Our Pandemic Protest Wedding Day
Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Content Note: This blog post contains curse words as well as mentions of Amy Coney Barrett and the U.S. government being terrible to LGBTQIA+ folks.
In July of 2018, my partner Silas and I got engaged. We had planned on a long engagement so that we could take our time saving up for our wedding and honeymoon. We were already cohabitating and coparenting our animals, so getting married wouldn't change our day-to-day lives. Functionally it was like we were already married, so we weren't in a rush.
If you've been keeping up with current events, you probably know that Amy Coney Barrett has been nominated to take the seat of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You also probably know that for LGBTQIA+ Americans, our right to marry who we love - and so much more - are at risk upon her confirmation.
In "an act of joyful resistance", Pastor Tori Jameson (they/them/theirs) of Lot's Wife Trans and Queer Chaplaincy organized a days-long mass elopement event during the nomination hearings in front of St. Louis City Hall. Tori reached out to us to make sure we knew what could be coming, and that they were organizing this event so LGBTQIA+ partners could claim their legal rights in marriage. Silas and I could share our vows, celebrate our partnership, and legally solidify our relationship while we still can - all while symbolically raising a giant rainbow middle finger at hatred and bigotry. Even better: a generous anonymous trans couple wanted to sponsor another trans couple's marriage license, and we'd have the cost covered through the support of our trans community.
Silas is notoriously terrible at checking their messages, so our conversation at home went like this:
Me: "Hey babe, ya know how we've been engaged for two years?"
Silas: "Yeah what's up?"
Me: "Wanna actually get married at a protest in like two weeks?"
Silas: "Hell yeah, let's do it"
So Silas and I decided with a little over two weeks' notice that we would get married on the steps of St. Louis City Hall at a protest in the middle of a pandemic.
Our wedding date was October 15th, 2020, a.k.a. 10-15-20. This was the day before the October 2020 Super New Moon. The next Full Moon would be a Blue Moon on Halloween. If you're into astrology or numerical patterns like I am, you probably also see the powerful significance of the date of our wedding day.
Leading up to our wedding was mild chaos as we wrote our vows, figured out what to wear, ordered wedding bands, and gave ourselves at-home haircuts and colors. It took three tries to get the hair dye to actually color my hair, only to realize I had more or less bleached and dyed my hair back to its natural color. I spent over an hour frantically searching for our wedding bands the night before our wedding, and we realized we didn't have a printer or a way to read our vows less than 24 hours before the ceremony. On the big day we arrived at City Hall 20 minutes later than planned. We'd forgotten our marriage license at home, and some of our friends had beat us to our own wedding.
Pastor Tori instructed us to go take pre-ceremony photos to calm our nerves. This was mainly directed at me, as I'd also forgotten to eat before we left and was running purely on adrenaline and caffeine.
Pre-Ceremony Photos by Paige Butler
Speaking of photos, leave it to us to somehow end up with five photographers at what could technically be considered our elopement. Between our incredibly supportive, generous, and talented friends and the fact that this was a public event centering LGBTQIA+ folks, there was absolutely no shortage of people excited to capture our big day. A HUGE thank you to Makenna Burton, Patrick Brehm, Paige Butler, Alecia Hoyt, and Tucker Pierce for donating their wonderful talents. We'll be cherishing our wedding photos for the rest of our lives.
When we were ready to begin the ceremony, I went live on Facebook and handed my phone to our friend Jennifer. As I imagine weddings with two weeks' notice during a pandemic would tend to go, there were loved ones who couldn't attend in person that still wanted to be a part of our big day. As a queer and trans couple, we are both acutely aware of how lucky we are to have so many people in our lives who wanted to celebrate our marriage with us, even if it was through a screen.
Pastor Tori began the ceremony powerfully:
Beloved are you who gather this afternoon to get married, y'all!
Surrounded by chosen family, friends you love so much and who love you, in person and online, community known to you and unknown, and the great cloud of queer ancestors and trans family, through history and to this very moment, who are here to celebrate with both of you.
Courageous are you, who gather to declare your love publicly while the national government actively works to silence your voice, and your visibility, and your family.
Strong are you, who are marrying and celebrating this marriage as a renunciation of those who seek to condemn you, by participating this day, an act of joyful resistance and queer-as-fuck love.
Powerful are you, who do the work of liberation by fighting oppression and fascism in the streets and by being wholly yourselves, onstage and in your open and fantastic lives.
Celebrated are you, who are about to create a consecrated family in the eyes of the government, but really, the community who loves you and supports you and stands here ready to cheer you on and protect you, on this, your big and blessed day.
Your fierce devotion to each other is so evident, and we the gathered are honored to bear witness to this next stage in your journey of love and of life. May you find your home in one another's care.
As I listened to Pastor Tori's opening words, holding Silas's hands, smiling into the eyes of the person I was marrying, surrounded by such genuine community, love, and support, it took about three seconds for me to start crying. This surprised absolutely no one.
