The Sacrament of the Queer Wedding: A Scrapbook

Ada

Zora and I were married two years ago on a farm in a small town in Maine. That was a year and a half after I proposed to her, three years after we finished our discernment process, four years after Zora came out to her communities, and six years after we met at our college Christian fellowship.

Our wedding was a sacrament, and I want to share with you – our readers – some moments from a day both sacred and ordinary. Bear witness to queer joy. Share this day with me.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This was the menu. Karen made the food by herself.

The week before the wedding, she called us: “I’m a couple shots of whiskey in on top of a few beers, so maybe this sounds a little wild.” I had just finished graduate school. We had just moved to Maine. 

“…But I’m thinking we go with a Lord of the Rings-themed menu. Think ‘hobbit hash,’ ‘Pippin’s roast chicken,’ and ‘Mrs. Cotton’s pies.’ Are you getting what I’m saying?”

We said we hoped she would still be serious about it in the morning because we loved it.

Hayli Ophelia -1568

It had rained most of the week before. And on the day of the wedding, look – the sky was cloudless. “Something blue,” right?

The night before the wedding, Zora’s mother called in hysterics. “I can’t support you marrying a woman.” She continued until Zora forbade her from coming to the wedding.

After an apology from Zora’s mother, and after considerable back-and-forth, we reinvited her. But we also employed our friends to keep an eye out during the ceremony, should chaos break loose. These were some of the friends:

Hayli Ophelia -1396

Then later, the morning of the wedding, I received a text from my mother, who hadn’t spoken to me in a while:

Screen Shot 2018-06-21 at 2.59.44 PM.png

“You will always be my daughter.”

 

On the subject of family: Zora and I have brothers the same age, and they met for the first time on the day before the wedding. Lee picked up a jet-lagged Nathan from the airport, and they came down to the farm a couple beers in.

Hayli Ophelia -1023

Lee and Nathan processed before us to the altar. Nathan played the Ashokan Farewell, a tune we’d played together a thousand times. Zora and I processed together, each of us our own and our own to give in partnership. But these two were our bridesmaids – our best men.

Hayli Ophelia -1246

Hayli Ophelia -1369

Here you can see our hair and make-up. Zora’s cousin had offered to take on the tasks, but they didn’t turn out as planned.

Ten minutes before show-time, our friend Clara tapped on the door and asked if I needed my hair curled. “Sure, why not.” We laughed at how my face looked with the aesthetic mores of a white woman’s face. It was different, all right. Zora threw her hair in a ponytail. Around her head we tied a floral crown. She was beautiful. It was time to walk.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Francisco may not call himself a mystic, but he is one nonetheless. He spoke over our ceremony a tapestry of blessing. Here he is in front of the willow tree where we were married.

Francisco was our friend, our college professor, and one of the first fiercely queer-affirming Christians in our lives.

Hayli Ophelia -1004

This is Zora’s great-grandmother – a family matriarch of sorts. She never really said anything to either of us when we announced our engagement. That first time we visited since the announcement, she gestured us over to a room full of quilted potholders and knitted garments. “You girls pick what you want for your home.” She always treated me like I was ordinary, and that was a gift.

She passed away a few months ago. She was 96. She’d made us a quilt, and it was set out to be queen-sized. It’s much larger than that; it’s somewhere near king-sized.

Hayli Ophelia -1466

By the way, here’s the front of our invitations. (Our friends had the image cut into a cornhole set.) I drew them, and we copied them at Staples. I held my breath when I addressed my parents’ invitation, and again when I dropped it in the mailbox.

We didn’t talk about it for months. One day, my mother asked-told me, “It’s fine if we don’t go, right? You know we can’t go.”

When people hear that my parents weren’t in attendance, they pity me. But it was fine. It was better that they didn’t come. Ours was to be a day of celebration, and we wanted celebrants, not obligants.

Hayli Ophelia -1069

To be honest, I don’t remember a lot of what Francisco said to us at the willow tree. But what I remember from his words and the prayers of our common saints was that we had received a commission.

What I remember best are the coolness of shade, the nearness of our dearest people, and the shape of Zora’s hand in mine. The sound of Nathan’s violin processing back into the barn. Zora and me following – married.

 

Clara and my Nathan snuck in after the ceremony, each with a piled-high cocktail plate of snacks. “You’re going to forget to eat. We got you one of everything.”

It’s true – we didn’t eat much the rest of that day. They knew us well. We savored those snacks. All day, we reveled in the gift of being known.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Believe it or not, we learned a whole dance. A student choreographed it for us. And here’s the song we chose. It came out that summer of the cross-country road trip.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I loved the little things that didn’t go as planned. Something on my dress loosened. Jeremy tried the pies before it was pie-time. Our friends wanted to skip my carefully curated lunch-time playlist and get straight to dancing.

After the wedding, we headed with our brothers and friends further into the woods to a brewery. Nathan drove us home, the cans my friends fastened clanging behind us all the way.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I have this memory of looking out on the field and watching Zora’s little step-sister challenge Nathan to a whiffle-ball game, watching the friends from both our lives lift the cornhole set together to sign its belly, watching fearless dancers take to the floor together.

In my memories, it’s like I’m watching a really good movie. Sometimes I almost forget, or I can hardly believe, that it happened to me.

Hayli Ophelia -1052

Our wedding was a sacrament. In the Christian tradition, all weddings are sacraments: an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace. A silhouette, a shadow, of the doing and being that is God.

And queer weddings, I believe, are sacraments too and are sacraments especially. Where two or more are gathered for a queer wedding, the following happens: those who belong to non-affirming faith traditions (and could lose their membership) resist sinful bigotry; those who perform the ceremony call upon us to witness the Spirit; those who celebrate with us affirm their place on a communal journey of understanding and reconciliation.

The sacrament of queer weddings reflects the conciliation of a God who wants us to join with God in life-building and life-giving. It is a shadow – a retelling – of a kind of good news: that those who are misunderstood or marginalized can and will be brought into full community with the family of all saints. The sacrament compels and commissions. It is a celebration, yes, but not a happily-ever-after. It is a sending of those being married and those witnessing alike.

Now, we are sent. With our family of saints and witnesses beside us, we are learning what it means to be a shadow of Christ-like love when we know full well that nothing could truly compare.

 

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s