The wedding as an afterthought

We got married. You were not invited. I’m sorry. We were invited, but barely.

Pam and I went on our first date in July of 1999, and it’s taken me at least that last 15 years to sort out enough of my feelings about marriage to actually decide to get married. And I’m still sorting. But there were finally enough reasons, and by that I mean enough benefits, to getting married that we did it.


Marriage, in the most practical terms, affords certain protections and guarantees. If I sound like a lawyer, that’s intentional, because this is about the law. Our marriage, which took place on the last day in September, was conducted by a judge and approved by a courthouse clerk in Illinois. We didn’t have a wedding. And we barely told anyone about our plans, because I didn’t want people to feel left out. How ironic.

But the irony doesn’t end there. A week later, and four days after we returned home to Colorado, the media megaphone announced that the Supreme Court had refused to entertain any more cases banning gay marriage, because they have made up their mind on this topic: People of the same sex are allowed to get married and entitled to the same benefits, at least as far as they’re concerned. I was driving home from the dentist when Pam called to tell me.

“The AG is issuing marriage licenses in Colorado,” she said. Not one for time-wasters like “Hello” or “How is your day, sweetheart,” it took me a minute figure out who the AG was and what we were talking about.

“Should we have known this would happen?”

My worry is always that we’re not legitimate homosexuals, not because we don’t love each other and enjoy doing unsanctimonious acts to each other, but because we’re not following the gay causes closely enough.

“I don’t think so,” said Pam. “Do you regret getting married last week?”

“Of course not!” And I didn’t regret going to Chicago, either, because we’ve always wanted to eat at a Rick Bayless restaurant and see the Field Museum of Natural History. So, if you’re wondering about a honeymoon, that was it. It wasn’t the Seychelles, but it was lovely.

We might have a wedding. We want to get rings. And like all of our big life events, it’s coming to us slowly and in small parts. I like it this way, most of the time, because in spite of wanting to believe that change comes with iconic images and large bursts of joy, by now I understand that life is made up of small, sometimes almost unnoticeable acts.

It’s taken more than a hundred years for our collective democracy to decide that I could marry the person I love. And it feels like a consolation prize. It promises that I can ask for and should receive all of the monetary and legal benefits that marriage has bestowed on everyone else who has made this choice, but it doesn’t guarantee much else. It doesn’t feel like a gift as much as a necessity.

And now to decide if we will have a wedding. What do you think?

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11 thoughts on “The wedding as an afterthought

  1. You said, “It’s taken more than a hundred years for our collective democracy to decide that I could marry the person I love. And it feels like a consolation prize.”

    Plan a simple party, maybe in one of Denver’s beautiful parks or something, Or have the huge wedding, whatever makes you smile. Invite all your friends, relatives, and loved ones, and have a little (or huge) ceremony with those people there. The sun will be shining, the kids will be running around, and a whole large, wonderful group of people will be overjoyed to see two people loving each other. Nothing more, nothing less.

    And trust me, it won’t feel like a consolation prize, because we all love you too.

  2. I think, since you asked, that we are all entitled to love and to be loved regardless of whom we choose. I’ve always wondered why people are so adversely affected by the choices others make when those choices have no adverse affect at all. Marriage should be a thought provoking choice, mine came quick but the week before we both said “it’s a go” was a very long and introspective one. I am lucky. I believe that we are better together than apart, I believe that entering into any contract should be one that’s given the right amount of consideration, and I think that living as a good person means just that, doing the right thing for the right reasons. We had a party when we got married, 50 guests in a restaurant and we did the traditional wedding things, like the dance, cutting the cake, sending thank you notes. For those that loved us it was important, and it was the right thing to do, and for the right reasons. Because we love each other, because we love our friends and families and because we wanted to have a happy party to celebrate a large milestone in our lives. It doesn’t have to be expensive, mine wasn’t. Spend the most money on the photographer were the words I heeded from a good friend, and that was money well spent. We have the memory and now the pictures to remember how we felt, who was there, and inevitably what went wrong. I think you should have a wedding, have a cake, dance, and thank everybody who loves you. I bet if you ask your daughters, they’d say “what the heck are your waiting for?!’ My two cents, only because you asked.

  3. Hi Sarah, Thanks for sharing the details of your marriage ceremony! A wedding invitation is always welcome…but your happiness is what’s important. As for me, I’m content to live common-law. It’s been 29 years of fun and fighting. No kids but us. I didn’t even have to ask for benefits but our laws now give us the same rights as married couples. We have no wedding photos but there are plenty of dinners out with family and friends and honeymoon spots in the Caribbean to show that we, too, have confirmed our love for each other. No regrets! John is my partner ’til life directs us to part. Love Margo

  4. Yes have a wedding!! The only other times people make that big a deal out of celebrating you is when you’re born and when you die, neither of which you can actually appreciate.

  5. Wedding! Wedding! Chants straight gal who married at 20 at the magistrates and waited 25 years to have a party… The party is the thing! So happy for you

  6. Congratulations! You should have a wedding. It gives friends and family a chance to celebrate you and your commitment to each other. Even though you have a long history together, you should still make a big deal about getting married. It’s a (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime event that deserves a party!

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