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When You're Not Pronounced Man and Wife

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One of the cool things about gay weddings is that there are no rules -- so when it comes to decisions like how to be pronounced at the end of the wedding ceremony, we can do whatever we want! Being pronounced "man and wife" isn't even an option -- so it's really fun to see what my clients come up with.

I was emailing with a couple recently who sent me a note on their ceremony draft. One of the grooms wrote, "Jeff and I have been together for more than 14 years. After a life of saying 'my partner' I'd love, at long last, to say, 'my spouse.'"

And so he did. Language is a funny thing. This is a big decision for gay and lesbian couples. I get asked all the time about how the officiant will declare them at the conclusion of the ceremony. I now declare you...

• legally married
• lawfully married
• partners for life
• married partners
• husbands/wives to one another
• spouses for life
• something else?

My wife Jen and I chose "legally married" -- and that felt right for me in particular because the legal bit is so important. We live in a state where our marriage is legal and I want that word to be heard loud and clear.

And once you're actually hitched, how will you refer to your spouse? Many couples I know initially cringed at "husband" or "wife". Dan Savage still calls Terry his boyfriend even though they were married in Canada. Many couples still use the term partner because it's what's comfortable and what they know -- and because some women have never, and will never ever, want to be a "wife". I have married friends who still use partner instead of "wife." "Wife" felt cringeworthy at first to me, also -- but I quickly got used to it -- and now I love it!

In contrast, I've talked to several gay men lately who already use the term husband -- and have for years -- despite not being married. For many same-sex couples, the use of "husband" and "wife" is a small political act. It's a way of saying, "We are not just partners. We are not in business together. We are in LIFE!"

How is your officiant pronouncing you at the conclusion of your wedding ceremony? And will you be using the word husband or wife to refer to your new spouse? I'd especially love to hear of any creative solutions to any of these dilemmas! Please share!

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