stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
Last weekend was my and Darwin's first anniversary.  We've now been married for one year!

We did sort of a multi-day celebration.  On Friday, we went out to eat at Casey's, which I call the Irish Sushi Pub.  It's an Irish-ish pub downtown that serves bar food (burgers, fish and chips, various deep fried objects) but also has a sushi kitchen in it.  Only in America!  I think the place is perfect because Maksim and I love sushi, but Darwin and Aran hate it.  Normally, we're at an impasse, but Casey's lets everyone have what they like!

As it happened, one of their specials the night Darwin and I went there was prime rib, which is Darwin's absolute favorite.  I ordered a caterpillar roll, an eel and cucumber roll, and a dragon roll.  The food, as it happens, was absolutely delicious.  The sushi was delicious--everything in the right proportions, both crunchy and soft, tangy and sweet.  Darwin's prime rib was fork tender and done to a turn and spiced just right.  On the way out, I paused at the sushi bar to tell the chefs they were =on= that night.  They appreciated the compliment.

Saturday for supper, Darwin wanted to go to Wendy's.  "Wendy's?" I said in a shocked voice.  "WEN- dy's?  You know that a year ago we were dining on roasted chicken, fresh vegetables, and dense wedding cake.  Tonight you want to go to Wendy's?"

"We went to a nice place last night," he said.  And so we went to Wendy's.  Sigh.

The meal was forgettable, but the company was nice.  :)  We talked about the wedding and how cool it was:



Afterward, it was so mild out, I insisted we go down to the woods for a walk.  We intended to go to a public nature trail we like, but ended up hiking through a meadow behind the place I lived when we first met.  A hunter's moon was rising above the trees, and we paused to watch it come up, full and heavy and bright.  The deer were out, all over the place, and they watched us warily.  We found the wild apple trees we remembered, and they had no apples on them at all.  They didn't have any last year when we checked, either, and I wonder if something's gone wrong.  We walked back to a little hill we used to sit on when we were dating and wanted privacy from the ever-present boys at my place.  It was such a pleasant evening.

I never thought I'd be able to marry a man.  But here we are, celebrating our first anniversary.  Wow.

I love you, Darwin. Forever and always.
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
The reason Darwin and I stayed up in Clare was that my sister Bethany was marrying her fiance Bill on Saturday.  The ceremony was small and informal in their back yard, with a potluck reception afterward.

For some reason, Bethany asked me to bring deviled eggs.  In hindsight, I should have said I'd bring something else--deviled eggs don't travel well, and I wouldn't start the day in my home kitchen.  But then I hit on the idea of making the filling at home and putting it in one container, then storing the boiled whites in another container, both of which I'd bring in a cooler.  At Bethany and Bill's house, I could just combine the two sides.  Easy!

Saturday turned out to have perfect weather--70s, a bit of a breeze, sunny.  Delightful for an outdoor wedding.  Darwin and I drove up from Clare to help with the ceremony setup.

This made the fourth wedding in three years in our family, the second that I officiated at.  Our family keeps growing!

Darwin and I arrived and got the altar area set up very nicely.  I was also playing the harp for this, so I tuned up Corey as well.  (Darwin joked that the only thing I wasn't doing was walking Bethany down the aisle.  "You're not, are you?" he asked.)

Family members arrived, and I met a number of Bill's family that I'd only heard about or seen on-line, including his sons Ben and Nic, who I suppose are now my nephews.  Hi, guys!

At last the wedding was set to begin.  I played everyone down the aisle, then began the ceremony.  It was a whole lot of weeping!  I mean, seriously.  And no one in the wedding party had any tissues.  During one of the songs, I slipped out and snatched a few from Darwin to hand to Bethany, who was in desperate need!  :)  I pronounced them husband and wife, and we had smooching.

During the reception, my mother (who was matron of honor) gave a toast that had everyone alternately laughing and bawling again, including her.  My brother Paul gave the other toast, in which he revealed many hilarious family secrets.

And there was food, of course.  And speculation on what Bethany's proper title was.  "Her full title would be Dr. Mrs. Gareiss," I said.  "If Bill was the doctor, Bethany would be Mrs. Dr. Gareiss.  Now Bill--he's Mr. Dr. Gareiss."

