Katy Ray and Erica Sansing
When and where were you married? Erica and I were married at the Cathedral of the Incarnation, an Episcopal cathedral in downtown Baltimore. We opted for a religious ceremony, as our faith is so important to us, and we wanted to take our vows in front of God, family and friends. Given that most Christian-based faiths still haven’t caught up to the true measures of Jesus’ teachings, we had to opt for an Episcopal marriage ceremony, as the Episcopal church is one of few who will wed gay couples. We had our reception at the Rusty Scupper, overlooking the Baltimore harbor. It was breathtaking.
What was the most difficult element of your wedding to achieve? I think first and foremost, having two people come together to make about a thousand decisions is a great exercise in achieving communication skills and compatibility. Throughout the wedding process, we learned to compromise on any and everything. Of course it was difficult to achieve the perfect day, but we did. Finding the venue was pretty easy, and the reception is so much easier when you work in house with the caterer.
Did the overall heteronormativity of the industry (e.g. attire, invitations, cakes, etc.) pose any problem? If so, what? Absolutely. When filling out questionnaires online, for anything from flowers to wedding registries, there were many surveys where only “wife” and “groom” were listed and you couldn’t put “wife and wife” for both. I am impressed with Macy’s, however, as they had provided the options we needed. We were also very impressed with the Rusty Scupper. Michelle Rigby, their wedding event coordinator, was incredibly supportive and affirming. She made us feel like queens and treated our big day with such respect and enthusiasm. Sadly, we did not have this same experience with some local businesses.
Another issue that pops up is buying wedding decor. Most decorations come in sets of “husband and wife” or “groom and bride” so we would have had to buy doubles of some things to have “wife and wife” seat signs, etc. Luckily for us, my sister is a crafter, and she was able to make our wedding decorations and provide that level of visibility in decorations.
Any resistance or weirdness from family/friends? I don’t know many marriages where family resistance doesn’t exist. But in terms of the wedding, my wife’s family was very supportive and welcoming, and my sister and her family were extremely supportive. Unfortunately, my parents were not in attendance and are not a present part of my life. My best friend Circon walked me down the aisle and stood by my side, which was infinitely more meaningful than the patriarchal tradition of a father “giving” his daughter away. The whole notion behind that is rooted in heteronormativity, patriarchy and woman’s inferiority. That’s not to say women shouldn’t be walked down the aisle by their fathers, but for me it made more sense for the person who was there for me most in my life to walk me down, and I have no ill-resolved feelings about that person not being my father.
What advice would you give other D.C.-area same-sex couples planning to wed?
1. Communicate: It’s really important to listen to each other and make sure you communicate your needs. Have negotiables and non-negotiables, and know what those are going into the conversation. Our wedding was our perfect compromise, and I couldn’t be happier.
2. Budget: You really want to make sure you have a general figure for what you’re going to spend. My wife and I decided to purchase a house before our wedding, because we felt that having a home for our lifetime was substantially more important than spending too much money on one day of celebration.
3. Try to have fun and cherish the good times: Wedding planning should be fun! Don’t let anyone rob you of that excitement; not family, ignorant wedding industry workers or anyone.
4. Find a place that offers you inside catering and a menu at price per person. It saves you so much headache on the day of.
5. Your wedding is for YOU, not anyone else.
Chris and Chase Maggiano
When and where were you married? Sept. 4, 2016 at Chase’s family home in Middleburg, Va.
What was the most difficult element of your wedding to achieve? We wanted to make sure we enjoyed the day and also that it was unique to us. This took a lot of effort but paid off in the end. It was truly the best day of our lives.
Did the overall heteronormativity of the industry pose any problem? If so, what? The industry is shockingly heteronormative and gendered. We only used vendors that acknowledged that they have same-sex couple clients and encouraged those who didn’t get our business to change their approach.
Any resistance or weirdness from family/friends? Chris’s mom found a surrogate before we even cut the cake (a cousin’s girlfriend), so there’s that. We’ll probably adopt in a few years but it was still funny.
What advice would you give other D.C.-area same-sex couples planning to wed? There’s a lot of external stress and pressure that comes at you when planning your wedding. Decide what one or two things are most important to you and then let them guide what the day will be for you.
Susan Messina and Maryann Krayer
Susan Messina is director of development and communications for Iona Senior Services. Maryann Krayer is a school psychologist in Charles County, Md. They’ve been together since 1991.
When and where were you married? We were legally married in January 2013 at our congregation, River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Bethesda, Md. We had already had a commitment ceremony there in 2007, when it was not legal, but that was when we had our big ceremony. The 2013 ceremony was a big hit, an all-church event where five couples participated, four of whom repeated their vows from their legal weddings in other jurisdictions. We were the only couple to actually get married at that time. River Road hosted a big potluck and it was followed by all-generation dancing. People still talk about it as the best party River Road ever threw.
What was the most difficult element of your wedding to achieve? I will only speak about our commitment ceremony since that is the most “true wedding-like” of our two events. The most difficult element for us honestly was just the massive project management of the event. We had about 80 guests and many of them were from out of town, so we had to provide them with a lot of hand holding.
Did the overall heteronormativity of the industry pose any problem? If so, what? We had no problems with the caterer or stationer. We did our own flowers. I borrowed a friend’s dress and my partner wore a suit she already owned. The only misstep was at our Dupont Circle hotel where we stayed the night. We had a problem with our room and when I called to ask for a new one I mentioned it was my honeymoon. They accommodated us and then sent champagne to the new room. The funny thing was they sent it to Mr. and Mrs. Krayer because my wife had made the reservations in her name and even though it was Dupont Circle, they made the assumption we were a man and woman.
Any resistance or weirdness from family/friends? We had no weirdness. My parents even asked if they could invite their best couple friend.
What advice would you give other D.C.-area same-sex couples planning to wed? Make a budget and stick to it. Think about who you want to be there the most.