A Perfect Autumn Wedding

Sarah Ritchie Elopement, Gay Weddings, Real Stories

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Although we’ve witnessed a breathtaking expansion in the rights of gay men and women to marry in America, it is not the still case in everywhere.   And so, our Empire State continues to play host to wonderful men and women who travel here to wed.
Three years have come and gone since New York’s Marriage Equality Law passed, and I continue to find that there is a particular sweetness to my gay wedding ceremonies.  In general, my gay couples tend to be older, compared to my heterosexual brides and grooms.  These folks have not been “dating” in preparation for marriage; rather, they have built lengthy, meaningful lives together.  It is not uncommon for me to wed people, like Al and John from Tennessee, who’ve been partnered for three decades or more.  A weightiness prevails at such a wedding, even it if is small and informal, which calls us to pay tribute to their past commitment and give thanks to the days to come.  Dare I say, for couples like John and Al, living in conservative Middle America, they simply never believed this day would come. The delight and appreciation on their wedding day is palpable.  Gay couples often exude extraordinary gratitude for a rite of passage that others of us may, unfortunately, take for granted.

Al and John contacted me some time ago about a Central Park ceremony. I was happy to oblige their intimate group of loved ones—relatives and dear friends they’d known forever, including two other gay couples who’d previously married in Vermont.  It was a simple, but personalized ceremony, with plenty of laughter and smiles.  But the depth of love between the grooms and shared affection among all of the guests was a gift to me.  Through deeply moving personal vows and a ring warming, with guests sharing individual blessings and words of appreciation, not a dry eye could be found (including yours truly).  All of this was set on the bank of the Central Park Lake, with the beautiful Bethesda Fountain as a backdrop.  One of the grooms’ delightful friends hired a street performer from the Bethesda Arcade to serenade us with violin music before and after the ceremony, as we toasted with champagne and signed the license.  The moments were beautifully captured by Alberto Lama.

As I said to Al and John, I know it is magic that brings my couples together….and I also think it is a little bit of magic that delivers them to me. I wish them much love and many more years of joy and happiness.