Now Bill and Bethany are married.  May they have many long years together!
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
A few years ago, an NPR talk show interviewed a guest who claimed that same-sex marriage was unnecessary. Why? Because everything LGBT people wanted was possible by simply signing a contract. "If you want to ensure you jointly own property, sign a contract that states you both own it. If you want your significant other to visit you in the hospital or make end-of-life decisions for you, sign a contract.  If you want your significant other to inherit your property, sign a contract."  Never mind that no contract in the world let you adopt children, get survivor benefits from Social Security or a private pension, or inherit assets without paying taxes (on these grounds DOMA was overturned).  Never mind that hiring a lawyer to write a contract is onerous, expensive, and, for many people, impossible.  No, just sign a contract and all problems end.

If contracts are so fantastic, why aren't straight people lining up to sign them instead of getting married?

Case in point:

Now that we're married, Darwin and I were able to put Darwin (and his son Shane) on my medical benefits.  My benefits cover more than Darwin's did, and the moment Darwin appeared on my insurance, we saved enormous sums of money.  Elephant sized sums.  World-wrecking asteroid sized sums.  I'm not exaggerating.

Darwin is diabetic, and he needs insulin, injection materials, and other medications to stay alive.  Insulin is ungodly expensive, especially because it has be combined with another equally expensive medication.  Even after Darwin's insurance kicked in, he was paying over $370 per month for the two meds.  Without them, he'll die, so he paid it.

Once he switched to my insurance, he filled another scrip.  Cost?  $40.  That's right--$330 cheaper.  That's almost $4,000 per year, every year.  On just on those two prescriptions.  He has others.

The co-pay on his doctor visits dropped by $30 per visit.  His and Shane's yearly deductible dropped by--get this--more than $12,000.  You read that right: by more than $12,000.  Because of Darwin's condition (diabetes is expensive), he met his deductible most years, so a lowered deductible translates into cash money for us.  It's like the landlord suddenly lowering your rent.

Additionally, now that Darwin has ended his benefits at his job, he gets a payout in exchange, and it's a big chunk of money. Every year.  This is like a raise.

We were also able to double-team our dental coverage.  Now instead of paying half the dentist bill, with insurance picking up the other half, the two insurance companies each pay half.  We pay nothing at the dentist now.

Finally, Darwin's insurance made him pay for lab work, to the tune of $120 or more a shot.  Under my insurance, that goes away.

Darwin and me getting married is saving us something on the order of $16,000 . . . BEFORE you figure in the lack of dental bills, the lower office co-pays, the lab fees, and the annual payout from Darwin's job.  When all is said and done, we're talking about $25,000 per year.

That's considered above the poverty level for a family of four.

None of this was possible before legalized marriage.  No contract would get Wherever Schools to put Darwin on my benefits--only a marriage license would do that.  The NPR guest knew this full well, of course,  He was just looking for ways to excuse his bigotry.

THIS is why we needed marriage.  THIS is what we were fighting for.  Yes, marriage is about love.  But it's also about money, about combining households and finances to benefit your family.  Straight people have had this for centuries, and now it's our turn to enjoy the same.
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
After you get married in Oakland County, Michigan, you don't automatically get a certified copy of your marriage license. You have to buy one.  (Surprise!)  You can order one on-line for the low, low price of $20, and it'll arrive in a week or two.  Or three.  Whenever.  Or you can pay an extra $20 and get it within 48 hours.  Or you can drive to the courthouse and pick it up (40 minutes each way, plus time waiting in line).

I went on-line to order one.  It was easy enough to locate the web page to do it.  But when I got to the actual ordering, I ran into a conundrum.  Our original wedding license application had called for "Applicant A" and "Applicant B."  But this form asked for "Bride" and "Groom."

Neither Darwin nor I were the bride, and neither one of us is the wife.  (Anyone idiot who asks which of us fullfils that role will get summarily socked in the face, and I'm dead serious about that, so don't do it.)  Since government forms are notoriously picky about a certain name being in a certain blank, I called the courthouse to find out what was going on.

After negotiating the phone tree, I found myself pressing 3 for "information about ordering a marriage certificate."  The very nice recording told me that I needed the date and place of the wedding, along with the names of the bride and the groom.  Uh huh.

I hung up and redialed, this time going for the operator.  When I got a live human on the line, I explained what I needed.  "The form asks for the name of the bride, but my husband and I got married last weekend, and neither of us fits that."

"Oh," the lady answering the phone said.  "Let me check on that."

A few minutes of hold time passed and she returned.  "We have Darwin McClary listed under 'bride,'" she said.

