My fiancée and I are finally getting around to pricing our wedding out. Starting with the perfect-world scenario and then trimming it back seems sensible, but that also means dealing with organisations that are furthest from our sphere first. And I have to wonder if I should tell them I’m marrying a woman.
The laws here in the UK make it a moot point: gay marriage is a thing, churches are still allowed to turn people away, but neither if us want to be married in a church. So really, it’s irrelevant. But I can’t quite escape the thought that if I mention that I have a fiancée rather than a fiancé, it’ll make things like viewings easier. The preparedness for some kind of attack adds a dimension of stress to an already fiddly thing.
The law might prevent an outright refusal or direct confrontation, but that doesn’t stop people from being horrible. Subtle aggression is in many ways worse: I know how to deal with someone shouting at me. Someone weaving insults into normal discourse is harder to counter. And what if we decide to use that venue, buy that dress, order that food because actually they are the best ones we found (that we can afford)? I don’t want to support bigots but I don’t want to be hedged away from what I want either.
"I’M LEFT WITH AN UNSAVOURY CHOICE: OUT MYSELF AND MAKE IT MATTER, OR JUST LET US SHOW UP TO VIEWINGS, TASTINGS AND MEETINGS AND HOPE IT DOESN’T."
I’m left with an unsavoury choice: out myself and make it matter, or just let us show up to viewings, tastings and meetings and hope it doesn’t. Outing myself right away preempts any hostility, but makes this thing matter way more than I want it to. I don’t really want to open every discussion by intimating that I’m planning a big gay wedding. I want a beer festival, not a pride event.
At the same time, I’m proud of my fiancée and I want her to be at the centre of the frame, same as me. I want whomever we hire to like that we’re getting married. They might not love us or be overly excited by our wedding — it’s a job, after all — but I want them to have the same professional interest in our love as they would an unqueer couple. That means taking care of it with a certain attention to what we are without any reservation.
I don’t often consider whether I’ll receive the same service as unqueer folks. I go out to eat without worrying about the staff getting funny. I shop with my fiancée and we don’t consider the reactions of the people ringing our things through the till. We hold hands almost everywhere we go. We kiss and snuggle in public. We don’t think about how those around us might react.
But this is different. Weddings are one-off events (in theory) and we haven’t had the right to do it for very long. I mean, being safe holding hands in public is not a thing we had in my own memory, but gay marriage is even fresher. It’s also a political statement, as much as I might resist it.
I don’t want my wedding to become a human rights statement, but it kind of is whether I want it or not. My fiancée and I exist; we’re getting the government involved in our love. We don’t have to do that, but we are. And that’s odd, because I just said I don’t want to make my wedding a political statement.
It raises the question: why am I doing this? My last wedding was for immigration purposes. I had to get the government involved if I wanted to stay with my ex, whom I thought was a good person. I got that bit wrong but I’m glad of the home it afforded me. This time, I don’t need the government to wear the ring, make the promises, change my name, have the party. I can save myself £600 by not having a registrar there. Having them there makes it a political statement I don’t want it to be, so why?
"I WANT THE MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE FOR THE SAME REASON I WANT TO HAVE MY BIRTH CERTIFICATE AROUND: SO I CAN PROTECT MYSELF FROM BIGOTRY FROM THE STATE."
I want the bit of paper with our names on it so I can say I’m her wife to a doctor that doesn’t otherwise have to let me see her. I don’t want to make a statement, I want to know I can take care of my wife under circumstances the state might not allow without that bit of paper. I want the marriage certificate for the same reason I want to have my birth certificate around: so I can protect myself from bigotry from the state. So the state will protect me from bigotry from the private sector. So I can end an officious argument before it starts.
That’s really why we want these bits of paper. Some want to make a larger statement to the wider world, but most of us just want to know we won’t be mistreated. We all just want to get on with our lives.
I suppose, in the end, I won’t be outing myself in pricing queries. I’ll wait for the meeting. Maybe that opens me up to potential discrimination, but I would rather get on with my life. I would rather whatever planner start with what I say, not what I am. If I’m hedged away from what I want by bigots, they’ll do it whether I out myself in my introduction or not. In a way, the risk being constant enables my behaviour: however I play it carries the same problems, so I may as well play it my way.
Weddings are political statements, we just don’t tend to think about it until we happen to be in a group that couldn’t have them until recently. I might not want the statement, but since I have to make one regardless, I may as well take the moment to say, “This is unimportant.” The ones that can showcase us without showcasing how queer we are will get the business, we’ll have our day and the world will have its statement. I guess, sometimes, we really can have it all.