We’ve been blogged!

After so many months of planning, stressing, and crafting a wedding, it flies by in a matter of hours. So it’s satisfying when after the fact, prominent wedding sites and bloggers feature your special day!

I’m thrilled that Offbeat Bride, Vancity Bride, AND A Bicycle Built for Two have featured our wedding!!

Check it out: offbeatbride.com/vancouver-fairytale-wedding



It’s such a pleasure and sweet validation that we did something worth sharing with the world wide web!

Newlywed musings
Two and a half months have passed; the thank you cards have all been sent, the photo slideshow emailed to all our guests, the photo books created and delivered to our parents and grandparents, and our personal wedding scrapbook is almost finished. As the “honeymoon phase” lingers, memories of our wedding day still bring smiles to our faces and warm feelings to our hearts.

Sure, I went through a post-wedding slump like most brides- sad about the things that “went wrong” or didn’t meet my expectations, and the photo ops that were missed- but I thankfully got over it, quickly! I want to only remember the good stuff: the giddy anticipation of our first look, the magic of our ceremony, seeing my beautiful wedding party all dressed up, feeling the love from all our family and friends, and ripping up the dance floor!

Now, with no wedding to plan (and no wedding debt to stress over- thank goodness!) we can simply enjoy being married. I didn’t know if I was going to feel any different after, but I do. It took a few weeks to sink in, but my sense of our commitment is stronger, our love is deeper, and I feel more secure than ever before that this relationship and our beautiful, passionate love for each other isn’t going away, ever. It’s a wonderful thing.

So, three cheers to romantic love and modern marriage, and making it last!


Why Marriage?

Today marks the one-year anniversary of our engagement. She didn’t wine and dine me and get down on bended knee to ask for my hand in marriage. No, it was a sunny Saturday morning that we were lucky enough to be spending together with a wide open summer day ahead of us. She made pancakes with fruit, and then asked if she could sing me something that she had been working on.

I was excited to finally hear some of the results of her recent guitar lessons, and completely taken by surprise when she asked me to marry her, in song. I said yes, of course, and we both cried, hugged, and laughed. I knew without a doubt that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.

photo by belle ancell

In 5 weeks I will marry my best friend, my lover, and partner for life. I’d like to share this poem that so perfectly expresses my feelings on why I have chosen to get married.

Why Marriage?

Because to the depths of me, I long to love one person, with all my heart, my soul, my mind, my body.
Because I want a forever friend to trust with the intimacies of me,
who won’t hold them against me, who loves me when I’m unlikable,
who sees the small child in me, and looks for the Divine potential of me …
Because I need to cuddle in the warmth of the night with someone who is thankful,
with someone I feel blessed to hold …
Because marriage means opportunity to grow in love, in friendship …
Because, knowing this, I promise myself to take full responsibility
for my spiritual, mental and physical wholeness …
As I create me, I take half of the responsibility for my marriage
As together we create our marriage …
Because with this understanding, the possibilities are limitless …

-Mari Nichols

A year ago I said yes, and in 37 days I’ll say I do. Thank you, my love, for waiting for me when I was unavailable, for your unconditional love, and for believing I am worthy to be your wife.

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.

Taken care of

This past weekend I went away on a weekend tour. I perform professionally, playing piano and singing Jazz as well as my own Soul/Pop songs. I live in Vancouver, BC, and I was traveling to Vancouver Island, playing three shows Thursday – Sunday. (side note: my gigs went really well and I had a great time)

A little backstory: in September 2008, my fiancée and I had been seeing each other for all of one week before I embarked on my first tour. I was promoting my new CD release, and covering 12 cities in three provinces over two and a half weeks. Much to my surprise, she couriered a care package to my Calgary, AB, venue- with snacks, a love note, and some cute boxers to sleep in. No one had ever done something like that for me; it was such a sweet and romantic gesture.

Ever since then, she has always prepared a care package for me when I’m going away on tour without her. Somehow, this has not become something I take for granted, or something I expect. So while I wasn’t exactly surprised when I saw this on the table waiting for me when I got up last Thursday morning, I was still blown away by its grandness. It was a care package on an epic scale:

My favourite rice chips,
Sesame roasted seaweed snacks,
Clementine oranges,
Homemade granola bars and chocolate chip peanut butter cookies,
Orange mango juice boxes
Ginger candies and bags of Licorice tea (for my throat)
Three fruit and nut bars,
and yes, a love note in a cute teddy bear card.

Seriously! I know I am the luckiest (spoiled, maybe?) girl in the world.

So, even though I prefer it when she can actually come with me on tour, these care packages kind of make up for it. Although no granola bar will sell my CDs for me. 😉

What kind of romantic gestures does your lover do on a regular basis? Or what do YOU do for them?

Getting to the heart of the matter

This week my fiancée and I finally had the pleasure of meeting our marriage officiant in person. Not that we had any doubts, but it’s nice to affirm that you’ve made the right choice. Sometimes, you can just feel when fate is on your side, and this was one of those times.

Back in November, I hadn’t given much thought to who would officiate our wedding. I’d done some minor preliminary research online, but I didn’t feel like I needed to rush; our wedding date seemed so far off, and after all, it’s on a Wednesday evening. I did get a little worried about the cost- we hadn’t budgeted very much to pay for the officiant plus the marriage license, and it seemed that the ‘going rate’ was double or more what we had planned.

Then one day I got a Facebook message from an older cousin of mine, who lives about an hour away. She told that she had been the highest bidder in a silent auction for the United Way, and she thought the prize was a wooden Irish goblet (our family is of Irish decent, so the item appealed to her). What she didn’t realize until she got it home, was that it included a 50% off certificate for a personalized, Celtic-inspired ceremony– either for a memorial service or a wedding!!!