Stony silence from me for a moment.  "You know that he wasn't, right?"

"Yes," she sighed, "but the state hasn't given us the money to go in there and fix that."

"Your phone tree has the same thing on it," I pointed out, wondering how much money it could possibly cost to change the web site.

"Does it?" She sounded surprised.  "I'll write a letter to the supervisor about changing it."

I hung up.

Clearly not everything has been fixed yet.  Women who marry each other in Oakland County have to go through the same process, except one of =them= has to be listed as the husband.  This isn't right.  Not only is it ridiculous, it's flatly inaccurate, and government records need to be accurate.

Now I'm wondering what the official marriage license will say.
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
One of the more nerve-wracking problems with getting married was my employer. I'm a teacher in a politcally conservative county of a politically conservative state. Teachers are notoriously vulnerable to the whims of parents and other members of the community. One of the more egregious examples of this appeared a couple years ago when a teacher from Georgia went to Ireland on vacation, and a friend posted a photo online of her enjoying a beer in a pub. A parent found the photo objectionable, and even though the teacher was on vacation and out of the country and participating in a perfectly legal activity, she was fired.

Additionally, civil rights laws in Michigan do NOT cover sexual orientation. In other words, it's perfectly legal to fire someone for being LGB or T.  I wondered how Wherever Schools would react to me marrying Darwin.  Sure, I could stay quiet about it, except all my emergency information needs to reflect my marriage, and adding Darwin to my medical benefits would save us thousands of dollars per year.  This is one of many reasons why we in the LGBT community have been fighting for marriage rights in the first place.  Yet, I live in a state where I can legally marry a man, then just as legally get fired for it (though not without a legal battle, you can bet).

After the Supreme Court made its historic ruling last June, I contacted the union.  "Once I'm married, I'll want to add my husband to my benefits.  How will the district react?"

"You're the third teacher to ask me about this," the chief said.

I really wanted to know who the other two were.

"We're already talking to the administration," the chief continued.  "I'll let you know what happens."

A couple weeks later, everyone in the disctrict got an email from the benefits department.  It matter-of-factly and straightforwardly said that they were opening a special enrollment window for people with same-sex partners whose marriages (from other states) had become legal in Michigan. It also listed instructions for how to enroll if you acquired a same-sex partner later.

That letter meant quite a lot. The district wasn't required to send it to anyone, let alone all employees. The letter said (without saying) that the district didn't care about the sexual orientation of its employees, and that it was being supportive, not only by alerting all employees to a portion of the contract that only affected a few people, but also by putting forth the effort to open the benefits window.

Besides, the EEOC had already ruled that firing someone based on their sexual orientation amounted to sex discrimination, since it was discrimination based on the gender of the person you chose to date or marry.

All of this meant I didn't have to worry about my job.  It was a tremendous relief!

When you're a teacher and you're out for more than a day, your students inevitably ask why.  So when I returned to work after the wedding and got that question, I said, "I got married over the weekend."

My students all greeted this with enthusiastic congratulations, but it wasn't until my fourth hour that someone asked, "What's her name?"

"His name, actually," I said.  "It's Darwin."

I was logging into my SmartBoard computer at the time, so my back was partially to the class.  A brief silence fell over them, and I could all but hear them exchanging glances.  Then another student finally asked, "What's he do?"

"He's the city manager for Lake Orion," I replied.  "He does what everyone thinks the mayor does."

"Will you show us pictures from your wedding?" asked another student.

I said, "Maybe later, if we have time."  And I went on with class.

I'm interested in knowing what kind of text messages zipped around the school =that= day.

Meanwhile, word had already gotten out among the staff.  Several people at Nameless High School are friends or Facebook friends with me, so they already knew, and I fielded a steady stream of congratulations, which was very nice. So far I've gotten no bad reactions at all, in fact, and isn't that great?  I'm not naive enough to think everyone in my community and workplace is supportive of same-sex relationships and marriage, and I'm not naive enough to believe that homophobia and prejudice have vanished.  Just a few days ago, I dressed down a student who used a homophobic slur on a classmate, in fact.  However, we've reached a place where it's less and less socially acceptable to express or act on homphobia.  How grand is that?
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
The reception went stunning well.  The food was served at 6:00 on the dot, and the food was absolutely delicious: vegetarian lasagna, onion-breaded chicken, corn with peppers, cheesy potatoes, salad, fresh rolls.  The Inn even managed to open a cash bar for alcohol, something they said they wouldn't be able to do at first.

