The Lesbian Bride’s Handbook

Is white appropriate? What’s the right term for a groom who’s a woman? And what to say to her mother?

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  1. What is the right thing to wear to a wedding? Women have been asking themselves this question for generations and, I suppose, coming up with many of the same answers as I have. Black and gray, the colors I usually wear, are obviously too somber. Red is a bad idea: too garish, too iconic—the whore instead of the virgin—and, as a saleswoman at Saks explained to me, one doesn’t want to draw attention away from the bride. But then I am the bride. Sort of.

    For several months, admitting that detail filled me with a flickering dread. I knew what would inevitably follow: “Why aren’t you wearing white?” Eventually, I realized that, obviously, I could just tell Katie at Barneys or Jen at Chloé, “Because I prefer color.” But at first, I felt compelled to tell the whole mortifying truth: “Because it’s a gay wedding.” Or, if I couldn’t quite get those words out of my mouth: “Because it’s not a real wedding.”

    A real wedding was not something I was raised to want. My parents were bohemians of a sort, and real weddings were like real jobs: square. As my mother has managed to mention on numerous occasions, she would have liked to elope, but to please her parents, there was a modest reception; she told them to do whatever they wanted and that she and my father would show up. When Amy and I announced that we intended to have a wedding—not a real wedding, of course, but something festive, something that expressed the scale of our glee—my mother’s response was less than gushing. “How can you ...

Originally published in New York, April 2007