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Matthew Robbins Headshot

How the Legalization of Gay Marriage Made Me a Better Event Designer

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2010 CENSUS GAY COUPLES
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I spend many of my days meeting with an array of people all sharing a common concern and goal. The shared focus is planning a wedding and all of the details that go along with that weighted and layered subject. If you are married, you know what I'm talking about and if you have tolerated a bridesmaid dress or prepared an embarrassing speech for a rehearsal dinner, you are familiar with the madness that ensues when "project wedding" arrives.

Throughout my career I have moved through this sea of frazzled nerves with a calm, collected patience. I often remind my clients not to allow the emotional monsters and stressful demons lurking under the surface to take over. With the challenges of everyday life, demanding professions and balancing input from family and friends, planning a wedding can be just a little overwhelming at times. I always empathize with the stress related to planning a wedding, but I maintain my position as the voice of reason for my clients as they navigate the murky and troubled waters of balancing dreams, reality and expectations.

I had to allow myself to disconnect emotionally from the tears and the overwhelming emotion that would often engulf my clients as they prepared their vows or chose the perfect ceremony location. I can recall many a night heading home with a heavy heart after tweaking the lighting, checking every flower and confirming the seating plan for some of the most beautiful weddings. This heaviness came from knowing I could not share that same magic with the love of my life. It was one unfortunate detail of being a gay couple, but something I just processed and dealt with as I have such a passion for designing beautiful moments and incredible experiences for my clients. Of course we could plan a great celebration, but we both agreed we would not get married until it was legal and official.

Now that I can legally marry my partner of 17 years in New York (thank you, New York) I'm so thrilled to announce that not only am I lost in the madness, but I'm enjoying all of the emotion and stress that comes with thinking about your own wedding plans. During a recent walk with my soon-to-be husband, through a beautiful park in Bomarzo, Italy, I was reminded of how easy it is to allow the endless details of the planning to diminish the beauty and privilege of marriage.

The "Park of Monsters" is a breathtaking 16th century garden filled with giant stone monsters and creatures covered in years of beautiful green moss and surrounded by tangled vines. As I stood in the mouth of one of these stone giants I felt overwhelmed, as I considered that I could now enjoy dreaming up my own wedding. I was brought to tears as I thought about all of the beautiful parties I have created and enjoyed with my clients over the years as they celebrated their own weddings or anniversaries. I couldn't believe we could now do the same.

One might think planning your own wedding as an event designer would be an easy task, but I'm happy to report I'm throwing myself to the monsters and the demons embedded in the crazy details and feeling perfectly, delightfully overwhelmed! The monsters are now my very own and I can't seem to even tackle the first one, which is deciding on a time and place for our wedding.

Should we do an early spring ceremony on our favorite tropical island and a big party to celebrate in NYC or a small, intimate ceremony followed by an exquisite meal in the fall? So many details and concerns. I'm honored and thrilled to join all of my wonderful clients in the experience and can't wait to share the details of this journey! Hopefully I can decide on a date and location soon. I'm already freaking out about sending out save the dates! I definitely have a new level of empathy for all of my clients stressing out over details ranging from font size for an invite to location of the after party for their wedding day.

Where are you with your own plans? Are you struggling with balancing your own dreams and traditions with outside expectations? Please let me know if I can help! Until next time, here is a photo from my visit to "The Park of Monsters" in Bomarzo. I couldn't stop dreaming about how fabulous it would be to host a wedding or celebration in this beautiful place!

2011-09-29-Bomarzo4.jpg

Photo by Jack Myers

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