Darwin and I ate, then circulated among the two rooms.  The Untitled Writers Group showed up en masse with spouses and children, and took over the dining room.  They scared away everyone else!

The cake had already arrived safely, from Sweet Creations.  If you want a cake in the Saginaw area, peeps, get it there. Best. Cake. Ever.  Because neither Darwin nor I see the point of white cake with white frosting, our cake alternated chocolate and strawberry, and many, many people remarked on how delicious both were, and the people who didn't like chocolate were thrilled to have strawberry.  Darwin and I cut the cake and fed each other without smearing.  (Seriously, what grownup does that?)



Darwin's brother Matt gave a heartfelt toast from the grand staircase that turned tearful.  Darwin was sneaking tissues. Then my brother Paul took the staircase.  Paul is a professional commedian who alternately opens and headlines at clubs all around the Midwest.  His toast had everyone alternately howling and saying, "Aw..."



And then the dancing began.

We hired the DJ from Digital DJz, and he was really, really good. (They also handled the photography. Highly recommended, peeps, if you're doing an event in the tri-city area of Michigan.  Their service is great and their prices are eminently reasonable.  Startlingly so.)  It was the DJ's first gay wedding, but he didn't slip even once and refer to a bride or a bridal party.  He ran some fun dance activities as well as straight-up dancing.  The wedding couple's first dance was to "The Rose," and when the DJ announced it, stirs and murmurs went through the group.  During the dance Darwin was crying so hard, he buried his head in my shoulder so people wouldn't be able to see, which meant he didn't see that =I= was crying.

More dances followed.  Darwin and I alternately danced and talked to guests.  It was oddly difficult. All these people were ones we'd happily spend hours with, but we weren't able to talk with each for more than a moment.

And then it ended.  The music stopped and people flopped to the chairs in exhaustion.  Darwin and I saw a lot of people off.  Other guests drifted off to their rooms.  And then Darwin and I were alone in our own room for our first night as a legally married couple.

In the morning, we came down for breakfast and had the great pleasure of being able to eat with friends and family again.  It was great!  And then we packed up (so much packing!) and left the Inn and our wedding behind.

So now we're married!
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
This is the big one: the ceremony.

To ruin the suspense, it went off perfectly.

At 3:50, Aran and Sasha (the ushers) opened the double doors onto the patio and announced to the assembled guests that it was time to take their seats.  They gestured for Steven on the left and Darwin on the right.  We opted for this method instead of the usual escorting in order to seat everyone quickly and minimize waiting in the chilly air.  Once that was done, Aran and Sasha shut the doors and escorted my mother down the aisle.  (We joked about giving her the Iron Throne.)

Then the music cue began.  Maksim, very handsome in his tuxedo, came down the aisle with the ring box.  Then from the right came Darwin's brother Matt as one best man, and from the left came my brother Paul as the other best man.

Officiating up front was my cousin Mark.  A year ago, Mark had called me to announce that he and his girlfriend Tamara were getting married and would I perform the ceremony?  A little flabbergasted, I responded that I'd be honored, and that I had just been talking to Darwin--if and when it became legal for us to marry, we wanted Mark to be our officiant!  Mark and I were half laughing, half crying as we agreed to trade ceremonies.  As luck would have it, my and Darwin's wedding landed on the same weekend as Mark and Tamara's had the year before.  Three years ago, my mother remarried, also on this weekend.  So all three of us share anniversaries!

Then Darwin came down the aisle.  I watched him from my spot in the back to the left and told myself, "Here we go. It's really happening!"

And then I came down the aisle.  It was amazing to see the crowd, all of them people I knew, gathered here in this one place.  And then it occured to me, "Holy cow--these people are here for my wedding!"

Mark did a grand job officiating.  For weeks he'd been threatening to dress as Gandalf the Grey, to Darwin's horror, and I actually had to reassure Darwin that Mark was only kidding.  However, Mark did slip two Lord of the Rings references into the ceremony we'd written.  Darwin later agreed this was a great thing--it broke up the emotionality of the ceremony and made it easier to get through.

Darwin later said he was fine during most of the ceremony, until it came time for him to say the vows he'd written.  He looked at me and saw I was having a hard time not crying, and he broke down right then.  I was holding on hard, but when my turn came to speak, I lost it entire.  I had to stop for a minute and regain enough control to speak.  (Aran later reported that everyone around him was crying, too, and he "almost shed a tear.")

