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Not Getting Married (By Me)
January 23, 2013
I've reached out several times before but will try again. My fiancé and I will be getting married in October at the EMP Sky Church. We are huge fans and appreciate the work you did to help win marriage rights in Washington State as well as your work creating the It Gets Better Project and your other activism. We would be downright giddy if we could somehow convince you to be the officiant at our wedding. We weren't sure the day would come when this would be legally possible, and we would be honored to have you conduct our ceremony! Please mull it over! We hope to hear from you!
Ian and Obie
I'm sorry about missing your first few e-mails, IAO. I've been busy finishing a book and having the flu and getting married myself, and I haven't been keeping up with the daily deluge of mail. Forgive me for being so hard to reach. (The book is called American Savage, it's really and truly finished, and you can—you must!—preorder it now. Both my flu and my marriage remain unfinished.)
I'm even sorrier to say that I can't do this for you. Marrying someone? That I can do—my husband is so nice, I married his ass twice—but I can't perform marriage ceremonies for other couples. Well, that's not entirely true. I can perform marriage ceremonies, of course, it's not like there's some sort of restraining order that prevents me from getting ordained online like everyone else. And years ago, I did marry a few couples. It's just that...
With the exception of one couple—hey there, Sarah and Ben!—all of the people I married back when I did that sort of thing were strangers. And it felt deeply weird to be marrying people that I didn't know personally. And those feelings were particularly acute when I married a couple that, based on first impressions alone, I didn't think should be dating, much less marrying. So I let my online ordination expire and got out of the marrying business.
So thank you for asking, IAO, and a big thank you to all the other couples that have asked me. I appreciate being thought of—I really do—even if I have to politely decline. But you're not going to come away from this column empty-handed. Here, in no particular order, are a few getting married dos and don'ts courtesy of your married friend Dan. They apply equally to straight and gay weddings.
1. Don't ask me to officiate. I just wanted to emphasize that point. While I love weddings—and while I always cry at weddings—I have no interest in officiating at the weddings of strangers. Or people I know. Or anyone. If I know you, I'll come to your wedding and drink your booze and eat your cake and cry on cue. If I don't know you, I don't even want to come to your wedding. I'm sure you're all lovely couples, but you'll have to find someone else to drink your booze, eat your cake, and cry at your wedding.
2. Do not have a destination wedding. Expecting your friends and relatives to show up at your wedding with a gift? That's reasonable. Expecting your friends and relatives to burn through their vacation time and spend thousands of dollars they don't have in order to show up at your wedding on a beach in Hawaii or in a castle in Spain with a gift is the height of assholery. If you can't afford to fly your friends and family to Hawaii or to that castle in Spain, and you can't afford to put them up, you can't afford a destination wedding.
3. Do not go into debt to pay for a wedding.
4. Don't ask for money from your parents unless you're cool with your parents having opinions about what your wedding should look like, where it should be held, who should be invited, what food should be served, and on and on.
5. Fuck first. Trust me: At the end of your wedding day—after the wedding, after the reception—you'll be too physically and emotionally drained to fuck each other. If you don't fuck first, i.e., before the ceremony, you might not fuck at all on your wedding day, and then you'll have to worry about What It Means that you didn't fuck on your wedding day. Or, worse yet, you'll force yourselves to fuck on your wedding night, despite your exhaustion and all the food in your stomach, and the sex will be rote, hurried, and passionless. There will be plenty of time for passionless fucking—going-through-the-motions fucks, let's-get-this-over-with fucks—after you have kids or you're sick of each other, whichever comes first. Fuck first and you can fall into bed together without any pressure or expectations—and if you have the energy to fuck again, well, that's great. You get a nice little bonus fuck.
6. Don't stress out about shit that goes wrong. People love wedding disasters. Perfect weddings are perfectly forgettable. Disastrous weddings are delightfully memorable.
7. And, finally, one "do" specifically for same-sex couples: Set a good example for the straight people. I loved what the Very Rev. Gary Hall told NPR about his decision to open Washington National Cathedral to same-sex weddings: "One of the things I think that same-sex marriage has to teach straight people is about the possibility of a totally equal and mutual relationship," Reverend Hall said. "Handing the bride over to the groom: The vows in the prayer book, up until 1928, were love, honor, and obey for the woman. As much as we've tried to revise our marriage service to make everything equal and mutual, it still has with it some connotations and vestiges of premodern ways of understanding male-female relationships. I think one of the ways in which gay and lesbian couples really can teach something to straight couples is the way in which they hold up the possibility of an absolute equality and mutuality in marriage."
As same-sex couples, you get to make up the rules. You get to write your own sexual and social contract, and your ceremony can reflect that.
That's all I got. I'm sure other folks will have plenty of advice for the about-to-marry. Share 'em in comments.
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