Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Lessons Learned and Miscellaneous Extra Touches

Save the date card commissioned from Matt Schubbe.

It’s been nearly nine months since we said our I wills and I’ve yet to write this final post in my geeky-queer wedding planning series. Between many international trips, Andrew moving to Canada, everyone becoming accustomed to extra people and two extra pets inhabiting a shared space, looking for a bigger house, moving into a bigger house, and more, it has been a very busy nine months. Plus, there are a couple of things in this post that are difficult for me to write.

But, now, the time has come to wrap up this series with lessons learned, and the miscellaneous things we did that were not mentioned in previous posts.

Lesson Learned

Lesson #1: Learn to let go.

Near the end of the planning, I had to learn to let go. I didn’t have to let go in terms of things I wanted. But, I did have to learn to let go over things of which I had no control. This was extremely difficult for me because when I’m stressed, my OCD symptoms become more difficult to control.

Lesson #2: Expect the unexpected.

People warned me that there are always guests who don’t show up, even if they RSVP’d as a yes. This was new information to me, as I had no input the first time I got married. But, as the majority of my guests were coming from out of town—half of whom were coming from out of country—I didn’t expect this to be a reality.

But, the unexpected still happened: a death in the family.

Andrew’s dad, former Rep. Bob Edgar, D-Pennsylvania, unexpectedly passed away a couple months before the wedding.

The death of Andrew’s dad meant that neither of his parents would be physically present at the wedding. Obviously, his mom was too upset to make the long journey from Virginia on her own. This was very difficult for all of us. We now had to figure out a new way to include his parents into the ceremony. More about that at the end.

Lesson #3: Be truly accepting of your non-traditional wedding and don’t worry about what others may think.

Right from the get go, we were very happy with the choices we had made in order to make our United Federation of Planets wedding a reality. However, we were a little shy about sharing it outside of our geeky circles.

What we ended up learning was that vendors and their staff were extremely excited after learning about the theme of our wedding. They all became extra-willing to make our day that much more special. Wait staff wanted to join in the costumes. The menu had themed items. Even the minister wore a costume. And, the night before, strangers eating dinner at The Quamichan Inn asked if it was okay just to drive by the wedding in order to see the costumes. They learned about the wedding because the wonderful staff couldn’t stop talking about it.

Everyone with whom we worked said they enjoyed our wedding more than the traditional affair because it broke the monotony.

So, if you’re worried about what others may think, stop. Especially as those who truly matter—your guests—will be joining in on the fun.

Lesson #4: Technology works great when it works, but when it fails, it really fails.

The above should be a “No, duh!” But, it should be something you keep in mind. Two critical parts of our wedding involved technology: our online guestbook and our in person guestbook (more details below). None of those logs saved properly because of a mixture of user error and technical error.

So, if you decide to do any of the technology-dependent things we that we did, you may later come to find that they did not succeed, despite multiple testing.

Lesson #5: Don’t purchase any crafting books two months before the wedding.

Two months before the wedding, I purchased Star Trek Cross-Stitch: Explore Strange New Worlds of Crafting and The Star Trek Craft Book: Make It So! Both books contained so many wonderful ideas for party favors and decorations. Lo and behold! I wanted to make them all!

I made grandiose plans to craft all the things but ran out of time.

Do not make this mistake. Be sure to purchase any craft books that may coincide with your theme the moment you’ve decided on one.

Miscellaneous Extras

We did many extra things not previously mentioned. They are so numerous, that I cannot possibly list them all. But, I think the following are worth noting as they may help you plan your geeky and/or queer wedding.

1. Create a website.

Instead of having to keep track of paper RSVPs and relying on people to actually put them in the post, we created a website. The website was not only used for RSVP purposes, but it also contained crucial information about the location, the wedding day schedule, accommodation information for out of towners, local restaurants, and activities. That helped cut down on repeatedly answering the same inquiries.

The wedding as viewed by virtual guests. Screenshot provided by Patricia Vollmer.
The wedding as viewed by virtual guests. Screenshot provided by Patricia Vollmer.

2. Stream the wedding.

When people RSVP’d, they had the option to attend the wedding virtually. Many people couldn’t afford to travel to our wedding, yet it was still very important to us that they could still have a way to attend and participate. So, I installed Wowza media server on my server, and we created another website, complete with LCARS theme, for our virtual guests to watch the wedding and chat with each other, also with video capability.

If you do not have your own server, you can still stream your wedding via a number of media server hosts.

Dave and Patricia Vollmer in the chat room. Screenshot provided by Patricia Vollmer.

3. Create a digital guestbook.

Marrying a software developer is a great idea, for many reasons. One of those reasons is they can write software specific for your needs. Andrew wrote a LCARS-themed program that allowed people to make “Captain’s Logs,” instead of signing a traditional guestbook. We installed in on my Surface Pro tablet, so that it had a touch-interface, just like on-board a starship. We even included the sound of the Enterprise engines and the Enterprise computer’s voice saying, “Initializing,” on start-up, and “Transfer complete,” on saving.

After the ceremony was over, the people who attended virtually also made “Captain’s Logs” via the video chat.

Unfortunately, the external memory got knocked out of the Surface Pro and those logs didn’t save, and the virtual videos didn’t save to my server because of a typo I made in the save configuration file.

Party favors. Image via the @AandJWed Twitter account.

4. Create your own decorations and party favors.

For the ceremony, I made the “Make it so” banner found within the The Star Trek Craft Book: Make It So! book. For the party favors, I made everyone a Tribble, also found within the craft book. I also made everyone three Star Trek-themed cross-stitch patterns, found within Star Trek Cross-Stitch: Explore Strange New Worlds of Crafting. Every guest also received a United Federation of Planets pin.

We didn’t have a wedding cake, but we still had cake toppers. Instead of the traditional groom and groom wedding cake topper, I purchased figurines of Mister Spock and Captain Kirk from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, to match our wedding attire.

You can see more pictures of the party favors, the “Make it so” banner, and the “cake toppers” in the Storify story below.

Kirk and Spock forever. Photo by Jules Sherred.

