I was never a wedding person. Growing up, I’d watch the wedding scene in The Sound of Music and fantasize about writing a great musical someday. The idea of walking down an aisle held very little appeal for me (even if there’d be nuns singing a slowed-down version of “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?”) So when Craig and I got engaged almost two years ago at Rustic Canyon, I imagined us having a simple wedding at a nice restaurant somewhere. Maybe just our families and a few close friends at Blue Hill Stone Barns or The French Laundry; 12 to 15 people max. The only problem? My betrothed had a very different idea of what our wedding would be. “I want a big party,” he informed me soon after we told our families that we were getting married. “A big party with lots and lots of people!”
This was a problem for me because, after nine years with Craig, one thing was very clear: if there was going to be a big party with lots and lots of people, I was going to be the one to plan it.
So, without consciously knowing that I was doing so, I stalled. For about a year. Very gradually, family members began to ask: “So when are you thinking of having that wedding?” Friends too. I felt a bit stuck. And then two things happened: (1) We attended the wedding of our friends John and Michael and I found the whole thing to be so moving and special, a fire suddenly ignited underneath me; and (2) I discovered that you could get married at L.A.’s Natural History Museum.
Venue had been a big question for us and suddenly there was a place that was delightfully unexpected and weirdly elegant. Plus Craig is a bit nature-obsessed (you should see all of the frog and octopus figurines in our apartment). So my parents came to town and we toured the museum and they fell in love with it too. The contract was signed: we’d be getting married on May 23rd, 2015.
Suddenly a wave of anxiety washed over me: now what do we do? How do we get invitations? A caterer? A photographer? A D.J.? That’s when a golden light shown down from heaven, and a wedding planner named Melissa McNeeley of “Events By Melissa McNeeley” entered our lives. A long-time friend of our friends Jim and Todd, Melissa first popped up on my Instagram; I clicked over to her page, loved what I saw, and wrote her an e-mail. And from that point forward, our wedding was in wedding genius hands.
First things first: the caterer. We had some ideas about what we wanted, and we explored many options, but there was one L.A. caterer that seemed so in line with my food sensibilities (local ingredients, etc.) that it was almost an inevitability we’d go with them. That caterer was Heirloom L.A. and they absolutely blew us away at the tasting they set up for us when my parents came into town again. We all left there raving about the food and the contract was signed pretty much immediately.
Next up? The invitations. Melissa put us in touch with a BRILLIANT (yes, all-caps worthy) graphic designer named Alix Sorrell. First, she came up with our Save The Date which we absolutely loved; and the invitation was even more beautiful. At some point, Melissa had the idea (based on Craig mentioning the color pink) to incorporate hot pink into our wedding theme. Behold the end result:
To gild the lily, Melissa found incredible vintage stamps and had her assistant Lauren Goldberg (who has her own company Tiny Victory Designs) do gorgeous calligraphy in gold. The results were pretty spectacular.
Then what? Melissa found us a fantastic wedding photographer, Gary Ashley, who took all of the pictures you see in this post (except for the one of us with Melissa at Little Dom’s). Craig and I spent the whole afternoon leading up to the wedding with Gary and he took cute pictures of us getting ready, like this one:
Melissa also found us a killer D.J. named Phil Quinaz who, funny enough, was the D.J. at our friends Mark and Diana’s wedding—a wedding where Craig performed the ceremony; Diana would be performing ours. We met with Phil at his cool Silverlake digs a few weeks before the wedding and chose all of the songs we’d want for the ceremony (we’d enter to “One Day Like This” by Elbow; exit to “Hold Tight” from the “Deathproof” soundtrack; do our first dance to Tracy Thorn’s cover of “The Book of Love”; and our mom dance to Weezer’s cover of “The Rainbow Connection.” OK, I made a Spotify playlist featuring all of this plus Phil’s dance music.)
Finally, Melissa found us a great lighting company, The Lighter Side, and an amazing L.A. florist named Kristen Caissie of Moon Canyon who has over 42,000 followers on Instagram. That’s because her taste is so bold and exquisite. Check out some of the flowers from our wedding:
* * * * *
In the days leading up to the wedding, when people would ask: “Are you nervous?” I’d say, “Not really. It’s like we’ve spent the last year building a big theme park ride and now we finally get to go on the ride.”
