Tuesday 29 May 2012

Thoughts in the Run Up to My (Not) Wedding

I'm getting married on Saturday.


I'm having a Civil Partnership on Thursday, and then a blessing in a Christian church on Saturday which will be the bit that looks like a traditional wedding - the bit that our family and friends are invited to.

I've been thinking about it a lot. About marriage equality, about privilege, about my life and how it might change.

Firstly, I'm in love, I'm excited to celebrate our relationship, to see our friends and family and to share with them, to use the beautiful liturgy we've put together and to sing some of my favourite hymns, to eat the delicious food, to do a bit of dancing in my swishy dress and decorated wheelchair and then to escape with my wife (sorry, getting carried away again, most civil of partners) for a few days to a wee B and B for a holiday from all this planning!

We live in a country where it is possible for us to have most of the legal rights of a married couple, our close family have been broadly supportive of our partnership, we have the acceptance of some members of our religious group - by no means all - and we can have a religious ceremony - if not in our own church. We are monogamous in a society where polyamorous relationships are often misunderstood and are not easily afforded the same legal protections we will enjoy. We are both white, we are both young, we are both university educated.

I'm really aware that people will notice and think about my impairment in the context of the wedding. People will think that I'm lucky Beanie chose me, that she stayed even when my body fell apart. We deliberately omited 'in sickness and in health' or variants thereof from the vows. She will never have me in health, not in the way that that statement was intended. I can't bear the knowledge that many people think she is foolish for doing this - foolish for shackling herself to someone who has so many needs and so little earning potential.

She can't stand it either. She is exciting about pooling our resources in 'tiny communism' as she's taken to calling it. She will always earn more than me, but we will go into this as equals - both contributing to the pot what we have - wages, benefits, time, energy, passion, compassion - and both taking out what we need.

My partner identifies as a queer lesbian, I identify as queer in both gender and sexuality (and for me it ties in with my disabled identity), although I also identify as female. We are most frequently seen as a cis lesbian couple in a society that invisibilises bi and pansexuality, asexuality, trans* and genderqueer identity (as well as many other gender and sexual identities). We've tried not to use language that excludes anyone in our liturgy, as we have been excluded by the language of so many wedding ceremonies.

 I know that I will need to pace a lot over the weekend, conserve energy so that I can be fully present for the important bits. I also know that there's a lot to do and that Beanie's bad at delegating. I also know that I am incredibly sensitive to being called lazy (to the point that it's called 'the L word' in our home). Need to explain to my mother why lying flat is infinitely easier than sitting is infinitely easier than standing.

We are both children of divorced parents. No top table for us (never relished the thought of a room full of people watching me eating anyway). I have noticed that everyone is trying to be graceful while we try to work out any potential problems.

I do not like to use a title. If I have the option not to use one I won't, if I have to and it's Miss/Mrs then I'll use Miss. Now Ms is more available I choose that. There is no title that I feel drawn to -  I love the gender neutral Mx (Mixter), but I don't feel a personal connection to it. I have to decide what title to put on my official documents this week. I guess Ms, but I really don't want anything. When I graduate, at least Dr is gender neutral, but to use it for non medical things feels somehow elitist. I'd just rather not use one.

I've loved these past few months of planning - choosing vows leading to discussions about what we actually promise to each other, inviting guests and getting in touch with people we haven't seen in a long time, listening to gorgeous music and shaping a future.

We're serving vegan food, with gluten free and nut free options. There's stuff that is tummy friendly for me and plenty for guests with dietary requirements that would normally mean a 'special' meal. We've also tried to choose food that folk used to 'meat and two veg' won't find too alienating. I'm worried that if I have a bad tummy day I won't be able to eat with everyone else. That would be very hard I think - although food is far from the point of the day.

We're trying to not exclude any of our guests. Food choices are one example. The ceilidh band are doing 'bread and butter' calling (this is when they use 'bread and butter' instead of 'men and women', which is more inclusive of queer couples etc). They are also calling a couple of sets for the wheelies. We're having a quiet room for folk to rest / escape from the music / take meds. We've provided a timetable beforehand to allow folk to prepare. There will be large print and non black on white orders of service. This is not 'extra' preparation, it's intrinsic to the preparation. 'What is the most inclusive way we can do this?' I'm sure we will make mistakes and I hope for the wisdom to recognise them and the grace to apologise.

