The growth of marriage equality has made the idea of planning a wedding more of a reality than ever for LGBTQ people, but finding outlets and advice that go beyond bride and groom norms can be a challenge. Gay Atlanta author and editor Kirsten Palladino has the answer.
It's a void that Palladino has worked to fill since launching her website, Equally Wed, in 2010. Now, she’s taking lessons from the experience and the things she’s learned since she was planning her own wedding in 2008 and bringing them together in “Equally Wed: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your LGBTQ+ Wedding.” The book, which covers everything from after the engagement through the honeymoon, is designed to work for anyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
First off, describe 'Equally Wed' the book.
My book is a step-by-step comprehensive and celebratory guide to planning your modern wedding on any budget. “Equally Wed: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your LGBTQ+ Wedding” includes everything right after the engagement all the way up to the honeymoon. And it’s all written for LGBTQ+ folks, so there’s none of the usual “bride and groom” we see in most wedding books, magazines and blogs. But there’s also not the assumption that you and your partner will fit into the category of two brides or two grooms. It’s a gender-neutral wedding book that doesn’t assume sexual orientation or gender identity. And most of all, it’s a relaxed companion to accompany you when you’re planning your wedding. “Equally Wed” is a general guide of suggestions on what to consider and inspiration from what other couples have done for their ceremonies and receptions.
This is not a rulebook, it's a wedding book of suggestions and considerations meant to inspire and inform, not instruct. As long as you’re having fun and marrying the one you love, your wedding will be perfect.
'Equally Wed' is also the name of your website. How did the website start? What led to it morphing into a book?
This book was a natural progression for me coming off of the success of the last seven years of managing Equally Wed, our online wedding magazine for LGBTQ+ couples. For the book, I wanted to be able to take everything I’ve learned over the last nine years – from my own wedding planning and then as editorial director of equallywed.com – and format it into a handheld guide that can stay with the couple as they go through the steps of planning their own weddings.
Equallywed.com was launched in March 2010. The impetus for it came when my then-girlfriend, Maria, proposed to me in 2008, and I started looking around for information for planning our wedding. The wedding industry wasn’t giving same-sex, queer or trans weddings much attention at the time, and the coverage was mainly reserved for celebrity weddings. I’ve been an editor and a writer in the media world since 2002 – including writing about weddings – and yet, I hadn’t noticed this void. With the lesser coverage and ultimately respect and appreciation for same-sex weddings, wedding vendors were ill prepared to work with same-sex couples, and even adamantly against it. I received some discriminatory responses when I was searching for wedding vendors for my own wedding.
At the time, I was an editor of a local newspaper and my wife was managing her own graphic design and web development firm. We’re also largely into being community activists. So we decided to create something that our community didn’t have: a modern wedding magazine for LGBTQ+ couples.
What was it like to transition from creating and maintaining the website to creating this book?
It’s been an exciting transition from creating and maintaining the website to creating Equally Wed, the book. As a writer and editor first, and web-content creator second, I have thoroughly enjoyed working on much longer pieces. Though there are space considerations with any length in a written project, I liked being able to expand upon ideas and advice. Writing online content you have to constantly be mindful of the online reader’s attention span, which is around eight seconds these days, less than a goldfish. With a book, the reader wants to absorb more information, has put down their smart phone, and will devote more attention to what the author has put forth. I’m delighted to have that connection with readers.
What do you want readers to get out of the book?
Ultimately, I want readers to know that there are people in the wedding industry who believe in their love, their commitment and their authenticity – and who are actively working for increased visibility and wedding equality in the industry. There are plenty of folks inside and outside of the wedding industry who believe that hetero cisgender weddings are just the same as LGBTQ+ weddings. But they’re not quite the same – and that’s OK. We wanted the same rights – and we won them – but that doesn’t mean that we have to be or want to be the same as cisgender heterosexuals. One of the main differences in LGBTQ+ weddings vs. hetero cis weddings is language and how we approach the couple and our assumptions of what they will or will not do in their weddings. “Equally Wed,” the book and the website, provides a safe and welcoming space where the celebrants are able to think solely about planning their weddings, not performing mental gymnastics while reading heteronormative-focused wedding-planning guides.
An Atlanta launch party for the book is Thursday. What can attendees expect?
The book comes out on May 30, and two days later, on June 1, we’re celebrating the publication of it with a launch party at the Phillip Rush Center. It’s a time for the community to celebrate marriage equality and wedding equality, and all the work we have all done to achieve the successes and accomplishments thus far. It’s because of all of us being out in our lives and fighting for marriage equality that “Equally Wed” is even possible, that one of the biggest publishing companies in North America wanted to invest in publishing my book. We deserve a book like this, and we finally have one. I’m honored to be the one to have written it.
To celebrate, we’ll be gathering together, imbibing wine and beer, courtesy of SweetWater Brewing Company, as well as noshing on small bites by Red Pepper Taqueria and desserts from Epic Events of Metrotainment Bakery, enjoying floral arrangements by Adaptation Floral Design, and having their photos taken by Cindy and Sharon | Same Sex Wedding Photographers. I’ll be signing books, which will be sold on site by Charis Books & More, the nation’s oldest independent feminist bookstore. We’ll also be raising money for Georgia Equality, a wonderful organization that works tirelessly to affect real change in local and state policies and procedures that equalize the playing field for LGBTQ Georgians, as well as doing field work in education and community support. I’m proud to serve on the board of directors for Georgia Equality and the Equality Federation of Georgia. Essentially, the launch party is a two-hour celebration of what we’ve achieved so far in Georgia and as a country, have some drinks and shared fun, and, of course, to get your copy of “Equally Wed!”