This is what I said:

Darwin, every year I write hundreds of thousands of words on a screen for other people, and sometimes I make them cry. But these words are written on my heart for you and now they make me cry. I am so grateful for every day we spend together.  You have loved me, and cherished me, and strengthened me in more ways than you can ever know. And I swear to love you and cherish you and remain faithful to you, like these words on my heart. I swear by the earth below, and the sky above.

We exchanged rings, an "I do," and a kiss.  And we were married!

(Continued . . . )

Photos

Oct. 23rd, 2015 06:30 pm
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
Here we have some photos of my and Darwin's wedding. These aren't in order.


About to get ready.
See more... )
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
We did a whole mess of photos. Thank you, digital photography!  I'm dying to see them.  We posed ceremony shots and then created several poses around the Inn.  Darwin and I posed on the grand staircase, in the library, and on the outdoor balcony.  Darwin is acrophobic, so I had him down on the ground partially climbing the wrought-iron ladder that runs up to the balcony while I stood at the top.  It appealed to the romantic in me.

We got many shots with relatives, including the Huge Group Family Shots and the wedding party shots and all them.  Whew!

Scattered about the reception area were cards with my and Darwin's cell phone numbers on them. The cards asked guests to text us their own photos on the spot.  (You know how people always say, "Oh, I'll text you this later" and then never do?)  With this method, we got a mess of candid photos from guests.  We'd planned to run a contest for things like Most Romantic and Most Inappropriate and Scariest and that sort of thing, but it didn't work out.  If I were to do it again, I'd find a way to rig a projector so photos could be displayed as they came in.  Still got lots of good photos, though. I posted several of them on Facebook here.

Later, I'll try to post a bunch here at LJ.

(Continued . . . )
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
On Saturday, the boys arrived with Kala at 1:00, but this created some logistical problems.  Most of the other rooms weren't ready for guests quite yet, so we ended up using our room as a staging area.  This, in retrospect, was a mistake, because it meant people were going in and out of our area when Darwin and I really needed the space to ourselves to get ready.  This created unnecessary stress and conflict and delay.  Darwin likes to take his time with this kind of thing, while my theater background has made me a quick-change artist who dives in and out of outfits at speed.  We were falling behind schedule, and the stress of the day, along with the extra people around us didn't make for a good mix.  We should have kicked everyone out and told them to find somewhere else to dress, but that didn't occur to us right then.

I managed to stuff Aran into his new suit.  Maksim did most of his tuxedo on his own, but couldn't handle cufflinks and shirt studs, so I got those for him.  At last, we shoved everyone into the hall and slammed the door so we could get ready.

The photographer arrived in the middle of all this, and I ran down to deal with that.  We wanted to do as many photos before the wedding as possible so as to minimize them afterward, but this also took arranging.

And meanwhile the blizzard raged outside.

At last we got dressed.  I called the photographer inside for some getting-ready shots as well.  Darwin looked very handsome, and he assured me I did too.  Out we went for the photography.

(Continued . . . )
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
Darwin and I exchanged wedding presents just before we got dressed for the ceremony.

For months, Darwin had been looking for a particular style of wristwatch without success.  I did some mongo web searching and finally found the one he wanted, so I ordered it and gave it to him.



For present, Darwin contacted Berkley Breathed, the cartoonist who draws Bloom County and who recently revived the strip.  He ordered a print of one of the strips, autographed, and with a custom drawing of Opus added to it. Best. Present. Ever.


stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
Darwin and I arrived in Saginaw at the Montague Inn on Friday, the day before the wedding, and oh, we were excited!  For me, the Montague is a place with a long history.  When it opened in 1986, I was 19 and a producer for a small theater troop.  The Montague, newly renovated and decorated, wanted to open with a splash and the idea was to produce a murder mystery weekend. And so Phoenix Productions was hired to put one on for them.  It was a rousing success, so much so that a couple years later, the Inn hired us to do a second one that turned out even more successful.

The Inn is a beautiful three-story Georgian mansion built in 1929 with extensive grounds and more rooms in a guest house out back.  It has many, many rooms that range from lavish to straighforward, a wonderful dining room, an enormous drawing room, and a library with a secret door, a secret room, and a secret cupboard.  The enormous entrance foyer sports a staircase that sweeps upstairs to the master bedroom and family rooms.  I absolutely love the Montague, always have, and was so glad we chose it for the wedding.

