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Before gay marriage is even legal in the state? The Gay and Lesbian Wedding Expo at the Renaissance Hotel

Before gay marriage is even legal in the state? The Gay and Lesbian Wedding Expo at the Renaissance Hotel

This weekend I went to the 2nd Annual Gay and Lesbian Wedding Expo at the Renaissance Hotel. This was my first foray into the Renaissance, whose interior felt like a freshly-cleaved hunk of airport terminal. Their automated schedule screen did not include instructions on how to get to the event, or a map, so I hung around the stairs looking for queers who looked like they knew where they were going.

At the door of the Rio Grande ballroom I was greeted by Marianne Puechl, founder of Same Love, Same Rights, the organization staging the wedding expo. I took my lilac “gift bag,” which only contained an advertisement and a bookmark, and three different issues of their free reading materials, Rainbow Wedding Network Magazine. My decoy fiancé bailed to spend time with his girlfriend, so I told everyone he was working, but that he had sent me to collect brochures and collect estimates. I did this because I hate having people try to sell me things, almost as much as I hate wasting other people’s time, making this small loop of vendors and wedding professionals a nightmare gauntlet.

Having collected my “swag,” I made my way to the first few vendors. They were each offering different services but each booth, each service, each person promised you one thing: they’ll take care of everything. That was the line that came with a gregarious pitch and a handshake at the Premiere Party Central: “We take care of everything but the food.” The man said, admitting that if I needed a recommendation for catering they could tell me where to go. I looked at the swatches and moved on. I took a card for pole dancing classes from Inner Diva Studios. I avoided a table scattered with novelty glasses and fright wigs.

There were jewelry vendors, photographers, makeup artists, videographers; I had a lovely conversation with a pair of people at the travel agency about my plans to go to Europe next year, one of whom spoke eloquently and at length about Spain. Around the corner Sushi Zushi was giving out sampling plates and discussing catering options. Plate in hand I walked up to the C. Kirk Roots Design booth and asked to be shown “something simple.” The salesman produced a featureless tungsten wedding band. It was gorgeous. It was the exact opposite of everything I hate about weddings, functional and to the point, completely free of pointless spectacle. I wanted to purchase it on the spot, before I realized that it would be creepy to buy the ring before I found someone to wear it for.

The expo was small and a little disappointing, there is no denying it. As one of my more obnoxious straight friends put it, “You’re having the wedding expo before you can legally get married in the state?” and for once I agree with his obnoxious assessment. I understand the social function of a marriage that people enjoy and cherish, apart from the legal benefits and responsibilities that are denied queer couples in Texas, but I personally do not see the point. Unless a wedding can offer some legal protection, I’m not prepared to buy into the Wedding Industrial Complex’s sales pitch. Weddings are far too expensive and time consuming for me to waste my time having one in a state that doesn’t view me as a full citizen.

However, speaking as someone who has no idea how weddings are planned and arranged, it was nice to see my options spread out in front of me like that. It allowed me to start out with a template and look at options and numbers, and if I had actually been planning a wedding, I would have been really grateful. And because the event was small each person was given much more individual attention, so couples were free to ask questions and educate themselves on the possibilities they had access to. Even though I’m certain that my wedding will be low-key and will not take place in Texas, I’m still going to leaf through the magazines and keep an open mind.

Austin Photo Set: News_Garland Grey_LGBT wedding expo_Nov 2011_cake
Austin Photo Set: News_Garland Grey_LGBT wedding expo_Nov 2011_1
This vendor supplies the complete media package, everything you need for your wedding. Photo by Garland Grey
Austin Photo Set: News_Garland Grey_LGBT wedding expo_Nov 2011_2
They were each offering different services but each booth, each service, each person promised you one thing: they’ll take care of everything. Photo by Garland Grey
Austin Photo Set: News_Garland Grey_LGBT wedding expo_Nov 2011_3
Vendors demonstrated different chair decorations. Photo by Garland Grey