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Why I Decided Not to Have a Big Gay Wedding

05/22/2014 02:34 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016
  • Stephen Grant Communications dude / Author of "The Hero in Me / Art fan

My partner and I decided to get married during our trip to Brazil last winter. We had the marriage conversation before, but this time under the hot summer rain, in a small two-person tent, we made it official.

After working together to save our belongings from the pouring rain we stayed awake and began to converse about our feelings. Holding each other close we cried and expressed the unconditional love we have for each other. We were barely halfway through our trip, but it didn't take long to recognize there was no other person we would rather journey through life with. That night was one of the best moments in my life. I would even say it was the first time I ever truly felt love.

After three weeks we returned to the U.S. where we live together in New Haven, Connecticut. My partner is a visiting research scientist at Yale University and I work in communications at a local arts agency. Our coworkers and friends cheered with excitement for our new future together.

We made our first appearance as fiancés at a Beyoncé themed birthday party (no, we were not the hosts). It was January so everyone was still high on the surprise album. It was here that the dreaded questions started happening, Did you pick a date? How did it happen? Tell me everything!

Normally this type of excitement is expected of close friends and family. As close relatives they have been there through the bad breakups, the hookups and the first date. But the people poking for juicy details we barely knew them. Nevertheless, the bride inside told everyone the story. We're engaged!

The next few weeks were just like the Beyoncé party only new conversations had developed. Suddenly people were offering advice about where to get married and suggesting party planners and photographers for wedding photos. The new questions were, "What's the theme? Are you going to share the news on Facebook? Do I get to give a toast?" It always ended with, "This is going to be so fun!"

The original joy I had telling the story of that rainy night in the tent suddenly felt empty. I started to wish I never told anyone what my partner and I discussed on that rainy night. The continued questions about the ceremony started to feel like pressure. With every question I thought, Wow. I have to create a perfect wedding for everyone else.

At the height of my engagement my first art show as a curator, Once In A Lifetime opened at my office gallery. It was a huge success that brought in a nice amount of press and a variety of locals to the reception. At an after party at a nearby bar called, Ordinary I celebrated with specialty cocktails inspired by the exhibition and music by my friend Brian Kiss. Everyone was celebrating the David Byrne inspired exhibition and it felt good to be amongst friends. The love in the room made me feel as if the bride inside could plan a great celebration like this. I even revealed to a friend some themes I had been thinking about.

As the weeks went on I still had no concrete ideas for the wedding. I was too busy breaking the news to my family. Unlike the first announcement, I did not receive the same hugs and congratulations. None of my closest relatives asked the questions the others did. Most of them never addressed the news. Being from a black Christian family I certainly was not expecting the same reaction, but I was hoping for at least a blessing. Suddenly, I was missing the excitement.

My family's reactions did give me a look at how my wedding would turn out. In the end, it would be me with a few of my friends celebrating like we did after the art opening. My family would not be there and with my partner being from Brazil, his friends and family wouldn't be there either.

Then everything clicked. I realized that my wedding was not an art show or a family reunion. I am not planning an event for the community or waiting for an approval; I am starting my future. This was the start of the life I dreamed of and it truly began that rainy night on the beach in Paraty, Rio de Janeiro. That was the wedding I wanted all along. There was no drama, no unnecessary speeches or awkward conversation, no overspending, no themes and no rings. We were in a landscape paradise and the most important guests were in attendance. That is what love is.

In the end, we landed on the decision of having a private ceremony -- the grand idea my partner had from the beginning. Unsure of how to begin the process we went to City Hall to obtain our marriage license and get more information.

The receptionist at City Hall told us we had about two months to have a ceremony before the license is considered void and we would have to start over. She then offered us to have our ceremony right there. We looked at each other and agreed.

On Earth Day, April 22, 2014, I married my partner for life. We celebrated with champagne and a hearty lunch at a nearby bistro. Like the night in Brazil and as most of our life will be together, it was simple, romantic and just the two of us. I couldn't have asked for a better way to start my journey with the love of my life.

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