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Featured Gay Friendly Wedding Vendor: Reba Boyd Wooden, Greenwood, Indiana

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Reba Boyd Wooden, IndianaPeriodically we’ll feature one of our vendors here to let our readers know about some great people who can help you plan the perfect wedding.

Reba Boyd Wooden offers secular marriage and committment ceremonies in Indiana.

See Reba’s Expanded Listing on Purple Unions Here

Gay Friendly Wedding Vendors in Indiana

Featured Gay Friendly Wedding Vendor: Cheat A Little Catering, San Francisco, California

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

Cheat a Little Catering

Periodically we’ll feature one of our vendors here to let our readers know about some great people who can help you plan the perfect wedding.

Cheat A Little Catering is a full-service catering company, serving the entire San Francisco bay area. “One stop shopping” for catered cuisine, beverages, service staff, rentals, floral, valet and venue selection. Custom-designed menus with vegan/vegetarian, gluten-free and multi-cultural food options. Your “go-to” LGBT caterer for Weddings, Commitment Ceremonies, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Holidays & Corporate Events.

See the Cheat A Little Catering Expanded Listing on Purple Unions Here

Gay Friendly Wedding Vendors

Featured Gay Friendly Wedding Vendor: Common Ground Ceremonies, New York, New York

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

Common Ground Ceremonies, New York City

Periodically we’ll feature one of our vendors here to let our readers know about some great people who can help you plan the perfect wedding.

Gay Friendly New York City Wedding Officiant – Congratulations!! I am an Interfaith Minister/Singer/Musician. I have been in the wedding business as a Singer/Pianist for over 10 years.

See the Common Ground Ceremonies Expanded Listing on Purple Unions Here

Gay Friendly Wedding Vendors in New York

Featured Gay Friendly Wedding Vendor: Rev. Will Mercer, New York City, New York

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Reverend Will Mercer, New York City

Periodically we’ll feature one of our vendors here to let our readers know about some great people who can help you plan the perfect wedding.

Gay Friendly New York City Wedding Officiant – Your Wedding Ceremony is the heart of your Wedding and your Officiant is the heart of your Ceremony.

See Reverend Will Mercer’s ‘s Expanded Listing on Purple Unions Here

Gay Friendly Wedding Vendors in New York City

Purple Unions Blogger Quoted in The Atlantic on Gay Marriage and Weddings

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Check out the well-written article in The Atlantic — Mr. & Mrs. Smith: How Some Gay Couples Reclaim Old Marriage Traditions — comments by Sandy Malone in the last part of the story.

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico.  She is also the star of TLC’s new reality wedding show “Wedding Island,” premiering July 17, 2013 at 10 pm ET/PT.  Sandy and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands.  Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events.  She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004.  Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas.  She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada.  Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop).  Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post  and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!

Tips for Tracking Down MIA RSVPs from Tacky Wedding Guests

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Are Americans just becoming ruder every day, or is it my imagination?  The number one thing that stresses out my wedding clients is something that I don’t think should even be an issue – wedding guests who don’t respond to formal wedding invitations, causing lots of wasted time tracking down responses and worrying about an uncertain budget.  So rude it’s unbelievable!  And gay weddings have just as bad an RSVP track record as straight ones, so don’t be pointing fingers.

The art of the RSVP is becoming a lost one.  I don’t even mean in the strictest sense of etiquette – I mean that wedding guests have become some of the laziest, tackiest people in the world if reports from my brides and grooms are accurate. Almost one hundred percent of wedding invitations today have an easy way to respond to the invitation – in fact, most have a pre-stamped envelope to insert the fill-in-the-blank response card.  So easy that “even a caveman could do it.”  And yet, my couples are reporting as many as fifty percent of their guests have to be called, or sent an email, in order to find out whether they’re attending the commitment ceremony or not.  Surprisingly – a lack of response doesn’t necessarily indicate they’re not coming.  Only that they don’t have enough respect for the brides or grooms to send back a prompt response.

Let’s back up and educate the general public who may be confused.  RSVP stands for “répondez, s’il vous plaît,” which literally means “please reply” in French.  In the strictest form of etiquette back in the day, the invitee was actually supposed to hand-write a response to the hosts (usually the bride’s parents), but that nicety has given way to the pre-printed card they can send back.  I’m sure that was invented by some desperate bride in modern times (note to self – look that up).

What is horrifying to those who fight changes in wediquette (gay or otherwise) is the birth of the online RSVP – but even that hasn’t solved the lack of response problem.  Whether it’s an Evite or some fancy wedding website with responses you can click (and even choose your meal), advocates of formal wedding traditions will tell you it’s a bad idea to forego the traditional paper invitation and response card.  Let’s just face it folks – not everybody opens Evites or even special links to wedding websites sent personally by the bride and groom.  Even members of the bridal party have confessed to never having opened the web pages the brides and grooms so carefully and lovingly designed to share with their invited guests.  Swear to God, the track record on RSVPs done on digital invites is actually WORSE than the old fashioned paper kind.

