I had a chuckle this weekend as we helped coordinate our third wedding at Freedom Run Winery. I had a sudden flashback to an Alumni Director’s Conference , one I attended in Nashville when I held that position at Medaille College. Near the beginning of the conference one of the speakers asked how many of us had wine bottle openers in our vehicles at all times, three quarters of us raised our hands and everyone laughed. We were all event planners and knew that was an often forgotten, yet vital item. In my more recent history, while attending another event as a guest, I happily provided a crisp sharpie from my pocket to the registration table where there were lots of names tags but nothing to write names with.
This weekend however, the need was more complex. The newlyweds had paid a soundman, to provide speakers and sound for the post wedding reception and they had also made a specific play list that would simply plug in and play. The whole evening was timed to music. As the guests arrived the sound was ready but the laptop had not appeared. We noticed the silence and the frustration of the bride’s maid --who was coordinating. I offered my ipod as an alternative to the silence and she smiled skeptically, and asked if I had any Frank Sinatra…. “of course I do,” I replied and within a few moments had produced at least something close to what was wanted, until the laptop finally appeared. I realized at that moment that along with a little bit of luck here, I had unwillingly, possibly subconsciously libraried a playlist on my little device for almost any occasion. I guess depending on our purposes and our experiences in life our minds work in different ways and have different contingencies for what “being prepared” means.
All in all the wedding and reception at Freedom Run was wonderful: the beautiful weather, the beautiful couple, a fun group of guests against a background of vineyards and blue sky that then transformed to a night of candles and starlight. For me, as the observer, this one was just about perfect.
With the recent ban on same sex marriage in the South and the president’s interview about Gay marriage, I have been taken back this week to Luna Island a few weeks before Kitty and Cheryle’s Wedding. I was doing a walk-through of the day and evening events with Kitty between the roar of the American and Canadian Falls. We walked discussing logistics of the potential crowd, timing the candlelight procession, as we dodged a summer throng of international tourists. We finally traversed the final steps to Luna Island where the final legal vows would be proclaimed. I remember a weird break in time, when the sound of the falls, the din of tourists, all the numbers, the committees, the park rules and planning suddenly was gone and the gravity of what was happening rushed in. For me this was new, for Kitty and Cheryle who had been directly part of the equality process maybe it was not. I looked at Kitty with tears in my eyes and we hugged, I didn’t have to explain why, she got it.
So now nearly ten months and three seasons later, I am proud to be part of the LGBT committee for Buffalo Niagara Tourism (Visit Buffalo Niagara). We are being made to feel vital in the discussions about the potential and growth of the economy in the region. Months ago their same sex marriage welcoming page had generated nearly 700,000 hits. My guess is that number has grown since our last meeting. I have also been invited to seminars on Canadian tourism and today an awards luncheon touting leaders in tourism for Western New York… the bottom line? There is an awakening in this "City of Good Neighbors" as more and more people become aware of what an awesome region this is (ie: I was just informed that we have the largest Garden Walk style event of city gardens in the country.) Its just a great manageable region to get married: hotels, marriage venues, arts and culture, shopping, food, music and its friendly and we are ready.
What is to be said today? I am saddened by the vote in North Carolina; I am pleased with the voicings of President Obama. If you can’t get married in your state... come on up here. We are ready to make your day special in a special town in a special state that believes love, romance and commitment is not exclusive.
David Butler is the owner of Pro Creation, a company based in Buffalo NY specializing in the