I mean, really. What are the chances? We want a Celtic-inspired wedding, but I don’t know where to turn to find the right officiant, and this just falls into our lap? Serendipity fo’ sho’.

I sent the Reverend an email, and received a lovely response. Then we spoke on the phone and I got the same good feeling from her. When I finally got around to addressing the, uh, lesbian issue, she replied that it was no problem at all, that she believes love is love in all its forms, and in fact her first husband was gay. I knew then and there that she was the perfect officiant for us.

A few weeks ago she sent us our first draft of the ceremony. I teared up reading it over because the reality of my imminent marriage really sunk in. Marrying the love of your life and making a lifelong commitment is a big, emotional deal! However, there were of course changes we wanted to make, and that is what we discussed at our face to face meeting.

In person she is just as lovely as I would have expected; kind and sweet. I could tell she was genuinely happy for us and not at all uncomfortable with our lifestyle. She responded positively to all our proposed changes to the script, and it was a relief to know that she is completely dedicated to crafting the ceremony to be exactly the way we want it, not tied to traditions or ‘this is the way it’s supposed to be done’.

Currently, our sequence of events is:
Procession, with silent honouring of the four directions/elements, and casting the circle
Welcoming remarks
Spiritual reading by a friend
Remembrance (acknowledging deceased family and friends)
Marriage address
Statement of Intent and Consent
Vows and Ring Exchange
Blessing of hands/Handfasting
Group declaration of support
Marriage Pronouncement
Signing of the Register
Newlywed toast with the Irish Wedding goblet
Closing words and final blessing

Planning the wedding ceremony has now become my favourite part of this whole process. Because really, this is the heart of it all. Decorations, flowers, what appetizers you have… none of that is as sacred as the ritual you create together to express your love and devotion to one another, to share and be witnessed by your beloved guests.

How did you find your officiant? Did you have a choice, or was it someone that you already knew, either through family and friends or your church/spiritual group? Did you have a set, traditional ceremony, or did you create it yourselves?

“Ring”-ing in the new year

Hello! I hope everyone has been celebrating the holidays as much as I have. Despite all the travel and indigestion, I have thoroughly enjoyed the season with family and friends. I took a 10-day break from planning the wedding, and instead got outside for cross-country skiing, ice skating, forest and beach walks, and imbibing far too much food and drink.

However, my fiancee and I did not waste any time when we arrived home, since she had to return to work and school sooner than I do, and planned a day together shopping for attire and jewelry and setting up our gift registry. My next few blogs will show the results of that very productive day!

Since we both are of Celtic ancestry (she Scottish/British, myself Irish/British) and are planning a Celtic wedding ceremony, we wanted to check out a store in North Vancouver called Celtic Creations.

It’s located in the Lonsdale Quay (pronounced ‘key’) market, quite close to our wedding venue. We haven’t had much luck at the few other jewelry stores we’ve gone into- we just don’t like most of the styles out there, and many rings are simply out of our modest price range. Online shopping wasn’t much better, and I was nervous to make such an important purchase like that without ever trying it on. I am supposed to wear this thing every day, afterall!

To my delight, I was attracted to most of the rings I saw in the display case at Celtic Creations; they were so unique and beautiful! Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, many of them were again too expensive for us. (Two broke university students living on loans and part-time jobs decide to tie the knot- not necessarily the best idea. LOL!)

When my partner and I first talked about it, we briefly discussed the option of having matching rings. However, it soon became apparent that we wanted different things. We have a lot in common, but not when it comes to our personal styles.

My fiancee was trying on the more “gentlemanly” wedding bands and when she tried this one on, I felt a rush. It was a mix of excitement and overflowing love- like my heart was telling me “You are marrying this woman, and this is the ring that she will wear!” Luckily, she felt it too.

I kept on looking at the more feminine, engagement-style rings, but the bling was too much, and unless I subbed Cubic Zirconia for the diamond, we couldn’t afford many of them. My eyes kept gravitating to the one she had on, so I asked to try it too. It looked so beautiful on me, and I realized that it would be really special if we wore matching rings. I thought we wouldn’t find a style we both liked, but I was wrong!

This is the ring we’ve chosen (although this one is not in my size). We couldn’t be happier- it’s beautiful, Celtic, and best of all, the total price will come UNDER our ring budget! Hooray! We won’t buy them until the spring or early summer, and of course we aren’t going to wear them until wedding day. Patience, patience. Arrgh!

It feels great to have made this decision already, and to have found the perfect rings. What’s your ring story?

Taking a break from ‘wedding’ over the holidays

As of today I am on holidays. Hooray! Since I am a full-time student also working a part-time job, I have been on a 6-day-a-week, Monday – Saturday schedule for the past four months, so this is a much needed holiday. I will be spending time with family and friends, playing in the snow, and yes, taking a break from wedding planning. I deserve it!

I never knew how much mental energy organizing a wedding would take! I’ve been producing live music events and large-scale parties since 2002, so I thought this was going to be a similar process: confirm the venue, date, talent, design the promo material (invites), spread the word, have a great party. But I’m so much more emotionally invested in my wedding, more than I ever was for any rave I helped throw or band tour I booked. Seems like that fact would have been obvious, but you never know until you live it.

All the wedding checklists I have viewed online and in books tell me I am right on target for where we should be at the 7 month mark. It’s good to feel prepared! Our focus for the next few months will be our fundraiser dance in early March, which is great since I’ll need some kind of outlet for my new “bridentity” of super-planner! Lol!

After Christmas my fiancee and I have made a plan to go ring shopping and try on some formal wear for her. So my next post will likely be a recap of that experience. Until then, wishing everyone a Sacred Solstice, Happy Hannukah, and Merry Christmas!!

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