Friday, October 21, 2011


            Most couples now get married around when they turn 30. Or at least, most couples that have the same kind of education, thought processes, and goals as me. I think the idea is that they graduate from college, spend their twenties busting their ass to build a career during the day and go out drinking at night. Their thirties are the time when they settle down and build a family.
            It’s not that I don’t have the desire to build a career. I don’t know exactly what I want that career to be, but I need it to be meaningful and challenging, and quite frankly time consuming. And I want to move across the country, live in a big city, take huge risks, and travel the world.
            I want to do all of those things with Kelly. And I know she’ll encourage every second of it. She genuinely wants me to be everything I want to be.
            I was worried that getting married so young would mean that I’m co-dependent, or that I was stunted by a tough childhood. It seemed like a legitimate fear – I didn’t have the support I needed, so maybe I was trying to find it in a prematurely committed relationship.
            Then I thought about my job. My time in college. My goals. And I realized I don’t NEED Kelly. I love everything about her, but I could function on my own. That’s just not what I want. I want to build a life with her, and adventure with her. I want to work towards common goals, because we want similar things. And it’s going to be FUCKING AWESOME. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Venue

Two major events took place this summer that changed our plans significantly. The first is that I got a job, which means we may actually have funds to have a wedding. It also meant that having a fall wedding is out - we're getting married in the summer, when I have time to actually think about things. The second is that New York legalized gay marriage. I grew up in New York, and 95% of my family still lives there. It makes sense - less people travelling, only one ceremony, and cooler summer weather.

We scheduled a long weekend to look at wedding venues. Because our research here helped us figure out what we want, and because so many places have outstanding web pages, the weekend was just barely enough time. And because we were crazy excited, we booked it.

The Rabbit Room at the Lower Mill

It's an old grist mill

With galleries on the second and third floors (rain plan from the gods)

and a restaurant on the first 

There's also outdoor space, if the weather chooses to cooperate, but I'm having a terrible time finding decent pictures of it. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Venues: The Runners Up

We started looking for venues outside D.C., where we live. The high prices actually helped us figure out what kind of wedding we want to have - we cut out all the extras until we were left with just the core idea of what we wanted.

So, the runner's up:

Our First Runner Up: The Agricultural History Farm Park

Pros: It's an absolutely beautiful setting, surrounded by 400 acres of land. Married in a meadow and then a barn party? Yes please.
Cons:  No kitchen, the closest bathrooms are port-a-potties, and the parking is extremely limited. No rain plan for the outdoor ceremony. Just making this list, I can see my grandmother shaking her head at me.

Our Second Runner Up: The Lodge at Little Seneca Creek

Pros: Sweet log cabin look, small kitchen, indoor bathrooms, plenty of parking
Cons: Houses nearby on either side, limited outdoor space, small. Also, that picture of the outside is of the back - the front is a huge parking lot right off the road. 

The good news: by the time we narrowed it down to these two venues, there was a pretty clear theme. Lots of wood, and some outdoor space. We weren't going to be happy in a hotel lobby - it's just not our style. So when we moved the entire wedding a seven hour drive away, we knew what we were looking for. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Venue Check List

I'm not going to lie. Finding a venue was ROUGH.
We knew what we needed:

  1. Protection, but not total separation from, the elements. We're getting married in August (this is a change from the last time I said a date - more on that later). That means the venue has to be able to keep everyone cool when it is ungodly hot, and that there has to an outstanding rain plan. 
  2. Low fuss. After the laws changed, we decided to get married in Western New York, close to where I grew up. That means we live 7 hours from the place we're getting married. We don't have the resources or the proximity to completely overhaul a building, or even to bring in more than a few of those sweet little crafty projects.  The building has to have good bones. That doesn't mean fancy, or even necessarily pretty. But it has to be easily dressed up (or preferably, not dressed up at all). 
  3. As much included as possible. I know this is a horrible thing to say now, in the time of DIY brides with endless ambition. But when the school year starts, I can't focus on the wedding anymore. That meant we either needed a restaurant with a lot of space and a generous policy about renting the place out, or a really capable caterer who was willing and able to take on a lot of our grunt work. 
  4. Reasonable cost. We're paying for this by ourselves. We are not wealthy people. The end. 

After looking at several places outside D.C., we had a decent idea of the style we liked. Something slightly outdoorsy. Lots of wood. Above all, some place comfortable for our guests. So I took to the internet, and looked up every historic building, art gallery, restaurant, park, and even some schools and public spaces in the  area.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

On the Mediocre Engagement Story

When Bug and I were talking about getting engaged, I had no idea that the wedding blogosphere existed. I didn't know about the Wedding Industrial Complex. I sure as hell didn't know any married (or engaged) gay people. I had looked at the knot, and it made my head spin (has anyone actually finished that checklist? Christ.) As much as it meant I didn't have any support or ideas for inspiration, it also meant I didn't feel any pressure or envy or concern that my proposal wasn't cool enough. And it didn't really matter.

