And so starting a year ago, Joel and I have gone about the process of planning a wedding that focuses on inclusion and comfort. Joel and I are planning a wedding that is "very us," but every decision has been influenced by those two priorities: from all kids invited to air-conditioning the reception tent. The thing is, yeah, I'm a wedding vendor. I know how the sausage is made, and I know very well how much a crazy wedding planner and/or pain-in-the-ass DJ can shape the entire tone of the day. It was really important to us that everyone who will have contact with our guests has the ability to accommodate and/or be kind to our friends and family.
We planned our wedding in PA for pretty much the purpose of including Nanny.
Joel: If Nanny's not there, you're going to cry; she's going to cry. Pennsylvania, it is.
Me: I love you.
Joel: I just can't break the old lady's heart.
Me: Please don't call her that.
We purposefully picked an officiant who was not only simpatico with our New Ageish fusion of Catholicism, Judiasm and nature-inspired spirituality, but is mainstream enough to fit right in with all the little old Italian ladies (there, I just called her that) in my extended family, chin hairs and all.
Venue: Dog allowed on premises? Great. Wheelchairs can go everywhere, even the Oak Grove? Including the bathrooms? Yes and yes. Caterer: Kosher options if needed? Done. Vegetarian available? Check. Meal option that doesn't originate with a cow for Hindu co-workers? Awesome.
And, frankly, I full-on, straight-out asked the videographer and photographer if they were comfortable with gay couples. I didn't hire the first videographer candidate because I didn't like his answer.
"Well, would they be kissing or anything?" he asked. I saw N&J in my minds eye, practicing swing dancing in the living room of our old college group house. J murmuring "No crying, no crying" when she first saw her bride in her wedding dress, kissing her on the back of the hand, even as she wiped away her own tears. I remembered Matt and Keith being hesitant at first to kiss in public during their own rehearsal, even though they were surrounded by the most supportive of fag hags.*
*Yes, I can say that, because I am one. You can if you are, but not if you aren't. It's like Carlos Mencia calling himself a bean-eater. That's a different entry altogether.
"I have no idea if they'll be kissing," I said. "I certainly hope so." The videographer hedged. "Oh, well, you know, I mean, I would never *say* anything to them. We shoot Indian weddings sometimes, and all I ever say to the bride and groom is, 'I won't bow to your gods.'"
I smiled to myself, thinking of the fantastic sari my co-worker Hema will probably be wearing, remembering the way a 101-year-old woman beamed when we entered a Sikh home for a story we did together, as Hema bowed and greeted her with a traditional "Namaste, Mataji." (Mataji means "respected mother.")
Sorry, I told that videographer. Joel and I are going to go in a different direction.
I never thought to have this conversation with owner of the dress shop. As I mentioned before, the bridal salon was incredibly pro-active and helpful in getting the dress situation remedied. They called with updates; they opened the new dress immediately after it was delivered and measured it before calling me. I rushed down there on Friday to try it on, and the owner of the store came flying out of her office when one of the associates told her I had arrived.
"I feel like you're my own daughter!" she said, even though she can't be older than 35. I strapped myself into one of four fat relocation suits I brought with me, and put on the dress. Ta da! It fits. Meanwhile, the older seamstress- a middle aged woman with a Russian accent that make her sound like a Bond villan- starts lifting and arranging fabric and hemlines, necklines and boobs.
I don't want it too tight, I said, even though I was delighted it needed to be taken in a little. I don't want any back fat spilling out out of the top. I can retouch my chins, I said, but retouching back fat is really time consuming.
"Oh, that's right! You're a wedding photographer," the store owner said.
"Do you shoot tings beside veddings?" the seamstress asked.
Me: Yup. Families, headshots, pets, news. Mostly news, actually.
Seamstress: Vat about babies and grandmas?
Me: Uh huh.
Seamstress: Be sure to leave card.
Owner: What about pictures of dresses for an ad?
Me: You mean like portrait-style?
Me: I don't see why not. Seriously, I do everything- kids, pets, quinces, gay couples, food illustration, you name it.
They never heard me say the words "food illustration."
Seamstress: Oh! Vat? No! Why you do gay couples? Don't say dat!
Owner: Ew! That's disgusting. It's a sin!
Me: Oh, come on guys. It's just love! It's just people in love.
Owner: I just think, you know, God made man to be with woman. It's a disgusting sin. It's in the Bible! The Bible says it's wrong.
She kind of scoff/gags. I am so pissed.
Me: Jackie, I am going to have to stop you right there. I am so offended by what you're saying and how you're saying it right now, that if this conversation continues in this way, I will walk out of here and you will lose this sale.
Owner: Okay, then we won't talk about it.
Seamstress: (trying to cut tension) You know, I am older voman. I know, it is a different generation... I am not an educated voman. I know, is different.
Owner: (to me) You have read what it says in the Bible, right?
Me: The Bible says a lot of things. The Bible says slavery is okay. The Bible says it's wrong to wear clothing made of blended fibers, so all the cotton-silk blends you have here (gesturing around at rack after rack of wedding dresses), the Bible says that's wrong, too.
And then, a little Margaret Cho appears on my shoulder. Well, not really. But how awesome would that be? I borrow a line from her standup routine, the part in Assassin where she's talking about why she would love to parent a gay child. "Your gay son would never shoot up his school. That would interfere with yearbook!"
I looked the store owner right in the eye and said, "You know, I can't think of too many problems resulting from too much love in this world. It's your hate you have to watch out for."
The owner looks down at her feet for a moment, then looks up. "When do you want to schedule your first fitting?"
TO BE CONTINUED