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Equally Wed

Equally Wed: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your LGBTQ+ Wedding

Equally Wed: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your LGBTQ+ Wedding by Kirsten Palladino (May 30, 2017, Seal Press)

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PURCHASE

Buy Equally Wed on Indie BoundBuy Equally Wed on AmazonBuy Equally Wed on iBooksBuy Equally Wed at Barnes & Noble

ABOUT

By and large, most wedding books in the market are still centered around one bride and one groom. And yet, the advent of full marriage equality in the United States has made a new, polished wedding planning book dedicated to guiding LGBTQ couples both timely and essential. Kirsten Palladino will fill that need with this definitive book to inspire couples everywhere who are seeking a meaningful, personal ceremony and a momentous beginning to legally married life.

Equally Wed brings author Palladino’s expertise as the founder and editorial director of the world’s leading online resource for LGBTQ wedding planning to the page. Palladino walks readers through every step of the notoriously costly and arduous planning process with wisdom and accessibility. From how to incorporate hot trends among LGBTQ couples to advice on how to incorporate children into a ceremony to more serious hurdles like dealing with homophobia among family members, Equally Wed has it all. The author importantly includes an accurate picture of wedding budgets for couples from all backgrounds, and shares her invaluable insider tips for making the most of each vendor; she also addresses fashion advice specific for LGBTQ readers, such as suiting up a masculine person or attending fittings as a butch lesbian or a transgender woman. And best of all, she does it with the celebratory, joyful approach that all couples deserve.

With a beautiful 2-color package, a total absence of heteronormative terms and assumptions, and a wealth of advice on every wedding-related topic imaginable, Equally Wed is set to be the go-to LGBTQ wedding guide just as every couple is finally free to wed.

PARTY

Join us in Atlanta, the headquarter city of Equally Wed, for the launch party of Equally Wed! Get your copy of the book signed by the author, Kirsten Palladino, co-creator and editor of Equally Wed.

WHEN: Thursday, June 1, 2017

WHERE: Phillip Rush Center

RSVP / MORE INFO: Facebook

COST: Free (but bring some cash for our charity fundraising for Georgia Equality!)

TIME: 6-8 p.m.

BOOK SELLER: Charis Books

PRAISE

“No matter what kind of relationship you’re in or what kind of wedding you have your heart set on, one thing is guaranteed: You’re going to need the right guide if you want to get hitched without losing your mind. Luckily, Kirsten Palladino has got you covered. From using social media to get friends and family buzzing about your upcoming nuptials to effortlessly navigating the in’s and out’s of registry etiquette, her beautiful new book, Equally Wed, is all you’ll need to make your dream wedding a reality.”
—Noah Michelson, Editorial Director, Voices at Huffington Post and Executive Editor, Huffington Post Queer Voices 

“We are thrilled to recommend Kirsten’s book to our LGBTQ community! Her expertise and personal experience make this an invaluable resource with a unique perspective.”
—Carley Roney, cofounder, The Knot 

“When I first met Kirsten, she said something that I will never forget. She said, ‘I’ll know I can stop fighting when my job is no longer needed.’ How beautifully stated and how true in its purest form. We have a long way to go before Equally Wed is no longer a resource that this world needs but every day, Kirsten and her lovely wife, Maria, get us closer and closer to that goal. The idea that a wedding is a wedding is a wedding—and love is, indeed, just love—are what we hope our children will know as truth. Without hesitation or doubt. I feel grateful to be a part of this book in some small way and am thrilled for the soon-to-be’s that get to experience it so fully.”
—Abby Larson, founder, Style Me Pretty 

“Equally Wed seeks to simplify the wedding planning process for the LGBTQ+ community in a safe, comfortable and fun space! Take it from me, wedding planning is a laborious task to begin with—add to that the uncertainty surrounding the LGBTQ+ traditions and customs. My favorite feature in this book is the personal stories from real couples that have gone through the wedding planning process from a similar point of view. It’s always important to be reminded that love is the reason behind every wedding, because love is love and love never goes out of style!”
Colin Cowie

“Finally, the wedding guide we’ve been waiting for! Not just for brides and brides, but for everybody on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, Equally Wed is a smart, savvy, and life-saving guide to getting married, your way. Kirsten Palladino, the undisputed authority on wedding planning for our community has you covered. With traditions explained and trendsetting encouraged, Palladino offers a banquet of options, from budget building to bouquet toss. Her firsthand expertise means you don’t have to stress out on your big day.”
—Merryn Johns, editor-in-chief, Curve Magazine

Equally Wed, Portfolio, writing

Real Wedding: Brooke and Joana

Love-filled seaside nuptials punctuate an aquatic-colored DIY wedding

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Joana Rodriguez was waiting for the perfect opportunity to propose to her girlfriend Brooke Rollins. She already had the engagement ring, which featured a square peridot gemstone to match Brooke’s sparkling eyes, and, conveniently, her birthstone.

