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Wedding to Marriage is
LGBTQ – affirming

  • We rejoice for every person who has found true love
  • We celebrate every couple that seriously decides to commit their future to their exclusive mutual happiness
  • We believe that the legal benefits of marriage ought to be available to every couple willing to take on marriage’s responsibilities
  • We want every marriage – and family – to thrive

Melissa & Melissa vows

Wedding to Marriage offers you…

How to choose an officiant ➾

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Melissa & Red embrace

Our ceremony was completely personalized, devoid of dogma and rich with prose, ancestry, ceremonial joining of families, music, heart and soul.  A kickass wedding ripe with meaning and substance that embodied our core beliefs, values and ideals.

Melissa & Red

women exchanging a flower

Premarital counseling

Supporting marriage for all couples, same or different genders, means supporting not only the marriage ceremony but also helping them prepare for their lives after it as well.  Wedding to Marriage strongly encourages every couple to commit to premarital counseling, regardless of whether they’ve been together ten months or ten years.

Relationship skills are learned, and often we are pre-programmed by our family of origin how to relate, without consciously making choices about our behavior. Counseling can make our behavior more conscious, and helps us choose to relate in healthy ways with our partner.

Think of premarital counseling as an insurance policy to help marriages thrive.

About premarital counseling  

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LGBTQ premarital counseling

The purpose of premarital counseling is twofold.

  • Its first purpose is to stave off disillusionment by giving a couple the focused opportunity to unearth blind spots and talk about all of the things people should talk about before they marry.  (Fun fact: The things people talk about the least before they marry usually end up being the things they fight about the most after they marry.)
  • Its second purpose is to provide training (or refresher training) in the skills couples need for the journey ahead.  It doesn’t solve problems.  Instead, it helps stock the toolbox for when stressors arise.

A non-traditional couple will face most of the same challenges that straight couples face.  Their relationship will benefit from skill-strengthening in the areas of communication, problem-solving, assertiveness, stress management, financial management, family dynamics, roles and responsibilities, and personality styles.  So, we use many of the same assessment and discussion tools and skill-building exercises with LGBTQ couples that we use with heterosexual couples, adapted to the values and needs of each unique couple.

While it’s true that LGBTQ couples, like heterosexual couples, deal with everyday ups-and-downs, these ups-and-downs may occur in a social context of isolation from family, workplace prejudice, and other social hurdles that don’t affect straight couples.  Premarital counseling can’t fix the world that a couple lives in.  What it can do, though, is help partners strengthen their relationship skills  for navigating the ups-and-downs successfully.

Read here about premarital counseling.

The truth about love

Being in love is risky

That same sex marriages can thrive in spite of such external pressures as homophobia, politics, patriarchy, cultural biases about child-rearing, and the like, is a testimony to couples’ determination, resilience, perspective, and sense of interdependence.

Partners in a non-traditional relationship usually come to their marriage with pretty realistic expectations about how the world will view them as a couple. It might seem counterintuitive, then, to discover that one of the biggest threats to the longevity of same-sex couples is idealism. That’s because, although they’re realistic about the world, they’re idealistic about their relationship and may tend to deny or minimize problems.  (It’s called “being in love.”)

Same-sex love is a superpower

Every couple approaches marriage “in love.”  But same-sex “in love” is a superpower.  The similarity of biological sex and gender role conditioning can open couples to a higher level of initial rapport and enable them to bond deeply. They know what pleases someone of their own sex and can understand, give, and respond. Their partner knows how to please them, and they feel completely understood, accepted, and appreciated.  And if they have been closeted, maybe even believing that they would never find someone to love them as they are, the emotional high of the bonding is intensified.  Anyone this deeply in love can’t help but believe that their partner understands their every desire without having to have it spelled out.  That’s super-idealism.

Then at some point a crisis arises.  Their toddler has a meltdown in the grocery store, there are unexpected items on the credit card account, one partner gets a job offer in a different city, their fifth grader gets teased at school, someone is being flirted with at work… and their partner isn’t responding as expected.  The couple finds themselves faced with, not only the crisis, but also their disappointment that “this wasn’t the person I thought I married.”

Expectations are love’s kryptonite

Every marriage has its challenges, but when challenges become problems it’s often because couples have brought expectations into their marriage that they haven’t fully communicated with each other about.  If they entered marriage with their expectations especially elevated, then their disillusionment is particularly hard.

If same-sex love is a superpower, unexpressed expectations are its kryptonite.

Premarital counseling inoculates marriages

The point of premarital counseling to create an intentional process for partners to articulate expectations, establish realistic goals, and strengthen conflict resolution skills, so they can navigate the challenges that life will inevitably throw at them.  Couples explore a number of important topics, which can range from expectations about affection, sex, relationship roles, to how they will manage their finances and leisure time.  It can provide a safe space for shining a light on blind spots and discussing difficult issues that might be a source of conflict in the future.  It helps couples establish clarity around their goals, what they believe and desire, and most important, the ways they relate to each other.

Two of the biggest predictors of divorce are disillusionment and conflict avoidance.  Premarital counseling inoculates a relationship against disillusionment by helping partners give voice to their expectations.  And it gives couples tools for facing conflict as a team.

Read more about premarital counseling.  

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Non-traditional matters

It can take a lot of strength and courage for a LGBTQ individual to choose to commit to another person in a social environment that does not always honor that commitment.  In addition to managing the issues faced by all couples – issues of roles and responsibilities, financial concerns, intimacy and sexuality, family of origin concerns, personal growth, parenting approaches, and different communication styles – non-traditional couples face the added challenge of nurturing their relationships and rearing their children in a world that is often hostile to their efforts.

Most LGBTQ individuals did not grow up in households that look much like the family they want to create with their partners.  They likely didn’t have same-sex parents and they certainly didn’t have legally-married same-sex parents.  They probably didn’t have friends in school with same-sex parents, and they probably didn’t have to defend their parents.

With so few childhood models of non-traditional marriages and families, LGBTQ individuals need to be aware of their expectations — conscious and unconscious — regarding role responsibilities, parenting, social support, commitment, and boundaries.  Premarital counseling explores the couple’s relationship dynamics as well as the dynamics of their families of origin.  We also have tools to help couples understand and talk about the attachment styles and unconscious preferences they’re bringing to their marriage.

Couples planning on having kids need to be particularly intentional regarding how they will do their jobs as parents, modeling healthy love and teaching their children to be open-minded and compassionate.  How will you talk about different kinds of people, living situations, romantic relationships, love?  How will you talk to your children about gender and sex?  What do you want them to understand about their family in the world?   How will you support your kids’ own differences and gifts?

Unique challenges 

  • Homophobia
  • Political scapegoating
  • Religious intolerance
  • Finding community
  • Sex roles
  • Children
    • Bearing / adopting
    • Legal rights
    • Child-rearing
    • Teaching

Premarital counseling gives couples tools for communicating with each other about difficult topics, but it cannot heal childhood wounds, cure emotional struggles, or fix relationship problems.  What it can do is help partners listen to and support one another in their efforts to heal and grow.  Wedding to Marriage recommends that individuals who are burdened with undue pain, anger, anxiety, aggression, or depression seek the help of a professional therapist.

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