Category Archives: Love

Two Brides, One Dress: The Story About Something Blue

As my sister researched for her upcoming wedding, a New York Magazine article written by Ariel Levy (April, 2007) caught her attention. The article was about the author’s struggle to find her place in her own wedding which, because she was marrying a woman, seemed to come with a lot of questions (both from herself and from her friends and family) — most of which she could not answer. One of the biggest unknowns of all had to do with the one item that, for many, almost defines you on your wedding day: the dress. But in the case of two brides, what’s a gal to do?

My sister connected to the author’s confusion because she too had fallen completely in love with a woman. Months later, she was engaged and wearing a stunning diamond ring just like any other bride-to-be. A few more months later, so was her future wife. Hey, two diamond rings are better than one!

Now what?

As the wedding planning commenced, the happy couple began to get a little flustered, finding themselves stuck somewhere between the traditional wedding hullabaloo and themselves. Yet, there was never any question: they would both be wearing dresses (people seem to assume that in a gay wedding between two women, one is going to wear the suit… why is that?). But then there was the question as to whether or not one, or both of them, would wear the expected white wedding gown…

My sister (“S”) never wanted a white dress. She never fantasized about getting married. But the second she found “C” (her future bride), everything changed.

Did C want to wear the white dress? In how many weddings is the white wedding gown up for grabs? Then there was the question of whether or not they deliberately did not want to have a white dress involved. The nice thing about a wedding, which people often forget, is that it is your day (plural – there are TWO people involved, remember?!). I find the bride-centric, wedding-obsessed world so bizarre. Who says everything has to be the same as it is in every other wedding? Sometimes it baffles me how similar weddings tend to be, and how bride-obsessed. A gay wedding almost gives more allowance to stray from expectations; it allows more opportunity to make a wedding one’s own ideal party. But then there is the dilemma of two brides wanting it to be like other weddings just to show that it is equal in magnitude — that it’s a real wedding like anyone else’s, only their own version of one. And so the quest for the perfect dress (two of them) began.

White Dress. Photo by Kelly Prizel.

After trying on many dresses that were either too casual or just not “her,” the author (Ariel) found herself standing in the lobby of the Manhattan Carolina Herrera store, in her very own beat up running sneakers, eyeing dresses she never thought she’d want.

One stood out.

It wasn’t long before she was purchasing the dress that made her feel everything a bride is supposed to feel. She was in love. Amidst the racks of wedding gowns, a light blue dress caught her eye. The dress was a gown, but it was neither too fancy nor too understated. Large dark brown, hand-painted flowers crept up the side of the skirt, and thin black straps clung to her shoulders. As she stood staring at herself in the mirror, she knew her search was over. Two searches, in fact. But in this case, she decided to keep the details (echem, the price tag) to herself.

At the time (2007), a gay wedding was, as the author explained, “not a real wedding” — at least not according to the state of New York. But she and her partner were celebrating the same things: love, commitment, family. They were just celebrating in a slightly different way.

For the author, planning the “wedding” (which Ariel awkwardly and self-consciously referred to as her “party about love”), became an uncoordinated dance with tradition. There she was, throwing this huge party and looking for that special once-in-a-lifetime dress, realizing that she didn’t have to follow all the “rules.” In fact, they could do whatever they wanted! All brides can, but there is something about wanting to be in the “club” — the married, white dress. wedding club — that gave it legitimacy. Admitting this desire to feel her wedding was as legitimate as anyone else’s, and needing to prove that, can go against one’s best intentions to deny this need but, alas, it may be the truth.

Carolina Herrera dress. Photo by Kelly Prizel.

As my sister found herself in the same position, searching the racks of Soho designer shops for the dress that fit her best — both physically and personality-wise — she began to get frustrated. All the excitement and anticipation of the wedding and finding a dress began to weigh on her. As she and her fiance shopped simultaneously for the right dress (two of them), they found dresses that suited one and not the other. Then there was the issue of whether the dresses should match — one couldn’t be flashier than the other, one couldn’t be bigger, more understated, or less beautiful than the other. Finding one dress can be challenging enough; how were they going to find two?!

