Some stories you just can not make up. My partner, now husband, had a beautiful small in-person wedding planned for April 25th. We had spent weeks picking the venue, a beautiful park-like setting; the caterer, whose food was incredible; a fantastic florist; a day-of-wedding planner; officiant; wedding cake baker, and more. Then came the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
When our governor banned all gatherings of fifty or more on March 17th, we canceled the in-person wedding. Not to be stopped, we announced a virtual wedding, imagining just our officiant and a few close friends in our home with the rest of our guests watching online.
We contacted our officiant, who had spent the winter in Puerto Rico about our new plans and learned that she was thinking about staying in Puerto Rico, fearful of flying home and returning to Washington, DC, amid the pandemic. So we pivoted again to a close friend and fellow officiant of our officiant. Could the 2nd officiant come on April 25th, marry us in the driveway, keeping the recommended six feet apart, and hour before our virtual wedding? She could! We had a new plan.
Things changed again on March 30th when Maryland’s Governor issued a stay-at-home order, quickly followed by Washington, DC, and Virginia. Would our second officiant, an older woman, be willing to come to our home in violation of the stay-at-home order? My partner and I spend a sleepless night, anxious and unsure if our wedding could go forward. Events, because of the unfolding nature of the pandemic, were moving fast, and we did not want to wait a month only to find it impossible to be married on April 25th. When we spoke the next morning on March 31st, we began to realize that if we were going to get married, it had to be soon.
That morning we texted neighbors, posted on a neighborhood social media site, and searched the web to find a local officiant. By noon we had found a woman officiant whose website we liked. We called her, she agreed to marry us, and we had an appointment to be married the following morning. Success!
We have now been married for fourteen days. Other than the rings on our finger, not much in our lives has changed. We are still mostly at home, except for walks and the supermarket. We both have spaces in the house that functions as our home offices. Life goes on in a kind of cruel way as we all watch the pandemic unfold on the TV from the family room couch. Our goal is to stay healthy long enough for a vaccine to be developed, a cure to be found, or the shortages of testing and personal protective equipment to be resolved.
I am enjoying looking at the wedding ring on our fingers. There is something powerful about how a wedding ring is an outward sign to the world of the commitment of two people. As a man who did not come out until his early fifties, to be married to another man is an amazing and beautiful milestone.
On April 25th, we will have our virtual wedding ceremony. Only my husband and I will be in the house. All thoughts of a few close friends attending the ceremony in person were scrapped as we gained a greater understanding of the seriousness of the pandemic. The wedding ceremony script has been rewritten to fit our new circumstances. Our officiant, flower girl, best man, and two readers will all attend the ceremony by Zoom. Our guests, a growing number of people as we continue to invite a larger circle of friends to witness our wedding, will watch our wedding over YouTube Live from their living room couches. So many people have told me that they are dressing up for the occasion, which is so much fun.
I am excited and nervous about our virtual wedding ceremony. Eight years ago, when I first started documenting my coming out journey, I wrote, “NSA encounters hold no attraction for me at this point. Porn, likewise, I find boring. I want true love. I guess I am a romantic at heart, but I want to find that one guy who I can be a soul mate with.” It was clear to me then that I was not coming out for sex, or dislike of my wife, or anything else. I was coming out primarily one thing, love.
The man I married is a soul mate. We are romantic together, love the physicality of touching, hugging, and kissing each other. We genuinely love each other. So why should the wedding make me nervous?
To be continued…