“It was a Sunday morning and we were in the middle of mountains of homework as always,” recalls Joana, “and the movie ‘Up’ by Pixar was playing in the background. The movie is about a man who loses his soul mate after years and years of marriage, but lives out her dream of adventures. They meet as children and are together for a very long time. The husband is a quiet kinda person, as I am, and the wife is talkative and full of life, as is Brooke. At one point in the movie when they are still children Lilly, the wife, looks at the husband and says that she wants to spend forever with him having adventures, it was then that I pulled out the ring from my pajama pocket and asked Brooke if she would spend forever having adventures with me. As I expected, she was overjoyed and full of excitement and began to cry, so I giggled and asked, ‘So I guess this means yes?’ She then answered with a ‘yes.’”

When planning their beach wedding, Decatur, Ga., residents Brooke Rollins and Joana Rodriguez searched everywhere for an LGBT-friendly venue. The lesbians found it at the Atlanta Pride Festival: The Embassy Suites in Miramar Beach, Fla.

“I am not going lie,” says Joana, whose confident presence was what attracted Brooke to her. “I was afraid that it was going to be difficult to find a place that we could be ourselves and celebrate and relax all at the same time. It was at Pride that we found the Embassy Suits; it was there that I realized that discrimination can be set aside and your love can be celebrated. Go where you are welcome, and you will have the time of your life.”

To honor their commitment, Brooke, who legally took Joana’s last name after the nuptials, devoted a considerable amount of effort to bringing to life their theme of an eclectic mix of modern vintage with personal touches added to reflect their individual personalities, such as Brooke’s handcrafted vintage brooch bouquet and a superhero-themed cake for Joana.

The bride and broom (a term for masculine brides coined by Equally Wed Magazine Publisher and Cofounder Maria Palladino and used by readers, including Joana) wed on May 5, 2012, at a sunset beach ceremony which included gathering words, guest declaration of support and the exchanging of vows and rings. “The focus of our ceremony was the tying of the lover’s knot, which symbolized the intertwining our lives and our families,” says Brooke. “With one strand of natural fiber manila line—a nod to Joana’s service in the Coast Guard—each of us did our part to create the fisherman’s knot, also known as the lover’s knot.”

The bride wore a sweetheart gown with a beaded bodice and layered organza skirt, which was given a funky update with a turquoise crinoline skirt made by Ann Swank at Swank Underpinnings. The look was complete with her turquoise-and-green ballet flats. Brooke carried a bouquet of her own making: She wired 30 vibrantly colored antique and new brooches and assembled them together to make “a small, but surprisingly hefty nosegay,” she says. “The brooches were given to me by my mother, my wife-to-be and my friends, and each brooch held personal meaning. My bouquet took seven months of assembly, four packages of floral wire and two rolls of tape, a box of band-aids and one scare—or maybe two. It was worth every ounce of effort and all of the love that went into it.”

A jovial reception accentuated by turquoise and green included a photo booth complete with props for wacky photos, tables outfitted with handmade centerpieces comprised of silver charges, turquoise French flower pots filled with dried hydrangea and greenery accented by one antique tea cup and saucer from Brooke’s grandmothers collection and three LED pillar candles; the dinner buffet which featured Joana’s mothers Mexican feast for a Cinco de Mayo-themed celebration and a homage to Joana’s heritage; a bar, a candy and cupcake buffet, a cake table and a reception table. Brooke surprised Joana, a devout superhero fan, with a four-layer cake featuring Captain America, Superman, Spiderman and Batman, accompanied with a handmade background of a cityscape equipped with city lights.

Brooke and Joana danced together for the first time as wife and wife to Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” sung live by Jamie Heart and accompanied by acoustic guitarist Kato Estill. Heart and Estill, both friends of the couple, sang songs of their own and covers at various points in the evening.

After the wedding reception, the Rodriguezes and their 38 guests oohed and aahed over a display of fireworks on the beach and then let the ocean air carry away biodegradable paper lanterns into the sky, which Brooke says symbolized “our wishes for our healthy, happy future.”

