What do I wear to a same-sex wedding when I am encouraged to dress creatively?
Short answer: It really doesn’t matter what you’re wearing when there’s a bride in the room, never mind two brides.
In April we held an impromptu practice wedding for Jenny and Candie in our backyard. Last week they tied the knot for real– yay!
These ladies are sharp dressers. I’d describe Jenny’s style as glamorous and smart. Some silk, some bling, some glasses with sparkles. Sophisticated, feminine and strong. Candie is casual and cool— pants and button-downs, bow ties and jackets. A soft color palate. She chooses wholesome and approachable patterns— gingham, pinstripes, polka-dots. You might say Jenny is a little bit Ginger and Candie is a little bit Mary Ann.
Spoiler Alert: Ginger and Mary Ann rescue themselves and end up together! Stick that in your coconut and smoke it!
I’ve always admired the way Candie rocks a bow tie. I thought her wedding would be the perfect opportunity for me to try it— sort of in honor of the non-traditional, breaking boundaries, and equality. Since the story of how Jonathan and I met involves the movie Annie Hall, I kept Diane Keaton in mind as I headed out to find a vest and tie. Easy, right? Not at all.
I really struggled. For the first time in my life, shopping was painful. Too many variables—ties, vests, jackets, belts, shoes and hats. Option overload!
Finding a shirt made for a tie was my first challenge. Most women’s button downs have soft floppy collars. Also, I looked like a Japanese schoolgirl. It was weird.
Then there was the issue of whether or not to wear makeup. (Yeah, I know, I really overthought this.) But when I wore the vest and tie it didn’t seem like I should wear makeup. Sure, plenty of women wear makeup when they wear suits, but I was afraid I’d mess it up and look like I was auditioning for Cabaret. I didn’t want to look like I was doing drag either. I just wanted to wear a tie. I just wanted it to feel natural. Was that too much to ask?
My approach to wedding style has always been find one killer dress and be done with it. As I walked out of the store with a button down, vest, tie and hat I felt a twinge of sadness as I passed the vintage dresses on the way out. All that chiffon just waiting for a good party. *sniffle*
I found a look that worked, yes, but I didn’t look like Candie. And it wasn’t comfortable. People really enjoy dressing like this? What’s wrong with them? And all the men in suits— why aren’t more men wearing dresses? Dresses are so easy!!
(A shout out to all the men in the world rocking kilts and thobes. You got it right!)
My stylist friend, the very talented Robin Kopple, stepped in to help me out. She emailed a few suggestions. None of them involved shirts and ties. “How about a full ball gown skirt with a fitted t-shirt?” Her examples included this Alice and Olivia skirt. It was way out of my budget but she suggested I make my own from an old vintage dress. Yes! Right up my alley. And I learned something about stylists— a good one can cut straight to your fashion core.
I promptly bought a royal blue prom dress for 15 bucks. My plan was to cut off the bodice and make a waistband. But now I had a tie outfit and a size 14 prom dress and no time to create a completed look. Gone are the days when I could get all Molly Ringwald and spend hours modifying a dress for an event. These days I have to dress other people for school. For ballet. For soccer. For bed. Grumble grumble *responsibility* grumble grumble…
I re-read Jenny and Candie’s note regarding attire on their invitation: “Dressed up casual… It could be trousers and a sport coat, a good sequined number, or anything with a bow tie or boa. We invite — and encourage— you to add your own special flair. This is, after all, West Hollywood!”
A lightbulb clicked. The next day I stumbled upon a black full length dress from local store Denise Carolyn. I bought some earrings with an art deco vibe. A faux shrug. I wore the leopard print Charlotte Olympia’s I wore to the Emmy’s a few years ago. And as a finishing touch I raided my daughter’s dress up box for the pièce de résistance… satin gloves.
I was comfortable. It felt right.
The brides looked fabulous. Suits— the perfect mix of pattern and texture. They had mastered the exact look I had been going for but for whatever reason couldn’t.
I had talked about wearing a suit and tie so much on Facebook before the wedding. Jenny and Candie were surprised to see me show up in a dress. “I couldn’t make it work,” I said. “Guess I was just… born this way.”
OMG. I really just said that. My whole fashion journey just reeked of metaphor. If it had happened to a homophobe, this would’ve been the perfect experience for them to have. An Ah-Ha! moment– you can’t force yourself into something you’re not and other clichés. But for me it was more of a Like-Duh! moment.
I cannot wear a tie. I just can’t. And if the government ever tries to enforce it, I hope you’ll join me in protest.
The wedding, held at WeHo Bistro, was simple and stunning. Other people’s weddings are like mini-vow renewals for Jonathan and me. When the officiant says something that rings true, we give each other a knowing wink. I especially love the idea that we are stronger together than we are apart. That concept combined with the symbolism of the hoopah reminds us that the couple needs the support of their friends and family. We are all in this together. A wedding doesn’t just bond partner to partner, it builds community. That night we made new friends as we celebrated Jenny and Candie’s future in matrimony.
I can’t end this post without an excerpt from the Massachusetts state court decision granting same-sex couples the right to marry:
“Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity and family. Because it fulfills yearning for security, safe haven and connection that expresses our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.”
Congratulations Jenny and Candie. Your marriage is a joy and an inspiration.