So what can brides and grooms do to make life easier?  Here are a few tips that my clients have found to be helpful… sometimes.

–       If you’re having a destination wedding, send out your travel info packet and wedding invitation as soon as possible – but give them the traditional 6-8 weeks to reply.  You will know how many guests you have months ahead of time.  But you’ll also have time to track down all those MIA.

–       Assuming you’ve sent out a nice paper invite and response card, a follow up email the day after the RSVP deadline to guests whom you haven’t yet heard from is not inappropriate.  Some guests will remember to put it in the mail, others will email you back a response.  Whatever it takes, you just need the info.

–       The bride or groom who invited the tacky non-responsive guest (sorry, long day, I might be a little crabby on behalf of my clients) should call that particular guest to follow up if it gets to that point.  Don’t make your future husband or wife call your college friends who’ve been unresponsive.  That’s not fair.  You invited them, you hunt them down.  And definitely do not expect your fiancé to call your long-long relatives.

–       When all else fails, involve a third party.  And I mean after you have each called and emailed your respective invitees.  The third party can be your mother or your wedding planner – doesn’t matter which – trust me when I say that even the tackiest guest in the world will not ignore that phone call or email.  You’ll have shamed them into responding.  It’s not pretty, but when it needs to be done, it’s the best way to do it.

Expect to see brides and grooms (gay and straight) struggling with the RSVP issue and so many more etiquette and basic manners challenges on our new reality TV show, “Wedding Island,” premiering on TLC on Wednesday, July 17th at 10 pm Eastern/Pacific.  The show features me and my husband Bill and our fantastic island crew as we struggle to survive daily life while executing dream weddings and commitment ceremonies on an island where everything has to take two boats or two planes to get here.  Season One does feature a gay wedding – but that’s all I’m going to tell you so that you make sure to set your DVR and remember to watch!  For the official skinny, check out the official TLC press release http://press.discovery.com/us/tlc/press-releases/2013/tlc-commits-wedding-island-thursday-nights-25-2544/.

Dwayne and Rodney with cameras

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!  And good luck hunting down those RSVPs.

Sandy

Sandy Malone is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico.  She and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings in the Spanish Virgin Islands.  Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events.  She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004.  Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas.  She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada.  Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island), Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm), and Boutique in Vieques (a clothing and home décor shop).  Sandy has a regular column on the Huffington Post  and has been rated “Five Rainbows” by her happy gay clients!

Purple Unions Blogger and Wedding Planner Gets Reality Show on TLC

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Dear Readers!

I’ve spent enough time making fun of reality TV celebs on my blog that I figured I’d better go ahead and “out” myself to all of you before you find out from somebody I’ve snarked about in the past!  Check out my blog today in the Huffington Post to hear all the inside skinny on the making of “Wedding Island,” TLC’s new wedding reality show featuring Sandy Malone and the whole crew at Weddings in Vieques a they plan and execute weddings AND COMMITMENT CEREMONIES on national television!  No room for error there!

Check out the blog at “Your New Favorite Reality Show Has Arrived” on HuffPost Weddings today!!!  And mark your calendars for the premiere of “Wedding Island” on Wednesday, July 17th at 10 pm eastern.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy

 

 

Sandy Malone, a guest blogger with Purple Unions, is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico.  She and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings and commitment ceremonies in the Spanish Virgin Islands.  Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events.  She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004.  Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas.  She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada.  Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island) , Boutique in Vieques and Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm).  Visit her at www.weddingsinvieques.com.

Should You Invite Your Parents to Your Wedding even if They Don’t Support Gay Marriage?

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Hi again!

A new client recently asked me whether she should invite her mother, who does not support their union, to her wedding festivities.  If she were asking me the question about anybody other than immediate family, my clear and concise answer would be “do not invite anyone who doesn’t support your decision to get married.”  However, you only get one set of parents in this lifetime, and you (hopefully) will only have one wedding.  If your parents don’t choose to attend your gay wedding, that’s on them.  But if you take the high road and sincerely invite them, they can never say you excluded them from the biggest day of your life.  It also puts the forgiveness ball in your court.  You can choose to forgive (or not) them for not attending down the road if you want to, but if you didn’t even ask your dad to walk you down the aisle, you can never get that back again and fix it.

