Thursday, June 27, 2013

What makes a marriage “real”?

In light of this morning's news, I have been glued to the television all.day.long and I’ve checked-in to my various social networking sites about a hundred times.  I can’t get enough of the pictures, the stories and interviews on the SCOTUS decision.  I have no doubt that most of you have done the same.  What a joyous day it’s been!

As I’ve followed today’s events, there is one thing I’ve heard and read over and over again from fellow LGBT-ers, and that is, “Now we can really get married”… “I’ve dreamt of the day I could really marry my partner”… “Finally we can have a real wedding”.  Surprisingly, these comments have all come from people who I thought were already married.  These are friends and acquaintances who have had weddings; they’ve worn the white attire, exchanged rings and made that oh-so important commitment to love one another forever.  To be honest, it’s all left me a bit perplexed.  I’m not saying that referring to a legal marriage as a “real” marriage has bothered me necessarily, but it certainly has made me think.  After reading the 6th or 7th comment like this today, I spent the better part of the afternoon reflecting on my own marriage and wedding, asking myself the question, what makes a marriage “real”?  Do you have to be married on paper to really be married, or does a symbolic ceremony count as real?  I know my personal answer to this question and it would appear that my definition of what a real marriage is, differs from many others in the LGBT community.


When I knew that I wanted to marry Georgia, I stopped by my local jeweler and picked out the ring that I had stalked online for weeks.  10 months and 10 payments later, I took the ring home in its little blue box and couldn’t have been more excited.  I had the ring, I had the blessing of G’s parents and I had her 30th birthday trip to San Francisco all planned – or what I now lovingly refer to as our *engagement trip*.  Yes my friends, she said YES!


Following the BIG engagement, our A-mazing friends threw us a semi-formal black and white themed engagement party.  It was beautiful.  From the invitations to the food and decorations, it was more than we could have ever asked for.  They didn’t leave out a thing.


A few months later as a special gift to us, my talented sister, Missy, took our engagement pictures on a sunny day down by the river.  These photographs are framed throughout our home and will forever hold a place in my heart.


Because we were married in another country, we were engaged for a year and a half (we needed lots of planning time)!  Even with our extended engagement, that year and a half went in a flash.  Before either of us knew it, it was already bridal shower and bachelorette party time!


Our bridal shower was hosted by our moms at our favorite local winery.  Aside from the actual wedding, this was my favorite of all our wedding events. Our friend Becca made the most beautiful cake for the shower.  Me and G handmade about a million wine charms for our guests and my 91 year old great grandma gave the most touching toast. We were surrounded by so much LOVE. 


Both G and I celebrated our bachelorette parties in Las Vegas, NV (separately, of course)!  G was in on the planning for hers but mine was a TOTAL surprise!  I was given a scavenger hunt that instructed me to call several family members that I am closest with.  With each call, the person on the other end of the line told me the story of how they met and fell in love with their spouse.  They then told me whom I would need to call next.  When I got to the end of my hunt (totally in tears), I was told to pack my bags because I was joining 10 of my closest friends the next day in Las Vegas.  It was like a bachelorette party out of a movie, tons of friends, surprises everyday, an awesome hotel.  It was seriously amazing!

And this brings us to the BIG DAY!  November 7th, 2009, a day Georgia and I will hold in our hearts for all time.  The weather was beautiful and both brides were surprisingly calm and stress-free.  Joined by 40 of our family and friends, we made the vow to love, honor and remain committed to one another for the rest of our lives. 


All of these wonderful events and that special day on the beach in Mexico will forever be our REAL wedding.  Our ceremony was symbolic and to this day we are legally married in Vancouver BC but not in the US.  Even with this being the case, November 7th, 2009 will forever be our real wedding day.  When gay marriage passes in New Mexico (it’s just a matter of time before it does), we’ll go down to the courthouse and we will legally wed, but there will be no reception to follow and no wedding cake.  For me, for us, our real wedding, our forever wedding took place at sunset in Cabo San Lucas Mexico nearly 4 years ago.  Legal or not, that will always be our wedding day.


I know there is no “right” answer to the question of gay marriage and what constitutes a real marriage.  Some feel it is extremely important to have that piece of paper and others don’t.  What are your thoughts?        

14 comments:

  1. I am with you, the day we exchanged our vows was the day we were "really" married. Although we do have a legal Civil Union license from Vermont we have never resided in a state that recognizes it. I only wish for the legal recognition for our children really, so that they have the security of remaining with Donna in the event something happens to me or to be entitled to survivor benefits if something were to happen to her. We also do not live in a state that allows second parent adoption or for her name to be on their birth certificates.

