I am not a bride

March 5 | Guest post by rorsun1
Wedding Cake Figurines
Photo by laverrue, used under Creative Commons license.
I am not a bride. I am a cisgendered queer man. My partner is not a bride. He is a cisgendered gay man. There is a difference between "queer" and "gay" here, but that's not my focus.

I am not a bride. I don't want to know what dress whatever website or magazine will think is "hot" on me or whatever the "hottest" trend in whatever fashion for brides is because I am not a bride.

I've found the person I want to be with forever and it's almost as if we don't exist.

When we bought our house, the registries were for a bride and a groom. But I am not a bride. He is not a bride. We are neither brides. I loathe the idea of registering again because I don't want to have to tell people to "play around in the search" to find one of us in the wrong category. Macy's and Pier One and Crate and Barrel and Target don't understand that their registries are available in places where gay people get married.

I don't want to have to come out over and over and over again to gift registry associates in stores, to suffer through confused and judging looks simply because I'm not in some glorious mold of who should be married. Because I may decorate, but I'm also a black belt. Because he's a cook, but also handles the power tools. Because we're both neither the femme nor the butch. Because we're us and delightfully both and neither of these things. Because I don't want to have to answer to who's the Bride and who's the Groom. Because I don't want this world that I've entered into to be a square hole to my round peg.

I don't want the softs and pastels and the feminine. That is neither of us. I don't want to be typecast as the Bride because I want to do the decorating and have a vision of what I want.

I don't want to have to go through extra effort to find a photographer who will be able to deal with not having a bride to pose as she's picked up by her husband, or a dress to photograph, or a "trash the dress" session because there is no dress.

And I simply don't understand why it's still stuck like this. Because it's been eight years, EIGHT, since gay marriage became legal in my state of Massachusetts. Because, since then, five more states and DC have joined us. Because other states will be joining us in the next year. Because it's time for it to change. This whole complex, this whole industry, this whole idea of who gets married, who does the planning and who should care about it, needs to change. Because I'm just one couple in a long line of couples who don't fit the mold, even if they are heterosexual.

And I don't understand why, in a field which is stereotypically dominated by gay men in business (fashion, design, food, planning), that there is no inkling that inclusiveness should be something sought for and done quickly instead of dragged out and done hesitantly. Why there isn't a push to change everything to reflect how it is now.

I look at these wedding photographers, which is where I am now in the process, and I'm trying to suss out if they're LGBT-friendly through the pictures they take. Does their emphasis on the bride mean the photographers find the men to be unimportant? Does the lack of LGBT couples even in the background mean that they are avoiding those couples to "beautify" the shot? Does a lack of inclusiveness in the statement on the website mean that they would rather not work with LGBT couples?

And then I have moments where I say to myself, if they don't support LGBT couples, they're not worth it. They'll find they'll lose business. I'll find a business which does support me and what I'm doing. Not on the philosophical "everyone should be married to whomever they wish" level, but on the "I would be honored and love to shoot your wedding! You're such a gorgeous and happy couple!" level.

But I read about these businesses that refuse LGBT business based on their religious leanings. I hear about these horror stories of typical couples finding the right vendor. And I freak out.

I become overwhelmed with fear. I stop looking. I eat some ice cream. I play some MarioKart. I relax my pain away with stupid frivolities until I have to open it all up again later, only to have the same thoughts, anxieties, and pressures.

Rejecting all the Bride-related propaganda is easy because it's not my propaganda. You see, I'm not a bride.

I'm not a bride, and that seems to be my problem all along.

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  1. I was actually thinking about this earlier today. We are planning a queer wedding and both identify as women. We have gotten some interesting responses along the lines of, "Oh, it must be TWICE the fun because you're marrying your best friend! Two brides! Two dresses! Two giving-aways!" Of course we are having fun, but it's disconcerting to have people assume that just because we identify as and appear to be women we are both hoping to be "traditional brides." I was wondering how two people appearing as males would be treated, and later found your post.

    Thanks for writing this. I appreciate your perspective and wish you and your loved one the best. Also thanks to everyone for the thoughtful comments. We are just starting to look at vendors and the tips are helpful.

    • I found that the vendors were the really most stessful part of everything. We've gotten them *all* settled, and we've even registered a couple place, too.

      I would say that the hardest thing would be making sure that your vendors treat you like any other couple in the sense that there are things you will and will not want to do. Being boxed in by anyone's expectations is frustrating — even more so since wedding traditions are based on such deeply entrenched gender expectations.

      Many of the people on OBB have been REALLY REALLY great at explaining why they've kept or discarded the traditions involved and so long as you work with people who respect your autonomy (no matter how you are gendered as a couple), it is a great relief because you have people to work *with* instead of just to tolerate.

  2. Thank you for saying what needs to be said. If only it could be heard by so many more.

  3. First, wonderful article. I know a lot of men that relate and would be happy to read this, so I'm passing it along.

    I'm not sure if anyone has recommended this yet, but have you sought out a local LGBT Community Center? The one in Dallas has recommendations on venues and people to get into contact with when it come to LGBTQUIA-Friendly companies. Good luck to you and your partner!

  4. Wow! What an awesome article! I have been getting really frustrated as I prepare for my wedding. It seems I have the opposite problem however; too many brides! Everyone is either accusing me of not allowing my partner to wear a dress (if she wanted to wear a dress she would!!) OR assuming she is the groom because she does not want to wear a dress. If I protest that there is not a groom in this wedding then I get ridiculed because she is not wearing a dress so clearly she is the groom. Umm what?? Bride + bride = legitimate marriage, why is this so hard? Just because I have no groom and you have no bride does NOT make our weddings any less valid! I hate how even people who are allies still want to make one of us the "girl" and one of us the "boy." If I wanted to have a groom I would be marrying someone who identified that way! She gets to wear a tux and still identify as a woman, just saying!

