December is not only one of the most popular times for people to get married, it's also one of the most popular times to propose. And no wonder, considering the lights and the love and feeling of joy. Since all nine states that recognize same-sex marriage are in cold-winter climates (Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and Washington), there's a good chance many gay couples are making wedding guest lists this season and checking them twice.
Same-sex engagements typically last about a year -- the gays love to plan -- so scheduling next year's holiday wedding starts now. Whether you're popping the question under a tree, the mistletoe, during Chanukah, or after that New Year's kiss, here are some tips to keep in mind for next year's winter wonderland.
To an extent, you're already living in your wedding theme. Take notes. You can save a lot of money if you book a hall or restaurant that's already decorated with the Christmas spirit. You'll save big-time on flowers and other ornamentation. If your ceremony is also in a hall, it's possible some of the traditional aisle trimmings will be set; holiday themed, natch. In more liberal areas, like Washington and Vermont, you might find same-sex friendly houses of worship that have been decked with holly.
For photo ideas, just look around. Your photographer can shoot some of your posed wedding shots among the lights and decorations. If you're in a spot covered in snow, take advantage of that natural wonder. New York's Central Park in the wintertime is breathtaking, as are snow-covered Boston streets. Yes, bring coats to keep warm (if the ground is slushy, change into your wedding shoes once you're in place).
Ski lovers can use this time of the year for either a chalet wedding or a honeymoon on the slopes. As the world catches up with gay weddings, so do celebration sites. Do a quick Internet search for gay-friendly ski resorts and inquire about weddings and honeymoons. Many gay men and women do not like to ask for gifts, often because they are older than straight couples getting married, or they've been down the road before. The holidays are a wonderful time to pick a gay charity or organization for your registry, and many of them have online sites that help you create your wedding website.
On the downside, lots of other people would like to get married during this time of the year. This means halls and restaurants will be booked early, and some will cost more than during quieter months. New Year's Eve is wedding central and party central, and gays can throw a bash like the best of 'em. Should you book for this night, double check to make sure you're not in a site or restaurant near loud bars or smack in the middle of a crowded city street. Also, make sure you have easy access in and out of your site, as traffic hold-ups are common.
Always remember that an anniversary is forever. Should you pick Christmas Day or New Year's Eve for the wedding, it's going to mean double the festivities for the rest of your lives. Ask someone who has a birthday on one of those dates how they enjoy doubling up holidays to get a feel for whether it's right for you. The holiday season lasts all month, so don't get discouraged if practicality means a wedding on another December day.
Before you set the date, think of guests. Holidays are big travel times for your friends and loved ones, and some might not be thrilled or able to venture off for your big day. If you're getting married in a cold ski climate, know that Great Uncle Morton might not be up to hiking to the top of Mount John to hear the "I Dos."
A holiday wedding any time of year calls for Save the Date cards. Once you've set the day and reserved the site, send your cards out. A year is not too early when you're asking people to take time off from a particularly busy time of year, and that means you're going to have to figure out your guest list ASAP.
Finally, 'tis the season of giving, not receiving free stuff. A downside of legal gay marriage is that a very small majority of same-sex couples are trying to cash in on the publicity side of history, and get vastly reduced services or flat-out free stuff. Never go this route. Vendors need to make money just like everyone else, and the right to legally marry has been a hard-fought victory. Use your freedoms responsibly, and set a wonderful life example for gay generations to come.
For more tips, check out David's new book, "The Gay Couple's Guide to Wedding Planning."