5. Create a special Twitter account and Storify your wedding.

In order to easily track tweets from the wedding, and to allow others to follow along whilst protecting everyone’s privacy, we created @AAndJWed. All of the guests who attended in person were given access to the account.

Because all of the tweets were made in one place, not only did it make for easy sharing and following, but it also made creating a Storify post that much easier.

And to think, some places charge $3000.00 in order to tweet and track your wedding.

6. Create a unique wedding invitation.

If you are artistically inclined, you probably can create some amazing cards for your day. After all, you cannot have normal invitation to commemorate your geeky-queer wedding. If you’re not, then spend a little extra money and commission someone to create the perfect cards for your wedding. We commissioned Matt Schubbe to create our cards, and I cannot recommend him enough.

7. Involving family members who cannot be there.

With Bob’s sudden death, we were put in a very sad place. For a few weeks, we couldn’t even think about the wedding. What we did know is that we wanted to dedicate part of the ceremony to Bob.

Bob had a huge impact on Andrew and on me. He spent his entire life teaching about inclusivity. So did Andrew’s mom, Merle. Without them, Andrew may not have grown into a person who could accept marrying a trans man. Without their acceptance of me as a transgender individual, I would not have been able to marry Andrew.

However, we had a bit of a problem. We knew we wanted to dedicate part of the ceremony to Bob but didn’t know how we wanted that to happen.

Thankfully, we had a little bit of help. Some years ago, Bob wrote a book titled Middle Church: Reclaiming the Moral Values of the Faithful Majority from the Religious Right. I had two copies. After Bob’s memorial service, I gave one of those copies to the minister who would be officiating the ceremony. I asked him to read it in order to get to know the man who was Bob Edgar and figure out a way to have Bob with us on that day.

The minister decided to read the following Franciscan benediction Bob included at the end of his book. Neither Andrew nor I knew this was going to happen, and it was all we could do to not burst into tears during the ceremony:

May God bless you with discomfort…
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
So that you may live deep within your hearts.

May God bless you with anger…
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears…
To shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
And to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness…
To believe that you can make a difference in this world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

Followed by Bob’s own words:

And to that prayer, in whatever language we express it, in whatever tradition it is heard, let all us all say in a joyful and faithful and prophetic voice that weds prayer with works and hope with action: Amen.

That was the perfect way to end the wedding ceremony.

Chances are your missing family member did not write a book. If that person is recently deceased, maybe tell a story about them. If they couldn’t be there for other reasons, maybe they can write something to be read during the ceremony. Or maybe you will also be blessed with a wonderful officiant who figures out the perfect thing to say or read.

That pretty much sums it up. Our wedding is long over but not near forgotten. Guests continue to relay how much fun they had. Nine months later, and both Andrew and I are still trying to get over how much love was present that day. Guests are also trying to figure out some other good excuse to travel from far and wide for another really excellent party.

I’ll leave you with a few images via Storify. But first, don’t forget to read the rest of the series. They may help you come up with your own ideas to plan your geeky-queer wedding. The posts include my earlier GeekMom posts, Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Last Names and Culture, Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Location, and Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Gifts. You can download the first six posts in this series, in either PDF, ePUB, or MOBI. These parts include: Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Introduction; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Proposal and the Rings; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Outfits and Wedding Attire; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Wedding Party, Family, and Guests; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Ceremony; and Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Reception.

Remember: There are no rules. This is your day. You can make it whatever you want it to be!

V-Day Blues? Here Are Seven NON-Romantic Relationships You’ll Love

Only a tiny percentage of your meaningful relationships are likely to be romantic © Caden Crawford via Flickr
Only a tiny percentage of your meaningful relationships are likely to be romantic © Caden Crawford via Flickr

Valentine’s Day can make anyone not in a couple feel somewhat left out. If much popular media is to be believed then romantic relationships are the pinnacle of the connections we can share with other human beings. Forging a romantic pairing is often shown as one of the most important goals we can strive for in life; however for most of us these relationships form only a tiny fraction of the meaningful connections we will enjoy throughout our lives.

We form deep, meaningful bonds with our parents, siblings, teachers, colleagues, and friends that are every bit as powerful and rewarding as those we share with our partners—sometimes more so. We are starting to see more varied relationships on screen lately such as Frozen’s Anna and Elsa so I wanted to look at a variety of different relationships and how they are portrayed.

Sisters: Anna & Elsa (Frozen)
Without going too far into spoiler territory for those who haven’t yet seen Frozen, the relationship between royal sisters Elsa and Anna is something truly special. As young children they were as close as sisters could be, but after a near-tragic accident forces Elsa to pull away for reasons Anna can’t know, they must grow up estranged. Anna never stops hoping for reconciliation though, and even after she finds romantic love she seeks Elsa’s approval. What happens next sets off a series of catastrophic events, but sisterly love trumps all in this story and turns out to be the key to saving an entire kingdom.
Important Quote: “Do you want to build a snowman? Come on, let’s go and play. I never see you anymore. Come out the door. It’s like you’ve gone away.”

Sam & Dean Winchester in Supernatural © Warner Brothers
Sam & Dean Winchester in Supernatural © Warner Brothers

Brothers: Sam & Dean Winchester (Supernatural)
They say that blood is thicker than water and we’ve certainly seen enough of it spilled from Sam and Dean Winchester. The pair are so utterly committed to one another that they risk everything to save each other, including casting themselves into the fiery pits of Hell for all eternity. While I’m not advocating making deals with crossroads demons to keep your siblings safe, it’s a strong reminder of just how strong family ties can really be.
Important Quote: “All I’m saying, Sammy, all I’m saying, is that you’re my weak spot. You are, and I’m yours.”

Father/Daughter: Richard and Alexis Castle (Castle)
Watching your kids grow up is hard for every parent, but there’s something especially difficult about the single father/daughter dynamic. Alexis was 14 when Castle first began airing and since that day we’ve all watched her grow up as she progressed through high school, found and lost love, graduated, and moved on to college. Castle himself has watched these events too, often unsure of exactly how to help out whilst still allowing her to navigate her own path—especially difficult when his daughter was frequently the more mature one of the pair. However the two have always been there for one another to offer support and advice.
Important Quote: Alexis: “How come we never had a nanny?” Castle: “Well, your mother and I decided if someone was going to screw you up, we wanted it to be me.”