It wasn’t long before my sister also found herself in the Carolina Herrera shop, wearing sneakers, trying on gowns that — to her surprise — were the most beautiful dresses she had ever wanted. Yet she couldn’t seem to forget the blue dress from the New York Magazine article. The more dresses she tried on, the more she pouted, wishing she could find her own light blue dress. For her, that dress was it. When you know, you know, right?

C, being an awesome and sneakily romantic fiance, took note. After finding her own perfect white wedding gown at Kleinfeld’s, it was time for my sister to find hers. C got on her laptop and did some research. Sure enough, she found Ariel Levy’s contact information, and did what every awesome future spouse should do for his/her future wife: she sent Ariel an email.

Ariel responded. Within weeks, C surprised my sister with the news: that the dress was still available, hanging like a beautiful, glamorous ghost in the author’s closet, and Ariel wanted to share it with another gay bride. My sister, ecstatic (and possibly more in love with C than ever), hopped on the plane from San Francisco (where they live) to New York and headed eagerly to Ariel’s apartment.

The dress. Photo by Kelly Prizel.

There it was — the dress. After chatting and laughing with Ariel and her wife in their living room, it was time for the moment of truth. S left the room. During her conversation with Ariel, she realized they were a similar size and shape, and they got along wonderfully. But would the dress be the perfect dress for two brides? The anticipation had mounted, but when S slipped it on and walked out to show her future bride how she looked, she couldn’t contain her smile. It fit. This was it. Another bride’s search was over.

How the Jewish, half-Argentinean, New York venture capitalist found her born-in-Korea, raised in South Dakota and Iowa, entrepreneur dream girl is one of the mysteries of the universe, but at least one more question has been answered: they do. One month before their “party about love,” the state of New York legalized gay marriage. Their party about love was now going to be a wedding — a real, actual wedding just like it was supposed to be, just like everyone understood it to be, only with an extra dress.

Sure, you can call it a gay wedding if you want. Who cares? To us, it was a wedding… an amazing, beautiful, (legal), HAPPY celebration of two people who have fallen totally in love, and both happen to wear dresses. It was hosted by our parents at our house in upstate New York, and one of the attention-grabbing uninvited guests happened to be Hurricane Irene. Despite the threat of the wedding being cancelled due to violent weather, over 75% of the guests showed up in our backyard, wearing dresses and rubber boots despite road closings, crazy rain, and unpredictable circumstances. All were ready to celebrate the happiest couple most of us had ever seen. And celebrate we did! Despite all the details that may have made it unlike your standard, traditional “ideal” wedding (ie: the power going out while my parents hosted over 17 stranded travelers in candlelight, the band having to leave early, and a whole lot of mud), it was absolutely PERFECT. And I don’t use the word perfect often.

When it comes to finding “the one” (your wedding dress, of course), does it really matter what color it is, where you found it, or who designed it? No. All that matters is that when you try it on (after trying on more dresses than you ever wanted to), you know it is the one for you. Because sometimes, one dress just fits. And sometimes, two do.

All photography in this post is the beautiful work of photographer, Kelly Prizel.



Filed under Love, weddings


In case you haven’t picked up on this by now, my summer has been mostly about three things: school, writing, and… weddings. Other people’s. Now, there is something I should probably share with everyone…

I have been to five weddings since I graduated. For those of you who don’t know this, it’s time I confess: I have caught just about every single bouquet that has been tossed in my direction. That’s right. And no, I am not currently married, which means you can probably throw out that whole next-to-get-married thing (the first catch was five years ago… Yeah, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that a few people have probably beat me to it). Additionally, would you believe me if I genuinely said I didn’t try to catch any of them?! Yeah, I didn’t think so. But it’s the truth! Only once did I have to rip it out of another girl’s hands, but that was just because we caught it at the same time and I had the feeling I had a little more fight in me. I did. Not sure where it came from though. Maybe it was the fact that I had just gotten my heart broken by my first love for the second time (and had invited him to the wedding, which needless to say he did not attend), and I needed to prove to myself that I would find love again, somewhere, even if it wasn’t with him, and I was perfectly willing to destroy a beautiful wedding bouquet in order to prove this to myself.

