Grande Ole’ Southern Wedding?

Illustration by Kevin Truong
Illustration by Kevin Truong

“Dear the Gay Men Project,

I live in a conservative southern state with my partner of 12 years and we’ve discussed getting married since it’s legal in our state now. I have a large family that love my partner and I, but some of the families or people may not be ok with attending a same sex wedding. I know I shouldn’t worry with those who wouldn’t come, but the truth is that it would really hurt our feelings and the relationship with them in the future. I’m almost wondering if we should just do an extremely small private ceremony and then have a large reception where guests are invited. What should we do?

From the South”

From the Gay Men Project:

First off, congratulations on your (possible) upcoming wedding! When reading your inquiry, two things came to my mind. If you want to do a small private ceremony and then have a larger reception afterwards, go for it. I think this concept has become more popular and I have had several friends who have done it. Some have done it to make planning the event more manageable, others simply because they want a smaller, more intimate event. Whatever the reason, I’ve noticed this as a trend, and you shouldn’t have to worry about your guests trying to guess as to your reasons for having a smaller, more private ceremony.

Me personally, sometimes I would prefer to only go to the party anyways!

But I will say this, if what you want is a large ceremony, don’t let the fear of possible rejection from certain friends or family members deter you from having the wedding you’ve always dreamt of. I’m sure you’ve gone through something similar to this already–when you came out.

I’ve heard over seven hundred coming out stories from all over the world over the past six years, and believe me when I tell you these stories are often more similar than different. Because the general theme is the same. Coming out is someone choosing to be open and free about who they are in spite of the fear of the rejection they may receive for doing so. Almost all the individuals I’ve met and interviewed for the Gay Men Project had a fear of rejection from their loved ones before they came out. But they came out regardless. And I can honestly say, from the stories I’ve heard, about ninety percent of the time that fear of rejection never fully came to pass once they came out. Ok, maybe ninety percent is too high an estimate, point is, the majority of the time things don’t turn out as badly as one would have thought. Of course, I’ve heard my fair share of tragic stories of individuals who have cut off ties with their loved ones or family after coming out, but from the stories I’ve heard, that is the minority.

Point is, not a single person has ever told me they regret coming out. I know planning a wedding is not necessarily the same as coming out, but if fear of rejection and the strain of what this might do to your relationships is what’s keeping you from having the wedding you’ve dreamt of, my advice is to not let this fear win. You didn’t when you came out, why start now?

All the best, and good luck!

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10 comments

  1. jem

    Wow! What a blessing! To cement, as it were, your relationship by marriage.

    I follow a wonderful blog on two guys who recently got married – Dave & Tino (http://daveandtino.com). They have so much wisdom to impart and I think you would benefit from their experience.

    When my daughter got married they had a church service which was opened to anyone who wanted to come join them and celebrate with them. They served tea and wedding cake to folk after the service. Then they had a smaller garden reception for invited guests. That way we tried to avoid any offense at folk feeling they had been excluded because they didn’t have an invite to a special reception. We did have a couple who turned up at the garden reception uninvited and we graciously squeezed them in. Lol.

    But whatever you do, you have to realize that some folk will be very happy for you and some won’t. The ones that are happy for you are the ones you should concentrate on enjoying and cultivating.

    Happy planning, and many congratulations.

  2. adoreabhijit

    Did I read “partner of 12 years”?!!! Wow! Hearty congratulations to you… Now, If you really want an intimate ceremony and throw a party for your other friends and family afterwards, I think it’s a very rad and practical idea. But if you really actually want a proper wedding ceremony with all your friends and family participating in it then you should not let your apprehension hold you back. Go ahead, invite all your friends and relatives who love your partner. If they come, then you know you has your back. If they don’t, then maybe it’s a good thing that your relationship would change with them. Think about it, it’s almost like coming out all over again.

  3. Kelly

    First and foremost, do what makes you and your partner happy, and don’t worry about the rest. I’m from NC and married my partner in April. A friend once told me, invite all of the people you want to be there, and the ones who show up are the ones who are truly friends.

    Also, you shouldn’t feel like you need a huge ceremony or reception. I think too often people get caught in that trap and feel they must go over the the top. My partner and I had a maximum of about 40 people. Once you hit a certain number, it becomes difficult to spend any amount of time with your guest.

    Remember, this is your day, don’t worry about others.

  4. Springhill Stories

    Congretulations guys ! We had our wedding 9 years and we chose to keep it simple with only 24 people, but that was only because we didn’t want a big party. So if you guys dream of a big wedding, than defenitely go for it. Don’t let others dictate what to do, especially not the ones that have a negative stance. Make it a great party and keep on loving 😉

  5. alberto25lc

    “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Marriage has always been more than an individual act of love, but not a political subject. In retrospect, look at the hard work that is now allowing you to get married. And honor your commitment, and their effort, by doing what you think is the better option for you. If people do not go to the ceremony, they shouldn’t go to the celebration.

    Best of luck.

  6. Luiz Claudio

    BE WHO YOU ARE, SAY WHAT YOU THINK AND DO WHAT YOU WANT
    ´CAUSE PEOPLE WHO MATTER DON´T MIND AND PEOPLE WHO MIND DON´T MATTER”

  7. mike plambeck

    time to come out of the closet..have your wedding… if some of the family members are uncomfortable,to bad! This is about you not them.

  8. William Meemken

    Big Congratulations Guys ! Your Love for one another got you to where you are now , so do whatever feels right for the both of YOU ! Marriage is a Celebration of the Love you two share , so it should be about what YOU want , not what others want or feel .

    I Wish all the Best for both of You , and I Hope your special day is all you want it to be ! Love one another , and don’t let anyone dampen that Bond with negativity !

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