Tuesday, February 22, 2011

EnGAYged

I don't know that many 23-year-old's that are engaged.  For that matter, I'm not sure I know anyone who's engaged.  Since I'm on this loneliness bender lately, this only serves to make me feel more isolated in some ways.  And yet, I can't imagine my life being any different.  Alix and I knew we were going to spend our lives together almost from the moment we met.  We waited 18 months to get engaged more for the sake of our respective families' sanity and for me to graduate college than for any other reasons.  I don't question our decisions for a moment, but there are times I wonder how being so atypical affects people's perception of me.  After all, it's a lot different to explain to someone that your fiancée is a woman than to say "my girlfriend," a phrase that is generally interpreted correctly in NYC.   Since Alix and I are both super feminine, we get a lot of double-takes when people see us holding hands or kiss in public.  "Coming out" is something I've had to do post-Smith that I never had to do at college, particularly since the realization and acceptance of my sexual orientation all shook down at that very institution.  Even nine months after graduating, I still have mixed feelings about the need to explain my sexual orientation when people notice my engagement ring.  I have been extremely lucky not to have encountered any public defamation for who I am, and that comes from living in places like Northampton and New York.  Someday down the line, I won't be so lucky, and I don't know how I'll react when someone openly criticizes my "lifestyle" to my face.  Will I react in anger?  Will I spout off some hot-blooded articulate reply about the inability of people to tolerate, accept, and acknowledge those that are different from themselves?  Probably not, to be honest.  I've never been good at throwing out the biting remarks when they might be called for.  I stew over them later, my cheeks burning at the embarrassment of my actual response, which was probably to laugh or defer or simply swallow and walk away.

If for nothing else, something about the fear of negative reactions is holding me back from jumping with fervor into plans for our wedding.  It's only a little over a year away and from what I've heard, weddings don't just plan themselves or go off without a hitch.  Alix and I are going to look at a venue this Friday and the thought is more overwhelming than I could have imagined.  It's only the first step in a long line of decisions that will lead up to the big day, when truthfully, all I really want is to actually be married, not to have a wedding.  I want to be able to introduce Alix as my wife, to have kids, and to enter grad school with the joy of knowing I have the most supportive, life-long partner waiting at home for me when I'm done.  The ironic thing is, of course, that Alix and I already are those people for each other.  The title and the public commitment are - albeit, fun - hoops to jump through to get to where we want to be.

There are realities to planning a same-sex wedding that would never occur to most people.  It's important to explain to every single vendor you plan to use that this is a same-sex wedding (as in GAYGAYGAY) just in case they didn't know, so that they can't back out when they realize that "Alix" is not a fancy spelling of "Alexander."  There are states where it's legal, but most where it's not (New York included).  How do you decide on a wedding party when there's no "best man"?  Do we ask both our fathers to walk us each down the aisle?  A million questions, and I don't have the answer to a single one.  All I can hope for is that this venue on Friday is beyond perfect so we can cross one tiny detail off a list that we don't even know how to write.

11 comments:

Wiley said...

I'm 22 and married. I got married right after I graduated from Smith. I'm delighted that there are more people like me, and I think it's really cool that you and Alix know what you want.

Feel free to ask me what you want about wedding planning (especially gay wedding planning). We planned our own wedding, and it was tough, but worked in the end and was lovely.

Cait said...

Thanks Wiley! I'm so impressed that you and Brigid were able to get married so soon after we graduated (I can't imagine planning a wedding while still in school). I'll definitely be asking you tons of questions as we get further into the process.

Baby in Broad said...

First off, best wishes and congratulations!

I also got married right after graduation, and it did feel lonely and odd being 21 and engaged. I think more than a few of my friends thought I was crazy.

Here's my advice as you go forward with the wedding planning: DO NOT waste your time worrying about what you "should" do or "getting it right." Do what reflects YOU, as a couple, and what will make the day celebratory and fun for you and your wife-to-be. If that means, for example, walking down the aisle together, or having two (or ten!) Maids of Honor (or no wedding party at all) - go for it!

Cait said...

Thanks for the support you guys. No matter what Alix and I decide to do, all I want is for it to be right for us, no matter what that winds up being. The nice thing about a same-sex wedding is that there aren't any "rules"! Guess I should focus on that freedom more.

Anonymous said...

I was engaged at 23 and married at 24:-) xoxoBrownie (your dessert friend)

Brigid said...

Congratulations on your engagement! I hate the fact that living in the "real world" means having to come out all the time. But for what it's worth, in the process of planning our wedding I only ever got good reactions from people once they found out we were marrying each other.

It makes me really happy that there are other queer people our age getting married! Like Wiley said, feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Cait said...

Brigid, I'm glad you got good reactions from people. So far, we haven't had any *bad* reactions, just weird ones. We're considering working more with gay vendors in order to avoid the continuous "coming out" process.

Kate said...

Hey, this is Kate S. from waaay back in Medina. You should check out the Offbeat Bride website. I've taken more than a few ideas from them while I was planning my wedding. (5 months to go! Yay!) Seriously, it's awesome! Have fun planning and don't let anyone push you around; the wedding is for you and Alix, not anyone else!

Cait said...

Kate, thanks so much for the suggestion. After finding the perfect venue, we are much more excited about the rest of the planning. Congratulations on your engagement and upcoming wedding! And thanks for reading the blog, it makes me happy :)

David said...

Elope.

Cait said...

Well, UD, if we elope, we can't have our lovely friends and *ahem* family there to see us in our pretty dresses!