Some would say that’s rich coming from me, since I didn’t invite some of my siblings to my wedding eight years ago, and have absolutely no regrets about excluding them.  That’s different.  If you and your parents or siblings weren’t on speaking terms pre-engagement, then all bets are off.  But if everything was kosher prior to your big wedding announcement, you may not have to throw the baby out with the bathwater right away.

I advise all of my clients to pick their battles wisely during the wedding planning process.  For something as serious as whether to invite the people who put you on this earth to share your wedding day, don’t let a momentary lapse of judgment (theirs, of course) dictate the future relationship you’ll have with them for the rest of your life. It’s no skin off your back to send the invitation.  If they come, you include them and they become a part of your happy memories.  You can enlist the help of a sibling or a sympathetic friend of theirs to help them acclimate to the situation so you don’t have to be the one doing the babysitting.  And for real, they might need some hand holding.  Certainly you can make a bigger statement by NOT inviting them to prove a point if your parent has been vocally opposed to the marriage, but in your haste to win that battle, you night well lose the war.

Remember, not having your parents with your on your wedding day can be far more devastating than having to deal with the drama that may unfold when you make the big engagement announcement.  Again, allow for the fact your parents are from another generation and try to be as understanding as you possibly can be, given that they obviously have serious concerns or objections to your lifestyle if things have come to this point.  When everything is said and done, you are getting married whether they like it or not.  You do not need their permission, but it would be nice to have their blessing.

Your life isn’t over when you get married, in fact, it’s just beginning.  And maintaining a positive relationship with your family becomes even more important if you choose to have or adopt children. A child growing up in a “non-traditional” home may have some of his or her own challenges to face, depending on how enlightened the population is where you live.  Grandparents (and aunts and uncles) can create a solid and secure foundation for children and should not be easily discounted.  Certainly, you don’t want to have your mother babysit if she refers to your wife as the Whore of Babylon, but if you get mad when they don’t greet your wedding announcement with a brass band and never even give her the opportunity to change her mind and support you in person on your wedding day, you may be burning a bridge you could have rebuilt much more painlessly.

Instead of getting angry, take the time to sit down and educate them.  If they don’t (outwardly) have a problem with your gay lifestyle, perhaps you can disabuse them of the notion that gay marriage is so far-fetched.  Maybe they’ve never really given the time to think about what you have to put up with on a daily basis, and the fact that you have to jump through about a billion more hoops than a straight couple to get your lives set up.  Do they realize how this will change the practical aspects of life for you?  Would these practical aspects change their opinion of your choice to marry?  There are a lot of websites with GOOD information for parents who are struggling with their children’s choices.  Find the good sites and send them the links directly, don’t make your 70 year old mother Google “gay marriage.” God only knows what she’ll come up with before she finds the legitimate info was looking for.

The decisions about whom to include for your wedding are challenging, but not insurmountable.  It can be an excellent way to say to your parents “nothing else matters that has happened – I just want you there.”  Likewise, failing to invite them sends another, very permanent message as well.  Remember, they say it’s all in the delivery – but if you never send the invitation, it never gets delivered and you’ll never know for certain exactly what they might have done with it.  Think long and hard about it because once your choice is made – you can’t undo it.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra!

Sandy

The Birth of Gay Wediquette

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

Hello there!

There is no Emily Post etiquette guide for gay weddings.

I’ve been a very busy Caribbean destination wedding planner on a little island seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico for five years, but I’d never really thought about that challenge before my client Patrick brought it to my attention as we were putting the finishing touches on his April commitment ceremony.  He’s absolutely right.  How have I missed that?  His is certainly not the first gay wedding I’ve ever planned.  I plan lots of commitment ceremonies because Vieques Island is very, very gay friendly and has a number of gay-owned businesses and accommodations.

Because there is no real etiquette authority (or rules) about how you do destination weddings (or gay destination weddings), I’ve been making it up as I go along.  No really, I have.  You see, I was raised by an etiquette aficionado.  My cousin and I jokingly refer to my mom and her dad as “Ms.” and “Mr. Post,” respectively.  They’re the only people left in the world that I know who flip over wedding invitations and run their fingers over the back to check and see if it’s real engraving before they ever look to see who is inviting them!  Not saying there’s anything wrong with that.  Just sayin’.

I was raised in a strict household with consistent manners enforcement.  We called our parents “Ma’am” and “Sir.”  Some people seem to find that appalling now, but I think it was a benefit.  We all have lovely manners as a result.  And I’m a lucky wedding planner who was brought up to know which fork is which, where to seat whom for special events (even when there are multiple spouses involved), how to properly address an envelope to anyone (The Honorable, The Reverend, etc.), how to properly set a table, how to write an amazing thank you note, and how to keep a polite smile on my face no matter how horrified I am by what I’m seeing in front of me.  I spent 13 years in a plaid kilt and I was a Girl Scout with all the manners badges.  See – now I’ve established my credentials and they’re probably better than most.  So let’s proceed.

