Whistler honeymoon

Even if you are on a budget- do not skip the honeymoon! Trust me, you will both want to get away after all the hype and stress of the wedding. I admire couples who are able to take an extended vacation; we unfortunately did not have the luxury of that much time off work (in total we took 10 days off for our “wedding week” and our honeymoon). So we chose to stay local and enjoy the world-class resort two hours from Vancouver- Whistler!

This was my sweetie’s area to arrange, since I was organizing most of the wedding. I’m so glad I delegated that task to her, many months before. All I knew was where we were going (and I’d strongly dropped hints for a spa experience), everything else she planned was a surprise!

We got to travel in style in our new Jeep Patriot (well, new to us, it’s a 2008) that was a gift from my Aunt in exchange for my old Toyota going to my 16-year-old cousin. Yes, they won the prize for largest wedding gift!

We stayed at the Marketplace Lodge, which provides furnished suites right in the Village. Excellent location- we could walk and bike everywhere, and great prices (we got our third night free!). To save money we brought some groceries with us to cook our own meals, but we did enjoy one fancy dinner out and breakfast on the morning we left.

Our first day was all action, as we started the day with a bike ride around Alta Lake, and then in the afternoon went on a trek with The Adventure Group. We did the Zoom Lines- four really fast zip lines. It was so much fun!

Since it was the August long weekend (BC Civic Holiday) there were free concerts every night in the Olympic Plaza. Saturday night we got to see Spirit of the West!

We spent Sunday relaxing- first swimming and sunning at Alta Lake, and then spending the afternoon at Scandinave Spa. This experience was like no other, Scandinave is so amazingly beautiful and peaceful. After our hour-long, Swedish couples massage, we enjoyed two hours in the hot pools, eucalyptus steam room, Finnish dry sauna, and the hammocks. I hope you’re getting the idea here. A one-of-a-kind experience and decent prices- highly recommended!

Basically, on our honeymoon we caught up on our three favourite things that we had been missing due to all the stress leading up to the wedding: sleeping, eating, and sex. It. Was. Wonderful. (see how relaxed and happy we look? Lol!)

The other great thing about staying local and just going away for a long weekend was that it cost us a fraction of the standard honeymoon price. But hey, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t secretly wish we’d spent two weeks in Tahiti in an overwater bungalow…

Where did you go, or are you planning to go, for your honeymoon?

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The Right to Marry WHO and HOW we want to

This blog was featured on Offbeat Bride!

We didn’t start out wanting a big wedding. My partner proposed to me on a gorgeous summer morning in June. That afternoon we went for a hike, walking together on a blissful cloud of love, and naturally began discussing how we envisioned our wedding.

She revealed that she had always wanted a beach wedding. I wanted to incorporate elements of my pagan spirituality in the ceremony. We both agreed it had to be in the summer. Since we don’t have a lot of money, we thought a simple party in one of Vancouver’s lovely beach parks would be perfect. We’d invite 30 or so people, immediate family and our closest friends, and have a potluck picnic. Simple, inexpensive, no frills.

Then a funny thing happened. We announced our engagement by emailing everyone a photo slideshow I had created, and a lot of people got really excited. And we got more excited along with them. When we first sat and wrote down all the names of the people we wanted to be there, we had over 100! If we stayed with our original “intimate wedding” plan, that meant NOT inviting a lot of people that we loved, and who loved us.

We got to thinking- this is a major life event, and should be celebrated properly! We are undervaluing our wedding and treating it like a kid’s birthday party in a park! This isn’t good enough for family to fly across the country for! We are completely committed to building a life together ’til death do us part, so we might as well kick that off with a helluva party. We realized we wanted a real wedding.

What’s a real wedding?

Every couple has their own answer to that question, but it’s a very potent (and political) one for same-sex couples. We are lucky enough to live in Canada where it has been legal since 2004, and I am so thankful for that. We are also lucky enough to have supportive and loving families, so planning a more formal wedding wasn’t our way of making our relationship more “legitimate” in their eyes- but I know that IS the case for some. They want the whole grand affair to prove to their parents, friends, themselves, and society at large that this is a real wedding.

