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When a Man Loves a Man, Why Not Hire a Preacher?

Yes. Steven and I had a wedding. A real celebration of not only our relationship but also a big thank-you to all those close friends and family who gave us support and encouragement. I suppose what we were out to get was a big party for all the people we loved. This was September 13, 1997 — which made me 54 and Steven 38. Of course I would have preferred that he had been at least in his forties. Fortunately, his grey temples gave him an air of maturity and helped me to look less like a predator of youth. It was easy to overlook this slight problem on such a happy day.

We arranged to use several garden areas of a large private estate in Stinson Beach. This was in Marin County, just north of San Francisco, where the high property values also include beautiful countryside and glorious weather. We invited 125 guests to meet us there at 11:30 a.m. Perhaps I should say right here that decisions about the invitees are a considerable obstacle to blissful planning. And weddings do take a lot of planning. Even so I believe that all the choices of food, flowers, live music, location, clothes, invitations, and accommodations combined do not equal the stress of saying "no" to just one potential guest. At first we established a requirement that each guest should be close to both of us. Sometimes, we were ruthless; other times we just submitted. In the end the occasion was such a blur of contentment that I couldn't remember what I had worried about. There are a couple of people who still don't speak to us because they failed to make our final list. However, we were blissfully ignorant of those grudges at the time.

As I said, what we wanted was a really great party. Our focus was on the wedding itself rather than getting married. As a gay couple in the United States, these two words were symbolic and complicated to us. We could not legally be married in California, and I was uncomfortable using the word "marriage," since it reminded me of all the benefits we do not share with the heterosexual community. I much preferred "wedding," because to me it suggested a celebration of commitment, which was exactly what we were hoping for. I did not expect that my life would seem different after the ceremony. We had already been living together for three years. But I did worry about how emotional I might get during the vows. I wore a natural color of linen suit that I hoped wouldn't spot terribly with my tears. Steven wore light gray wool. I also chose a bright bow tie. I wanted the day to be festive and fun.

We used two very different types of music to set the mood. Before and immediately after the ceremony we had a classical string quartet. This made the large lawn and lively guests appear more sanctified — a quiet mood of eagerness and harmony. The champagne helped. Later at the gigantic U-shaped table for a sit-down lunch, we used a wonderful French cabaret group called the Baguette Quartet. You know how in those old French and Italian films the large family has a slow and boisterous meal under a garden arbor? I have always wanted to belong to one of those families, and we made this our vision for the lunch. So the music had to be upbeat. I think an accordion always helps. I smile just imagining that instrument. We had several courses of wonderful, simple food designed to go with our favorite rosé from the Bandol region of southern France. Then the huge explosion of a cake was carried to the table on a palanquin by two of the caterers.

For the ceremony, we asked a very close friend to officiate. Annie is a deeply religious person with a grand sense of humor. I loved how she was able to reflect the seriousness of our love and commitment, while slamming the bigotry of those who condemn the union of two men. Steven and I each read short vows we had written, two friends came up to say a few words about us, and all this happened under a canopy held aloft by our four closest friends. I remember feeling myself full of love and a sense of the rightness of the world. I remember looking out and seeing the faces of my favorite people. It was such a grand moment that I don't believe I had any consciousness of past or future. Now, almost nine years later, I still feel the same connection to Steven and those guests who were our witnesses. I just wish I could have another piece of that cake.

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Yes. Steven and I had a wedding. A real celebration of not only our relationship but also a big thank-you to all those close friends and family who gave us support and encouragement. I suppose what we were out to get was a big party for all the people we loved. This was September 13, 1997 — which made me 54 and Steven 38. Of course I would have preferred that he had been at least in his forties. Fortunately, his grey temples gave him an air of maturity and helped me to look less like a predator of youth. It was easy to overlook this slight problem on such a happy day.

We arranged to use several garden areas of a large private estate in Stinson Beach. This was in Marin County, just north of San Francisco, where the high property values also include beautiful countryside and glorious weather. We invited 125 guests to meet us there at 11:30 a.m. Perhaps I should say right here that decisions about the invitees are a considerable obstacle to blissful planning. And weddings do take a lot of planning. Even so I believe that all the choices of food, flowers, live music, location, clothes, invitations, and accommodations combined do not equal the stress of saying "no" to just one potential guest. At first we established a requirement that each guest should be close to both of us. Sometimes, we were ruthless; other times we just submitted. In the end the occasion was such a blur of contentment that I couldn't remember what I had worried about. There are a couple of people who still don't speak to us because they failed to make our final list. However, we were blissfully ignorant of those grudges at the time.

As I said, what we wanted was a really great party. Our focus was on the wedding itself rather than getting married. As a gay couple in the United States, these two words were symbolic and complicated to us. We could not legally be married in California, and I was uncomfortable using the word "marriage," since it reminded me of all the benefits we do not share with the heterosexual community. I much preferred "wedding," because to me it suggested a celebration of commitment, which was exactly what we were hoping for. I did not expect that my life would seem different after the ceremony. We had already been living together for three years. But I did worry about how emotional I might get during the vows. I wore a natural color of linen suit that I hoped wouldn't spot terribly with my tears. Steven wore light gray wool. I also chose a bright bow tie. I wanted the day to be festive and fun.

We used two very different types of music to set the mood. Before and immediately after the ceremony we had a classical string quartet. This made the large lawn and lively guests appear more sanctified — a quiet mood of eagerness and harmony. The champagne helped. Later at the gigantic U-shaped table for a sit-down lunch, we used a wonderful French cabaret group called the Baguette Quartet. You know how in those old French and Italian films the large family has a slow and boisterous meal under a garden arbor? I have always wanted to belong to one of those families, and we made this our vision for the lunch. So the music had to be upbeat. I think an accordion always helps. I smile just imagining that instrument. We had several courses of wonderful, simple food designed to go with our favorite rosé from the Bandol region of southern France. Then the huge explosion of a cake was carried to the table on a palanquin by two of the caterers.

For the ceremony, we asked a very close friend to officiate. Annie is a deeply religious person with a grand sense of humor. I loved how she was able to reflect the seriousness of our love and commitment, while slamming the bigotry of those who condemn the union of two men. Steven and I each read short vows we had written, two friends came up to say a few words about us, and all this happened under a canopy held aloft by our four closest friends. I remember feeling myself full of love and a sense of the rightness of the world. I remember looking out and seeing the faces of my favorite people. It was such a grand moment that I don't believe I had any consciousness of past or future. Now, almost nine years later, I still feel the same connection to Steven and those guests who were our witnesses. I just wish I could have another piece of that cake.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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