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My Big Gay Wedding (PHOTOS)

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Jamie McGonnigal
Jamie McGonnigal

On Saturday, May 18, I had the pleasure of marrying my best friend. In front of a hundred or so dear friends and family on a beach in Provincetown, Mass., I did something I never, ever imagined I'd be able to do legally in this country.

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The ceremony, led by my dear friend from high school, Shannon, was everything I'd hoped it would be. We started planning with the idea that we could subtly include some purpose: a few readings by LGBT writers, maybe a casual mention of marriage equality, because that's the work both of us do. Let's just say subtlety has never been our best quality.

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Who could stay silent when you discover that you're getting married on the 43rd anniversary of the first gay marriage ever performed in the U.S.? Or that you're getting married on the ninth anniversary of the first state legalizing marriage equality -- and you're getting married in that state?! Casual mentions plus a reading of Harvey Milk's "Hope" speech and a request that our guests throw fabulous parties when marriage equality becomes federal law made for quite the purpose-driven wedding ceremony.

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For the reception, we did something fun: Instead of using normal place cards, we found photos of nearly everyone in attendance. Because I'm a photographer and pictures are a big part of my life, it felt appropriate. People had to look for their photo to find out what where they were seated.

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Then came the tables. Each one was named after an LGBT hero or heroine, and featured at the centerpiece was a large photo on one side and a brief bio on the other. It was important to us both that we recognize all those who've worked so hard before us to make what we were doing possible.

And of course, who doesn't have a photo booth at their wedding nowadays? We just set up a simple backdrop and provided a trunk full of horrifically gay props, including a rainbow umbrella, rainbow boas, mustaches, glasses, crowns and a blow-up rainbow unicorn.

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And if all that weren't enough, moments after announcing on Facebook that I'd become engaged, my high school senior class president messaged me saying that she wanted to make our cake. She'd started a small business making cakes, and as you can see, she was incredible. Her company, Devilish Desserts, is clearly not one of those to avoid while planning a gay wedding!

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Following dinner, we all went to the Wave Bar in downtown Provincetown, where our very straight family and friends danced the night away with hundreds of lesbians and a few drag queens. (It was single women's weekend.) We even met a lovely lesbian couple who got married the same day!

Overall, it was a marvelous day filled with tons of love, and at the end of the day, Sean and I share a favorite memory: In the middle of the ceremony, Shannon asked everyone to be silent for a moment as they considered the vows we'd made and how they could support us in our new life together. And for a moment, after a week of hustle and bustle, frantically organizing the wedding, driving 10 hours and dealing with family and everything in between, all you could hear was the gentle lapping of the waves over the sand. Simple, beautiful and perfect.

A few people have asked us to publish our vows, so here they are. There may be a few insider references, but you get the idea.

My vows:

Before our family and friends, and especially Eli, I take you, Sean, to spend my days and nights with, to love you and to like you, to hold you tight when either of us need it, and to give you the room you need to grow as we do so together. I promise to build our family in a way that honors our past and strengthens the future for those who come after us. I promise to continue to laugh with you, cry with you and continue posting photos of you and Eli sleeping on the Internet. And this above all: As our lives blossom together and the winds take us in new directions, I promise to call anyplace you are my home.

Sean's vows:

I promise to be patient, to listen and to remember that you're usually right.



I promise to cheer you on when you're doing great things and hold your hand through hard times.



I promise to make you laugh when you'd rather not, to make you slow down every now and then and live in the moment and, when I'm so very very mad at you, to remember that we're a team.



I promise to teach you how to drive if you'll teach me how to swim, and to make you turn off Facebook sometimes.



I promise that no matter what comes next for us, we will face it together, because without you, I would be completely lost.



More than anything, I promise to love you. And when you're old and wise and boring, I'll be right there too -- maybe a little less wise -- and I will love you still.