Journey through space to the Planet Fabulous, where the Ruler of the Universe will see you shortly.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Sunny Stevenage

I'm getting civilly partnerised later this year. (We try to avoid use of the word 'marriage', for bolshy politico reasons, which I won't go into here.) He and I have had some preliminary chats about how we want our special day to be, but we're both quite certain of what we *don't* want it to be.

In short: no white, no bouquets, no wedding cars, no big ceremony (but a *very* big party), no rip-off crap food at some poxy hotel... None of all the shmaltz that everyone feels they *should* have at their wedding, just because it's the done thing.

Anyway, live and let live, and all that - and more power to those gay and lesbian couples who've gone the more traditional route in recognising their civil partnerships. We absolutely need such pioneers to show the doubters and h8rz that we're just as 'Good As You', and deserve for our loves and lives to be recognised in the same way as anyone else's. Right on! Woo!

Except. Have you seen Gay Times recently? Specifically, the adverts therein? Exploitation much?

In planning our own connubiations, we've decided not - under any circumstances - to say to any venue we approach for the aftershow shindig that we need it for "a wedding party". Why not? Well, as any fule kno, the proprietors will just hike the hire cost by 100 per cent, offer to defrost some heart-shaped chicken nuggets for twice the usual asking price, and bring in their own DJs and PA systems and x and y and before you know it, you're paying the £17,000 we're told is the average cost of a UK wedding.

No thanks. We'll happily splash some cash around, but we're not going to be idiots about it.

Anyway, back to Gay Times. I won't normally let it in the house, but the Better Half snuck one in under the laser beams in the hallway. Flicking through it the other day, I was appalled at page after page of adverts for rings, venues, services (and even a pink car! But that's beside the point...). You name it, if it's anything to do with a traditional wedding day, it's in there.

Maybe you'd like some "sensitive, creative, funky [dear God]" photography by Hayley Lehmann? Or would you like to enjoy your special day at Fennes, "a Georgian country house [which] has such a welcoming feel that you could easily imagine it as your own home". CUT TO: two newlywed queers rearranging all the antique furniture and tearing down the 19th-century oak panelling and replacing it with bold floral print wall-hangings from Habitat. "Well, you said it was our home..."

And it goes on. (Much like my good self.) Turn the page: f64 Gallery photography, the Mermaid Theatre pimping itself out as a venue, Dorset wedding planners, Stephen Einhorn wedding rings (hideous)... About the only advert I can get onside with is one for the British Humanist Association's guide to creating your perfect partnership ceremony.

But on the very next page from that... Gird yourselves... "Express your commitment and devotion! Choose Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre!"


It's a freaking sports centre!

I know there are certain among us who done luv de gymnasia, but that's ridiculous.

"Do you, Michael 'Mary-Ann' Manlove, take Phillip 'Felicia' Fudge-Nudger to be your lawful wedded bitch?"

"I do."

"Fabulosa! Now, hit the floor and gimme fifty!"

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day.


St. Dickeybird said...

I haven't seen a good gay mag in years.

And congrats on the partnership.
I'm getting married later this year, and dislike the fluffy traditional as well.
We're getting hitched in an old jazz club surrounded by queers, artists, freaks, and family.

Brad Fitt said...

Congratulations to you both. Put me down for a set of His & His glop mops, x.

Lost Boy said...

Congratulations on your forthcoming, er, civil partnership ceremony. That's not very catchy, is it? They should call it something else a bit snappier. And as for gay mags, since 'Smash Hits' went girls-only, there hasn't been half-decent magazine for the more lavender amongst us since.

CyberPete said...

I only got Gaytimes this Sunday and was just flipping through it at the airport and noticed the same thing. I threw it back in the bag and pulled out a copy of Elle. Ignoring the article about old Madge of course.

Eden said...

I can't wait to watch the prep for your ceremony unfold :) Congrats!

Traveller said...
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Traveller said...

How do you even know what goes on in a sports centre? :-)

Tickersoid said...

Quite right.
You definately don't want a gay version of a straight wedding.
This is the time, before cultural crystalisation, for 'pinks' to use their imaginations and carve out their own festival, protocol or whatever.
I got married in 1980. The reception alone cost £17.50 which, bearing in mind the 18 years of conflict that followed, was far too much!

Qenny said...

Myself and my man tied the knot in May last year in New Zealand (where we were living at the time - he's from there, I'm not). He is very close to his family - even second cousins and such like - and they are all very welcoming. So, we had a fairly traditional do, a very well constructed ceremony, and a fabulous evening. All up, it came it at under five grand (and that's NZ dollars, mind). We put a lot of thought and imagination into it, and it created a good balance between traditional and not so traditional. That way, no-one felt excluded or uncomfortable, but we didn't sacrifice the significance of what we were doing.

I don't think it's fair to criticise advertisers for wanting to punt their products at the gay market. I think that's a great thing. God knows, straight couples go through the same thing. It would be a different story if some known homophobe were to suddenly start chasing the pink pound, but for well-intentioned businesses to offer a product or service is very healthy. It's up to us as consumers to decide whether or not we want their products or services.

morgalou said...