The day of the wedding, I tried to be as anti-social as I could to conserve energy for the big night (sorry Ryan, Kristen, and Celia that I didn’t want to sit with you at breakfast!). Part of me thought of the wedding as something I’d just have to get through; as much as I was looking forward to it, I also was looking forward to it being over and getting to Palm Springs for our mini-moon. I was pretty unsentimental about the whole wedding enterprise. Even in the 20 minutes before we walked down the aisle, I made a point to say, “I’m probably not going to get very emotional.”
Oh, silly me.
The music started up and Craig’s brother Eric and sister Kristin walked through the doors, down the aisle, followed by my brother Michael and sister-in-law Tali. Then Craig walked out with his parents and I followed with mine.
That feeling of seeing everyone that I’ve ever really known in my life, close friends from college, from grad school, from New York and L.A., plus family members and friends of my parents and Craig’s parents, was decidedly overwhelming. It was as if I’d suddenly been catapulted into the clouds and I was hovering above everything, in a heightened dream state. The moment the real emotion bomb went off was when I was standing with Craig in front of everyone and Diana began her invocation, telling the story of how she met me at N.Y.U., and how giddy I was when I met Craig. Her speech was so moving and so well-written, when she finished the audience burst into applause.
Then our friends Patty and Celia did readings and, finally, it was our time to do our vows. I’d written my vows the week before and spent many a night practicing them while Craig was in Minnesota getting to work on his next movie. But nothing could prepare me for the feeling of delivering them to Craig, up there, in front of everyone we knew. This, it turns out, is what weddings are all about.
When Craig delivered his vows, he got a bit choked up and I thought I might lose it. To be standing there with this person that I love in 2015, when such a thing is possible, made me feel so lucky to be alive right now and also so grateful to the thousands of gay men and women who fought the big battles so that a moment like this might be possible. When Diana said “you may now kiss the groom” and Craig and I locked lips, it was easily the happiest moment of my life.
And from there, the rest of the night was pure joy.
The nice thing about getting married at the museum was that we could use different spaces for different parts of the night. So the ceremony was in the rotunda room and the cocktail portion was outside in front of a rose garden.
It was pretty spectacular, as was the food Heirloom dished up.
After cocktails, we all walked past a bunch of dinosaurs to get to the reception.
Melissa had the idea to make each table a different animal and Alix executed that idea with these delightful escort cards which were arrayed just so:
The party room was the Hall of North African Mammals and I have to say, walking in and seeing all of the lights and flowers and everything all set up totally took my breath away.
When Craig and I walked in, everyone applauded which was another one of my favorite moments of the night. Then there was food (I hardly ate a thing, I was so busy talking to everyone) but it all looked really delicious. Short ribs…
And carrots that many people raved about.
Many toasts were made, including lovely ones from my parents and Craig’s parents:
A highlight for many was when my 93 year-old Uncle Jerry (who you’ve met on here many times) sang “Make Someone Happy.” Then we all danced the hora and Craig and I risked our lives getting hoisted up in chairs:
Everything after that was a bit of a blur, but the best kind of blur, the kind of blur that bleeds into the next few days–I compared it to being on drugs (not that I’ve ever been on drugs)–a high that you never want to end.
Which is all to say that this was my own personal Christmas Carol in which I was the Ebenezer Scrooge of gay weddings and at the end I was doing a happy jig and telling every gay couple I know that they’d be crazy not to tie the knot too. Obviously, a huge credit goes to our parents; Craig’s parents for a terrific rehearsal dinner and my parents who were so generous about throwing us such a gorgeous wedding. None of this would’ve been possible without them:
And now it’s back to reality, a hard thing to admit, but nonetheless true. Should I be on the couch one day flipping through the channels and should I stumble accidentally on the wedding scene from The Sound of Music, I’ll shed a tear not because I never wrote my own version of the great American musical, but because–just like Maria Von Trapp–I got married to a wonderful man and it was pretty much the best day of my entire life.
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