When Darwin and I arrived, we found the place already under construction for us.  The drawing room, which was being pressed into service as a dining room, was set up for dinner. The main dining room would have to wait until tomorrow, since Saturday morning, the Inn had to serve breakfast there to its current guests.  Esther and Christine, the mother-daughter team in charge, said that the buffet would go in the library and dancing would be in the foyer.  I was a little leery of this--I had thought the dancing would be in the drawing room after supper, with the tables cleared away--but I went along with it, and it turned out Esther knew her business.

Darwin and I went up to the Montague Suite, which was the master suite in the old days. It had a huge bedroom with a dining area, a sitting room, and a huge bathroom.  When I ran the murder mystery here, I saw this room and never thought I'd actually stay in it.

Let alone get married there.  To a man.

We unloaded the car (many centerpieces and much luggage), then set out to Make Arrangements.

Tomorrow

Oct. 15th, 2015 07:38 am
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
Tomorrow I leave for the Montague Inn up in Saginaw.  To marry my fiance.  I'd say it doesn't seem real, except it does.

Rehearsal is scheduled, along with dinner afterward.  We have a setup for the acutal day.  The Inn is set. The DJ is ready.  The cake is baked.  The photographer's camera is fully charged.

We're ready.

I'll let you know how it went, but for now I'm going off-line.
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
. . . have been delivered to the store! The wedding is going forward!
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
Today I was on the phone with the Montague Inn, finalizing wedding plans. This included choosing the menu, head table choices, setup for the ceremony, coordination of the cake and flowers, and so on.  But that's all done now.  I have to say, it's wonderful to let Someone Else handle these details.  I just chose, the wedding coordinator said, "Very good," and we went on.  I don't have to worry about WHO will set up all the tables and chairs, or HOW the buffet will be set up or WHERE the cake will go.  Most imnportantly, I DON'T HAVE TO CLEAN UP.  It's all taken care of.  I only need to show up.  Yeah, baby!

Next up: the writing of many checks.
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
The next major project for the wedding is writing the ceremony.  So much to work out!  Basic structure, music, vows.  Darwin and I spent hours on it.  As the writer and most experienced ritualist in the family, I took point and roughed out a ceremony, which Darwin then responded to.  Much to-ing and fro-ing followed.  The music consumed a fair amount of discussion.  We have a small wedding party, so did we really want separate music for the groomsmen and the grooms?  (Yes. We did.)  What music did we want?

I play harp at so many weddings that I'm used to helping people choose harp music.  A surprising number of people tell me, "You choose. Play something nice."  This mystifies me a little--as a musician, I want the music to mean something.

After a certain amount of discussion, we settled on "Canon in D" for the ring bearer and groomsmen (because we both like it and I've played it for so many people that I want it for =me= now) and "Planxty Alan" for the two of us (because it's my favorite harp song).  For the recessional, we chose Vivaldi's "Autumn" because of the time of year.  We need one more music cue for the unity ceremony, which we also need to work out.

We lost track of time working on this and were startled to notice it was nearly 1:30 AM!  But the ceremony is nearly finished.
stevenpiziks: (Outdoors)
Step 2 of the Great Grand Wedding: finding a venue

This was more difficult than you might think.  Darwin and I weren't all that worried about "won't someone think of the CHILD-dren" reactions.  Michigan politics are unfortunately conservative, but after ten years of recession, its businesses have more of a "show me the money" attitude.  No, the challenge came from just FINDING somewhere.

First, we had to settle on something we both liked.  Fortunately, we're both happy with a non-religious ceremony (Darwin is a non-practicing Christian, and I'm a fully-practicing Wiccan, and a non-religious ceremony is an essential middle ground).  So we set out to find non-religious venues.

Whoof.

Neither of us wanted to get married someplace . . . usual. We didn't want a hall or a hotel or a nonsectarian chapel.  Neither of us has a particular place we're attached to, either.  ("We first met in this park, so this is where we want to get married.")  We also wanted a place that could handle the wedding and the reception in the same location.  Neither of us enjoys the kind of wedding where you watch the ceremony and then drive half an hour to the reception (and meanwhile the wedding couple take two hours to get there because they're horsing around in a limo or taking photos while the guests are starving at the reception hall--I once left a wedding where there was a three-hour gap between wedding and reception, in fact).

