Craig’s (Gay Wedding Planning) List

photo by Mike SmarroIn the world of gay weddings, no one knows how to throw a party like Craig Goldstein, the Executive Producer of E squared concepts, located in Miami and New York. Goldstein, who is openly gay, has organized weddings and events that have included re-creating Versailles and building a real-life red carpet (guests walked over tux-clad waiters hired for the event) at the hotel entranceway.

Goldstein’s company is as hot as South Beach in August, and I wanted to get his take on gay weddings, and what he’d do if a couple had unlimited funds for the wedding of their dreams.

Surprisingly, Goldstein didn’t talk much about flying out of airplanes or holding the reception in an ice bar (though he’d be happy to arrange either one of these events for you). When it comes to two women or two men saying “I Do,” Goldstein is as down to earth as his company is over-the-top.

“Gay brothers and sisters often can’t get married legally, so they have a tendency to make their weddings more spiritual than religious,” he says. “The receptions are often similar to straight weddings; it’s the first part that’s more customized and personal.” Goldstein notes that Jewish and Catholic men and women often get married by a nondemoninational minister and combine elements of different faiths in their nuptials.

So what does Goldstein recommend? “I like the idea of jumping into the ocean at a beach wedding; I even witnessed a couple cliff-dive after the vows. It’s a variation of the Jewish tradition of Breaking the Glass, and it symbolizes the couple becoming one.” Goldstein says that a popular theme is to walk over hot coals, and that it’s perfectly safe. “It’s an ancient, tribal custom,” he says. “You start at one end as two people, and by the time you’re finished you’re a couple.”

Ironically, the companies that lease out the equipment for hot coals don’t provide insurance, but Goldstein doesn’t think that should stop you. “It’s no different from walking on hot sand,” he says. “Most couples who do it either get insurance themelves or make guests sign a waiver.”

Goldstein is all in favor of donating to gay-friendly organizations in lieu of accepting gifts, and says that many clients prefer to wed in a gay-owned hotel. While he doesn’t think that’s necessary (“being gay is just one part of life; we’re no different or better than anyone else”), he can happily find the location that suits your needs.

Oh yeah, and if you do want to party like it’s 2011, he’ll be there for you. “One thing I like to do is set up a casino for the cocktail party or post-dinner reception; you can’t arrange it for later, as the gays want to end up dancing.” Goldstein provides the casino; roulette, blackjack, you name it, then brings in the girls or guy servers. The guests play for a prize. “Gambling is illegal in Miami, so the couple often purchases the prizes ahead of time. We can monogram the chips, anything.”

Craig Goldstein will arrange pretty much anything you want, and anything you can afford, but his main concern is something that has nothing to do with money or glamour. “The biggest mistake I see gay men and women doing is getting married too early. They’re rushing into marriage because they want to feel like the norm, or they’re capitalizing on a trend. Divorce rates are around 50 percent; there’s no reason to think we’re going to handle it any better.”

Sound advice from a man who’s seen it all, and can do it all. And he’s no cynic: “It’s great that gay couples often get married when they are older and have more income. Unlike a lot of straight people, most gays who get married are paying for most, or all, of the ceremony themselves, and they’re re-thinking every detail and having the wedding of their dreams, not someone else’s.”

A family man himself who wants kids someday, there is one trend he’s not in favor of. “I think you should share the same name if you’re planning on having children,” he says. “But people who combine their names and make a new one–that’s just super gay!”

I guess this means that “Goldsaint” is out of the question.


Photo Credit: mikesmarro.com

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!.