“Barrel” Fever!

plan it toussaintRemember being a little boy and watching your sister play “bride and groom” with Ken and Barbie, and how she’d place sheets over her shoulders and make you carry her “train?” And how she’d tell you that, someday, she’d be a married lady and you’d be lucky enough to get an invite? And remember, most of all, how much you wanted to punch her in the face?

Times have changed, and some of us boys are now adult men, dreaming of getting married and having a wedding so fabulous even now-separated Barbie and Ken couldn’t compete.

Robbie Cronrod and Allen Artcliff (34 and 38) are two men who fell madly in love, got engaged on October 1, 2010, and started planning the wedding of their dreams, with a little help from Crate & Barrel. The Los Angeles residents entered Crate & Barrel’s Ultimate Wedding Contest in February of this year, and if they win, not only will they get $100,000 and a wedding planner to help them plan their affair, they’ll also be making quite the statement:

While many gay couples have entered wedding contests, none have ever won…yet.

“We are doing this for marriage equality,” says Allen and Robbie (the lovebirds overlapped each other’s sentences so often I finally told them I’d quote them together). “We want to show a loving couple in a relationship. If that means putting us in the spotlight, that’s okay.”

Anyone who’s witnessed the same-sex marriage plight probably understands this line of reasoning. What may be a puzzle is the wedding aspect.

For Allen and Robbie, that’s half the battle: “The media doesn’t show the wedding, they just cover what’s going on in the courts. Those photos would be in every Crate & Barrel store nationwide. People in Ohio and Nebraska can look at us and say, ‘Wow, they’re just a regular couple. Look at how wonderful it looks.’ You don’t necessarily change the hearts and minds of America in the courts.”

Allen and Robbie had already thought a lot about their wedding before entering the contest, and they’ve mapped out ideas one way or another. “If we win, we’ll have over 150 guests,” they say. “If not, it’ll be a much smaller affair. We’ve told them that our dream wedding would be an outdoor, Los Angeles affair, and we’d like to have it on our anniversary.”

The couple have talked to vendors and planners separate from the contest, and haven’t decided on their own budget. “We truly just want to celebrate and have a huge party,” they say. “Lots of passed hors d’oeuvres with a band or D.J. and cocktails. We picture it to be like a huge Hollywood wrap party.”

They’ve already gotten plenty of media attention, not all of it fantastic (“We’ve had some people say extremely negative things”). For the most part, however, it’s a great ride. There are approximately 7,000 couples in the contest, and last year’s gay couple came in second.

“We knew we were getting married no matter what,” they say. “When we realized what it could do for the LGBT community, it was much bigger than us. Either way, we’ve already won.”

If you’d like to learn more and vote for Allen and Robbie, check out their entry. And while you’re at it, send them a congrats!


David Toussaint is the author of the Gay Couple's Guide to Wedding Planning, Gay and Lesbian Weddings: Planning the Perfect Same-Sex Ceremony, and TOUSSAINT!.