As same-sex weddings become common, caterer Tonne Bobsaith says gay and lesbian couples crave traditional ceremonies — with a twist
She recognizes the tone immediately when picking up the phone: hesitant, apologetic, reticent even. She knows the question before it’s even asked:
"Umm, do you do same-sex ceremonies?"
Does she ever.
It would be hard to find a more gay-friendly person in all of Dallas than the exuberantly unabashed Tonne Bobsaith. And as the chef-owner of Creative Events of Dallas, there’s no better ally to have. Because Bobsaith knows how to cater a wedding … and she loves gay ones.
"When I started the business back in the ’90s, African-Americans and straight people weren’t standing up for the gay community," reflects Bobsaith, who does not tolerate the intolerant. "I’ve let go vendors and employees alike for that reason. We are very gay-friendly here; in fact, one of the biggest ceremonies I’ve ever planned is for a gay wedding coming up this September."
That would be the festivities between Dallas hairdresser David Tijerina and his long-time partner, Joe Blair, of Prime Premiere Inc., a GLBT Chamber member. On Sept. 20, the couple will be celebrating their bash "20 Years of Commitment and Love" — which is precisely the wording on their cake will express (an amaretto-flavored confection for 200, courtesy of Elena’s Cakes on Greenville; see story on Page S9).
Bobsaith says that in her experience, "straight or gay, everyone still wants the traditional wedding . . . with, of course, a slight, personalized twist." And twists are her specialty.
For the Tijerina/Blair union, the twist on the traditional begins as they walk down an aisle strewn with rose petals — not to Wagner’s "Here Comes the Bride," but rather with the newest trend of walking down the aisle to Pink’s "Let’s Get This Party Started."
That’s immediately followed, pre-vows, by a grand seated dinner with a drag show, performed by local entertainer Whitney Paige.
"We can handle it," chuckles Bobsaith. "In a recent civil commitment I did, the groom was a pilot. He flew in on a twin-engine plane, landed on the airstrip and that’s where they had their ceremony … on the airstrip. It was so lovely."
Bobsaith is amazed at how incredibly far Texas has come in such a very short period of time in terms of acceptance of gay and lesbian couples who want to exchange vows.
As recently as a decade ago, even in Vermont — the first state to enact same-sex civil union legislation — "gay and lesbian couples found only a smattering of florists, wedding planners, inns, resorts and other vendors for civil unions," according to a recent New York Times article. "But since 2000, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and New Hampshire have legalized same-sex civil unions or marriages . . . and to a more limited degree California, Oregon, Maine, Hawaii, Washington State and the District of Columbia have domestic partnership laws."
Massachusetts currently remains the only state where gay marriages are on the same footing as heterosexual weddings (the civil unions available in other states have a separate status). "Last year, Massachusetts even hired a marketing specialist to woo gay and lesbian travelers," according to the Times. And with Vermont’s reputation as the first to legalize civil unions, many red state "newlyweds" are now honeymooning in New England as a sort of a reward to honor them.
Texas will get there eventually. Until then, Bobsaith does what she can. Every two months, Creative Events (located in Oak Lawn’s Design District) has an open house Q&A where Bobsaith addresses any concerns people have about starting to plan their nuptials.
"Anyone is welcome to drop in, even if just to taste some cake," she says. "Or you could plan the whole event if you like. That’s what it’s open for — to gather information, from fundraising clients to meeting planners, to invitations companies, florists, linen companies and rental companies. You name it. And if you can’t make it that date, we’re always here by appointment."
Piece o’ cake.
Creative Events of Dallas, 1333 Oak Lawn Ave., Suite-B, holds its next open house June 21. Creativeeventsofdallas.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 9, 2008.