Mal and Zoe from Firefly © Fox
Mal and Zoe from Firefly © Fox

Friendship: Malcolm Reynolds and Zoe Washburne (Firefly)
Friendships formed in the armed forces can be some of the most long-lasting and powerful bonds you will form. There’s nothing like suffering a harrowing experience to really bring people together. Mal Reynolds served with Zoe Washburne (then Alleyne) during the Unification War and together they survived the devastating Battle of Serenity Valley, the only two in their platoon to make it out. After a brief stint with a “terrorist” group, Zoe joined up with Mal to serve aboard his new ship Serenity where the pair worked together so well that it caused occasional jealousy between Mal and Zoe’s eventual husband Wash.
Important Quote: “I wouldn’t stand for it anyway, Captain, jealous man like me.”

Bromance: Tony Stark and Bruce Banner (Marvel Universe)
Iron Man and The Hulk are two of the most layered characters in the Marvel universe; both have an outward image that masks the flawed, even damaged, men underneath it. By the beginning of The Avengers Bruce Banner has become so disenchanted with people’s reactions to him that he has effectively hidden himself away from the world. He instantly senses the fears of everyone involved when he is finally ousted from his private world. Tony Stark is the only person who doesn’t react that way and is simply delighted to meet him, even thrilled at Banner’s reputation, a reaction that genuinely surprises Bruce and sparks their friendship.
Important Quote: It’s good to meet you, Dr. Banner. Your work on anti-electron collisions is unparalleled. And I’m a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster.

Womance: Dana Scully & Monica Reyes (The X-Files)
A lot is made of the so-called “bromance” but little is ever said about its female counterpart. According to Urban Dictionary the word for this relationship is a “womance” but it is certainly not as commonplace. Monica Reyes’ character wasn’t introduced on The X-Files until season eight and didn’t become recurrent until season nine but this does not diminish the importance of her relationship with Agent Scully.

The relationship is best understood when considered within the context of the death of Scully’s only sister Melissa at the end of season three. Melissa was the polar opposite of her sister, a flighty spiritualist prone to taking off suddenly on journeys of self-discovery. However, the few scenes we saw of the pair together showed how close they were. Melissa’s death was a huge blow to Scully and left her with seemingly no close female friends excluding her mother for the several years until Monica’s appearance. Despite her initial wariness (trust no one after all) Scully became close friends with Monica who clearly began to fill the hole left by Melissa. As the show’s ninth and final season drew to a close they were clearly portrayed as close female friends, one of the relationships the show had yet to explore with Scully.
Important Quote:  “I was thinking that you reminded me of someone that I was close to—my sister.”

Buffy and Giles from Buffy The Vampire Slayer © Fox
Buffy and Giles from Buffy The Vampire Slayer © Fox

Mentor/Student: Buffy Summers and Rupert Giles (Buffy The Vampire Slayer)
The mentor/student relationship is most commonly seen between characters where the younger individual is lacking a parent and the older individual ends up filling that role to a greater or lesser extent. Giles took on a fatherly role to the entire Scooby Gang but mostly to Buffy, a relationship that far surpassed even the often intense bond between Watcher and Slayer. He not only supported her through her progression as a Slayer but personally too, a role that increased over the years especially after the sudden death of Buffy’s mother.
Important Quote: “If it’s guilt you’re looking for, Buffy, I’m not your man. All you will get from me is my support. And my respect.”

Colleagues: Dale Cooper and Harry Truman (Twin Peaks)
Dale Cooper’s approach to solving a case couldn’t really be more different from Harry Truman’s but together the pair began a partnership that was every bit as complimentary as Holmes and Watson. The relationship between the two is deeply rooted in respect and despite Truman having countless opportunities to ridicule Cooper, he never takes them up. Cooper and Truman are the perfect example of a yin and yang relationship where two wildly different types of people can work together perfectly to solve impossibly difficult problems.
Important Quote: “Agent Cooper is the finest lawman I’ve ever known. I’ve had nothing but respect for him since he arrived in Twin Peaks.”

This list is by no means comprehensive, I had to cut out more than I left in, so I’d love to hear about the relationships you love that have nothing to do with romance. Let me know your favorites.

The Cute Girl Network: Interview!

By First Second

Imagine a community where you could get the low-down on every guy in town—what they are really like to date?

That’s The Cute Girl Network in the fictional town of Brookport in a new graphic novel published by First Second. The two writers MK Reed and G. Means, and artist Joe Flood, collaborated on the project. The story revolves around a newcomer to Brookport: a skater-chick named Jane, who falls for sweet, but hapless Jack. She is pulled into The Cute Girl Network, with horrible stories of Jack. Will she trust her instincts? Or her new girlfriends? The graphic novel comes out November 12th.

I had the opportunity to interview the creators, and I love their answers! Check it out:

GeekMom: Three collaborators on a graphic novel. How did that come about? How did the process work throughout the project?

MK: We did it through the magic of the internet. Greg and I wrote the script over Google Docs, which allowed us to both contribute parts & do rewrites of each other’s sections and have it all up-to-date in one file while working from opposite sides of the country. Joe came along after First Second had picked it up, and thumbnailed the book, sent it to us for feedback, and then turned in the finished art a year later.

Greg: MK and Joe have been good friends for years. They take road trips together and he sleeps on her couch sometimes. I was always hoping to team them up on a project, luckily the stars aligned for this one.

Joe:  I was nervous about having two writers at first, I assumed that would translate into twice as many notes, two pairs of eyes scrutinizing every line I draw. But it turns out Greg and MK complement each other, they have a wonderful Yin and Yang thing going. I guess that would make me the poorly drawn dragon wrapped around it when it’s tattooed on the back of some dude’s neck.