  5. So lets all contact these companies and ask them to add groom/groom bride/bride options! I will call and email today! Then we can support the companies that do! Ill work on gathering this info to make it easy for everyone!

    The wedding Coordinator,
    Jeri Fain

  6. Change takes time. Eight years may seem like a long time since the law changed in Mass, but the cultural shift on the grand scale is still very new. Change in general attitudes and lexicon does not change with one or two states changing laws, it has to be on a larger scale, and that is happening right now. While there will always be a contingent of the population opposed, the rest just need to learns what language is appropriate, and that takes patience, and time, and communication on everyone's part. The general public's attitude change in regard to gender roles and orientation has probably been the most rapid cultural change we have experienced in a century. The change is happening so fast many people do not even know how to communicate about it. Most people are not hateful, but just need to learn new appropriate ways of thinking and communicating, especially when marketing services in an industry that is just beginning to even have interactions with couples other than straight men and women. More essays like this will help, but what will really help is not stereotyping or addressing others that need to learn HOW to change with anger or hostility. The wedding industry is not dominated by gay men, despite the stereotype mentioned in this article. There are people from all walks of life, straight, gay, married, single, young, old, suburban, urban, conservative, liberal, and every nationality and cultural background that exists. It is a very diverse industry, despite what you see in most of the traditional magazines. In every state, the wedding industry in particular has had many of the small businesses owners pressure local legislatures to move forward with marriage equality laws. The examples of bigots that refuse service to couples get the headlines, but you never hear about the many wedding industry professionals across the country who call their state reps offices, rent busses to go to state capitals, hold posters to vocalize and meet with state representatives, formed supportive organizations for marriage equality rights and gay wedding resources, and in various ways are regularly pressuring politicians to treat everyone equal under the law. Photographers that have been submitting gay civil unions to magazines and blogs for a long time are just now starting to see them published more regularly in some places. For the major retail stores, Target had one of the first same-sex wedding ads long before most states even began debating marriage equality laws. Change takes time with grassroots efforts by diverse people. So does developing new vocabulary and appropriate language in the wedding industry lexicon will as well. It will take all of the different couples that exist to help the industry learn. For the most part, the overwhelming majority of the wedding industry is ready and willing to learn, but it helps a lot when it can be done in a non-hostile manner. Businesses that have had systems and documents and contracts and everything else to serve "brides and grooms" for years, and in some cases decades, are working on updating everything in their system, but it is not going to happen overnight and mistakes will be made. Is it realistic to expect an entire industry that has basically been calling their clients "brides" for over a century to change so quickly? It is an ingrained habit for the most part, and changing the words you use in your work every day for years and decades takes time to change the routine. The first bump everyone is experiencing is that gay weddings cannot be marketed and sold to couples the exact same way as traditional straight weddings. The services and needs are in fact different. It is okay that they are different, but a lot of the industry is afraid of marketing things different because they are worried about offending out of ignorance, because they need to develop marketing language that is appealing to all types of wedding couples, but with services that specifically appeal to different types of clients. They are worried about being inadvertently offensive if they do it wrong, so they revert to their older models and try to just change the words, but wait that does not work either because gay couples service preferences are actually often very different than straight couples preferences. There is a lot to learn, the industry for the most part is learning. The people who work in this industry are humans, so there will be bumps along the way as change happens. Change takes time, help, patience and communication.

  7. I feel for you and the struggles you have planning a wedding.

    I'm a wedding photographer in Texas and I'm LGBT friendly. One of my weddings from last year, Andy and Doug, was published here on off beat bride.

    I think there is sooooi much emotion and support at lgbt weddings that vendors who don't participate are missing out on such a wonderful experience.

    Know you are paving the way for future generations and they you are making a difference. Just like those that fought 60 years ago for blacks and whites to marry. There will be bumps but you aren't alone 🙂

    And congrats on your upcoming marriage.

  8. This is heart wrenching. It's really sad that couples have struggles with such things when this is supposed to be the happiest day in their life and a celebration. It's an obstacle that traditional bride and grooms would take action against if companies discriminated against them and made their wedding day so hard with the lack of availability. I'm praying for you that you find open hearted people to help you in your wedding planning and that you are surrounded by people who accept and love you on your big day. It's so important that your day is shared with people who will rejoice along with you. Thank you Off Beat for all you do to inspire and encourage all couples regardless of gender.

  9. I was pretty certain about my wedding photographer.

    Then he posted the most beautiful engagement photos of this stunning lesbian couple. And then their wedding photos. I'm in a cis/hetero relationship, but the two of us really care about that kind of stuff and to see how inclusive he was made us so happy.

  10. Dear RORSUN1 ,

    I cannot thank you enough for this post! I especially love the bit about wedding photography (which is what I do). To say I am disgusted with the prejudices and bigotry in this nation would be an understatement.

    I have not yet had the honor of photographing a gay wedding, but hopefully I will be given the chance soon. Too many times I have seen egregious posing and story telling done in the photography of gay weddings… These ceremonies are not and should not be treated in the same manner as straight weddings. Photographers should not put one partner in as the bride and one in as the groom just because they do not know an alternative way of doing things.

    A gay couple should never have to "come out" over and over again in retail stores they register in or in interviewing photographers. It should just NOT be a thing! A couple in love is a couple in love. The end.

    I wish you luck in your search for a competent wedding photographer and I sincerely hope they tell your story. I hope you find someone with the confidence and aptitude for photographing ANY couple in love.

    Best of Luck!

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