, and the sense of “family” is so strong still within our community.
I’m not just talking forebearers or bloodlines, but heritage, culture and “family of choice.”
Being adopted and searching out my birth-family has taught me so much about life, and family. The family I grew-up with in New Jersey was picture perfect—we all KNOW what that means!!!—and I’m grateful for the traditions my Grandma Pauline, and Miss Ellie, my Mom, made sure I carried on. As I researched my adoption and found a new family and heritage, I began to incorporate their traditions into mine as well. And my new-found nieces and nephews are now making Grandma Pauline’s plum cake and Miss Ellie’s Christmas Stollen to celebrate their holidays as well!
BUT, one of my dearest friends, Jeff, is closer to me than my own family. The traditions, celebrations and confidences we share make him my “family,” even though we’re not related at all.
Bernice, an 80-year-old., has become my adopted Grandmother and we share a meal together every day. ( I cook, she picks the ice cream flavor du jour!) Catherine, my “sister,” isn’t related to me at all, yet IS my sister in every other sense of the word.
Other friends like twins Jonathan and Jason, and even 17-year-old Taylor, are closer to me than my own blood brothers. They are also my “family of choice.” This past decade in Iowa, I have found that “family” is so much more than who you grew-up with. And my “family” has doubled in size!
Personalizing your wedding with traditions of choice is the best way to make it one-of-a-kind and totally personalized, without spending a lot of money.
Some people pay tribute to earlier generations with updated attire worn by grandparents. Others may have the rehearsal dinner on the farm that has been in the family for a century. Or like a young couple I just worked with, had BOTH their parents’ wedding cakes re-created and updated, by using neon-colored icing! (You go, boys!!!) They felt free enough to embellish it with their own interpretations.
Another idea is featuring family heirlooms—such as jewelry, photos, or glassware—in the ceremony, and explaining them in the programs. Such acknowledgements of the past (or present) enrich and personalize a wedding, especially if you and your fiancé come from different religions, backgrounds, or cultures.
Incorporating a tradition from each family into the ceremony or celebrations, shows you respect and value your roots and symbolizes the merging of both your backgrounds.
Share your plans with family and friends. More than likely they will be delighted that you think of them on what is one of the most important days of your life.
Finally, you can also begin your own family traditions as well. Many of us don’t have family we want to draw from—or memories that are pleasant enough to incorporate—so throw caution to the wind, and create your own traditions by being unique and creative and not caring what etiquette calls for. (I can’t believe I just wrote that! Sorry, Martha! Nothing personal!)
Beau Fodor is an Iowa wedding planner who focuses specifically on weddings for the LGBT community. He can be reached through iowasgayweddingplanner.com or gayweddingswithpanache.com. Pictured: Wedding Ceremony (and pictured first dance) of Cynthia Ann Pollard & Gayla Rachelle Snook. June 5th, 2010 at the Newton Arboretum. Officiated by Reverend Peg Esperanza of the Church of the Holy Spirit MCC in Des Moines.