A Welcoming Wedding Venue for LGBTQ and ALL Couples
By Jeanne Sommer
Every LGBTQ couple who chooses Hidden River Events as their wedding venue enjoys the full benefits of our services and expertise for a beautiful, stress-free wedding. This goes for our affiliated vendors as well. We are all here to help you every step of the way, from planning and accommodations, to the moment you walk down the aisle or aisles!
When there are some differing aspects of a same-sex wedding that arise, we can offer helpful advice and inspiration for your ceremony and reception and if we haven’t encountered something before: we learn.
Here are NINE specific issues we’ve encountered with same sex weddings over the years and being aware of them helps us address them when they come up:
1- Gender-neutral ceremony readings
2- How to handle two mother-of-the-brides/grooms
3- Ceremony entrances (e.g. one aisle or two; two trips with the carriage or none, etc.)
4- Ways to showcase your LGBTQ pride, or not
5- How to have a bridesman or groomswoman or avoid these designations all together
6- Ceremony seating that does not have to incorporate the traditional “sides”
7- Total inclusion of your family, friends and LGBTQ guests, even ones who may be struggling to accept and who love you dearly
8- Handling of pre-wedding preparation photography
9- Personalization of gender specific rituals, such as the bouquet or garter toss
These, along with all other aspects of your wedding, are handled within our truly customizable, all-inclusive weddings.
Long before it was legal in the U.S. for same sex couples to marry and long before most major progressive Christian churches were recognizing same sex marriages, Hidden River Events was celebrating these marriages, just as we would celebrate any other marriage. True love is LOVE, period. As a professor of Philosophy and Religion for 20 years, I was often asked by my students to officiate their weddings. That was the impetus behind the creation of Hidden River: to create a venue that was kind and efficient and open to all people who are truly in love and want to make a commitment in marriage.
From the moment Hidden River began in 2007, it was important to me that all kinds of people would be welcome here. Thankfully, as we have grown over the years, it is not just me who feels this way. All of our staff members and vendors who work with us understand that we are to provide respect and safety for all of our couples. While we know that there are certain unique circumstances that arise when we serve same sex couples, we also know and believe that a same sex wedding is also, at root, as varied and similar as any other kind of wedding. People cannot be boxed into any one category.
Thus, we listen. We try to understand current changes in language with regard to gender identities. We pay attention to what same sex couples need from us to feel safe and at home. At 58 years old, I can’t say that I always get it right, but it is on my radar and I know enough to ask questions. Diversity is such a part of our lives at Hidden River that we aren’t shocked by it. We welcome it. We have also never made a marketing decision based on fear that how we portray ourselves may cut us out of certain markets. We respect peoples’ rights to believe and behave as they choose, but we also feel no need to apologize for celebrating diversity. For me, personally, as the owner of Hidden River who also happens to be a Christian, this means that my faith is rooted in this radical openness to all kinds of people who wish to create a just and compassionate marriage, without regard to religious commitments (or the lack thereof), sexual orientation, race, etc. The creator with whom I believe I connect is bigger than the universe as we presently know it and getting bigger all the time as our knowledge increases. I am humbled by this knowledge and I try to keep on learning and growing.
Whether you want to elope, have an intimate affair or a grand event, we’ve got you covered. We look forward to the day when there is no discrimination in our country and beyond toward same sex couples and other forms of diversity. How boring it would be if we were all alike or all just agreed. We know that many people may read a blog such as this or see a photo of a same sex couple and they will not understand or agree. While we value free speech and welcome people of all viewpoints, we also believe that the full expression of love between two people is a basic human right and we aim to protect that human right.
If you are considering our services at Hidden River, please check out the totality of what we offer and be on the lookout for more information about how our all-inclusive wedding packages were actually born, at least in part, out of our belief in what constitutes mature and ethical loving. Good loving is, in our understanding, big loving. When we work to enlarge our souls so we have room to hold all kinds of people and animals in our hearts and minds, we make a space for people truly to be engaged. From this belief, the convenience and efficiency of the nitty gritty of our all-inclusive packages was born. We look forward to telling you more about this in person, on our website, and in future blogs. Stay tuned!