Next year, on July 6, 2013, I am getting married. This will be the second time for the both of us. Having done this before, one would think we’d know what to expect, and for what to plan. However, this is not the case. Both my partner and I have been learning a number of things as we begin this next chapter in the journey that is our lives, and have begun planning our geeky-queer wedding.
As I am transgender, there are a number of “traditional” wedding elements that need adjusting if I am going to be comfortable on the day we celebrate our love with close friends and family. Then, when you add the extra layer of wanting to include some geeky elements into the ceremony and reception, while balancing that with the want to keep some “traditional” elements, things become even more complicated, requiring extra thought and planning.
To add to this, I’m Canadian and my partner is American. Being Canadian, I had a number of assumptions about how weddings work, both from a legal standpoint and social convention standpoint. Being American, my partner had his own set of assumptions. Going through this process, we have both learned a number of intriguing differences between our two cultures and the legalities of marriage; things we both assumed were the same across the border as, despite the differences between our two countries, there are also a number of similarities. A basic example of this are the wedding vows, and what must be said during the ceremony for it to be legal, and the options available for same-sex marriages, which can also be applied to our situation. We will be getting married in Canada, and, once we are married, residing in Canada, so it is important that he understands the legalities from a Canadian perspective. It is also important we make sure that any cultural expectations we both may have are met.
During this process, there have been a number of other things I’ve found fascinating. One of these things is when friends have asked, “So… how did he propose?” or, “Have you started to look at dresses?” I can understand strangers asking me those questions as, to a stranger, I present as female. It is fascinating when people who know I’m transgender ask those questions, forgetting that social norms do not apply in my relationship with Andrew. The other thing I’ve found fascinating is when I discuss the fact I have to legally change my name before we get married, many people have made the assumption that I’m talking about my last name.
There are so many more things that I have learned during this process. If you are a heteronormative couple, even if you are adding geeky twists to your wedding, you pretty much know what to expect. There are more wedding planning sites and magazines directed towards the “norm” than I can shake a stick at. Even when it comes to relationships and the roles within a relationship, straight couples have a pretty good idea of what to expect, based on their culture. However, if you are in a same-sex relationship, or present as an opposite-sex couple, but underneath the window dressing that is anatomy this is not the case, there are a number of things opposite-sex couple can sometimes take for granted that same-sex/ non-heteronormative couples need to figure out on their own, and blindly fumble through.
Even before a non-heteronormative couple gets to the engagement stage of a relationship, there are a number of things that have to be negotiated, such as the roles within the relationship and home. In my situation, we also had to have many discussions about what would happen if one day I could no longer live with people making assumptions about my gender based on the way I present, and I decided I needed gender reassignment surgery. Also, because I have two children, we had to discuss his role in their life.
Because of this, I thought it would be fun to write a series about how we are going about planning, and the things we are including in our geeky-queer wedding, plus include some of the negotiations that had to occur during the relationship contract phase. Also included will be some regrets about the first time we got married, and how we are trying to ensure that, this time around, the wedding will be exactly what we want, and not what is expected based on our respective cultures and upbringing. The series will include posts on the following:
- The proposal and the rings
- The outfits and wedding attire
- The wedding party, and how family members will be involved
- The guests
- The ceremony, including vows and legalities, and the process of going through a legal name change and the reasons behind that need
- Last names and culture
- The location
There may be a number of aspects of the planning process that may interest you, but I have not included them above, because I have not thought of them. If that is the case, I want to know. Tell me, what has you curious? About what would you like to see me write? If you let me know, I will endeavor to do my best to include it in a post.