Flowers with Cotopaxi Volcano in the background. Altitude: about 15,000 ft. Cotopaxi Province, Ecuador.

The first catch was the most incredible. It happened at my first wedding since college, and I was semi-secretly dating my ex-boyfriend’s best friend (oops) — but it wasn’t like that! There was something between us, and there had always been some sort of tension/interest/flirtation there (err, if you know-who-you-are is reading, hello! I should start getting used to this awkwardness, huh?). This stuff builds when you spend every year of college on a coed team wearing nothing but spandex and talking constantly of holding onto oar shafts, catching crabs (a rowing term, I assure you), and adjusting nuts (and bolts). I could go on, but just trust me on this one.

I was having an absolutely fantastic summer, and was happy and excited to be at the wedding of my crew coaches — two ex-Bowdoin rowers who met at Bowdoin, on the crew team, then coached the Bowdoin crew team together, and were my first real glimpse at what I ALMOST had, I suppose.

The wedding took place at the bride’s family’s farmhouse in somewhere-way-more-than-20-minutes-outside-of-Boston, MA. I was off to the side, having an intense, giggly heart-to-heart with a coxswain friend, Becky, when we heard the call for all the single ladies to get on the dance floor.


Becky and I grimaced. We quickly decided that we were not going to participate… For one thing, I didn’t really feel like I was totally single, and I did not want to be a spectacle of any sort. Generally speaking, I find the whole bouquet-catching thing a little odd and uncomfortable, sort of like watching a rehearsed “first-dance” by the bride and groom (sorry to all the brides and grooms I’ve watched do this– I just don’t get that whole thing! It isn’t for me but you’re the ones getting married so you can put me in my place do your thing).

A crab in hiding. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.

We decided the smart thing to do was to slyly back ourselves away from the tented area and into a nook where we could continue our conversation in private. That’s when I heard some guy friends yell “TAVELLLL!! Get over there!!” This reminded me of when my entire grade decided to play Spin the Bottle during a ninth grade class trip, and my friend Jessica and I decided to hide in the bathroom instead because we were…petrified. We spent about an hour sweating bullets on the floor of the bathroom, thinking that – at any moment – someone might notice we weren’t out there and organize a witch hunt to find us. We giggled in a cold sweat on the floor of that tiny bathroom until all signs pointed to the game being over. I’m still not sure what I was so afraid of, but hey – I was young. Of course, it wasn’t exactly like that at the wedding (I’ve kissed a few boys since then), but I felt silly standing out there trying to catch a bouquet, pretending I wanted something which, at the time, I didn’t think I was allowed to want.

We kept telling people who tried to urge us onto the dance floor that, “Nah, we’re going to sit this one out…” But then the guy with the microphone took notice and said “Is there someone named Tavel over there, come on out!” So Becky and I held hands and decided we’d just go over and participate so that everyone would leave us alone.

A cluster of girls had formed so we tucked ourselves way in the back of the crowd and kept talking while the whole shebang went on. There was a drumroll, a little commotion, and then it happened: the girl directly in front of me jumped up to catch the bouquet, which was flung powerfully in our direction, and it hit the tip of her finger, then tumbled straight down, DIRECTLY into my hands. Now, I couldn’t see ANYTHING. I wasn’t reaching for the flowers, I wasn’t even in a catching position… I was literally in the back of the pack with my hands out because I was talking to Becky when it landed smack in my arms. The girls backed away to see who had caught it and Becky and I just stood there, stunned. At first, I didn’t know what to do. Then I started getting congratulations from people, and kisses and hugs from the bride and groom, not to mention several of my guy friends. Hey, I like winning. Did I just win? I sure felt like I had.

