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  WINDY CITY TIMES

The Best Party of Our Lives: Stories of Gay Weddings
by Terri Schlichenmeyer
2019-03-01

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By Sarah Galvin

$18.95; Sasquatch Books; 226 pages

Your summer is filling up quickly.

It starts with graduations and confirmations. You've already got a pile of "Save the Date" cards for a bunch of weddings, and the summer wraps up with family reunions and more weddings. It might even end with yours, and in the new book The Best Party of Our Lives, by Sarah Galvin, you'll see how "I do" becomes "whooo hoooo!"

Even though she "always figured" she'd end up spending her life with a woman, Galvin "certainly had no interest in weddings…." They just weren't relevant to her, except for an irksome knowledge that much of the wedding industry was biased against LGBTQ couples.

Later, as a writer for a newspaper in Seattle, she began getting requests to "crash" weddings and she was "blown away by the things" she saw. Weddings—especially for LGBTQ couples—weren't what she thought they'd be. Their parties were "the best ones imaginable…"

The stories of some she found are in this book.

When a couple looks back on their boy-meets-boy ( or girl-meets-girl ) story, there's often an element of surprise. There was an introduction, either traditionally or through modern methods like Craigslist, online, or dance rave. Falling in love might've begun with bumps and rough spots, followed by the realization of common interests and the happy idea that you can't get her out of your mind.

No two proposals are alike, although today's couples almost always have some sort of prior discussion on it. The actual "Will you…" might be romantic and accompanied by one or two rings, or it may be an out-loud wondering if moving in together meant more than merely sharing a home. And just like the proposals are varied, so are the budgets, which usually leads to a DIY ceremony that more reflects the pair.

Some of the couples in this book had domestic partnerships long before they married. One couple debated marriage altogether, figuring that there was no reason to wed as an "affirmation of the love they'd known was true" for years. Some invited nearly everyone they knew, while one couple sent "Don't Save the Date" tchotchkes. There were cakes and cake-toppers, toasts and gifts, and one "[23]-year relationship [that] deserved a party…"

So you got engaged over the holidays, or maybe you've got love on the brain. How do other LGBTQ couples make their special days… special? "The Best Party of Our Lives" is packed with ideas on that.

It's also packed with another thing: stories that are very Seattle-centric. Author Galvin said she "started with" Seattle couples but she never really got any farther than that, although LGBTQ couples get married all over the place. I would've absolutely liked to see wider coverage from this book; the minimized area doesn't make it bad—it makes it a lot of the same.

Even so, if you've got stars in your eyes, a ring on your finger, and romance on your mind, you'll barely notice. For you, newlywed-to-be, The Best Party of Our Lives will fill you with happiness.

Want more? Look for The Wedding Heard 'Round the World, by Michael McConnell and Jack Baker; or The Essential Guide to Gay and Lesbian Weddings, by Tess Ayers and Paul Brown.


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