A few of our guests’ lips turned blue, my fingers were frozen and I could barely sign the marriage certificate, but apart from these minor details, it was a wonderful ceremony. We exchanged vows and rings before 50 of our friends and family from Australia, Canada and the UK.
We had an excellent reception afterwards with a few short and touching speeches, a great meal (including freshly prepared crepes and waffles), plenty of chats and lots of dancing (imagine 15 people on the dancefloor singing “Let It Go” from Frozen. It was a religious experience.).
All too quickly the night was over, and in the days following, family and friends returned home across the sea.
Looking back over the wedding, I’m reminded of how our wedding differed from that of a heterosexual couple. Sure, no two weddings are quite the same, but with a straight wedding, there’s generally some standard protocol. There’s also a bunch of language that’s used that doesn’t apply when it’s two guys getting hitched.
Let’s take ‘bridal party’ for instance. Surprise, surprise, there was no bride at our wedding, hence no bridal party. When talking to people about it, we kept stumbling over it, replacing it with ‘wedding party’, until finally we decided to have neither and save ourselves the hassle.
Or there’s ‘I now pronounce you man and wife.’ It’s very traditional, it’s also a nice wrap-up to the ceremony. ‘I now pronounce you husband and husband’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it to me. (I think this is actually what the celebrant said but I can’t remember exactly. I’ll have to watch the tape.)
And finally, at the reception, the introduction of the happy couple, which is usually, ‘Mr and Mrs Flimflam.’ Neither Glen or I took the other’s name so announcing the ‘happy couple’ was a much better compromise.
That’s just a few of the language hurdles to clear. Then there’s the other traditions in a Western straight wedding to negotiate, like the photographs.
Actually, this ended up working much better in our favour. I’ve been on a couple of wedding parties where the bride and bridesmaids spend a couple of hours getting their hair and make-up done. Meanwhile the photographer takes a bunch of photos that will never be looked at again.
Glen and I got dressed in about 15 minutes and then stood around waiting for the cars to arrive. The photographer was just there to take photos of the ceremony, the family and friends afterwards, us, and then a bit of the reception. So much easier.
When it came to walking down the aisle, we’d hummed and hawed a bit about it. We knew we were coming down through grapevines together and would then go to the back of the audience before walking up the aisle.
Initially we were going to walk each other down the aisle, but then at the last minute, we roped in a couple of flower kids (a boy and a girl) to proceed ahead of us, and then Glen walked down with his mum, and I walked down with my dad (my mum having passed away a few years before). Now that felt really different, but worked for what we had planned.
The rest of the ceremony and the photos after continued on as much as you’d expect, and the reception was largely gender-neutral, except for the ‘First Dance.’ We opted out of having a first dance, preferring to avoid a spectacle.
We did, however, get a lot of questions from people asking if we’d organised a choreographed dance a la flashmob-style that seems so popular at weddings these days. Being gay I think there was an expectation.
We toyed with the idea a few weeks before the wedding but then realised we were short an officiant and Glen’s ring was made incorrectly (he’s got the right one now), and we didn’t need the added stress.
Even though we had to often do a double-take when it came to organising a wedding along cliché lines, I actually found it worthwhile. It made us consider every aspect and align everything with who we are individually and as a couple.
As a result, our guests gave us great compliments on the wedding, saying how much fun they’d had, and how many tears they’d shed. That, combined with now being legally wed to my beloved, made it one of the happiest days of my life.
Now, Australia, get your shit together so our marriage can be recognised when we come home. Thanks.