Same-sex weddings are still new enough that a lot of people wonder how different they will be compared to a straight wedding. I suspect that some straight people automatically think that all queers are alternative, counter-culture types and in their minds gay wedding = rainbow musical theatre circus. Or something to that effect. I guess they just don’t know how many conservative, mild-mannered queers there are out there, who plan black tie formals and get married in churches.

Interestingly, I see that more and more straight couples are throwing out the wedding rule book and getting married in a myriad of offbeat, eccentric and entirely unique ways, whereas it seems like many same-sex couples are adhering to traditional customs. Go figure.

Some people expect gay weddings to be different, for a variety of personal reasons and pop culture assumptions. Straight or queer aside, we hear more about the challenges couples face with their non-traditional wedding plans, but how about the challenges/criticisms/judgements we face when we choose to include tradition? I have personally experienced this- close family and friends expressing their disappointment in our more conventional ideas in not so tactful ways. My Mother hoped we would elope. Others have openly displayed their surprise that we were having a bridal party (?!). I was hurt- do they think my wedding is less cool now that they know there will be flower girls and a father-daughter dance? And I was confused- WHY should a same-sex wedding be so different from a straight wedding?

I didn’t set out to make my wedding gay, but by having two women at the altar we are put in that category by default. I feel that I am planning pretty much the same kind of wedding I would have wanted whether I was marrying a man, or a woman (personal note: I did at one point in my late 20’s get very close to marrying a man). This celebration will reflect who we are as individuals, not as gay people.

The heart of this party is the joining together of two people in love, and their two families becoming one. Truly, this is what has sustained us when we had our doubts about it all- we want our parents, siblings, extended family and our circle of friends to meet each other and share in this one special day together.

I know that it will be the first same-sex wedding for most of our guests- myself included! I hope that afterwards, even if they hadn’t thought much about it before, our guests will go home and muse on the fact that ours was just like any other wedding. And I hope that this realization will have a ripple effect that eventually encompasses the entire world, as more people will accept that our love is like any other love and can be celebrated in any way we choose.

Bridesmaids!

Last night my fiancée and I (hmmm… still getting used to that, I like how it sounds!) had our bridesmaids over to hang, chat a little about the wedding, and watch Bridesmaids!

Before we started the flick, I got to play a little practical joke on my BMs. I had picked out four of the ugliest bridesmaids dresses I could find and saved the pics in a file on my computer. Since I’m a good actor, they completely believed me as I showed them the possible dresses, even pretending to be a little hurt when one of them exclaimed “Absolutely no way am I wearing a dress like that!”

I had them going for a few minutes, until I finally told them I was just kidding. We all had a good laugh, and they were very relieved.

Everyone loved our choice of colour scheme, and very happy with our decision to have them wear black. My girls will wear black dresses and I’ll add colour with shawls and their flower bouquets, and my partner’s “butch-maids” will wear black vests and dress pants, white short-sleeved shirts, coloured ties to match the shawls, and flower boutonnieres. I think it will look really sharp.

Half of them had already seen the movie, but they all wanted to see it again. We had a riot, laughing so hard. I particularly loved the character of Megan, the chubby, straight-shooting future sister-in-law.

We assured our gals that we didn’t want to go to Vegas for our bachelorette, or have puppies given out as favours (even with pink berets), and please, don’t surprise us with Wilson Phillips on our wedding day. LOL!

Even though the movie was a silly comedy, it did get me thinking about friendships. I definitely do not want the planning of my wedding to create any wedges between my friends and I. Similar to the movie plot, some of my ‘maids are single and not in as rosy a place as I am. It’s tough when I want to share my joy and all my plans and ideas, but then I hold back because I don’t want to be insensitive. It just feels rude to show off how happy I am.

As well, I am going to do my best to not demand too much of their time, and to always be grateful for their help and emotional support. I think that done right, this experience can bring you and your bridesmaids closer together, and in my case I hope that we are even better friends after the wedding is over!

