Feature image by Wondra
According to the wedding website my fiancée and I are using, we’re getting married in exactly 137 days, nine hours, and 28 minutes. The website also includes a “seconds” barometer for the countdown, but I could do without that level of granular planning! To be honest, I could do without the countdown entirely. As I’ve written about a bit already for Autostraddle, I’m getting married this summer and I’m actually, for the most part, really enjoying the planning process. But give a Capricorn a countdown, and she’s going to feel a little anxious!
Due to the enthusiasm of our readers and of Autostraddle’s senior staff (a couple of whom are also now engaged!), I thought it would make sense to write a dedicated wedding column as our wedding site continues to (un)helpfully count down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds (lol) to the big day. Immediately after pitching this column idea, I became a little bit anxious. I’m not an expert, I’m not having a traditional wedding, and I’ve worked really hard to enact some boundaries around my personal writing that make it difficult to share as openly as I once did. Was I the right person to be writing this column? Would it be interesting and/or useful to anyone? Would it feel good to me? Was I being a little silly to add one more thing to my Wedding To Do List?
After I calmed down, I reminded myself that no one is an expert when it comes to being a bride or planning a wedding — unless they work in the wedding industry, and even then, no one has had a wedding until they, well, have had a wedding. And of course, it’s silly to worry about whether or not my wedding is traditional when writing for a bunch of queers. As for my own boundaries, I promise to listen to my heart and only share what genuinely feels good here. As a way to mitigate making this feel too much like a diary or a personal essay series (which it is not!), I’m going to do a good amount of interviewing other people — actual experts in the industry and fellow queers who are also planning weddings.
So without further ado, allow me to introduce you to my new little column called Blush and Bashful (please tell me you get the reference), running biweekly right here on Autostraddle dot come for the next few months, right up until my website wedding countdown hits 0 and I’m walking down the aisle to say I do.
I’ve written this before, but the truth is I never really thought I’d be a bride. I wasn’t one of those girls who thought about my wedding when I was growing up. In 7th grade, my best friends and I had a notebook we passed between the three of us and wrote extensive notes in during class, and the two of them were always sketching their “dream engagement ring” or “dream wedding dress” and I just couldn’t relate. It’s not like I was so radical and anti-marriage — I fully thought I was straight back then, and definitely assumed I’d marry some guy — I just didn’t really care about planning for the future party. I was more interested in creating blackout poetry with print outs of Indigo Girls lyrics — go figure.
As I grew older, the idea of marriage seemed incredibly far away. Gay marriage wasn’t legal when I first came out, but beyond that, it just wasn’t part of the game plan for most of the queers I considered (and still consider) my chosen family. And I guess in some ways, I just wasn’t ready. I was in my twenties. I was having a nice time, or a terrible time, or a messy time, or just like, a time. I remember my most serious girlfriend from that time period was eight years older than me, and when we broke up I told her honestly that I just didn’t think I ever wanted to settle down with someone and build a life. She was convinced I was looking for someone else, and I wanted to assure her that wasn’t true. I think I’ll be alone forever, I told her. I think I like it that way. I don’t want to be alone forever, she told me, just as honest. We were in the basement of my favorite teashop trying not to make a scene. I didn’t get it.
I get it now.
I could explain it in so many ways, but I guess who cares. I wanted to be alone for a long time, and I was — and then one day I realized I didn’t want that anymore. I could find other ways to be “not alone” but I happen to have found and fell in love with a dyke who loves me and wants to grow old with me. We want to play Wingspan and have kinky sex and host dinner parties for our friends and drive to Southern Oregon and fly to Boston and raise babies and grow garlic and build a home together until we don’t want to anymore. And we want to get married and host a wedding to celebrate our love. So we’re gonna do it!
Perhaps shocking absolutely no one, as soon as I realized I was going to have a wedding, I slipped very easily into the role of Bride. As much as my younger self didn’t want to plan our a fantasy wedding to a mystery man, my 34-year-old self has embraced her earth sign femme sensibilities and feels as though she was born to plan a wedding. Growing up is weird and surprising and fun.
Here are some details about our wedding, along with the little bits of wisdom I’ve acquired from the experience so far:
- We talked a lot about getting engaged before it happened, and we were both very much on the same page about wanting to get married. The actual engagements had surprise elements to them (we each proposed separately) but no part of the “we’re getting engaged” sentiment was a surprise. I personally would hate to be caught off guard by a wedding proposal, and it’s such a huge decision I think it makes sense to talk about it seriously before moving forward.
- My partner and I initially had very different ideas about what our wedding would look like, and luckily we talked this through almost immediately after we got engaged and were able to compromise and get on the same page. My partner initially thought we’d do a very casual picnic-style situation, and I initially thought we’d have to spend more money than she expected to achieve the dreamy princess blush and bashful situation I envisioned. We talked for a long time about what was important to us in terms of the celebration, how much money we could realistically spend as well as how much money we actually wanted to spend on what is essentially an elaborate party, and how we wanted to split up the labor of planning the wedding.
- We’re having a small campout-style backyard celebration this summer. We are incredibly lucky that our friends have agreed to host our wedding on their property in Southern Oregon, which is both gorgeous and large and also incredibly sentimental to both of us. This means there are a lot of logistics to manage (both because we’re not using a typical venue and because the location is four hours away from where we live), and there’s also a very fun DIY element to the entire event, which is what I wanted.
- One of my best friends is a literal miracle human and has never met a task she can’t take on — seriously, she’s an incredible cook, she runs her own vintage shop with her sister, she’s an interior design maven, she cuts hair, she does nails and makeup like a professional…she’s just truly the most competent person I’ve ever met in my life. She volunteered to help me plan the wedding right away. It is not an understatement to say I could not do this without her. I don’t have a wedding planner, but it feels like I have a wedding planner because I have her. I would strongly recommend anyone planning kind of DIY wedding have a right hand babe like this — either someone you’ve hired or someone you’re lucky enough to call family — because it will end up feeling overwhelming no matter how prepared you think you are to take it all on.
- I should also note here that my fiancée and I joyfully decided I would be the Wedding Project Manager — we both know if it was up to her, we’d be having a picnic. She is our House Project Manager, and I genuinely don’t feel resentful or sad about her not being my co-planner for the wedding, but I would definitely recommend talking about this and making sure you’re comfortable with the level of help each person can contribute to wedding planning before things get underway. I’ll also note that I’ve heard from some friends that family members and friends can be kind of weird about making assumptions about who is the “Wedding Project Manager” (if you will) depending on gender — the more femme presenting person in a relationship is often assumed to be the one taking charge, which is obviously fucked — so if that becomes a bother to you, don’t be shy about insisting people ask both of you about wedding plan, or perhaps better yet — don’t ask anyone at all.
- For me and for my partner, the most important thing about our wedding is that it’s a celebration with our loved ones. We want to have good food and fun music, and we want everyone’s memories to be filled with hot queers and loving energy. We’ve prioritized our planning accordingly: We’re spending the most money on the catering budget and the photographer, and we’ve chosen to ignore certain aspects of a “traditional” function that just don’t make sense for ours. We won’t be assigning tables or making place cards; we don’t have a wedding party; we aren’t printing out menus or programs. It’s not that I think those things don’t matter — they just don’t matter to us. And I think ultimately that’s my number one piece of wedding planning advice so far: There is no right way or wrong way to have a wedding. The only thing that matters is that you’re on the same page as the person you’re marrying and that the two of you stay true to what you both want your wedding to be.
So! That’s an introduction to me, my wedding planning, and the position from which I shall be writing this column. I’m excited for future installments where I’ll write about how to choose engagement rings, what shopping for a wedding dress as a fat dyke was like, the art of balancing traditions with creativity, and so much more. To conclude, I leave you with the most perfect Julia Roberts gif of all time:
Same, babe. Same.
Blush and Bashful is a biweekly queer wedding planning column.