Honestly, giving Bug the ring isn't totally connected to our decision to get married. We were already committed -  we lived together, she had graduated from college and chosen to take a job in the area (and continue living with me, even though her job was an hour and a half away). There were already some serious choices made there. 

We decided to get married gradually. I'm skeptical of lasting love, and I'm not quick to trust, so it felt better to make a decision after serious conversations than it would have to be asked such a huge question without having time to process. So the rings, really, were a formality. It was a way for other people to see that it's not a temporary relationship. And they're shiny and fun.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Proposal

I did not pull off a creative and romantic proposal. If you're looking for pulled heart strings, shocking creativity, and profound discoveries of self, this is not the time or the place.

I didn't even have particularly high proposal aspirations - Bug is not a grand gesture kind of lady. Which is ideal, because I do not have the money, or the support network of sickeningly creative crafters, that a grand gesture requires. So I decided to propose at home - something sweet, intimate, and simple. Make a little dinner, plan a little speech, dazzle the lady with my charm, and get myself a fiancee. 

A week before I was going to propose, Bug got needy. She demanded to know, in excruciating detail, exactly why I loved her. 

"You're adorable."
"You're clever, and sweet."
"You make me a better person."

This went on for about five minutes, and she just wasn't having it. She could not be placated with general (but true!) statements. 

I'm not proud of what happened next, or the reasoning behind it. I gave her my sweet, tender, passionate, and endearing proposal speech a week early, sans proposal. 

Just to get her off my back. 

So now in addition to needing dinner plans, I needed a new speech. 

I knew myself well enough to know not to cook anything crazy the night of the proposal. If it went badly I'd get distracted and throw off the entire plan. And with the level of pressure and nerves riding on the proposal, cooking was going to go badly. So I went simple: crab cakes, a summer pasta salad, and a bottle of white wine. For dessert, some cinnamon sugar biscuits with caramelized peaches. Served on our balcony at sunset, it would be delicious summer time perfection. 

So I waited. The day of, J took me shopping for ingredients. I cooked, put on my fanciest dress, set up the balcony, and waited for Bug to get home from work. 

When she got home, she immediately vetoed the balcony dinner. It was too hot. I pressed a little, but she wasn't having it. So we compromised - dinner inside, dessert outside when it cooled down. Not ideal, but livable. I don't remember anything at all from that dinner. At some point we must have finished eating and cleared the plates, because I managed to get her onto the balcony for dessert. She even closed her eyes. 

So I pulled the dessert plates together, put her ring right on the plate, and brought them outside. I told her to open her eyes, and she saw the ring on her plate. 


I froze. After I gave her my proposal speech the week earlier, I couldn't come up with anything that sounded halfway decent. So I kind of didn't rewrite the speech.  I just said the first thing I thought of: 

"I was hoping you'd marry me." 

She said yes. And then we called our friends, and they came over and we all talked and laughed and drank champagne out of solo cups. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hells yes!

Marriage equality was legalized in New York on Friday night. It seems appropriate to celebrate it during Pride week, one day from the Stonewall anniversary. My grandparents sent me text message updates because they were watching the state senate vote. And now I have the option to be married where I grew up, where my family lives.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Her Ring

Finding Bug's ring was painless. She knew she wanted a channel set diamond band. It works perfectly for her - shiny, pretty, but practical and not too girly.

So I took to the internet to find one I could afford.


I got it delivered to the apartment - it's a little terrifying to have something so expensive shipped. But it got to me, and I hid it away while I tried to figure out how to propose.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Chosen Family

I feel like I should explain why I decided to propose. And there's a specific reason that it felt right. 

The scariest thing about Bug was how easy it was to fall in love with her. After a month, I was done for.

But it takes more than love to make a marriage work. So I started asking myself the bigger questions. Do our career goals line up? Do we have similar views on finances? Will she love me even though I’m an intolerable control freak? Can she tolerate my extensive collection of cover songs? Or the way I charge after my goals like a deranged bull?

And every time, the answer was yes. She stayed up late with me at night so that I had company when I was finishing my work. She vacuums when I ask, and doesn’t get mad when I vacuum again right after her. She sings along to songs when I play them on repeat for months at a time. She moves every year so I can be closer to school or work.

No matter what she did, I still didn’t believe that we could actually last long term. And that’s because there’s one big question left on those “life partner” checklists: Do you want to make this person part of your family?

And I didn’t. Families are not supposed to break. Divorce happens, but the general rules of polite society say parents are supposed to pull it together, “for the kids.” Mine didn’t.  The people who were supposed to be there for me, no matter what, hurt me worse than I ever imagined possible –and they did it repeatedly. I ended up angry, jaded, and fiercely independent.  

