This marks the INDY’s third effort at compiling our version of a wedding guide, which in 2017 we imagined as an alternative take on the traditional glossy-mag rendition of the form—the beautiful, petite white lady in a beautiful, flowing white dress as a vehicle to sell ads for ridiculous wedding-day luxuries that, if you spent your money differently, could put your kids through college. 

Back then, same-sex marriage was still a new phenomenon—legal in North Carolina for three years, nationwide for two—and often overlooked in weddings guides. We saw an opportunity to explore how same-sex weddings were changing the business. More broadly, we saw an annual wedding issue as a chance to honor and promote the principle that all couples are uniquely beautiful and deserve to be celebrated for who they are, no matter who they are, no matter what kind of wedding they preferred (if they preferred one at all). 

For most of us, the so-called issue of same-sex marriage has since receded into the background. Sure, the oddball legislator (i.e., Larry Pittman) will occasionally trot out some screwy bill to circumvent the Supreme Court, but it’s going nowhere, and all it’s good for is an eye-roll and a reminder that changing the law doesn’t stamp out the bigotry in people’s hearts. Indeed, as Leigh Tauss reports, there’s an ongoing fight for the soul of the United Methodist Church—and several Raleigh congregations are pushing back against the denomination’s recent crackdown on same-sex marriage and LGBTQ-affirming congregations. 

As same-sex marriage becomes normalized—as it becomes marriage—there’s a tendency to forget how hard generations of activists worked to get us there, and what access to the institution means to the community. So we asked a handful of local LGBTQ leaders to tell us their relationship stories, and how the right to marriage has empowered them. 

Elsewhere in this package, we delve into ways to make your weddings—gay, straight, whatever—your own, whether that means hiring food trucks instead of a caterer (it’s harder than you think) or forgoing a traditional wedding cake for a cake of cheese (not a cheesecake). And Katie Jane Fernelius wraps things up with a look at declining marriage rates and who’s to blame for them (hint: not millennials). 

Marriage isn’t what it used to be. It’s no longer a medieval transaction of property (though, of course, class elements remain), nor is it the point at which women are expected to drop everything and devote their lives to popping out babies (though some men would like to roll that clock back). 

Weddings aren’t either. So love who you love. Make memories that last. Above all, be true to yourselves.

In This Year’s Alternative Wedding Guide: 

Raleigh Churches Fight Back Against the United Methodists’ Same-Sex Marriage Crackdown

Four Stories From Four and a Half Years of Same-Sex Marriage in North Carolina

Who Needs a Caterer? Park Some Food Trucks Outside of Your Wedding

Your Wedding Cake Doesn’t Actually Have to Be a Cake

Who’s Killing Marriage? It’s Might Not Be Who—or What—You Think

Contact editor in chief Jeffrey C. Billman by email at, by phone at 919-286-1972, or on Twitter @jeffreybillman.

One reply on “Love Who You Love, Be Who You Are: The INDY’s Third-Annual Wedding Guide”

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