The Offbeat Groom: Scott (Tribe member)
His offbeat partner: Wes
Date and location of wedding: Duke's Malibu, Los Angeles, CA — September 26, 2013
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Since we live in New Mexico, where marriage equality is still up in the air, we initially planned to elope to California and have a private civil ceremony. But after reflection, we decided that our wedding day would be better for us if it were shared with friends and family. Luckily, Wes' sister Carrie is a professional event planner and her gift to us was a wedding venue and reception that was just what we'd hoped for.
We kept the guest list small (fewer than 15 guests were invited) because lingering effects of the stroke Wes had three years ago makes him tire easily, especially when he has to deal with lots of people. Plus, I'm an introvert who doesn't enjoy large groups of people. We also wanted something elegant and low-key, where guests would feel comfortable and welcomed. Our ceremony and luncheon reception took place in the same venue, Duke's Malibu, a seaside restaurant which has been the site of many happy family gatherings.
Tell us about the ceremony:
Both Wes' mom and my mom carried a sixpence in one of their shoes for their weddings and both sets of parents had long, happy marriages. In honor of this shared family tradition, I ordered cufflinks for Wes and I to wear that were made from sixpences from the years we each were born.
We had both a scripture reading (John 15: 9-12) and a secular reading, from Robert Fulghum's From Beginning to End:
You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making promises and agreements in an informal way. All those conversations that were held riding in a car or over a meal or during long walks — all those sentences that began with “When we're married” and continued with “I will and you will and we will” — those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” — and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding. The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things we've promised and hoped and dreamed — well, I meant it all, every word.” Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another — acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, partner, and even teacher, for you have learned much from one another in these last few years. Now you shall say a few words that take you across a threshold of life, and things will never quite be the same between you. For after these vows, you shall say to the world, this is my husband.
Our biggest challenge:
Probably the biggest challenge of our wedding was the travel to and from Los Angeles. We've never traveled by air since Wes' stroke, preferring instead to take a train. But for this trip, the cost of round-trip tickets and an accessible compartment on the train was equal to round-trip airfare and four nights in an accessible room at a really nice hotel. Since our budget wasn't unlimited, and it was quicker travel, we opted for flying.
I was really worried about all the medical supplies plus the baggage, but I found that our airline and the TSA were really helpful when you contact them a few days prior to your scheduled travel. They noted on Wes' boarding passes the kind of assistance we needed and both airport and TSA staff helped with the wheelchair, both through the airports and while boarding and exiting our flights. Without our request, when I checked in with the gate agent in Los Angeles she even bumped us up to the front row in the aircraft so that Wes wouldn't have to walk far after checking his wheelchair at the end of the jetway. Our travel ended up being far easier than I'd feared.
My favorite moment:
After the original officiant we'd booked canceled less than two weeks before our wedding day, we were very fortunate to find Father Geoff Farrow to officiate. He is a Catholic priest who was suspended from his parish in 2008 after he publicly spoke out from his pulpit against Proposition 8 and in favor of equality for gay people. He was subsequently commended for his advocacy on behalf of LGBT people by the City of West Hollywood in 2008 and the California Legislative Assembly in 2009. In 2010 he was arrested for chaining himself to the gates of the White House to protest the USA's then-ban on gays openly serving in the military. Having Fr. Geoff as our officiant was an unexpected and unplanned blessing for us.
Wes says the most meaningful moments for him were gazing into each others' eyes immediately after exchanging rings and the first bite after cutting the wedding cake. For me, one was making Wes' sister nearly cry when she pinned on my boutonniere and I said, “Thanks, Sis!” She later told me that although I'd been calling her “Sis” for years, this was the first time she realized we were about to have our familial relationship “official.” My most meaningful moment was looking into Wes' eyes as I was making my vows to him.
My funniest moment:
There was a bit of snafu during the ceremony with our ring exchange — we all nearly forgot about it! But, after a tiny moment of confusion, it was sorted out and the rings were on our fingers. In retrospect, we both like that there was that little blip in our ceremony. It reflects how our life together often goes: a tiny bit out of order. After we were pronounced married and then kissed, Wes turned to our guests with hands held wide and low and an expression on his face like he was saying “Ta da!” We were just both so giddy that the joy was palpable to everyone!
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?
- Photography: American Dream Camera
- Officiant: Father Geoff Farrow
- Venue: Duke's Malibu
- Cake: Vanilla Bake Shop
- Rings: Reflective Images
- Suits : Suits Unlimited
- Favors: Beau Coup
- Limo service: Excelsior Limousine
- Hotel: Hotel Wilshire
- Event planning: CE Travel Services
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!