The Rodriguezes, who honeymooned in Sandestin, Fla., welcomed a healthy baby girl on May 14, 2013.

A version of this article was published in Atlanta Gay Weddings, 2012/13.

VENDORS
Photographers: Alisha Sams of Imaginarium Studios, Kory Garner of Faux Toe Images
Venue and Caterer: The Embassy Suites, Miramar Beach, FL
Cake: Melissa Donovan
Cupcakes: Over the Top Cupcakes, Stuart, FL
Vocalists, guitarist: Jamie Heart, Kato Estill
Attire: David’s Bridal (Brooke), Macy’s (Joana)
Hair: Barbie at Avant Garde Salon, Destin (Brooke)
Officiant: Ray Ward
Jewelers: Hon Ngai Jewelry, Etsy.com (Brooke’s engagement ring), Worthmore Jewelers (Joana’s band), The Mobley Company, Villa Rica, GA (Brooke’s band)
Flowers: A Perfect Day, Destin, FL

Equally Wed, The New York Times

When the Bride Takes a Bride, Businesses Respond

By Kevin Sack, published in The NewYork Times

When the Palladinos were planning their wedding, they found that traditional bridal magazines were all but useless in addressing their particular questions.

 

Questions like: Where does a woman find a man’s suit that does not make her look like a woman in a man’s suit? Should Kirsten and Maria both walk down the aisle, or was it O.K. for Maria, who sees herself as more masculine, to wait for her bride? At which of the Caribbean resorts in the honeymoon pictorials would two women feel most comfortable holding hands?

 

Kirsten, left, and Maria Palladino founded Equally Wed magazine after doing research for their own wedding. Photo by David Walter Banks for The New York Times

Kirsten, left, and Maria Palladino founded Equally Wed magazine after doing research for their own wedding. Photo by David Walter Banks for The New York Times

“On every level there was something lacking,” said Kirsten Palladino, who took Maria’s surname after their wedding in June 2009. “We didn’t see any couples like us. The language was all he and she, bride and groom, please your man.”

After their honeymoon in St. Martin, they decided to do something about it. This month, they published the second issue of their online same-sex wedding magazine, Equally Wed.

Almost from the moment Massachusetts became the first state to offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004, mainstream businesses have tried to find a way to attract customers from this new, lucrative market. But as more states legalize same-sex marriage, and the weddings take root in American culture, the marketplace is responding with a growing number of new companies, services and publications aimed directly at gay grooms and lesbian brides.

Equally Wed, published in a state where same-sex marriage is outlawed, is among a crop of Web sites that are filling the void left by conventional bridal publications. They join companies like OutVite.com, a Massachusetts stationery firm that grew along with that state’s same-sex wedding industry; photographers who promote images of gay weddings on their home pages; purveyors of groom-and-groom cake toppers; and cruise lines that advertise their embrace of gay honeymoons.

“The market doesn’t wait for politics to catch up,” said Katherine Sender, an associate professor of communications at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of “Business, Not Politics: The Making of the Gay Market.” “As gay marriage becomes part of the national imagination, marketing to it and publications concerning it become more and more viable.”

Gay weddings have been depicted on network television since the mid-1990s, and about 70 percent of daily newspapers now carry same-sex wedding announcements, according to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. But some mainstream publications and broadcasters are only now taking their first halting steps toward inclusion.

This month, under pressure from gay rights groups, the “Today” show on NBC welcomed same-sex couples to compete in its annual wedding contest. Also this month, Brides, aCondé Nast publication, ran its first feature about a same-sex wedding, depicting the union of one of the magazine’s photo editors and her longtime girlfriend.

Martha Stewart Weddings, a publication of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, had already broken precedent in its winter 2010 issue, with a pictorial that showed Jeremy Hooper and Andrew Shulman stomping on glass and sharing a kiss.

Both magazines played it straight, focusing on menus and decorations, with no mention beyond the obvious of the couples’ orientations. “This is a part of the mix going forward,” said Millie Martini Bratten, the editor-in-chief of Brides. “The world is changing.”

But because it must appeal to a broad base, Brides does not plan to spotlight same-sex weddings in any deliberate way or to document their sociological evolution, Ms. Bratten said. That leaves an untapped market for Equally Wed and a handful of other Web sites devoted to same-sex weddings, with titles like Queerly WedSo You’re EnGAYged,GayWeddings.com and RainbowWeddingNetwork.com.