With weddings come bad adverts, sadly. When I... sorry, when the BW & I were planning ours, some of the adverts I saw in bridal magazines made me want to vomit. Concentrate on the wedding list, I would. It's the best part of the planning.....

bring in their own DJs and PA systems and x and y..... now, surely they wouldn't inflict Coldplay on you too?

David said...

"I don't think it's fair to criticise advertisers for wanting to punt their products at the gay market. I think that's a great thing. God knows, straight couples go through the same thing."

And why should *they*? This is a really interesting area, and there's not room to go into it here - but Steel Worker's comment that we should get in and rearrange the soft furnishings "before cultural crystalisation" is a great one.

Going through the planning and design process I'm going through now only makes me wonder why so many straight couples strive and spend and worry about having the stereotypical weddings that they do.

Isn't it a bit insulting for the advertisers to start telling us how we should be doing things?

I can see the flip side you present, though: it's great that these (presumably) straight-run, traditional places are visibly opening their doors to gay weddings, but even so I think we've almost got a responsibility not to get swept along with the 'white wedding' traditions quite so easily - or expensively.

And thanks for everyone's messages of congrats. I really didn't expect them, and they're very welcome. I was going for a tone of curmudgeonly with the original post, which only makes it the more surprising!

Spinsterella said...


I went to a Humanist wedding once and it was fab - all the good bits (food, booze, dancing) and none of the crap (speeches, old people, religion).

Lubin said...

Congrats hon. Me and my fella had one of those civil partnership thinigies last month and it was as low-key as can be (it ended in us getting a bag of chips). I never buy Gay Times, but had wondered how long before it would be before it all got horribly commericalised and "pink". No doubt someone will launch a hideous gay version of "Bridge Magazine".

Incidentally, if Stevenage Sports Centre has its own sauna, perhaps that could be utilised in the after-wedding party in a kind of Cadinot-like way?

Lubin said...

Oops, I meant Bride Magazine not Bridge Magazine.

Qenny said...

I think we'll end up with a spectrum from something resembling a traditional wedding - which works for some people - to something very different. Sure, advertisers want to tell us how to do it, but its up to each of us to decide how far and to what extent we allow ourselves to be dictated to by folks who're only really interested in making money out of us. The fact that they are pursuing the gay market is a great thing; but that doesn't mean we have to bend over and allow them to rob us blind, if you'll pardon the disappointingly unfunny mixed metaphor.

For the record, we had speeches at our wedding. Apart from ourselves, we had a speech from someone representing my family, one from someone representing my man's family, and one from someone representing our friends. It was enough, and done before everyone was too pissed.

In searching for a name for our legal status, I think our favourite was "civilised", although it does rather suggest that we were a bit barbaric before the ceremony. In NZ, it's a civil union rather than a civil partnership (and, incidentally, is open to everyone regardless of sexual preference). The choices came down to "civilised" or "unionised"; and neither of us looks like Arthur Scargill, thank you very much.

funny thing said...

'Hitched' will do me.
Party sounds great... hype sounds crap.

Sadly, both Gay Times and Diva are a bit crap when it comes to er... oh yeah, the whole magazine. Far too many adverts, not enough in the way of intelligent time-wasting.

I'm a bit jealous of you blokes, mind.. there seem to be a whole load of new mags up on those hard-to-reach shelves now. I'm still stuck with the lingerie section of the Argos catalogue...

Snooze said...

Congratulations! I can't stand the advertising wedding machine for straight or gay unions, so good on ya for doing your own thing.

Jemima said...

Congratulations, hope things go exactly how you want them. Among my friends who have married, their wishes seem to be completely irrelevant.The relatives gang up to pull faces and sulk if the couple's plans don't fit exactly their idea of a traditional do. Which seems to be entirely missing the point of why people seal their union.

Funny sketch on 'man stroke woman' about the wedding exploitation thing. It was basically,
'how much for an iced fruit cake?'...
'You didn't say it was for a wedding'...
'Why are you charging me £100 more for exactly the same cake?'

and a band the couple enjoyed offering 'wedding music' nothing like the music they'd been playing...
'but I don't like "lady in red"'

Exploitation sucks.
Did that make any sense?


terreus said...

That place is a dump. I?ve been to a few seminars and functions there and however much they try to hide the basketball, five a side, badminton markings on the wooden ?dance floo? you?re not going to fail to notice them. However much they try to hide the wall climbing frames with cammo net you?re gonna notice them. Even with tables to feed one hundred guests you?re still going to feel as though you?re a penguin standing in the middle of the Sahara.
As for the food, forget it. The catering college is just 6miles up the A1 and they always end up working here when they leave college..

mainja said...

fun! congrats! yippeee! *twirls in a circle clapping hands in glee*

hey, where am i? why is room spinning?

Liz said...


I offer the services of my rather funky 35mm camera for photographs and the sheer fact that I can cook gorgeously declicious food you can hire me as photographer and chef in one = Multi-tasking Liz!

Best of luck on the grande day!

Liz said...
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