When I was in high school, I met an amazing group of people. The group started out pretty small, but it kept growing. By the time we were getting ready to leave for college, there were seventeen of us. And there was something about that group of people, and about the fierceness of adolescent friendship, that makes you feel like people really understand and love you for the first time in your life. Some of us had shaky home lives, but most of us really didn’t. A lot of my friends from high school have amazing parents, who were supportive and were only marginally annoyed to have a large group of teenagers in their basements until 4 am, three nights in a row. We’re in our twenties now, and we still do that. And they still don’t get mad. (Thank you, and also, I’m sorry for any strained relationships you may now have with your neighbors).

So the night that I realized I was in love with Bug, I kicked her out of my dorm room and ran straight to the computer. I found a friend online, and I told her I was in love. And then I freaked out. This was not a tender admission, it was not a sweet and adoring gushfest. I panicked. When I finished telling my friend the ways in which this was terrifying and overall the worst thing that could possibly happen, she paused. “Marabear. This actually sounds like a really good thing.”

There’s a tradition in the gay community of developing a “chosen family.” There was a time when very few gay kids could tell their parents that they were gay, and still expect their love and support. For too many kids, that’s still the case. So gay teens and young adults moved away to big cities. When they got there, they found people who were like them, and people who accepted them, and supported them unconditionally. They developed such strong friendships that they realized they had basically remade their family structure. These lifelong friends became their chosen family.

My family certainly didn’t kick me out for being gay. But it was shaky enough that I did start to supplement it with people that I chose to love – and people that loved me. I could make my family look like I wanted it to – use the really good parts that I had, like brothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles – and then add new people as I went. Friends from high school and college, teachers, students – they’re all part of my family now.

Forty-five of the Fifty states in the U.S. won’t recognize Bug and I as being legally married. But I can still ask her to be a part of what I’ve made with the rest of my family, whether they’re blood or chosen. I’m also asking her to start a new family with me. So if she’ll take me, along with all the people I’ve gathered up in the past twenty-two years, I’d like to marry her. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

An Interruption

Reality kind of kicked our proposal plans in their overly optimistic faces.

Before Bug's brother-in-law proposed to her sister, he asked her parents for permission. Everyone hugged and cried and tried not to ruin the surprise while they waited for him to ask. Bug craved the same kind of moment, but there were some problems with it. My dad hasn't been a part of my life since I was 15, and my mother's fiancĂ©, whom no one particularly liked, had just died. I have three brothers who would be good candidates, if Bug's first interaction with my older brother hadn't gone as follows:

We enter my mother's apartment the first weekend my family is meeting Bug. My brother walked in from the laundry room, wearing boxer briefs. Only boxer briefs. 

Brother *glances down*: Ah. Well, try to stay a lesbian. 

So instead of asking my family for permission, Bug decided to just tell her family what the plan was. I'll gloss over the more painful details, but her parents asked her not to propose.  For Bug, this was absolutely game over. She called me immediately after she got of the phone with her family, crying and heartbroken. I was furious, and the more I thought everything through, the angrier I got.

So I decided to do the proposing myself.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Ring Hunt

About a year and a half after Bug and I started dating, we started talking about getting married. Not in the "lets run to city hall" sense, but in the "I really think this might last" way. I am unreasonably picky, so Bug asked me to come up with some examples of things that I would like.* 

Engagement rings were an entirely new concept to me. I never imagined myself getting married when I was little - pin in on whatever you'd like, be it parent issues, body image trouble, an inability to accept myself as gay - but I just didn't think it would happen. So I was starting from nothing. I was just faintly aware that I wanted something different. At first, I interpreted different as "dripping in diamonds." 

When I showed Bug, she went a little crazy in the eyes and stayed  silent. 
Bug gently suggested that we should go to a store and actually try some things on. I went into the store with a slightly more reasonable idea of what I wanted: 
This second ring was a little closer to reality. But in the store, after I tried it on, it became clear that not every ring suits everyone. I have thicker fingers - three smaller stones in a band made my fingers look even smaller and stockier. Plus, it lacked that little something extra I wanted. 

So we left the store, with a better idea of what we were looking for, but without an actual ring. 

* I might have made this up in my head - it's equally likely that I started looking at rings and foisting them on her when she least suspected it. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

In Which We Finally Kiss

It took weeks of careful plotting on J's part to get either of us to acknowledge that there might be something going on. We were new to actual dating - previous courtships went approximately as follows:

Person One: You're cute.
Person Two: You're hot.
Person One:  Do you wanna go out?
Person Two: Ok.
Persons One and Two: YAAAAY LOVE FOREVER!

 It really didn't help that I liked her - it seemed like a lot to lose if it didn't work out.