Has anyone had any negative experiences with their Bridesmaids? How about really positive ones? What are you doing to ensure your friendship survives the wedding?

Scheming and Dreaming

A few weeks ago I went to my local library to look for wedding books. I love online searching, but my eyes get tired from staring at the screen too long, and I do a lot of work on the computer at work, so I wanted some good ol’ fashioned books.

I was amused to discover that they are cataloged in the “Folklore and Customs” section. Happy to find there was quite a large selection, I set about trying to determine which ones I would enjoy and benefit the most from reading.


I ended up checking out six books:
Eco-Chic Weddings by Emily Elizabeth Anderson

Anti-Bride Etiquette Guide by Carolyn Gerin and Kathleen Hughes

A Bride’s Book of Wedding Traditions by Arlene Hamilton Stewart

The Wedding Guide for the Grownup Bride by Shelley Christiansen

How to Have a Big Wedding on a Small Budget by Diane Warner

and The New Essential Guide to Gay and Lesbian Weddings by Tess Ayers and Paul Brown

I have devoured almost all of them already, finding so much useful and interesting information. The only book that didn’t speak to me, which I put down after a chapter and a half, was The Wedding Guide for the Grownup Bride. The author was primarily describing her personal experience of marrying for the first time at age 46, and the book did not seem to offer practical suggestions for wedding planning.

The funniest to read were the Anti-Bride Etiquette Guide and the Gay and Lesbian Weddings. Chock-full of interesting anecdotes, wedding ideas, and historical facts, I thoroughly enjoyed both of them. The Eco-Chic Weddings book also gave me a lot to think about. I have been concerned about the environment since long before it was trendy, I guess I was born “green”. She offers a ton of suggestions on how to make sure your wedding isn’t wasteful or harmful to the environment, and that you aren’t unwittingly supporting unethical industries (such as dirty gold or conflict diamonds in your jewelry, sweatshops or child labour for your clothing, and South American flower farms for those pretty bouquets).

How to Have a Big Wedding on a Small Budget was entertaining to read, albeit quaint and old fashioned. I was pleased to find that many of her suggestions to cut costs were options my partner and I had already considered. For a historical look at the customs surrounding marriage, I learned a lot from A Bride’s Book of Wedding Traditions. It is fascinating to look at how marriage has evolved over the ages, and how different cultures celebrate the occasion.

So, to my fellow brides-to-be, I recommend a trip to your library to see what you discover for yourself!

In the beginning

Our proposal story:

We always love it when we can sleep in on the weekend, make a nice breakfast and relax. This particular Saturday in June happened just like that, with my girlfriend making delicious pancakes, and us having the time to enjoy the sunny morning.

Around 10:30 or 11am, she asked if she could play me a song on the guitar that she’d been working on. I knew she had been taking lessons again, and I was very proud of her for learning the instrument. She was clearly very nervous, but I thought it was because she had never really sung a song for me!

I listened attentively as she timidly started to strum and sing. After the first verse, I politely asked her to sing louder, since I wanted to hear the words. I didn’t recognize the song, but it was clearly all about love. (she’s a die-hard romantic, so I wasn’t surprised)

Half-way through the song it started to dawn on me that this song was speaking about strong commitments, and at the end when she sang out my full name and asked “will you marry me?” I was already crying. I had hoped she would propose at some point (we had been hinting at it for a few months) but she had completely taken me by surprise.

Through my laughter and tears I of course said yes! Being a brat, I made her get on one knee and ask me again. I wanted to experience that little tradition! She had already given me a custom-designed silver “promise” ring last summer, so on this day she gave me a lovely silver necklace. The whole proposal was perfect- so beautiful and personal and a day we will never forget!

We are getting married this August on a big ferry-boat that’s been renovated into a banquet space, that is permanently docked in the waters of the Burrard Inlet, North Vancouver, BC. It will be an enchanted summer evening, with lots of whimsical and DIY touches. Our big, beautiful, Pagan, lesbian wedding!