She Showed Up Early to the Party for Gay & Lesbian Weddings
This summer, as we await what we expect will be the first decision (in a series of appeals leading all the way to the Supreme Court) regarding the constitutionality of California's Prop 8, we can help but look back and think about how far we've come.
To kick off this mini-series retrospective we offer one of our favorite time capsule items: an interview — "TwoBrides.Mom" — with company founder and straight mom, Gretchen Hamm, from the year 2000 (yes, Y2K!) with Karen Dale Wolman of LesbiaNation about why she founded this business and her vision for marriage equality.
"And the rest is .mom history." – Gretchen Hamm, Founder
By Karen Dale Wolman, LesbiaNation, © 2000. Reprinted by permission.
Thinking about her newly engaged daughter, Kathryn, mother-of-a-lesbian-bride Gretchen Hamm asked herself, "What would I be doing if she was marrying a man?" The answer she says was apparent, "I didn't want to treat her any different because it was two women than if she was marrying a man, or if it was my son marrying a woman."
And it was later at her daughter's wedding shower that web inspiration struck. She remembers, "I was talking to someone about how I went shopping at the gay area here in Dallas, and I couldn't find anything that had to do with gay marriages. One of the guests joked, 'Why don't you start TwoBrides.com?'" And the rest is .mom history.
Her philosophy when creating the site was "a commitment to normalcy," treating lesbian marriages and gay marriages [at TwoGrooms.com] exactly the same as heterosexual marriages. "What is was," Hamm explains, "was a commitment to equality. I used it to measure my actions."
But finding good products, often any products at all, quickly became an obstacle. "We either have to create them or be pretty creative," she notes. "There's [not much out there] and the things that are there are just not as nice as I want to offer."
"I had an artist design wedding certificates. They're just beautiful, and they allow a couple to celebrate the significance of what they're undertaking. This was my daughter's idea. We designed one specifically for Vermont civil unions. It was really great to put 'legally binding' on it." TwoBrides.com also offers guest books and wedding albums, many of them handmade.
She also found that cake toppers with two brides, were only offered in very limited selections. "The requests I’ve had is for them to be more personalized. If you have a woman who wants to wear a tuxedo, does she have short hair or long hair? There are different hair colors, different skin colors. My daughters wore formal gowns. I never thought about so much variety and preferences with one community in the traditional wedding deal. There are so many different combinations."
The self-proclaimed "mother-approved web site for alternative weddings" now offers services and products for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community. Engaged couples and their families can purchase The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay weddings, toasting flutes, invitations, party napkins, even a bar of clear soap with two little brides inside it. Visitors can also browse through the TwoBrides Wedding Album, a photo gallery that features a myriad of couples on the day of their nuptials.
"So much gets lost in traditional heterosexual marriages because of the pomp and circumstance," Hamm says. "When Kathryn and Amy planned their ceremony, they were planning their ceremony for about a year. We were excited and talking about it and wanted to have it be special." With her website, Hamm hopes to help other lesbian couples create ceremonies that have meaning to them. About her daughter's wedding, she says, "I welcomed Amy to the family. It was kind of neat because there are no rules. They wrote their own vows, which were incredibly beautiful; the ceremony was so intimate."
"Kathryn is thrilled and has been a very helpful source, been really a major help in the whole thing. They both are just fabulous, and they wear their TwoBrides.com shirts everywhere. They love being my number one poster brides."
Hamm herself is one special poster Mom. "I think the story is about a mother who loves her daughter. And I love my daughter-in-law now, and they are so happy. Here I am today having the time of my life doing something I love, working with people that I love, while helping to further a cause in which I passionately believe."
© 2000 LesbiaNation; All Rights Reserved. Reprinted by permission.
Wedding innovator Kathryn Hamm (@madebykathryn) is co-author of The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography (Amphoto Books, 2014), an Education Expert for WeddingWire and Publisher of GayWeddings.com