Judges can do it, so I’ve decided writers can too. Having been recently widowed, I recused myself from writing any news stories about marriage.
We’re coming up on what would have been my one-year wedding anniversary. But my husband Brian died suddenly in March, so that will be a difficult weekend for me.
Cousins who came to Dallas for my wedding will be back for my anniversary. We’ll toast Brian and eat the top layer of our wedding cake that’s been taking up so much of our freezer since last June. With their help, I’ll get through it.
So I decided to write something for this issue about the memory I’ll always have of staging our wonderful and peculiar wedding.
I know lots of people who’ve gotten married by a judge in a courtroom, and that’s fine if you’re marrying for financial reasons like employment benefits or for the security that comes with a marriage license. But if you’re inviting friends and family, do something different — and different doesn’t necessarily mean expensive.
The alternative to a quick courtroom ceremony doesn’t have to be a sit-down dinner in a hotel ballroom. And keeping costs under control doesn’t necessarily mean limiting the number of guests.
Brian and I got married in front of 950 of our closest friends, on stage during a Turtle Creek Chorale concert celebrating the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell marriage-equality decision.
We had a Jewish wedding, which means we needed a chuppah — a wedding canopy. We created the chuppah with old talit — prayer shawls — that Brian colored brightly with magic markers. He hung them over a frame he made of PVC pipe. Total cost for the pipe and connectors was under $10.
As we planned for the event, someone asked what our colors were going to be. Being a good queen, I answered “blush and bashful.” (For anyone who doesn’t know the reference — first, shame on you! And second, they were Shelby’s colors in Steel Magnolias.)
But when Brian heard those were the colors I wanted — he sometimes took things I said too seriously — he ran with it. He shopped his heart out until he found matching ties and vests, mine in blush and his in bashful, he insisted. After scouring NorthPark and men’s stores elsewhere in the city, he found the perfect tie-and-vest sets at Al’s Formal Wear on Oak Lawn Avenue, and he got them at a perfectly reasonable price.
And who could argue with him on whether he got the colors right? They’re totally made up colors anyway.
Our biggest expense was the wedding cake. We were married in City Performance Hall. With audience and singers, we needed cake for about 900.
A friend recommended his cake baker Drew Pierson to us. Before we discussed cake design, I asked Drew if he’d be offended by baking a cake for a gay wedding. I mean, no reason to take chances even though Drew is gay.
So we came up with our combination of flavors — almond sour cream cake with cream cheese butter cream icing and Key lime and mandarin orange filling between layers.
Over the top? Sure. A little nauseating? Well, eat one layer at a time, not all mixed together. Delicious? Memorable? Hell yes.
Here’s a tip I learned that helped keep our costs down and kept problems to a minimum. When your cake baker suggests something, like how to keep the biggest cake he’s ever baked standing after being transported from Garland, listen to him.
And when the caterer has several options on how to serve and one option isn’t more important to you than another, ask her, “Which is easier?” Our caterer was flabbergasted. No one ever asks that. And she quoted us a great rate.
We opted for plastic dishes rather than glass plates. We really didn’t care and I’ll bet no one who attended particularly noticed. For those who did — OK, fine; judge us. But it kept the catering costs down because of all the extra time and labor it would have taken to wash 900 dishes with accompanying silverware.
What people remember was that cake.
And the colorful chuppah we stood under.
And the beautiful song the chorale sang that we interrupted with our ceremony.
And the tears of joy that filled the stage.
Damn you, Turtles, for making ME cry during the ceremony, and I’ll always love you for making our wedding so memorable.
So as you plan your wedding, remember you don’t have to do it on stage in the middle of a Turtle Creek Chorale to have fun. Just think outside the box. Make your wedding memorable, and don’t be bridezillas.
Most important is to make sure the day is memorable to you. Hopefully it’s a memory you’ll share together for many years. For me, it’s a memory of how wonderful our short time together was.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 5, 2017.