Ceremony Photos by Paige Butler
Ceremony Photos by Alecia Hoyt
The powerful emotions were palpable and tears were shed, and our ceremony was also filled with gratuitous laughter and unbridled joy. Silas and I did our (no longer secret) handshake and chest bumped as we pledged our hands and hearts to one another. Pastor Tori asked all gathered to verbalize their intent to support and love us as we grow older "and probably weirder", referencing the one time I did Shrek drag that I will absolutely never live down.
Ceremony Photos by Alecia Hoyt
Ceremony Photos by Paige Butler
Then it was time to exchange our vows. At the advice of Pastor Tori, Silas and I had written our vows together to set our shared intentions for our marriage:
I promise to love you forever, and love is a verb. I promise to put in the continuous work to make our relationship healthy. I promise to never stop learning about you, and the best ways to love you. I promise to remind you how much I love you every day, through both my words and my actions. I promise to be your #1 Hype Man and support your goals. I promise to support and encourage your sources of fulfillment and happiness outside of our relationship. I promise to always bring my whole self to our relationship. I promise to honor your boundaries and communicate my own needs, too. I promise to be radically vulnerable with you. I promise to communicate openly and honestly, especially when it’s hard. I promise to fight fair, and to seek understanding and solutions together when we disagree. I promise to admit when I’m wrong, and to apologize when I hurt you. I promise to commit to my own self-development so that I can bring the healthiest version of myself to our partnership. I promise to support your own self-development, too. I promise to be your partner in adventure and explore our world together while it’s still here, and while we're still here. I promise to be by your side as we fight for a better world.
Silas also vowed to me that they would not give me too much shit when I overpack, let me collect rocks when we go on hikes even though it makes the backpack heavy, and to listen to the Cats the Musical soundtrack with me no matter how weird they think it is.
I also vowed to Silas to help them with their binder when they get stuck, cheer them on when they play Fortnite even though I have no idea what the fuck is going on, and to never complain when we're late to a destination because they pulled over the car to pet a dog or save a stray animal.
Photos by Makenna Burton
Our youngest drag child Cass handed us our $8 wedding bands, and Silas and I each made sure the other was "still cool with this" before placing the rings on each each other's fingers. As our beloved community cheered, we sealed our union with a kiss. This, of course, turned into kisses plural - mainly because of how much love we have for each other, but also because Silas had refused to kiss me for 24 hours before the ceremony.
After the ceremony, we were greeted by a sea of love, support, joy, and congratulations. We were given individually-wrapped cupcakes, and I quickly stuffed my face with a piece of pizza. Matt: I can't begin to thank you enough for making sure that we were fed on our big day, and those leftovers took three days to go through. You're the greatest.
We then made our way to the Mural Mile for post-ceremony photos. I absolutely fell in love with this wall off graffiti art as soon as I saw it, and my first time at the Mural Mile was when Silas wanted to show me one of their favorite places in St. Louis back when we first started dating. It was our dear friend Tucker's idea to take photos there, and she hadn't yet heard the story of its significance to us. I love it when the Universe aligns like this.
Photos by Tucker Pierce
The weather was significantly chilly, which was surprising for it being mid-October in St. Louis during global warming, so we quickly wrapped up the post-ceremony photos and made our way home for some coffee. Of course we stopped for takeout sushi on the way back, since I had to make sure Silas had their favorite food on their wedding day.
We got home to a bottle of Jack Daniel's Honey and a note from our friends Cal and Grace waiting for us on our porch. My college best friend/roommate Jessica had also arranged for cupcakes from The Cup to be delivered to us earlier that day. Seeing how our friends who couldn't attend in person still wanted to show their love and celebrate our marriage made me happy cry all over again.
After we recuperated a bit, we met up with our friends, also known as our "quaran-team", at our friend Aubrey's place to celebrate. We turned on our wedding playlist, danced together, and shared stories and toasts reflecting on our friendships and my and Silas's journey as a couple. It was the perfect end to a perfect day.
I was raised Roman Catholic and AFAB (assigned female at birth), so I grew up with a lot of socialized expectations for my wedding day. I was to wear a white dress and veil, marry a husband who'd wear a 3-piece suit, have the ceremony in a church, and there'd be a big reception with a big fancy cake. I'd have a hair stylist put my hair into an intricate up do and a makeup artist turn me into a blushing bride. We'd have bridesmaids and groomsmen, and everyone in both of our families would be there. There would be something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. The diamond ring. The fancy honeymoon. You've heard the story.
My wedding day did not have any of those things, and I could not be more thankful. When Silas and I got married, we instead experienced what's truly important: love, support, joy, community, and celebration of both our union and of our individual selves for exactly who we are. We experienced the beauty of chosen family.
We are queer.
We are trans.
We are nonbinary.
We are beloved.
We are courageous.
We are strong.
We are powerful.
We are celebrated.
And now, we are motherfuckin' married.
Photo by Alecia Hoyt