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    1. I agree, the legal recognition means the world when you're considering the children of same-sex parents. I too think it's important for legal protection reasons and for the legitimacy of knowing their parents are equal to their friends’ parents. I haven't looked into second parent adoption in NM yet because, to be honest, we just can't afford it right now. I think it is legal but I'm not completely sure.

      You should post your wedding pictures! I would love to see them. :)

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    2. Ewe did not have a fancy wedding, we exchanged vows in a more private ceremony at a bed & breakfast/farm in VT. We had the tiniest wedding cake I've ever seen, had dinner at a romantic ski lodge & met up with our closest friends in Cape Cod for the weekend the next day :)
      Our pictures remind me of some kind of 90's throwback, even though it was 2002, lol...

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  2. That wedding was GORGEOUS! What lovely brides you both were :)

    6-7-08 will always be our REAL wedding date too. Although it is not legally binding, it is bound by our hearts. As soon as the decision came down, we both started wondering if/when/where we should go to have a legal ceremony performed, but I purposely avoid the phrase "real wedding" as like you, I look at it like we already did that and it was lovely and perfect...now we just need to do one that the federal government will sign off on ;)

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    1. Thanks Amanda! I always thought it would be so cool to have the wedding date of 6-7-8!

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  3. I think it varies couple to couple. There is no right or wrong answer to that question. Kara and I are both a bit nontraditional in the idea that even if we were in a heterosexual relationship we would have never had a wedding ceremony. So for us it's all about the paperwork. And to be honest were there not any benefits to getting a marriage certificate Kara and I would be just fine with the way things are for us. Even when we do get married we will keep our own last names. We just want as much protection for our family as possible and we live in a state where not only is gay marriage banned in the state constitution but there is no 2nd parent adoption so any protection we can get for the boys is very important to us. In terms of celebrating our relationship we will forever celebrate our anniversary on the day that we went on our first date. It's just what works for us. So again I don't think there is a right or wrong answer to your question.

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    1. I don't think there is a right answer either. I think the thing that was so surprising to me was to see people who had made the decision to have a more traditional type ceremony and later imply that it wasn't "real" because it wasn't legal.

      I totally get where you're coming from with the legal protection aspect. It's horrible that your state not only doesn't allow gay marriage, but they have banned it constitutionally. What assholes. I'm hoping that this recent legislation will spread like wildfire and reach your state eventually!

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  4. What a great celebration! I am totally stealing that 'scavenger hunt' idea for the next bachelorette party I throw! We go back and forth on which was our 'real' wedding--we had a little legal elopement in Boston in July, with just my uncle and two good friends present, and then a big, fluffy, all-out wedding with a minister in Florida in February, which I think most of our relatives think of as the day. I usually go with the Boston one, because it was first and way more emotional, the second felt more like we were renewing our vows and having a party than anything else.
    I'm also sorry about your job--I saw that post just after I saw this one. That sucks. I hope you find something that is as good of a fit for you soon!

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    1. Steal away! It was my friend Anthony's idea and to this day I think it was the most touching and memorable idea for a bride-to-be. I'm with you on the first wedding being the "real" wedding. Our legal marriage ceremony took place on our one year anniversary trip to Vancouver. It consisted of a quick ceremony overlooking the water followed by a picnic and the signing of paperwork. It was special for sure, but not the same as the first. Thank you for the sweet comment regarding my job. Today is my last day and it's been hard so far but I have faith that everything will work out. I hope your little family is doing well. :)

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  5. I love love love this. :)
    I wish I had known you so I could have been invited. lol

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    1. Haha, thanks Stacy. You can always come to our 10 year vow renewal in Cabo (we're half-way there)!

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  6. I completely know where you are coming from with this. Like you, I consider my marriage a "real" marriage even though I live in a state that it is not recognized yet. Les and I were leagally married in MA in 2011 and can't wait for the day that it will be recognized in TN.

    And BTW I loved your story leading up to your Big Day! You two are so lucky to have such amazing supportive families! All the pictures are just amazing and the love just reaches out of those images!

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  7. UPDATE as of September 2013: Same-sex marriage passed in NM and Georgia and I are now LEGALLY married in the United States. Oh happy day. :)

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Thanks so much for keeping up with our little family! We love reading your comments and will get back to you as soon as we can.

K+G+g+w ♥

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