GeekMom: I have to admit, as soon as the “Vampyr Moon” conversation began, I rolled my eyes thinking it would be yet another bash-fest about Twilight. But the conversation in the book was more real than I expected—with fair viewpoints. Although I’m not a fan of the Twilight series myself, I find the extreme negativity associated with it very distasteful. So thank you for that. Thoughts on it? The excerpt at the end was hilarious. Who decided to put that in? How fun was that to write?

MK: The Twihards take a lot of BS for their love, but it’s certainly not significantly more ridiculous than the rest of comic, sci-fi, & fantasy fandoms. That said, I completely disagree with its messages (as I understand them without having read the books*), but that’s what made it so fun to parody.
*Our book designer Colleen first told me about this ridiculous vampire romance series in maybe 2006 or 2007, and I listened to the first twenty minutes of the audiobook before I found Bella to be UNBEARABLE.

Greg: The “Vampyr Boyfriend” excerpt at the end was MK’s idea. She’s great at that stuff. Check out her fake fantasy novel in her previous book AMERICUS for proof. We’ve got to get her do a full prose novel one of these days.

GeekMom: I see Joe lives in Brooklyn. Was that the template for the fantastic wide shots of the city in the book? I love the details.

Joe: I’m glad you enjoyed them. Hopefully I got most of the details right because I was drawing from memory. Shortly after being signed onto the book I moved to Atlanta, because my wife was going to grad school there. I was very homesick for 13 months I was working on the art, desperately trying to remember the home I had recently left. The city of Brookport is an amalgamation of Brooklyn and Portland, MK and Greg’s homes respectively. Having visited Portland, OR once briefly, I based most of the city scapes on Brooklyn. I had lived there for most of my adult life. (Grew up in NJ, lived a few years in Manhattan before settling in Brooklyn.) I’m happy to report that I’m back in the NY area, living in the suburbs. The prospect of ever moving back to Brooklyn, remains to be seen.

GeekMom: “Look, those network girls all seemed perfectly nice…but if we were in first grade together, I’d be shoving them in the mud and they’d be calling me a poop face.” This is one of my favorite quotes from the book. Jane is helping out with a project about little girls on the playground, but she doesn’t like them. She also doesn’t have a lot in common with most of the women her age, either, yet she is able to live with them. What are you trying to say about how girls interact vs how women interact?

MK: Adults are a bit better at trying to find some common ground, and can disagree without being enemies for life. Sometimes.

GeekMom: The “cute girl network” is painted as just a gossipy bunch of bitter women. Do you think there could be a positive form of the “network”?

MK: There’s totally a different book to be written where Harriet is a bad-ass who saves unsuspecting women from jerks left and right, and if we did a sequel that’s probably what we’d aim to write.

GeekMom: In Jane and Jack’s relationship, she is the motivated one for career plans, and Jack is in the supportive role. Do you think this is becoming more common in real life?

MK: It’s definitely become more socially acceptable.

Greg: I think Jack would make a great stay-at-home dad someday.

Joe: I aspire to be a stay-at-home dad.

GeekMom: Jack’s two roommates are great characters. How did you come up with them and their house dynamic?

Greg: Gil and Rose are based on two friends from my old day job. When we worked together, there was always lots of joking and bickering but when I needed their help, they’d swoop in and save the day. In real life, they liked to give me dating advice too. Some good, some not so good.

GeekMom: I would put this book in the 16+ category, mostly for the casual sex. Greg, as a librarian, how would you file your own book?

Greg: Yeah, 16+ sounds good. At my library, we have juvenile, YA, and adult graphic novel sections. I’d put The Cute Girl Network in adult. Though, I think as a teenager, I would have loved this book. I was always curious about how people in their 20s lived once they were free of school and parents. I probably would have romanticized Jack’s minimum wage job and windowless apartment.

Thanks so much for giving us some insight into The Cute Girl Network!

By First Second
By First Second
By First Second



Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Gifts

Save the date card commissioned from Matt Schubbe.
Save the date card commissioned from Matt Schubbe.

Gift-giving is one of many traditions associated with weddings. In fact, there is a whole area of psychology surrounding the act of giving gifts. This act makes people feel good.

When Andrew and I were planning our wedding, our original plan was to not have any gifts. Both of us have been previously married. Unlike couples who are just starting out in life, counting on wedding gifts to establish their home, both Andrew and I are already established. There really isn’t anything that we need.

When I told a few of our friends that we weren’t accepting gifts, they were a little put out, for lack of a better word.

There was a part of me that couldn’t understand why. After all, it would save them money. Also, their presence at our wedding was their gifts to us. The majority of our guests traveled from great distances, spending a lot of money to share in the celebration. The amount of love present at our wedding continues to be overwhelming for the both of us. We will never be able to say, “thank you” enough.

The part of me with a formal education in psychology understood that it was important to our guests, for whatever reason, to do more than simply show up.

Andrew and I didn’t feel right accepting physical goods that we could purchase for ourselves. So, we reached a compromise.

The solution—one that would give everyone involved those warm fuzzy feelings—was to request that in lieu of gifts, people make donations to either the Lupus Research Institute or Marian Call. Both of these mean a lot to Andrew and me.

Wedding invitation commissioned from Matt Schubbe.
Wedding invitation commissioned from Matt Schubbe.

I have lupus. It is the source of a lot of pain and frustration in my life. It is a disease that is greatly misunderstood and does not receive a lot funding or attention. Donating to a charity that helps fund research around the world is something we always encourage. Even though I felt uncomfortable with people making donations in our names, I took one for the team because it was for a good cause.

As for donating money to Marian Call, the reasoning behind that was two-fold.

The first reason—one that both the guests and Marian learned about during the reception—was that unbeknownst to Marian, she played a vital role in how Andrew and I met. The second reason was that Marian was the independent musician we hired to perform a private house concert instead of having a traditional reception.

Yes, we hired Marian, so that means we paid her a flat rate, plus travel and accommodations, instead of the usual way people compensate her for a house concert, which is often by donation.

Because of the nature of the house concert, Marian wasn’t going to sell her music or ask for donations at the event. However, because of how much we value Marian’s music and what it means to the both of us, because of her role in our relationship, because we strongly believe in supporting independent creators, and because both Andrew and I feel we cannot place a price on the value of having her share in the celebration—there really isn’t enough money in the world—we asked people to give her more money. Again, without her prior knowledge.

