On Leap Day in 2008, Kirsten Palladino got a dream proposal in Central Park from her future wife, Maria.
When the couple returned home to Atlanta, still on cloud nine from the excitement, Kirsten settled down in a bookstore, eager to start her wedding planning by digging into the wedding section of the shop. But what she saw in those wedding planning books dismayed her. Either all of the books were exclusive in their use of heteronormative terms of “bride” and “groom” when referring to the couple getting married, or they talked about same-sex couples in terms of civil unions and not as legitimate married couples.
This sadness, anger, and frustration from being ignored by an entire industry drove Kirsten to create a new space for herself, her future wife, and others in the LGBTQ+ community who might have felt excluded while reading these wedding guide books or magazines. It was then that the idea for Equallywed.com was born.
After Kirsten and Maria returned from their honeymoon, they started creating their LGBTQ+ wedding planning website—with Maria in charge of the web development and graphic design, and Kirsten handling the writing and editing. The site launched in 2010, providing happy LGBTQ+ couples their very own space on their journey to matrimony, offering advice on everything from invitations to food to booking equality-minded wedding vendors (a trademarked term by Kirsten herself).
Five years after the site launched, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was legal in all 50 states, and Kirsten decided it was time to seek out a publisher to write, Equally Wed: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your LGBTQ+ Wedding, which she had been thinking about for quite some time.
The guide book is delightful from cover to cover, beginning with a beautifully written forward from former N*SYNCer Lance Bass and his husband Michael Turchin (who give the book a glowing review) and ending with a handy wedding planning checklist in the Appendix.
Let’s take a deeper look at what this new guide book has to offer, and how it can be helpful for any LGBTQ+ engaged couple or even for friends and family of the couple to read up and get acquainted with LGBTQ+ wedding traditions.
Every Detail Covered
Thorough and precise throughout, Kirsten really does cover all the ins and outs of wedding planning—and she does it with effortless style and the ability to explain things with ease. You can see this in her example of the discussion of “Who gets to carry the bouquet?”.
“Today there is no one type of person who’s allowed to enjoy carrying a bouquet. There’s no bouquet law,” she cheekily writes. “If you enjoy it, do it. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. That’s the tradition of LGBTQ+ weddings.”
Although you may be tempted to skip over the preface to get to the meat of the book, this would be a mistake. This section has an extremely helpful “LGBTQ+ Wedding Lexicon,” which is essentially a glossary of words that may or may not be familiar to you or your friends and family on different ways to refer to the couple getting married, a quick explanation of words like “cisgender,” “gender nonconforming,” “genderqueer,” and other LGBTQ+ terms.
In the chapters, Kirsten offers clever tips and tricks to help you announce your engagement, plan your budget, book your venue, hire wedding professionals (equality-minded, of course), make your marriage legal, change your name, and much more.
The book is geared toward any LGBTQ+ couple who is engaged, but it would undoubtedly be useful for anyone involved with the wedding or friends and family of the couple to ensure that it is the happy, momentous, and beautiful celebration that it deserves to be.
An Answer for Everything
What makes Equally Wed stand apart from any other wedding planning guide book are the tidbits like Q&A’s with Kirsten and pieces of advice that are particular to LGBTQ+ weddings that are sprinkled throughout the chapters. Should you, for example, invite a homophobic relative who is outspoken about same-sex relationships to your wedding? Or when should the engagement be official and the wedding date be set? Is it when one partner proposes to another, or is it only after both partners have proposed? Or what should you do when your parents don’t feel the need to contribute to your wedding when you have found the man of your dreams (and they are dead set on the traditional rule of “parents only pay for the wedding when it’s the bride”)? Kirsten answers all of these questions in a way that guides couples, but that isn’t authoritarian; she merely gives couples the tools to determine their own path.
But the real heart of Equally Wed is that weddings are just about that: heart. When it comes to wedding rules, there are no rules. You don’t want flowers to be at your wedding because you feel that flowers are too bridal in the traditional sense of the word? No problem. You can use vintage brooches or candy or artwork instead. You want a reading at your wedding but you’re not sure you want to use any religious texts? Do something creative and empowering like using Justice Kennedy’s writing from his majority opinion on June 26, 2015.
The bottom line? Kirsten is ready and equipped to answer any question for you, like an LGBTQ+ wedding Swiss army knife.
If you’d like to check out the book yourself, you can order online here.