Image: One Love Photo


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Thursday, September 30, 2010

#98: BRAVE WEDDING: Carmen & Troy's Ode To Bunnies and Marriage Equality

It's been a while since I've posted a Brave Wedding, so I wanted to bring this feature back with something truly special. Something along the lines of: a bunny cake, bagpipes, 3D glasses for one and all, fun comic book invitations that have been featured on Offbeat Bride, pink Converse sneakers, and a cool cocktail vibe. Seriously, what more do you need??

But what I appreciate most about Carmen and Troy's Madison, WI wedding is that it was the ultimate display of love without labels, judgment, or limits. This couple bravely and respectfully expressed their views on marriage equality and gay rights during the ceremony, and they did so in a way that honored both the bride's lesbian mothers and the groom's more traditional parents, all of whom have been inspiring examples of long-term partnership and love. (And I, coming from a family comprised of several gay members and lots of super religious Catholics who all agree to disagree yet love one another to pieces, TRULY appreciate this gesture.) I now present to you the incredibly sweet and BRAVE Carmen...

There were many things about our wedding that could fit the definition of a "Brave Bride." My husband and I wrote a comic book wedding invitation illustrating our courtship; we made Activity Book Programs in 3D including 3D glasses and fun flamingo pens with every book (the Pink Flamingo is Madison's City Bird!); we had a bagpiper play our ceremony music; and the Grooms Cake was decorated with rabbits to honor my husbands mad love of bunnies.

But I would have to say that our respective families and our joining them together by our marriage truly illustrates the Brave Bride definition.

My husband comes from a conservative religious family, even at one time members of the Assemblies of God. They are kind and loving people, but their views are very different from my family's and Troy's upbringing was very different from mine. I have lesbian mothers who have been together for 30 years. They raised me and my younger sister and are prominent contributing members of the gay and lesbian community in Madison, WI.

While Troy spent his summers attending church revivals, my sister and I attended ERA rallies and Pride Marches. But, despite our different backgrounds, our parents managed to raise us with the same values: a strong sense of family, a responsibility to our community, and a life lived with integrity and grace.

It was with these values in mind that my husband I and decided  to use our wedding ceremony to express our views on marriage inequality. I knew that if we got married I would have to acknowledge that in this country my parents do not share that right. So, we discussed with our officiate, Judge Juan Colas, how we wanted a ceremony that talked about the importance of civil marriage as a human right. We were nervous about how including these political views in our wedding ceremony would be received. It wasn't just Troy's parents we were afraid of offending, we both have other family members who opposed gay marriage and we were afraid that there would be some backlash. But we felt more strongly that it was important to include our views.

We were very lucky that our officiate was so gifted at writing our ceremony. Judge Colas ended up writing a beautiful introduction that acknowledged my parents 30 year union as well as my husband's parents 40 year marriage and talked about how important marriage is in achieving a full human experience. We also included an excerpt from the Mass. Supreme Court decision allowing same sex marriage as one of our readings.  To honor Troy's parents spirituality, we included a ring warming ceremony where we passed our rings among our guests and asked that they bless them with happy thoughts and prayers.

The resulting ceremony created a lovely message about marriage rather than religion that everyone could agree upon. And most importantly, we learned that despite their differing views, our families love us and respect each other. The joining of these two very different families was far less painful than we have feared and everyone has viewed our marriage as an opportunity for gaining new family members rather than each family being ruined by the new additions.

Overall, our day was fantastic! We had an afternoon wedding with a short cocktail reception lasting only until 6:00p. This allowed our guests who had traveled from nearby cities the option of going home early and those who wanted to stay joined us at a local bar later that evening for more drinks and laughter.  Troy and I had envisioned a posh cocktail-laced party with fancy clothes and lots of laughs and that is exactly what we got.

We planned everything very early (most of the party was set and scheduled no later than 5 months in advance) and that made all the difference. On our wedding day we did not have a wedding coordinator, but I did surrender my phone to my Maid of Honor. So, with everything planned and my answering the phone impossible, Troy and I were able to just enjoy the afternoon and focus on each other and our guests.

 My one piece of advice to other brides has probably been said before: be true to the kind of wedding you want. But I will have to add don't let fear steer you away from your vision.

Our families are strange, on good days, and often weddings can bring out that strangeness in ways we could never imagine. But our families can also surprise us with their generosity, acceptance, love and humility. Trust your families and friends and bravely and honestly tell them what you want to do. When you approach them with sincerity, I have found people will respect and honor your wishes regardless of whether or not they agree with you.

Cakes: Rolling Pin Bakeshop, Fitchburg, WI
Dress: Dolly Couture
Photographer: Kelly Doering, Stick People Productions (
Custom jewelry: Billy & CO. (
Venue: Overture Center for the Arts, Madison, WI (


  1. It so great to do the jewelry for your wedding. After reading this, it's even more of an honor!! Your wedding was absolutely beautiful, and so are you =)

  2. Lovely post! Thanks, and warm wishes for Carmen and Troy.

  3. Carmen's and Troy's parents must feel entirely blessed to have such wonderful people, this strong & loving couple, in their lives. This story seriously brought tears to my eyes. Best wishes to Carmen & Troy!

  4. Hooray for bagpipes! I had those, too. :)

  5. It was a great day and an honor to witness an event based on love and acceptance. I love spending time with my family and want to do it so much more!!!! We love you Carmen and Troy (aka Tony)
    Amby Tammy & Uncle Allan

  6. It was a splendid weekend Carmen! Thanks for sharing the back story!
    Annette & Jim


Babbling about weddings is so much more fun when people babble back. :)

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