Wedding planning, then and now

Harper’s Magazine portrait of Pres. Grover Cleveland’s June, 1886 White House wedding.

Harper’s Magazine portrait of Pres. Grover Cleveland’s June, 1886 White House wedding.

My first memory of planning a wedding might have been around the age of six. To me, weddings were a sign of growing up and womanhood. When I was little, everything was about achieving womanhood. In a sense, almost ten years later, it still is. Womanhood meant going to a job in an office and having a wedding in a church. I’m not sure where these ideas about womanhood came from because my family didn’t go to church and neither of my parents worked in an office.

I performed weddings with a bride and a groom portrayed by my favorite dolls, Groovy Girls. These cotton-filled, flat-chested, yarn-haired girls had belly buttons but no nipples. My Groovy Girls would usually run away together in a fast-paced high-action wedding filled with lots of kissing on the run. Kissing was a sign of womanhood, too. The weddings went a little something like this:


[Enter Groovy Girl One and Two. For the sake of their family, we will call them Timothy and Phillipa. I took Timothy’s shirt off to emphasize masculinity in one Groovy Girl.]

Phillipa: Oh, Timothy, I love you so much. (They kiss.)
Timothy: Oh, Phillipa, I love you. They’ll never catch us here! [“They” was a secret-service agency out to catch rogue Groovy Girl spies.
(They kiss again, smashing their fuzzy cloth faces together passionately.)
[Enter Priest] This role was portrayed by me.

You may now kiss the bride. Now go! Before they catch you!
(More kissing)

Womanhood meant having an office job, getting married and running off to become a spy. It had crossed my mind that both of my dolls were Groovy girls, made to look like children — no breasts or anything other than clothes to indicate gender. This made them all the more malleable. I could have imagined a girl marrying a girl, or a boy marrying a boy. But to me, the gender combination that went with a job in an office and wedding in a church was a girl marrying a boy. This meant that one Groovy Girl needed to sacrifice her yarn hair. Have you ever seen a Groovy Girl haircut? They all look the same — like little girls who took their fashion cues from male lions and 90s TV shows.

Since times are changing — gay marriage legalized nationwide — I wonder whether little kids still picture weddings the way I did. So I called two of my favorite under-tens, Clio and Nico Painter. These two always have a look that says, “You’re in for it, buddy.” Either that, or, “I might have just dumped glue on your keys.”

When I called, their lovely mother Julie picked up the phone. Amidst the sounds of a screaming Clio, I got a few words in with Julie to explain why I wanted to interview her kids. She helped translate my questions to Clio, who apparently doesn’t speak teen. She also had to translate Clio’s answers because my pre-school is a little rusty.

Me: Where will your wedding be?
Clio: A rock store.
Julie clarified that she meant a store that sells rocks.
Me: What will you wear?
Clio: A shirt and tie and handsome pants and shoes.
Me: What will the color theme be?
Clio: White.
Julie commented, “A very traditional girl.” I think white handsome pants are actually ahead of the curve.

Then I directed questions to Clio’s older brother Nico, who didn’t need as much translation.

Me: Where will your wedding be?
Nico: I don’t know.
Me: What will you eat?
Nico: Pasta and meatballs.
Me: What will you wear?
Nico: Fancy stuff.

Obviously neither Clio nor Nico think much about weddings.

 I tried remembering, other than playing with Groovy Girls, whether I had thought much about weddings. I don’t think I did. I wasn’t all girly-girl. Then I remembered when I was nine and in the fourth grade. I started to think about weddings again. This time it was all about the design of my bridesmaid’s dresses.

I would fill up an entire sketchbook with drawings of dresses and other outfits in one sitting. In this designing phase, I would tell people, “I’m gonna design a dress for you.” These dresses, now that I look back on it, looked mostly like what Daryl Hanna bought during her Bloomingdale’s shopping spree in the movie Splash.

Everything I knew about weddings came from the movies or television — mostly television, and mostly the Disney Channel. I was sold the type of guy (and it had to be a guy) I should marry, and that I should wear a dress, an expensive dress that was bought only after trying on lots of dresses. I think maybe nearly 40% of Americans are gay, and following the Supreme Court’s recent decision the Disney Channel is way behind the times.


Dear Disney Channel,
I’m not calling you “homophobic,” just “stodgy.” I mean, would it kill you to throw in a same-sex wedding? The five-year-olds around the world watching your shows should see that a normal marriage is not always between a man and a woman. Give a kid a headsup on the real world and how much love there is in it. Geez, I wonder now if Mickey and Minnie fought so much because Mickey would have been happier with Donald Duck.
Cally Mansfield


I must say, I am overwhelmingly excited for the possibilities for the six-year-olds of tomorrow. They get to grow up in a period of marriage equality. Soon enough, instead of saying “gay marriage,” we will just say “marriage.” They will live in a world that isn’t blinded by hate, fear, and lack of creativity. They will love whom they want to love. They will have a freedom that helps to make people’s lives worth living. I also feel liberated that if I feel like it I can marry the Prince of Andorra, or every one of Angelina Jolie’s kids, or even a goldfish.

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