We are already married. To us this ceremony is a celebration of a transition that has happened and will continue to happen. That the word 'married' in this context is controversial makes me angry. I find it hard to be measured on this topic because I think that people who spend a lot of energy talking about why I should not be in love could be putting it to much better things. I also do not believe that I should accept discrimination, but I'll love the sinner (as it were).

I've been scolded so much this week for hoping that the weather improves (that the temperature goes down). I guess I must seem like a killjoy to people whose resting heart rate isn't currently in the 120s. I don't want to collapse on my (not) wedding day. Mainly because I don't want to worry folk than because it's a particularly big deal.

Neither of us have particularly socially acceptable bodies. I have a belly and a bottom and body hair. I have lots of scars. My joints don't behave and I have spots. I chose the dress that I loved, that makes me look and feel amazing - it was one of the first times I've chosen an item of clothing focusing on how it makes me feel rather than what it hides. It feels good (but I'm still a bit worried people, read : my mother, will think I'm trying to make a statement).

Speaking of making a statement : the aisle I can walk that distance, but it hurts. I would rather wheel, but I'm worried that people will read into that decision. It will also be the first time a lot of the guests will have seen me using the chair.

These are the things that whirl through my head with 2-4 days to go. These and all the other thoughts I haven't noticed yet, or aren't coherent enough to be written down. I wonder what it will be like to be a (not) bride in a society with such a fixed impression of what that means - but maybe that's another post all together.


  1. I wish you both a lifetime of happiness together - it sounds like it is going to be a wonderful celebration of your love for each other! I hope it all goes to plan and hope you blog about what a great time you had :) x

  2. I can't add a lot to this, other than to say that I'm stealing so many of your inclusion ideas for us, but I wanted to say one thing: I am glad that someone other than us runs a domestic communist state.

    And that everyone will expect you to use Dr rather than anything else once you have the title :p

    And that I'm really looking forward to your wedding and I love you both lots.

  3. Hope your big days go according to (your very meticulous)plan. You have put so much into making sure everyone feels included and has a good time. Don't forget to have a blast yourselves- that's what people really want to see.
    Irma Tharn

  4. I hope for both of you an wonderful, rich and happy life. As a bride to be in (gul,p) 12 weeks i can only echo the buttefrlies and what have missed.

    Be true to you and what is important to both of you.
    thank you for capturing soem of my own worries - do i have my chair out what will people think..

    As a wise friend said its your day, you two are the imnportant ones so focus on that and the only thing everyone else willb e wishing if for you to be happy.


  5. I'm so happy for you! A bit sad for you, too, that there's so much complication. I hope - and imagine - that when it comes to chairs and dresses and so on, even if people read something into your choices, you've probably already given it more thought than they will. Although personally, I have thought quite a lot about your dress, because it's so completely gorgeous!

    I hope everything goes really really well, the weather cools just a tad without losing the sunshine and you all have a wonderful day!

  6. Congratulations on your (not) wedding - although, in my mind, it's as much as a wedding as mine in September is (15 weeks 3 days and counting).

    I'm hoping the weather stays sunshiney but not too warm, with a nice light cloud covering so people don't have to worry about you.

    I'm also a "traditional-non-traditional" bride - I'm wearing a dress but it's not white, I'm being given away but it'll be by my BFF, we're exchanging rings but while mine's a gold band, his is going to be a brass plumber's fixture. People keep asking me what the theme is - well, the day comes with its own theme. It's a wedding. It's the two of us, standing in front of our friends and family, and showing the world how much we love each other and how, through thick and thin, we're going to be together forever.

  7. What a beautiful blog! I'm so excited for you, and hope that yesterday was a day of celebration for everyone involved. And today you can hold each other, knowing that this is the start of the next beautiful chapter - I love being married, and hope that you do too!