How have I been determining destination wediquette for the past five years?  I’ve been winging it with a little common sense.  This is a fun topic that I’ll probably blog about more than one time (hello, I see a book here!), but for today, let’s start at the beginning and tackle the etiquette questions that come up most frequently with my gay clients.

 1 – How do you address the wedding invitations? 

Believe it or not, that’s just as tricky a question no matter what kind of couple is getting married.  Times have changed.  If you want to involve your parents in the wording of the wedding invitations, you can refer to the old fashioned method of naming the people who are hosting the event.  In this day and age, most couples are contributing significantly to their own wedding budgets so not everybody puts their parents’ names on the wedding invitations anymore.  In fact, having mom and dad on there at all is less and less common.  But if you are using their names, and if you want to do it the proper or traditional way, and if one set of parents are paying for a significant portion of the wedding, that set of parents should have top billing on the invitation.  For example, if Bob’s parents are paying for the entire wedding, the invite would read (allowing for your own phraseology and style):

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Graham Smith cordially invite you

to the marriage of their son

Robert Graham Smith, Junior,

to Edward Thomas Black

If both sets of parents are paying or you want to acknowledge them equally regardless of financial contribution (more popular in this day and age than you can even imagine), you would add the line after the second groom’s name “son of Dr. and Mrs. Leroy Desmond Black.”  Yes, I am making the names up (I knew you were wondering).

2 – Who sits on which side at the wedding? 

Traditionally, the bride’s family goes on the left and the groom’s family sits on the right.  But at a gay wedding where there are two brides or two grooms, it’s less clear.  Joke all you like, but one half of each couple has always planned more of the wedding.  That’s the person we put on the bride’s side if there’s a question about it.  It’s certainly not a hard and fast rule, and you can do whatever you want, but if you need to ask me… I’ll tell you which one of you is the bride. J

3 – How do you seat the parents?  Who gets treated like top dog? 

Usually it’s the bride’s mother, but when you have two MoGs instead of a MoB, what’s the protocol?  Well, if you decided to follow my first suggestion of putting whoever planned the wedding on the left side, you would seat the mother of the person on the right first, and then follow with the MoG who will be seated on the left (the traditional MoB spot).

4 – Should you do the first dance and cut the cake?

You should do whatever you want to do on your wedding day.  If you’ve always wanted to smash your partner’s face with cake, why hold back?  Yet, you don’t have to do anything you’re uncomfortable with.  I have plenty of straight clients who opt out of cake cuttings, first dances and even the bouquet toss.  You should do things that make your day more special.

5 – Who belongs on the “must invite” list?

The same people should be invited to your wedding regardless of your sexual preference.  The only people you should invite should be people who love you and support your decision to get married.  If you have some family members who don’t approve of your decision, you don’t have to invite them.  Nobody negative should be included.  Don’t try to be the bigger or better person.  It’s your wedding day.  The entire day is about the union you’ve chosen to form.  Anybody who doesn’t get that and isn’t completely behind you doesn’t belong there on such an important day.

Etiquette is more than knowing that nobody’s plate should be cleared from the table until everybody at that table is finished eating.  A lot of it is a framework to which you apply common sense.  It gets tricky, however, when the social situation under consideration is a wedding or commitment ceremony because there are such a heightened level of emotions involved.  Sometimes you have to stop, take a breath, and mentally step back from a situation to make the proper wediquette decision.  Ask yourself what would EP (Emily Post) do?

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Weddings in Culebra?   Have you started planning your Caribbean destination wedding or commitment ceremony yet?

Sandy

www.weddingsinvieques.com

Sandy Malone, a guest blogger with Purple Unions, is the owner of Weddings in Vieques, a full-service destination wedding planning company based on Vieques Island, seven miles off the coast of Puerto Rico.  She and her team (including her husband Bill, a retired SWAT team commander) have planned and executed almost 400 weddings and commitment ceremonies in the Spanish Virgin Islands.  Sandy is a veteran event planner from Washington, DC, with years of experience planning large and small weddings, press conference, and corporate and political events.  She has planned countless events on Vieques Island, beginning with her own wedding back in 2004.  Since that time, her professional staff has executed large and small weddings of all styles, including elopements, vow renewals and fabulously posh events at multi-million dollar waterfront villas.  She has also planned family reunions, destination baby showers, corporate retreats and a variety of other events for clients from all over the United States and Canada.  Sandy is also the owner of Weddings in Culebra (wedding planning on Vieques’ little sister island) and Flowers in Vieques (a full service floral and décor firm).  Visit her at www.weddingsinvieques.com.