Planning Your Wedding In A Legal World

f8 Studios RoseAfter the triumph of legal gay marriage in New York City, the last thing euphoric couples want to hear is “Wait.” While we’d never tell you to hold off on your dream wedding, legal or otherwise, there are now important planning steps you need to make. Setbacks will occur, but gay marriage is going to win out in the long run. To make sure you’re relationship is also sturdy, read on.

With the country taking New York’s lead and flocking to the state to get hitched, the Reverend Laurie Sue Brockway was on-hand to watch the festivities. What she saw moved her beyond tears, and she shared her thoughts on what’s next for engaged couples.

“Take a look at what it means to be legally married,” she says. “Obviously, in the eyes of the Federal government, you are not entitled to the kind of benefits that other couples are entitled to. But you are, in the eyes of the State government, allowed the same benefits. That includes ownership and property, your State income tax, changing your name, raising children, buying property together, death benefits, and what you’d be entitled to if you broke up.”

Yes, it’s a long list, but marriage is not to be entered upon lightly. Brockway is not a legal expert, and this is not a column on legal matters, but “legal” and “wedding” merge when it’s about planning a marriage.

Says Brockway: “Gay couples have done an unbelievably extraordinary job in building a life together in a system that does not recognize them as ‘married couples.’” To keep that system in top form, Brockway recommends counseling, taking your time, and talking to couples (gay and straight) about their marriages and what makes it work.

“There are a lot of people walking around, and you don’t see why they are married,” says Brockway. “They fight, they don’t like each other, they have addictions.”

There’s no guarantee gay couples will handle marriage any better, but Brockway is hopeful that the long struggle will enable same-sex couples to understand the treasure of matrimony.

“If you’ve been in a long relationship you know what for better or for worse means,” says Brockway. “The paper is supposed to change your mind-set. The ceremony is a ritual that opens the door, in a holy, sacred environment. Being married doesn’t operate on its own. You have to focus on it, nurture it.”

Brockway notes that marriage is not about two halves making a whole, but, rather, “two individuals who are bright lights, who together are a much brighter light.”

With the great, recent news comes the possibility of divorce and breakups, all of which makes Brockway even more passionate about the commitment same-sex couples make while heading toward the altar. “It’s going to change our world. I hope we all handle it responsibly.”

Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway is a leading interfaith and non-denominational wedding officiant who is known for her warm, loving and creative approach to blessing couples of all backgrounds and faiths, and for guiding them on their journey to the altar and beyond. She is author of YOUR INTERFAITH WEDDING (Praeger, 2010) and WEDDING GODDESS (Penguin, 2005).

Photography by f8photostudios and arragement by English Garden


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!.