In the six years since Massachusetts broke the barrier, there have been an estimated 40,000 legal same-sex marriages in the United States, according to the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles. A comparable number of gay Americans have married in other countries, and an additional 84,000 couples may be in civil unions or domestic partnerships, according to the institute.

Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia have now joined Massachusetts in recognizing same-sex marriage, and court cases in California and Massachusetts are challenging the constitutionality of state and federal laws against it.

It is not lost on the Palladinos that despite the assertion in their publication’s name, they were wed and continue to live in one of the 41 states that prohibit same-sex marriage. But it is the very absence of state approval, they said, that made their own vows so meaningful and inspired the spirit of their magazine.

“We’ve done everything we can to be equally wed,” Maria Palladino said.

The couple are publishing their quarterly from a back room in their tidy house in East Point, an emerging gay outpost just south of Atlanta. Maria, 30, who works as a freelance Web designer, is publisher. Kirsten, 32, who manages the lifestyle sections of a weekly newspaper, is editor.

Their magazine, which features a more content-driven format than some competing sites, is attracting about 8,000 unique viewers a month, Maria Palladino said. It has about 20 advertisers, including a jeweler, a hotel chain and a car insurer.

Equally Wed can seem driven by conflicting impulses. On the one hand, it is devoted to making same-sex weddings seem ordinary, providing the same obsessive attention to floral arrangement and cake design as bridal magazines. On the other, it celebrates the distinctive, norm-flouting nature of gay unions and guides participants through their specific challenges.

In the summer issue, a feature about planning a green wedding shares space on the home page with an article about the legal dilemmas facing married couples when one spouse changes genders. A feature on boudoir photography gives way to an advice column on managing marriage license waiting periods in Iowa and Massachusetts.

Like traditional magazines, Equally Wed pulses with the love stories of real couples and lush photography of their ceremonies. Kirsten Palladino, who always dreamed of a white-dress wedding, writes a blog called “In Bloom,” which dispenses advice on invitation fonts and summer cocktails.

But she also answers reader questions about whether a man should propose to another man with a ring (why not?) and whether a couple should invite homophobic relatives to their wedding (better to send them an announcement after the fact). Maria Palladino, who said she has not worn a dress since high school, writes a blog from the butch point of view called “Broom Closet,” a term she coined for those who do not quite fit as either bride or groom.

The magazine includes a consumer guide to vendors who are practiced in avoiding heterosexist language and customs. When planning their own wedding, the Palladinos quickly learned to detect discomfort among the photographers they interviewed.

“They were so delicate in their handling of it,” Kirsten Palladino said. “They’d say, ‘You know, I’ve never shot a gay wedding, but I’d be happy to.’ And then sign off their e-mail: ‘Much love in Jesus Christ.’ ”

The Palladinos said that what excited them about the future, both of same-sex weddings and their magazine, was the chance to navigate between tradition and innovation. “There are no rules,” Kirsten Palladino said. “We can look to the history of straight weddings and take what we want and leave what we don’t.”

Equally Wed

Walking Miles of Aisles: Gay Couples Consider Remarrying in New York

By Tatitana Boncompagni for The New York Times

Illustration by Tom Bloom

Illustration by Tom Bloom

They’ve already exchanged vows and rings once before, say George W. Slowik Jr. and Patrick Turner. But that time, at a 2002 civil union ceremony in Vermont with four friends as witnesses, the festivities were limited to a luncheon followed by a round of facials.

This time Mr. Slowik and Mr. Turner, the owners of the magazine Publishers Weekly, are thinking bigger. After a marriage ceremony in New York City this fall, there will be a reception for at least 50 people. They also plan a rehearsal dinner on the eve of the wedding and a post-wedding brunch for out-of-town guests.

“We will go the whole nine yards,” said Mr. Slowik, who is considering Fire Island, where they have a house, or Studio 54 in Manhattan as the site.

Likewise, Pat Dwyer and Stephen Mosher are marrying again — for the eighth time. Last December, they embarked on a wedding “tour,” marrying in each of the five states that had by then legalized same-sex marriage, and the District of Columbia, which had done so, too — plus California, where they had a commitment ceremony in a yoga studio.

Each time, they exchanged newly written vows and new rings and, in one instance, earrings. Next month, Mr. Dwyer and Mr. Mosher are to wed in New York.

“I now understand why Elizabeth Taylor got married so many times,” Mr. Mosher said. “It’s fun.”

Dust off those vows, find that cake topper: With New York State’s law taking effect on Sunday, a number of couples who have previously wed in other states or have had civil unions are considering marrying a second time. And there are those who have taken vows that are not legally binding, sometimes referred to as commitment ceremonies, who are now looking to close that legal loop.

