick to the bare bones legal wedding ceremony. In PA, we are inviting lots of friends and family and plan to craft a very personalized, sentimental ceremony that serves as our promises to each other. Both will be celebratory in their own ways – NY will mean cake and champagne on a terrace, a nice dinner with our families, and then a dance party with a bunch of strangers, while our PA wedding is going to be filled with the love of all of our families and friends, eating, drinking, dancing, and spending time together. Both mark a major commitment to a life together. But this is where it gets tricky – our NY wedding will be legally binding, and come with paperwork and notaries, made real by that marriage certificate stamped by some clerk in a strange city hall, made real because some people who never met us put it to a vote. And when we get married in PA, our wedding will be a symbolic gesture, made real by the witness and loving support of the friends and family who will help us uphold our commitment, made real by our words to each other. So that leaves me wondering – What is it that makes a marriage, and makes it real?
Since I’m still really piecing these thoughts together in my head, I thought I’d open this up for a discussion that we can continue in the coming weeks, while I work on figuring out what a marriage means to me and Anne. I would love for you to comment and engage each other in this discussion, single, engaged, married, divorced, whatever. What makes a marriage? What role does legality play in marriage in general, and for you specifically? Do your thoughts change when you think of the population at large vs. yourself? Would your thoughts change if you were or were not in a state that honors marriage equality? Where does religion fit? Family? Children? What does a wedding have to do with marriage? How have you decided that marriage (and/or a wedding) is/is not the right choice for you?
So, have at it in the comments. Please be respectful of what are bound to be varied opinions on the matter. But be thoughtful and honest, because that’s when I think we can learn and grow the most from our interactions with each other.