Eventually, we actually started texting. And IMing (which was still a thing in 2007). It turned into talking at cafes until they kicked us out. But neither of us could pull the trigger.

One afternoon, Bug invited me back to her room to watch Imagine Me & You. Movies are the ideal college pretext - there's no where to sit in a dorm room, aside from on a bed. "This is it," I thought to myself. As we walked back to her place, I turned bright red, because I was absolutely positive everyone could sense I was walking into my very first college hook up. 

We got to her room, turned on the movie, and sat on the bed. Six inches apart. And we did not move an inch.  I watched very little of the movie, because I was so painfully aware that my little finger was two inches from her leg. 

And then the movie ended. We sat silently, without moving, for about eight years (30 seconds). I counted the afternoon as a bust, brushed myself off, and left. I walked out, and immediately called J. "Ugh, I sat there for two hours, and no one could make a move! What is WRONG WITH US?"

And then J's phone beeped. On the other line: 

"Fuck, J. We sat there for two hours, and I didn't even make a move. I ruined EVERYTHING." 

So J laughed at us. We deserved it. She dispatched my friend Alex to sit with me at the nearest coffee shop and talk me down, and called Bug over for a serious pep talk. One Bug's spirits had been sufficiently raised, J told her where to find me, and Bug wandered over to give things another try. 

Bug: I'd really like to not mess this up. Will you take a walk with me? 
Me: Sure. 

So Bug started speed walking down the street. It was very clear that she did not have any kind of plan -mostly because she turned around and said "No, I do not know where we're going." She darted across the street. It was becoming less clear whether I was supposed to follow her, or if she was running away from me.  I took a chance and followed anyway. 

We walked into a small courtyard on campus. The courtyard was already claimed by a couple who were tenderly mauling each other's faces. This is the point at which I actually started laughing. Bug, still three steps ahead of me, let out an exasperated sigh and stomped through the courtyard to the lower quad. In the middle of the quad, she stopped and turned to face me. And the sprinklers turned on. I stopped trying to repress my laughter, and poor Bug got even more flustered. She stomped her way through the sprinklers to a bench on the other side of the quad, and sat down. I sat next to her. And we both looked straight ahead. I fear this may be the point at which my laughter became cruel. 

To make up for it, I stood up, turned, and took Bug's hand to pull her to her feet. She stepped forward, put her hands on my waist, and I panicked while I tried to figure out where my hands were supposed to go. We kissed. 

And I mean we KISSED. A year long crush, weeks of pent up passion, and a full day of missed attempts came out all at once. First kisses are magical - there should be some way to bottle that stuff. 

By the time we came up for air, we were being congratulated by a charming (inebriated) young man wearing a crown. 

He obviously did not notice my trouble with hand placement.

By the end of the weekend, we were officially dating. 

The Meet Cute

Alternatively: The Ways in Which Meeting My Bug Displays My Social Awkwardness.

My college had a very small gay community. The gay kids all know each other - or at least the cool ones do. My friend J was one such cool kid. She knew all the other gays, and was so fabulous she actually chose her friends from among them, instead of just seeing which ones stuck. She and future Bug became friends, bonded through their mutual love of cigarettes (is this a universal lesbian thing? All the ladies I went to college with smoked).

J and I became very close friends. I spent half of my freshman year pretending I had a very serious future with a girl who was at best mildly interested in me, and the other half of the year up to my neck in a family crisis that led me to apply to transfer to a school much closer to home. I ran into Bug a few times, at slightly larger gatherings (don't think this meant I was cool enough to attend legitimate parties - "slightly larger" was a four person game of Scrabble). I started hoping she'd show up at every small gathering, and developed a subtle but persistent crush.

After all, what's not to love about this:

So my freshman year came and went.  I was the last of my friends to move back into the dorm Sophomore year. So J offered to come help me haul my stuff into my new room. When the car stopped outside the dorm, I saw Bug standing at the side of the road with J. My heart skipped a beat, and I realized I REALLY liked her.

So I told J. Who sneakily told Bug. And then told me that Bug knew, so that I could proceed to nothing at all.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Wedding Bug Crash Course

I've been reading wedding blogs for about a year now. I feel like I've consumed more than my fair share - it's time to give SOMETHING back to even it all out. Also, I have a touch of narcissism, which blogging fuels nicely.

I proposed on July 7, 2009. We're still a year and a half away from a wedding. Why such a long engagement?

  1. We're young. We met in college, and I proposed right before starting my senior year. 
  2. We're broke. My lady has a fabulous job, and I have been financial dead weight. I graduate with my Master's Degree in two weeks, at which point I will (hopefully) become more useful. 
  3. We're gay. We stalled long enough that marriage equality passed in nearby D.C., and was voted down in Maryland, where we live. But we're winning, slowly but surely - the longer we wait, the better our chances are of being legally married during our ceremony. 
To bring everyone fully up to speed: