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May 17, 2004

A Quick Note to About-To-Be Married Gays and Lesbians

I have married nine people. One of them I am married to; the other eight I have married to each other (two at a time). So I have some experience on the whole wedding and marriage thing. Please allow me the honor of sharing some of it with you.

Remember to breathe.

It's all right if you stumble over words during the vows, but don't screw up the name of your spouse.

If you feel yourself crying, go with it, but remember to sniffle strategically -- tears are endearing in a wedding ceremony, a runny nose less so.

Don't lock your knees.

The old saying that if the ring gets jammed as you slip it on it means it'll be a troubled marriage is a contemptible lie, so don't let it worry you. But strategic use of talcum powder wouldn't hurt.

You will almost certainly have trouble focusing on anything but the face of your beloved during the ceremony; that's why there's a third person up there to direct traffic.

Even if you've written your own vows, you'll barely remember what you say. So don't sweat most of the words. It's the "I do" that counts.

Speaking of which, I think it's always better to say "I do" than "I will." You're going to be married in the future, but you're getting married now.

But remember, it's your wedding. Anyone else's opinion about what the two of you should do or say during the ceremony is strictly advisory.

When you're told to kiss your spouse, do it like you mean it.

Be aware that this last piece of advice will be almost entirely unnecessary.

When you plan your wedding, try to cover all contingencies. When the one thing you forgot could go wrong does go wrong during the wedding itself, accept it and keep going. Weddings are often imperfect, like the people in them. It doesn't mean they're not still absolutely wonderful (like the people within them).

Before the ceremony, pee early and often. I know. But look, you want to be up there with a full bladder? You'll be nervous enough.

Some people don't think you should invite your exes to the wedding. But I think it's not such a bad thing to have one person in the crowd slightly depressed that they let you get away. They'll get over it at the reception. Trust me.

There will not be nearly enough time at the reception to spend all the time you want with all the people you want to. They'll understand and will be happy for the time you can spare them.

Smashing wedding cake into each other's face is strictly amateur hour.

It's your best man's (or the equivalent's) job to remind people that at a wedding reception, as at the Academy Awards, speeches are best very short. You didn't spend an obscene amount on the catering just to have it grow cold as Uncle Jim blathers on.

Remind the DJ or band that they work for you, and they'll damn well play anything you want. For some reason I think this may be less of a problem at gay weddings. Thank God.

There will be drama of some sort at the reception. If the wedding party lets any of it reach the newlyweds, they haven't done their job.

Don't fill up on bread. You'll have to dance later.

The first dance should be a song people expect from you. The second dance should be a song they absolutely don't. It gets things going.

Try to remember as much as you can. Don't worry if you don't; what you absolutely will remember is how it feels to be with those who love you, who are pouring their love and happiness over you. Weddings are testimony to your clan of family and friends. You put them on to give them a chance to share your joy. They come to them to remind you that they already do.

In case this is in any way an issue, let someone else clean up the reception hall. You have better things to do on your wedding night.

There are very few things in the world that are better than the very first time you wake up next your spouse.

In some ways, your marriage will be like every other marriage out there. In other ways, of course, it won't. Those of us who are married now will certainly offer you advice, whether you ask for it or not. But there are some things where you'll be the first married people to experience them. In some ways, those of us who are married now will be glad we don't have to go through them. In other ways, we're deeply envious.

Marriage is work. It never stops being work. It never should.

I'll be married nine years next June 17th. During all that time, there hasn't been a single day where I haven't said "I love you" to my spouse -- several times if at all possible. The two facts are related.

Other short phrases which also occasionally come in handy: "I'm sorry," "You're right," "I'll get that" and "Of course I'll go down to the freezer and get you some ice cream, even though it's 3am and you woke me from a dead sleep. There's nothing I'd rather do." Okay, so that last one is not that short. Think about all the times you're entirely unreasonable, and then go get the ice cream.

The thing about marriages -- even the really good ones -- is that human beings are in them. And you know how people are. Keep it in mind.

I have no advice to give you for the people who have decided that your marriage threatens their own. Only remember that some of us out here would wish to give you the strength to endure them.

I cannot speak for all married people, but I can speak for myself. Marriage has been so good to me that I cannot imagine not sharing it with anyone who wants it. I celebrate your weddings, and I offer the greatest gift I have: That you receive in your married life the joy I have had in mine, and that you share that joy, every day, with an open and loving heart. You're about to be married. There is nothing better.

To those about to be married: Welcome, friends. It's good to have you here.

Posted by john at May 17, 2004 12:00 AM

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