Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
New beginnings for this New Year of 2007:
For me, I started 2007 with two new grandsons born in 2006!
Kathryn and her life partner are the mothers of one of those grandsons, wondering if they will ever have a full night’s sleep again.
New Jersey proudly offers Civil Unions to its residents. Which state will be next?
Every day more straight people become aware of the lack of equal rights for same sex couples. Have you addressed this with the straight people in your life yet? I have discovered my straight friends are shocked that there are over 1000 rights which same sex couples do not enjoy. This conversation shifts how they hold the whole man-woman-marriage situation. Begin some small conversations to discover for yourself how people react to this. Together we will build a strong alliance of straight allies. Please join me in this effort.

Chicago Debut of Pioneering Gay Wedding Planning Seminar Announced for July 22, 2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 23, 2006
Chicago Debut of Pioneering Gay Wedding Planning Seminar Announced for July 22, 2006 at NuptEquality Fundraiser
Chicago, IL – Two pioneering companies specializing in gay weddings, It’s About Time and GayWeddings.com, will share their expertise with recently engaged couples at a groundbreaking seminar, Gay Weddings 101, in Chicago. The course, designed to guide couples in beginning the wedding planning process, follows two fully-enrolled seminars in the series, which occurred earlier this year in Boston and Washington, DC. Gay Weddings 101 will run in conjunction with the 2006 NuptEquality Fashion and Vendor Showcase, a benefit for Lambda Legal, which will be hosted by Catalyst Ranch.
“Gay weddings are transformative for everyone who attends,” says Kathryn Hamm, President of GayWeddings.com, and co-producer of Gay Weddings 101. “We realize that there is a need for couples to get help in planning for their weddings, and thus take pride in offering this first seminar of its kind.”
“I’m often approached by people who are thinking about getting married, and ask questions like ‘who proposes to whom?’ and ‘what’s a gay engagement ring like?’ says GW101 co-producer, Bernadette Smith of It’s About Time, the first gay wedding planning firm in Massachusetts, which has coordinated thirty weddings since its founding in 2004. “The conversations we facilitate about topics in our seminars, such as planning interfaith ceremonies, finding a gay-friendly venue, and choosing wording for invitations, make a difference for couples seeking this kind of support.”
Forbes.com estimates that if same-sex marriage were to be legalized in the United States today, it would add $16.8 billion into the wedding industry.
Said one Boston seminar attendee who found that she was most helped by learning that her struggles are not so unique, “It was reassuring to hear that other couples were having the same issues with family communications, especially budgets. Wish my mom could have been here as well!”
“In this seminar,” says Smith, “we leave plenty of time for Q&A so couples leave with a greater peace of mind.”
“A seminar such as this certainly would have opened my eyes to the journey ahead,” says Jessica Lockwood, a bride who planned her own June 3 wedding. “It was difficult even defining a guest list and timelines.”
Gay Weddings 101 is open to all same sex couples who pre-register and who are considering marriage or a commitment ceremony. The seminar will be offered on Saturday, July 22, at 5:00 pm at Catalyst Ranch in Chicago, IL. To secure a spot in this groundbreaking seminar, couples should register at www.gayweddings.com. The cost is $35 per couple to attend. Space is limited to 15 couples.
Immediately following Gay Weddings 101, couples are invited to the NuptEquality Fashion and Vendor Showcase at Catalyst Ranch, celebrating fashion and services for same-sex couples. Ticket information on NuptEquality can be found at the Catalyst Ranch web site. Many of the proceeds from NuptEquality will benefit Lambda Legal, a nonprofit organization working to secure marriage equality for all couples.
About Gay Weddings 101:
Gay Weddings 101 is a groundbreaking seminar series developed by gay wedding experts Bernadette Smith of It’s About Time and Kathryn Hamm of GayWeddings.com. The Chicago seminar is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 22, 2006 at Catalyst Ranch in Chicago, located at 656 West Randolph. The cost to attend is $35/couple. Space is limited to 15 couples and pre-registration by July 17, 2006 is required.
About It’s About Time:
It’s About Time opened its doors in early 2004 to help same sex couples throughout Massachusetts finally get married. It was about time, and the small company – the only one of its kind in the state – coordinated thirteen weddings in 2004, including one planned in 6 days! To date, It’s About Time has helped make the day special for thirty same-sex couples. The company has been featured in the front page of the New York Times Sunday Style Section, was named Boston’s Best by Improper Bostonian magazine, and was recently profiled in Passport, the gay and lesbian travel magazine. It’s About Time makes a donation to GLAD (Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders) on each client’s first wedding anniversary.
About GayWeddings.com
In 1999, Gretchen Hamm’s daughter Kathryn married her partner in a commitment ceremony amongst friends and family, inspiring “Mother of a Bride,” Gretchen, to start an online company, TwoBrides.com & TwoGrooms.com, to provide the gay community with the wedding products she hadn’t been able to find for her daughter. The company, which provided the first web sites of their kind in 2000, acquired GayWeddings.com in 2005, and is proud of its mission is to provide innovative, practical, and top-quality products and information networking for same-sex and other alternative weddings. Hailed by GLBT-friendly publications, such as Curve Magazine, the Dallas Voice, GO NYC Magazine, and The Washington Blade as an essential expert source for wedding help, GayWeddings.com has also made its mark in the straight world, finding some of its cake tops featured in O at Home Magazine.
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A Groom Reflects on His Gay Wedding

CanflagLG.jpgWe often ask our brides and grooms to send us their stories. Here’s what one groom had to say:
“On July 8, 2005, Ken (my husband by Canadian law) and I, after a very long and stressful planning process, took off with our families and got married in Windsor, Canada in the wonderful province of Ontario. At the wedding, we had a wonderful officiant by the name of Kristan Bouliane (who, by the way, is now a very good friend of mine), beautiful flowers, written vows, and the perfect family and friends who supported us 100%.
“It was the most beautiful wedding, There wasn’t a dry eye there. We both professed to each other our written vows. The feeling during one’s own wedding ceremony (which I never thought possible) was absolutely amazing. If only this country understood the importance of same sex marriage! To me, it is quite disturbing to be treated like second class citizens in one’s own country. I watch the wedding video at least once a month and love my husband more every time I watch it.
“Immediately after the ceremony, we returned home, and the very next day had a wedding reception at the Inn on the Park in Madison.
“The reception featured a cake, flowers, our wedding party, speeches, toasts, DJ, photographer, drinks, a mother-son dance, the wedding party dance…You name it: everything any wedding you have ever been to was a part of our celebration.
“Everything was truly amazing and more than we both dreamed of. The outpouring support of our family and friends was evident. The night was absolutely magical. To top the evening we were swept away on a horse drawn carriage ride. It was perfect. We felt like Royalty and not once was there a bad thing yelled out from the people on the street. We actually had people comment on how cute we were!!!
“To this day, our marriage is as strong as any heterosexual couple’s marriage. We are proud of the Statement we made. There just wasn’t anything out of the ordinary about what we did. We did what two people in love should have the right to do and are damn proud of it!
“Thanks to all the wonderful people who helped us celebrate our love, YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.”
David Elliott-Kinsley
Congratulations David and Ken! We are thrilled that another same sex couple has tied the knot and joined the Parade of Gay Weddings and we have loved working with you! SWAK!
Dear Reader: Would you like to share your story? Feel free to post a comment below or send your story (300-600 words) to me.