Photos by Stu BayerThe offbeat bride: Karen, Therapist focusing on unstructured play and anger management
Her offbeat partner: Jennifer, Program Manager at a medical school and Doctoral student
Date and location of wedding: Village Hall, Dobbs Ferry, New York — March 17, 2012
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Our plan was a quiet and simple civil ceremony at the Village Hall in the small town where we live. This plan was hijacked by our amazing friends and neighbors. As we crested the hill to turn into the parking lot, we saw a giant rainbow balloon arch in front of the Village Hall entranceway. We were greeted by the local press who were there to cover the first gay wedding ceremony to be held in our town. Amidst the flash bulbs of our own paparazzi, friends and neighbors turned up with their children to be a part of our ceremony.
Our son and his best friend, both eight years old, surprised us with a small string concert — an adorable, sweet and sincere rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” After a short ceremony and the signing of the license, our newly wedded state was heralded by the sound of the fire alarm going off!
Tell us about the ceremony: This ceremony was not just a union of Jenni and I, but a marriage for our family. We are a complete unit, and our son refers to the wedding as “Our Wedding.” He was an integral part in my proposal to Jenni, and when we presented her with the ring, it was he that asked “Will you marry us?” So on the day of this ceremony, it was fitting that he had just as many friends present at the ceremony as we did.
As we happily exited the building, and about to head out under the immense balloon rainbow arch, all of the children at our ceremony were there blowing soap bubbles, giggling, and playing. It was the most beautiful and exhilarating moment. We were then whisked away for an impromptu lunch and champagne.
Although we are having a traditional Hindu wedding this year, I still wanted to have my religion and culture reflected at this ceremony. On one of our shopping trips for bridal jewelry, we came across a champagne sari that we thought might work well with Jenni's dress. Jenni had this amazing champagne Kate Spade dress with polka dots that her mother had bought her last year at a sidewalk sale in Connecticut. The sari matched Jenni's dress perfectly. I wore the sari with red bangles and a red necklace since red is the traditional bridal color at Hindu weddings.
Our biggest challenge: Our biggest challenge is keeping our family together. I am not an American citizen, and even though same-sex marriages are legal in the state of New York, it does not cover immigration, which is governed by the Federal government. The unstable environment of same-sex marriage makes bi-national unions like ours uncertain.
As a couple we have decided that we will not go quietly. We live our lives very publicly declaring our love and happiness. We have done PSAs for marriage equality, openly discussed with the media what it means to be in a bi-national, same-sex relationship, and we seek out opportunities to discuss our family and our lifestyle. We are overcoming this with the help of thousands of families like us who live every day to the fullest.
My favorite moment: Seeing our son play the violin at our ceremony. Looking into my partner's eyes and holding her hand while the mayor read our vows to us. Seeing the tears of love in our friends' eyes as they listened to the ceremony. Seeing tears of joy in the eyes of strangers who had heard that the first same-sex marriage was happening and turned up to give love and support.
My funniest moment: The mayor came up with a signal to alert our friend that it was time for the rings. His signal was a fist pump which was hilarious coming from this impeccably dressed, masculine man. There's a picture that shows this clearly as well as the giggle fit Jenni and I shared.
Was there anything you were sure was going to be a total disaster that unexpectedly turned out great? We planned a small dinner party for some of our friends later that night, however other friends who heard about the civil ceremony decided to take us out for champagne and lunch. We were worried that lunch would turn into dinner, and our guests who were coming from the city would be lost and we would not have time to get ready. However, lunch was great, and we finished in time to head home and get ready for the party and the new wave of friends. It all worked out and it was one of the best days we've ever had. Great friends, champagne, and loads of laughs.
My advice for Offbeat Brides: Integrate the details of your personal narrative into the day. We are not just two brides, we are a family. It was important to include our son in a meaningful way. Violin is his passion, and we supported him to represent his love for music and our family.
Be intentional. Having our ceremony in the town where we live roots us more strongly in our community. We intentionally chose to get married in the place where we moved, created a home, and built a family. This is the town where our son goes to school, where my partner works, and where we plan to stay.
Be true to who you are. We wanted our culture and heritage to be reflected in our wedding. As an Indian, Trinidadian woman, I chose to wear a sari. Although we live in a town where there are few women wearing saris, I wanted to represent my family, country, and culture through traditional dress. Jenni feels a connection with the 1950s and its focus on femininity, curves, and flare. For Jenni, showcasing her queer, femme fabulousness was a representation of her community.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Jenni and I learned that we are loved, respected, and supported by our spectacular community. In planning this event, we were met with encouragement and love from complete strangers to our closest friends who worked hard to ensure our day was perfect.
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