People got to feel good by giving. Andrew and I got to feel good by surprising Marian with extra well-earned and well-deserved money. It was a win-win situation.

Marian Call and Scott Barkan performing "I'm Yours" during the signing of the registry. Photo by Patrick Fisher. Used with permission.
Marian Call and Scott Barkan performing “I’m Yours” during the signing of the registry. Photo by Patrick Fisher. Used with permission.

This is the part where I awkwardly ask that, if you’ve yet to do so, check out Marian Call’s music and buy it. Also, if you are in a position to play host to a Marian Call house concert, I cannot recommend her enough. She’s one of the most amazing performers I have the pleasure of knowing. It isn’t only because she is an insanely talented vocalist and lyricist. It is because she knows how to read her audience and play directly to the crowd.

I don’t know how she does it. I look at her and experience a sort of envy with her ability to interact in the way she does. She’s this amazing mix of introversion and extroverted exuberance. She takes the time to listen and keenly observe, getting to know her hosts and the environment in which she is performing. She takes what she has learned and transforms herself from a warm introvert to a crowd-pleasing performer.

Our situation was not Marian’s normal venue, so she had extra time to get to know everyone, and feel out her surroundings. Simply having her there helped to make our celebrations perfect; she helped make our wedding better than we could have ever imagined.

Marian helped me feel a little more comfortable being emotive in public, reminding me that I was surrounded by friends and by people who truly cared. I was comfortable enough to openly cry when she performed “Dark Dark Eyes.” (I’m sure the couple, or three, glasses of wine also helped.) She also made observational comments and other tokens—ones that I consider to be private—that really meant a lot.

It is at moments like this where I really wish I could be more expressive about my feelings. Over a month later, not only am I still overwhelmed by how superbly wonderful everyone made our wedding day, but I am still unable to find the proper words to articulate just how wonderful Marian is, both as a person and a performer.

Whether she is livening up a crowd with roaring renditions of “Shark Week,” “We’re Out For Blood,” and “It’s Good to Have Jayne on Your Side,” or putting something in people’s eyes and throats with “Dark Dark Eyes” and “Good Old Girl,” or just having fun with “Love and Harmony (Karaoke),” plus singing not-yet-released music, each Marian Call performance is unique and guaranteed to be amazing.

Marian Call and Scott Barkan performing "It's Good to Have Jayne on Your Side." Photo by Patrick Fisher. Used with permission.
Marian Call and Scott Barkan performing “It’s Good to Have Jayne on Your Side.” Photo by Patrick Fisher. Used with permission.

Also, Scott Barkan—Marian’s accompanist—deserves all kind of praise. Watching him play the guitar is mesmerizing. The guy is not only a crazy talented and amazing guitarist, but he is a talented musician doing his own thing. You’ll want to give Scott’s music a listen and a purchase, too.

While you may not be able to have Marian Call at your wedding, it is just as good to have her perform in your living room or backyard. I cannot recommend the experience enough.

Still to come in this series:

  • The conclusion: Things we’ve learned and other miscellaneous things we did.

My earlier posts, Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Last Names and Culture and Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Location are both here on GeekMom. You can download the first six posts in this series, in either PDF, ePUB, or MOBI. These parts include: Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Introduction; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Proposal and the Rings; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Outfits and Wedding Attire; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Wedding Party, Family, and Guests; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Ceremony; and Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Reception.

If you would like to see a post about something not already mentioned, I want to know. Tell me, what has you curious? About what would you like to see me write? If you let me know, I will try my best to include it in a post.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Location

Save the date card commissioned from Matt Schubbe.
Save the date card commissioned from Matt Schubbe.

If you are not getting married in a church, picking a location for the ceremony and reception can be difficult. However, the location was the only thing about our wedding that was not a difficult decision. Andrew and I had the wedding and reception at a beautiful, Tutor-style mansion, bed and breakfast called The Quamichan Inn.

I’m not sure I can say enough about the awesome that is The Quamichan Inn. Getting married at The Quamichan Inn was the only thing that was not negotiable. People often asked, “Why did you choose this location?” The only answer I could give was, “Because it is my favorite location in the Cowichan Valley.”

Everything from price, to service, to location, to atmosphere and ambiance, to food, to comfort was, in a word, perfection.

The back of The Quamichan Inn. Photo by Patrick Fisher. Used with permission.
The back of The Quamichan Inn. Photo by Patrick Fisher. Used with permission.

We had the ceremony in their beautiful gardens and had the reception indoors in the room dedicated to conferences, meetings, and receptions.

Andrew and I decided to rent all of the rooms from the Friday before the wedding to the Sunday after. Plus, we rented our suite—the Quamichan suite—and one more room until the Monday following the wedding. We didn’t have to worry about settling our bill for the weekend, which included the rooms, all the food and alcohol, minus the $500.00 deposit, until it was time to check out. A lot of places require that you pay for the food and alcohol before hand, based on the number of guests who RSVP’d. However, because of a combination of the small party and the number of services used, The Quamichan Inn didn’t create a bill until afterwards, and only charged us for those who actually attended, instead of the anticipated numbers. We still had to give them anticipated numbers so they could shop and prepare accordingly, but it was one less bill to worry about leading up to the event.

Even though we live in the same town as The Quamichan Inn, staying at the location of the wedding and ceremony meant that all we had to do on the big day was get up, eat the breakfast that was prepared for us, get dressed, and show up by walking down stairs. We also didn’t have to worry about how much we drank the night of, because all we had to do was walk upstairs to eventually go to sleep. Everything else was done for us by the amazing staff at the bed and breakfast.

Considering I only managed one hour of sleep the night before the wedding, and two hours the night of the wedding, staying on location without any added worries was an even bigger benefit than anticipated.

The three rooms that were not occupied by Andrew and I, and my boys, were used by out-of-town guests. The Quamichan Inn wasn’t big enough to accommodate all of our out-of-town guests, as they made up the majority of our guest list. But, renting the entire bed and breakfast for the weekend meant that the guests who were staying at hotels just down the road were free to come and go at any time during the weekend. The Quamichan Inn became our home, but without the worry of having to clean up after entertaining our guests.

