I used to wonder why people do engagement photo shoots. What are they… for? Do you not have enough pictures of the two of you together from your relationship, so you feel like you need to reach some sort of quota? Do you think that all the other photos of you that you’ve accumulated over the years look too natural? Too un-staged? Too comfortable? You suddenly realized you forgot to do a prom pose under a gentle cascade of cherry blossoms – and once you’re married it will simply be too late?
I love ties.
At my last job, I wore a tie almost every single day – even though most of my colleagues didn’t bother. I like waking up in the morning and choosing a tie, I like tying it, and I like shopping for new ones. My favorite brands are Vineyard Vines, J.Crew, J.Press, and I even like Brooks Brothers. But when it’s come to choosing a tie to wear for the wedding, we have been completely and utterly stymied. It’s been, in fact, a disaster. I don’t think I can think about ties for one more minute.
Here’s the problem:
Sometimes, having a camera also gets you out of hora chair duty.
Here’s a question: If you are having women stand up with you at your gay wedding (between two men), is it alright to ask them to buy a bridesmaid’s dress? Considering there’s no… bride?
At first my fiancé and I were planning on just having our brother and sisters stand up with us at our ceremony. We thought it was plain and simple and unfussy, which is what we (at one point) wanted for our whole celebration.
Alas — when you’re planning a wedding, you learn very quickly how easily “plain and simple” goes out the window in favor of “complicated and nautical stripes.”
Anyway, as we tried to figure out how to include the people we care about the most in our big day, it became clear that asking our very best friends to hand out programs, or man the guest book, wasn’t appropriate. (Is Guest Book Duty even a thing? Someone please fact-check Sex and the City, please.) Not only did it feel weird, it wasn’t what we wanted. We wanted them up there, standing alongside our siblings, sharing the event with us. After all, as a needlepointed pillow once told me: “Friends are the family you choose for yourself.”
I think the fanciest wedding I have ever been to was also my first gay one. My friends Tom and Drew got married on a hilltop looking a valley in southern Sonoma, CA. California Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron George was there, and I sat behind San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom during the ceremony. (He arrived late.)
It was spectacular. Once we got into the reception tent – which was actually three connected tents with different themes and lighting – my fiancé observed a striking detail. On the dancefloor, sitting on a thin wooden pedestal, was a beautiful, miniature, crimson pagoda.
It probably extended three feet into the air, and if you looked closely it had little rooms inside.
“What do you think that is?” he asked me.
“I think that’s the wedding cake.”
“No way,” he said “It has interiors.”
When you start planning a wedding, you’ll quickly discover that people feel very comfortable letting you know exactly how they feel about your decisions. Particularly with regard to two things:
1) The size of your wedding.
2) Your honeymoon plans.
The first is the most annoying and least helpful. Perfectly polite friends who would never, ever be so rude as to reveal a reaction when you tell them what neighborhood you live in, or where you went to college, somehow feel perfectly comfortable going wide-eyed and gasping when you tell them that you plan to have 200 people to your wedding. You’d think you told them that you deliberately got pregnant with twins so you could abort one and keep “the skinnier one.” Their facial expressions make you feel like you’ve chosen a path of such extreme decadence that it borders on the improper.
So you’ve agreed to be in a flash mob at your friend’s wedding. What happens now?
Well, lots of things. It could go in a bunch of different directions. But as a veteran of multiple (2) wedding flash mobs, I can tell you one thing: It is not going to go the way you think it is.
My fiancé and I have decided to wear suits to our wedding, after a wide-ranging discussion that veered into colored-pants-and-blazers territory, then to khakis, and then back to suits again. (I realized, after all of this, that I don’t really have an opinion. The fiancé does. I’m told that in wedding planning it’s really, really important in these situations to let the other guy decide.) Now we’re into the, “How much should we match?” discussion. The only times I’ve seen a gay couple match one another exactly was when both were wearing tuxedos. Usually the guys will wear a slightly different suit or at least different ties and accessories—and at the only lesbian wedding I attended, the brides wore non-matching wedding gowns.
I am of the opinion that my fiancé always looks better in a suit than I do, so I’m starting to really do my homework. Today I spent part of the day looking at some really expressive two- and three-piece suits for inspiration. I probably wouldn’t be ballsy enough wear most of these, but I love them and think someone should.
I’d stopped doing these because this show sort of stepped out of the zone of things I was familiar with. But then suddenly there was a WASPy family and a wedding and I was back in the game! So here are a few things I found realistic and unrealistic about this episode of Looking. (I will say the show is picking up momentum as it nears the end of the season…)
1) I don’t know that if my friend was a conceptual artist, I would be so negative about his work as Patrick and Dom are—even if it was photographs of my friend’s boyfriend getting fucked by a prostitute. (I am open minded. Plus, who wouldn’t want to see that, a little?) All the same, it seemed a little far-fetched that Augustin would turn the criticism around on Patrick and say, “You are just freaked out about your own stuff.” Taking your Latin boyfriend to meet your preppy white family isn’t quite… on the same level.
Even though the people getting married almost always have a photographer hired, you can sometimes capture something special, which makes a great gift after the fact. I also generally shoot in black and white if the photos are at night, because otherwise I make everyone look shiny and yellow. I asked Justin Bishop, the staff photographer at Vanity Fair and VF.com about this, and he told me it’s because I don’t have enough light. Washing people out, it turns out, makes them look better. Anyway, here’s two of my best friends, Charlie and Kent, at their wedding at Frankie’s in Cobble Hill almost exactly a year ago.