Same Gender Weddings
Custom Wedding Ceremonies
with Celebrant Emily VanLaeys
      The first legal gay marriages were celebrated on July 24, 2011, and on July 26th, I performed my first same-sex
wedding for two women who had been together for twelve years. They had already had a commitment ceremony in
Vermont, and a wedding in Massachusetts, so they just wanted an intimate ceremony to legalize their marriage in
their home state of New York.  I conducted the ceremony in my back yard, with my husband as the only witness.
Although it was their third ceremony, it was the first one in which the women’s love story was told. The women were
visibly moved by hearing their personal story and feelings for each other framed in words as part of their wedding
ceremony. At the end of their Massachusetts wedding, they had simply been pronounced “married.” I ended their
ceremony with these words: “Because you have come together with your hearts and minds and souls, and pledged
to one another your futures, I pronounce you to be united in legal and spiritual matrimony.”

      A lot of the gay couples who are getting married now have already been committed to each other for many years.
In September of 2011 I conducted a wedding for two men, Ed and Bill, who had been together for sixteen years. They
have an adopted son who came to this country from China and has brought immeasurable joy to the two fathers. We
included a Chinese tea and orange sharing ritual as part of the wedding ceremony, in order to symbolize the
cementing of all three individuals as members of one family. Before the couple took their vows, I spoke these words:
“This is a great day for all of humanity, as well as for these two men, because the new law that allows this wedding to
occur tells us that the world is becoming a kinder and gentler place.”

      In October I officiated the wedding of two men, Earl and John, who have been together for fifteen years. The best
part of this and the previous wedding was the presence of so many supportive friends and family members. As part
of Earl and John’s ceremony, all of the guests shouted “We do!” to promise their support for the couple.  Earl’s
brother read a classical Chinese wedding poem, and John’s sister read an excerpt from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s
Gift from the Sea.  As I told them, Earl and John have the kind of relationship that other couples envy, because
they NEVER tire of each other’s company. Using the insights I gleaned from their responses to my questions, I said:
“You are two halves of a whole: two pieces of a puzzle that fit perfectly together. You put forth a great deal of effort to
take care of each other and you support each other in your personal growth. You are better together than either of
you is apart.”

      Since that first year I have performed numerous same gender weddings. Each of the same-sex couples that I
have married believes that they are soul mates. Can anyone tell them that they are wrong when they know
themselves and each other better than anyone else can? Every human soul is composed of both masculine and
feminine aspects which each of us must learn to balance within ourselves. Our soul mate is someone who helps us to
balance the different qualities of our personalities. For the majority, this is someone of the opposite sex, but for some
it is a person of the same sex who has just what it takes to make another feel whole and complete. This is so well put
in this poem by Mark Twain, which I read at Bill and Ed’s wedding:
“On Marriage”

A marriage makes two fractional lives a
It gives two purposeless lives a work and
doubles the strength of each to perform it;
It gives two questioning natures a reason for
living, and something to live for;
It will give a new gladness to the sunshine,
A new fragrance to the flowers,
A new beauty to the earth,
And a new mystery to life.

Phone: 607-432-4625