We didn’t have to do any set-up or take-down. We didn’t have to worry about hiring a catering and wait staff, or a bartender. Guests didn’t have to pre-select their meal choices. Andrew and I pre-selected the soup, salad, and dessert. Guests chose one of three mains when it was time to sit down for dinner.

Getting married under a "Make it so" pennant banner. Banner made by Jules Sherred. Photo by Jules Sherred.
Getting married under a “Make it so” pennant banner. Banner made by Jules Sherred. Photo by Jules Sherred.

All people had to do was show up and have a good time.

And what a good time it was. Even the staff got into the fun. They couldn’t stop talking about it, even after it was all over. The head waiter, Daniel, was absolutely superb. We had one waitress who was excited beyond words when she learned she would be on service the day and night of our wedding. She even squee’d when we told her, after she asked if it was okay, that she was welcome to wear a costume, too. After that conversation took place on the Friday night, my youngest, in bewilderment, asked, “Did that just really happen?”

At first, we were concerned that there would be an issue with a bunch of people running around in costume the day of the wedding. But, as soon as we told The Quamichan Inn’s coordinator, Colleen, what we had planned for our day, the entire staff at the inn started to bustle with enthusiasm. The chef, Steven, who is also a geek, asked if it was okay to create a sci-fi themed menu. We obviously said, “yes,” and forgave the typo on the menu because everyone was so excited about our day.

The menu. Photo by Jules Sherred.
The menu. Photo by Jules Sherred.

Even people who came in for dinner on the Friday night, after learning about our wedding because the staff couldn’t stop talking about it, asked if it was okay to drive by the day of and take a look at all of our costumes.

Another thing the staff did was come in early on Saturday to open the bar early. We served the hors d’oeuvres at 2 p.m.—an hour before the ceremony—which amounted to a late launch. Some guests started to consume their alcohol then. We had a mix of a cash bar and provided a half of a liter of wine for each guest who was drinking. Then, at last call, we ordered another four liters of wine for guests. When we woke up the next morning, we still had two liters remaining.

The food was to die for. I was worried that I didn’t order enough hors d’oeuvres, but I was wrong. There was plenty left over. When it was time for the ceremony, the staff put the leftovers in the fridge. Then brought them back out to help people sober up (with plenty of free coffee) once the evening’s entertainment was over, and the guests were mingling.

The dinner, again, perfection. Huge portions. Delicious. Served with precision timing.

Talking about money and costs in public is not good manners. All I can say is that between the amount of food we received for the price charged, and the beyond amazing service, which started when I booked The Quamichan Inn last year, I feel like I ripped off the location, even after paying the tip.

The staff at The Quamichan Inn made everyone feel like they were in their own homes, and helped to make our wedding weekend celebrations better than we could have possibly imagined. There are no words to express just how amazing they were.

The set table. Photo by Jules Sherred.
The set table. Photo by Jules Sherred.

I cannot recommend enough going the bed and breakfast route, if it is available to you. Weddings and receptions are stressful enough as it is. If you can find a location that does it all for one price, it is one less thing to stress out about. If you live anywhere near The Quamichan Inn, meaning anywhere on Vancouver Island or the lower mainland, definitely consider getting married and having your reception there. You will not regret it.

Still to come in this series over the next few months:

  • Gifts
  • Things we’ve learned, and other miscellaneous things we did.

You can read Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Last Names and Culture here. You can download the first six previous posts in this series, in either PDF, ePUB, or MOBI, here. These parts include: Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Introduction; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Proposal and the Rings; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Outfits and Wedding Attire; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Wedding Party, Family, and Guests; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Ceremony; and Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Reception.

If you would like to see a post about something not already mentioned, I want to know. Tell me, what has you curious? About what would you like to see me write? If you let me know, I will try my best to include it in a post.

Finally, if you got married outside of a church, what about your location made it special?

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Last Names and Culture

Save the date card commissioned from Matt Schubbe.

There are many differences between marriages in the United States and Canada. I explored some of these differences in an earlier post about the ceremony. The change of last name after marriage is another one of those differences.

In Canada, the rules around this are relatively simple. At least, in my mind. One of the reasons this post is so far overdue is that the United States has 50 states, each with their own rules about such things. In some states, the bride simply has to check a box when signing the marriage registry and her last name is changed. In other states, the bride has to notify difference agencies in order to change her last name. In only a handful of states, it is legal for the groom to take the bride’s name. I’m not even sure what the rules are in the states that allow same-sex marriage. Trying to research the rules in the United States surrounding this left me a little bit weary in the brain.

But, what I do know, or at least what I have been lead to believe, is that in the United States it is considered a legal name. In Canada, that is not the situation. Because of Canada’s views on multiculturalism, and there are many Canadians who come from countries where it is not the norm for the bride to assume the groom’s last name, the act of changing your last name is one of culture and not law.

When two people get married in Canada, either spouse is allowed to assume the last name of their partner. It doesn’t matter if it is a same-sex marriage or an opposite-sex marriage. But, that is all it is. It is a legal alias, one that can only be used if not intended for the purposes of fraud. In fact, up until recently, you had to have your spouse’s permission to use their last name on your passport. Of course, with the exception of Quebec, where you are not allowed to use your spouse’s last name for any reason whatsoever. Also, Quebec does not recognize common-law partnerships.

Some people decide to assume their spouse’s last name in the workplace and add the legal alias on their bank account, which requires proof of marriage, but keep their identification under their birth name because it is both expensive and time consuming to change these things. There are only a couple of provinces that do not charge to change identification after marriage.

Also, because Canada has common-law marriage laws, in some situations you don’t have to be legally married to assume your partner’s last name. Recently, passport laws have been changed to make it easier for both legally married partners and common-law partners to use each other’s last name on their passports. Spouses are no longer required to get permission for use of last name and common-law partners are now allowed to have a passport issued using their partner’s last name with a letter attesting to the fact they’ve been living in a marriage-like relationship for at least 12 months.