We looked at the Detroit Princess, which is a riverboat that cruises the Detroit River. It books parties and weddings, and wouldn't that be cool?  But when I called them to ask, I was told to email the new wedding coordinator.  WTF?  I want to drop a few thousand dollars, and you don't want to talk to me directly?  I duly sent an email, and two days went by with no response.  Screw you, too, Princess.  I don't deal with businesses that don't call me back within an hour or two.

We looked at a restored train depot (history!) and a pavilion on Belle Isle and at an aquarium and . . . sheesh. A stunning lot of them didn't call back or didn't post their prices on-line or . . . Don't you WANT people to rent from you?

We even talked about renting a tent and having it at our own house, but tents are scandalously expensive to rent, and then you have the chairs and the tables and everything else, and by the time you're done, you have all the cost of renting a hall and none of the advantages.

In the end, we kept drifting back to the Montague Inn: http://montagueinn.com/

Back in 1986, the Montague Inn bed and breakfast opened in Saginaw and they wanted an Event to create a splash.  At the time, I was 19 and a producer for a small, mobile theater troop.  The Inn hired us to put on a murder mystery weekend to open the Inn with.  It was a lot of work, but an enormous success.  It was so successful that a year later, we did another one for them.  I'd always wanted to stay there as a guest, but never did.

The Inn is still open, 30 years later, and they do weddings and receptions.  They were at the upper edge of what we could afford, but we wouldn't have to do much more than show up with the tuxedos. And they were available on one of the days we wanted.  So we grabbed it.

Venue achieved!

The weekend right after that, Darwin and I drove up there to spend a night so he could see what it's like (and I could revisit it).  It was just as I'd remembered it, and Darwin was completely charmed. If the weather is good, we'll have the wedding in the garden down by the river. If it's bad, we'll be in the main house.  Another advantage of the Inn--we can be in or out as we like!  The grounds are beautiful, the rooms and common areas are lovely.

Did I mention the Inn has a library with a secret room, a secret door, and a secret cupboard?  We used them in the murder weekends, you bet!

We blocked out the entire Inn and the extra guest house out back for wedding guests.  Only wedding people can stay there that night, so we'll have the run of the place.  Yay!  It's so cool!  We sent out a "save the date" email and let people know they could reserve rooms, and as of this writing, there are only two rooms left.

It's going to be awesome!  The Inn will be filled with nothing but friends and family from both sides for the whole day and night.  So cool!
stevenpiziks: (Light)
Many people who read this blog know this stuff already, but I've never talked about it directly.  Well, times have changed.  The Supreme Court made its earth-shattering ruling.  The EEOC made another one.  So here I am.

For those of you who don't know, Darwin McClary and I are getting married in October.  Whoo!  Darwin manages a village near Wherever (he does what everyone thinks the mayor does), and we've been seeing each other for quite a while now.  Unfortunately, Michigan law wouldn't let us get married, and other laws--or lack of them--allowed businesses and government agencies to fire employees based on sexual orientation.  Now, however, the laws have changed.  You can marry who you want and the EEOC has ruled it's illegal to fire someone based on their choice of romantic partner.  So we can get married!  We're so happy about this.

I've been posting about it elsewhere, and here I'm playing catch-up.

Step 1 to the Great Grand Wedding: set a date.

Darwin and I talked about this quite a while ago.  If SCOTUS ruled in our favor, when would we get married?  And how?  I flatly refused to elope or run to the courthouse.  "It's like we're sneaking away to get married because we're ashamed of it," I said.  "I'm not doing that.  I'm inviting everyone I can afford and standing up to get married in a traditional American wedding BECAUSE I CAN. It's part wedding and part political statement.  If we sneak down to the courthouse, we're denigrating decades of fighting."  And so we're having a traditional American wedding.

But when?  If we had been sure of SCOTUS, we would have set a date for the current summer, but we weren't sure, and we didn't want to make deposits and send out invitations, only to have the Court flatten us.  But SCOTUS ruled in late June, too late for us to get married this summer.  On top of it all, my sister announced she was getting married in July of 2016--smack in the middle of summer. While this was great news, it made it difficult for us.  If we chose summer of 2016 for our own wedding, everyone in my family would either be getting ready for or recovering from her wedding.

Also, summer of 2016 would mean we WOULDN'T be married for a long time.

And so we decided to get married in late October.  We'd get the benefit of being married in 2015 (especially medical benefits) and we'd have it completed before my sister's started up.  A fall wedding!

Here we go . . .

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