According to the 2010 United States Census figures, there were 65,303 same-sex couples in New York State. The Williams Institute, a group affiliated with the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, that focuses on law and policy related to gay people, estimates that as of 2010 21 percent of them (about 13,700 couples) had already been legally married in other jurisdictions.

AND while those planning to marry again may be motivated by pragmatic concerns, like gaining certain rights and benefits long denied same-sex couples, a second ceremony also means having a second opportunity to celebrate, on scales large and small.

“If a couple already spent big bucks for the first marriage, the second celebration tends to be more subdued,” said Kirsten Palladino, the editor in chief of EquallyWed.com, an online magazine about same-sex unions. “And if the first time was smaller — maybe they had a backyard wedding — the second time they might think about renting out a venue and inviting more people.”

In 2009, she and her partner, Maria Palladino, EquallyWed’s publisher, had a wedding in Decatur, Ga., where both wore white, followed by a catered dinner reception for 75 guests. They are planning smaller for next month, when they are to marry in Central Park.

“I already had the big wedding,” David Bowen, an event planner in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., said of the 1993 commitment ceremony that he and Bennett Rink, senior director of external affairs at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, had before 85 people in a SoHo loft.

This fall, the couple, who have two children, plan a small ceremony at a Westchester County courthouse followed by lunch for 15 to 20 guests at a nearby restaurant. “I think of it as a happy seal on a great partnership and life together,” said Mr. Bowen, whose SoHo event featured a harp playing “Somewhere” from “West Side Story.”

Indeed, after so much time living together, plenty of couples may feel as if they’re organizing an anniversary party rather than a second wedding.

“We’re doing it as a celebration that we’ve been together all this time,” said Matthew Tudor-Jackson, a massage therapist, who had a Moroccan-themed commitment ceremony with Douglas Atkin, a founder of yackit.com, a social networking site, in London 21 years ago. They plan to get their marriage license on Monday and then wed in Catskill, N.Y., the first week of August. Another celebration at the couple’s farm in Earlton, N.Y., including tennis, croquet and a tented dinner reception, is set for Oct. 11.

“It’s a further expression of trust,” said Jonathan Lester, a bookstore clerk in Edgewater, N.J., who entered into a civil union in New Jersey with Jack Lawhon, a baker, five years ago. They intend to marry in New York City next winter.

In lieu of a big reception, Mr. Lester said, he plans to take a cake topper — a pair of suitcases — on the road with them as they celebrate their legal marriage with family and friends in other states. “We’ll make it a string of lovely dinners,” he said.

For some, one ceremony is enough. Last May, Michael Pace, an insurance broker, and Joseph Carino Jr., the chief executive of a marketing and reservation service based in New York, traveled to Norwalk, Conn., to marry at the Roton Point Association, a waterside club. The next day, the pair re-enacted their vows in front of 130 friends and family members at a reception in Battery Gardens in Manhattan.

“We both collectively feel the State of Connecticut respected our relationship and honored our commitment,” Mr. Pace said. “I don’t feel the need to do it again in New York.”

After marrying legally in Massachusetts a year and a half ago, Zachariah Overton and Nicolas Taricco aren’t in a rush to do it again in New York. But they’ll do so anyway, most likely to celebrate their next milestone anniversary, but in part to appease friends and family who weren’t at the first ceremony. “Especially our mothers felt slighted that they didn’t actually get to see us say our vows,” said Mr. Overton, senior director of the entertainment group at Gilt City.

Those who do decide to marry a second time face the question of which date to celebrate as an anniversary. The Rev. Julie Taylor, a Unitarian Universalist minister who had a commitment ceremony two years ago with her partner, the Rev. Laurel Koepf, a minister of the United Church of Christ, said she isn’t worried.

“We already celebrate our first date, moving in together, our domestic partnership and our religious wedding,” she said. “Lucky for us we’re big into celebrations and rituals.”

It’s unlikely any couples will have more dates to celebrate than Mr. Dwyer and Mr. Mosher, whose latest ceremony is set for Aug. 7 on the beach at Coney Island at sunset or perhaps in front of Deno’s Wonder Wheel. Said Mr. Dwyer, who is making a documentary with Mr. Mosher of their many ceremonies, “We’ll toast in corn dogs.”

A version of this article appeared in print on July 24, 2011, on page ST1 of the New York edition with the headline: Walking Miles of Aisles.