In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, they have a common-law marriage registry. If your common-law relationship is registered with the province, you are allowed to assume your partner’s last name for the purposes of a driver’s license, healthcare card, and other provincially issued identifications.

In all provinces except for Quebec and British Columbia, you are allowed to create a double-barrelled last name comprised of two parts, either hyphenated or not. Unlike some South American countries, it does not matter in which order the last names are places. In Quebec, there is no way around this law. In British Columbia, you have to undergo a legal change of name in order to use a double-barrelled last name.

The process in British Columbia is very simple. When I changed my first and middle names, it took less than two weeks for Vital Statistics to process the change, even though the website says four to six weeks. However, undergoing a legal change of name in Canada is not something you do lightly. If you do decide to legally change your name, for all intents and purposes, you are going through a rebirth. Your original birth records are destroyed and new ones are created in your new name. Then you are issued a new birth certificate, not an amended one, reflecting the new name.

I changed names because I’m a trans man, and for my marriage to be legal the officiant has to use the names on my birth certificate, and I couldn’t get married with a feminine first name. In this case, there aren’t too many ramifications involved in making this decision.

Because of how our name laws work, if you want to legally change your last name after marriage, one really needs to think about that. Why? Because in Canada, upon getting married, you can either use your last name at birth, assume your current spouse’s last name, or assume the last name from any other marriage. You are allowed to go back and forth between your legal name and any other alias at any time, as long as you are not intending to do fraud. This means that once I am married, there are three last names both Andrew and I are allowed to use, as we have both been previously married. But, if you go through the process of legally changing your last name, you cannot just simply go back to the last name with which you were born. If you got divorced and wanted to go back to your last name at birth, then you would have to once again go through the legal name change process, paying all of the fees involved, and spending a lot of time updating your identification, bank records, employment records, etc.

Even though it took less than two weeks for my legal name change to be processed way back in April, two months and hundreds of dollars later, I have only now received the last of my new identifications.

Many times when talking with my American pals about my name change and a handful of my Canadian pals who were unaware of our laws, they assumed that I was referring to changing my last name. I was actually changing my first and middle names, a process with laws no less conflicting between provinces. In British Columbia, it doesn’t require going to court, or placing adverts in the paper declaring intent because doing so places people in jeopardy. It really is as simple as filling out a form and having the Royal Canadian Mounted Police do a criminal record check so that any record that may exist will follow to the new name. Other provinces have different procedures, so confusion around all of these things is very understandable, especially from a cultural point of view.

In case you are curious, I will not be assuming Andrew’s last name after we are married. I’m very attached to my last name. Andrew has somewhat suggested that he would be willing to adopt my last name, but I think that would sound funny. Also, for those curious about what middle name I ended up choosing, I went with Coniah.

Still to come in this series over the next few months—I will finish the series after the wedding:

  • The location
  • Gifts
  • Things we’ve learned, and other miscellaneous things we did.

You can download all six previous posts in this series, in either PDF, ePUB, or MOBI, here. These parts include: Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Introduction; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Proposal and the Rings; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Outfits and Wedding Attire; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Wedding Party, Family, and Guests; Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Ceremony; and Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Reception.

If you would like to see a post about something not already mentioned, I want to know. Tell me, what has you curious? About what would you like to see me write? If you let me know, I will try my best to include it in a post.

Finally, if you are an American, what is the procedure for changing the last name in your state? Please let me know in what state you live. That would be very helpful. If you live outside of Canada and the United States, what are the laws where you live?

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding Reintroduction

Jules and Andrew Save the Date-01
Imaged commissioned from Matt Schubbe

With just over three months until the big day, and with GeekMom moving to a new home, I thought now would be an excellent time to reintroduce my geeky-queer wedding planning series to existing GeekMom readers, while giving new readers an opportunity to easily catch-up with the series.

What happens when two previously married people — one a trans man from Canada with two teenage children, the other a pansexual from the United States with no children, both geeks — decide to get married?

For your convenience, I’ve turned each of the previous six posts in this series into downloadable files — PDF, ePUB, and MOBI, all DRM-free.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Introduction is the first post in this series. In the introduction, you’ll get a little taste of the many things my partner and I have been learning as we began this next chapter in our lives.

Download the PDF, ePUB, or MOBI version of Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Introduction.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Proposal and the Rings is the second post in this series. Because of the nature of our relationship, people often wonder, “So, who did the proposing and how?” The answer is no-one. In fact, had he proposed, automatically my answer would have been, “No.” You now may be wondering, “Wait, so how are you engaged?” You may also be curious as to why I would have said no, had he asked. The answer to these questions, and more, is very long and complicated, and is found in this post.

Download the PDF, ePUB, or MOBI version of Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Proposal and the Rings.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Outfits and Wedding Attire is the third post in this series. The most difficult decision Andrew and I faced when planning our wedding was answering the question, “What are we going to wear?” In the end, we decided to have a United Federation of Planets wedding. What that means and entails is found in this post.

Download the PDF, ePUB, or MOBI version of Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Outfits and Wedding Attire.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Wedding Party, Family, and Guests is the fourth post in this series. When you are planning a wedding, tradition and etiquette will tell you there are many things you must do. You must select a wedding party. Traditionally, there are also rules about whom you should choose. Traditionally, the parents of the individuals getting married must assume certain responsibilities. The guests are also seen to have specific roles within the whole affair. But, what if both parties have already been once married and divorced? What if one of those individuals is a trans man? What if the people getting married have different cultural backgrounds? What if a geeky element is being added? These questions are only a small fraction of things Andrew and I had to sort out as we began to plan our geeky-queer wedding. Our solutions — including the possibility of the kal-if-fee — are found in this post.

Download the PDFePUB, or MOBI version of Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Wedding Party, Family, and Guests.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Ceremony is the fifth post in this series.In this latest geeky-queer wedding post, I explore the ceremony, including vows and legalities; the type of ceremony we will be having; and the process of going through a legal name change, and the reasons behind that need.

Download the PDFePUB, or MOBI version of Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Ceremony.

Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Reception is the sixth post in this series. When planning our geeky-queer wedding, Andrew and I had to make up a lot of things along the way, while balancing some of the traditional aspects that we find appealing. Sometimes, creating a new guide for our circumstances has been a little difficult. Other times, it was as easy as figuring out what aspects we really do not like in traditional weddings, and simply eliminating them; sometimes replacing them with our own special touches. The reception is another one of those situations where the end result is due to a process of elimination and supplementation, balanced with a couple traditional elements.

Download the PDFePUB, or MOBI version of Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: The Reception.

If you’d prefer to download these posts as one file, you can download Planning My Geeky-Queer Wedding: Parts One – Six as a PDF, ePUB, or MOBI.

Still to come in this series over the next three months:

  • Last names and culture
  • The location
  • Gifts
  • Things we’ve learned, and other miscellaneous things we did or are doing.

If you would like to see a post about something not already mentioned, I want to know. Tell me, what has you curious? About what would you like to see me write? If you let me know, I will try my best to include it in a post.

Finally, did you do anything unique or out of the ordinary for your wedding and/or reception?

Introducing Nerd Love!

Nerds are different from the general population. We know this, because we live this. Many of us have tales of woe, how being nerdy has caused problems getting dates, or communicating with a significant other. But we nerds are special. Our unique qualities should be celebrated by those who love us.

Jules Sherred, of GeekMom fame—and fame from her countless other endeavors—and her partner Andrew are currently working on a book called Nerd Love, which will tackle the subject of nerd dating and nerd relationships. Even those of us already in nicely nerdy relationships still need help every once in a while. Nerd Love will be written by nerds, for nerds. It will be done in an interesting way, however. The edits for each chapter will be crowdsourced, posted on the Nerd Love site for people to copyedit, suggest ways to cut or expand on topics, etc. Any editors whose edits get used will be credited in the final book. When the book is complete, there will be an IndieGoGo campaign to help with the illustrations and publication.

In addition to book chapters, Nerd Love will also have podcasts, such as the recent fascinating one that Jules and Andrew did about sex. Feedback on those is also being solicited. And Jules and Andrew will blog on the Nerd Love website about love, sex, and relationships.

The only way this will all work is to get community involvement, so we’re asking all of you, and all of the nerds you know, to participate. A great place to get started is to visit the Ask Nerd Love site. It’s a safe place for nerds to ask any love, sex, or relationship questions. Though you do need to create an account to ask a question, you don’t have to give your real name, so this can be done anonymously. Anyone can then answer questions, giving their personal thoughts, opinions, and experiences. Some of the questions and answers that are posted on the site may be worked in the book. Again, if they are, the person will receive credit in the book, with their permission. But if the question is asked anonymously, the credit will go to “Anonymous” as well.

In addition to all of the above, Jules and Andrew really want to hear other people’s personal Nerd Love stories. How did you find your nerdy significant other? Did you have a nerdy marriage proposal? How have you found nerdy people to date?

Visit the Nerd Love website and the Ask Nerd Love site early and often. Also, find Nerd Love on Twitter and Google Plus.

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Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Date Alyssa Bereznak

If you’re in this room, you won’t be getting a second date with Alyssa Bereznak. Photo CC BY-NC-SA by Isma Monfort

Alyssa, girl to girl, let’s talk.

You went on what is essentially an Internet-facilitated, near-blind date. You say everybody’s doing it, and you admit you’ve heard of some pretty crazy horror stories. So have I. But you know what? Yours doesn’t measure up. Not even a little.

Let me summarize what happened. You went on a date with somebody who wasn’t a good match for you. You probably said something like, “Hi, my name’s Alyssa. I blog for Gizmodo.” He heard, I am a tech blogger, which means I am also a geek and not going to run away when you admit you are a geek too. Then he told you he’s the world-champion Magic: The Gathering player, which frankly, is pretty geek-impressive. Your response was to tell the entire Internet how horrible he is…for being a geek. (Note: This link originally went to the Gizmodo post. It now goes to an screenshot on imgur of the post. It is still, however, not Bereznak’s original post, which has been edited.)

Do you see how ridiculous that is? I’m guessing you don’t. The italicized disclaimer that was added to the top of the post much later doesn’t excuse it either. “Judging people on shallow stuff is human nature,” it says. We can debate whether that’s true or not, but even if we go your way and say that it is, should you be proud of it? That disclaimer says, “Yup, I’m shallow. Not only is that OK, but it’s my right to be shallow, and I’m proud of it!”

Since you’re a single woman, for some guy, somewhere in your past, you probably had a deal breaker. Did you put that in your OK Cupid profile, as you insist Jon should have done with his championship title? Let’s review what you considered the series of deal breakers in this date. Feel free to compare with anything a guy has disliked about you.

Strike one: He “still” plays Magic. Ohs noes! The horror! I haven’t played Magic since high school, but it just wasn’t my favorite game. I do, however, have quite a collection of Steve Jackson and Looney Labs games, not to mention a library of RPG books. Too bad they’ll keep me from finding a date. No, wait. There are other nice, geeky, non-judgemental people in the world, and I married one. Now we play those games with our kids.

Strike two: He said, “I’m preparing for a tournament this weekend.” You probably won’t be cheering him on, will you? I’m glad he’ll be able to concentrate without your bitter face hanging over him.

Strike three: “I’ve met all my best friends through Magic.” You obviously don’t know this, but gaming is a great way to meet friends. When you’re playing games, you actually get to talk to one another. When was the last time you had a deep conversation during a Brad Pitt movie? Maybe you should try dating more gamers. I would way rather have a conversation with one of them than the “ordinary finance guy” you thought you were getting.

Alyssa, I take consolation in two things from this tale. One, Jon Finkel was saved from you. Two, when guys take your advice and Google your name before a date, they’ll turn up this post and see why they should cancel.

Jon Finkel, I don’t really know anything about you, except that you’re single and spend a lot of time playing Magic. And that’s cool. You keep right on doing it. That goes the same for all the other non-champion Jon Finkel geeks in the world. For every one of you, there’s a non-Alyssa out there who will be the mana for your spells.