That was the first catch.

The most recent catch was at a wedding in CT. I have photographic evidence of this too (see below). Basically, I hesitantly placed myself in the shrinking cluster of “single/unmarried ladies” (I was dating someone great, but I think this still included me) and waited. For whatever reason, I knew it was coming right for me before it was even tossed. I also knew I was going to catch it. So, I waited, and there it was. I didn’t even have to budge. Yay. I think. Now what?

Bouquet, complete with Eagles garter which was slid onto my thigh in front of everyone.

I am at exactly the halfway point in my Statistics course. Tomorrow, I have exam #3 of 5 (we have one every Monday — lovely). Beginning in two weeks, I have four practically back-to-back weddings lined up. I don’t know if I’ll catch any more bouquets, or whether or not I even want to get in there and try, but I guess you never know. At this point, it’s more of a game for me. Any significance related to the tradition has been zapped of meaning. I’m just taller and lankier than most of the girls. I assume that’s why this catching bouquets thing has come so…naturally to me. (Or is it something inside of me screaming out to the world that I want something some day that I don’t have – yet?! Hmm. Better not to go there.)

When I was a younger twenty-something, I guess catching the bouquet was like reading a horoscope: you are secretly ashamed that you’re doing it but sometimes we need a little clue from the universe about whether or not someone or something wonderful is right around the corner. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that catching a bouquet at a wedding can be an empty promise, just like reading a horoscope, and forming New Year’s resolutions only once a year.

The great thing is that life throws bouquets at us all the time. You can stand there with your arms in ready position, wearing a pretty dress, waiting to catch one or snag it out of someone else’s hands, or you can stand in the back of the pack, with all your attention on something else, because — at least in my experience — that’s when it lands right in your arms.

And now, I must begin studying for my Statistics exam.

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Filed under Life Stuff, Love, School, weddings

Love and The Journey

There is one day every year that forces many to look their love or lack thereof square in the eyes. This is a post about both a journey across the world, and the love that can come with it, or get left behind. Long-distance love is a journey in and of itself — one I know all too well.  It’s the kind of journey you don’t buy a ticket for; you stumble across it by accident, and it doesn’t say whether it’s going to be a one-way or a round-trip, but you inevitably find out at some point along the way because you just can’t resist its mysterious lure to an unknown place…

Sometimes you say goodbye to a person, you leave them behind for a journey on your own, but even after you’re gone you feel their invisible presence, like static electricity, like a good or bad ghost — it’s hard to really tell. But one thing’s for sure: no matter who gets left behind, no matter how far away you go, your heart — with all its beautiful stories and scars — well, it always comes with you. Sometimes it’s the only thing that does.

But I didn’t write this post.

I will let today’s TwT contributor, Mara, take it from here.

Love and The Journey

By Mara, with thanks to TwT for the space to share words from my journey!

Digging new potatoes while WWOOFING. Photo by Mara.

I am living in New Zealand. And I am here because of love. Not love that is sprinkled like fairy dust, but love that spoke to me when I was on the floor wondering how I’d ever get up. Or love that somehow found me, miraculously, one among the crowd.

My journey in New Zealand began last November in Auckland with my boyfriend (B.) and a car we bought and called Hermione—a name I later happily discovered means patron of travelers.

Bark Bay, Abel Tasman National Park. Southland, NZ. Photo by Mara.

Our trip started in Northland and by the time we covered ground in Southland and arrived to Christchurch, we drove 3,500 km. It sounds ordinary, writing it like that. But it was a journey that for me had begun years earlier.

And it was a journey designed with a fork in the road. When we booked our tickets, I knew B. would return to New York City after a few weeks. I’d stay in New Zealand for an undetermined amount of time. To write. To be. To find the space I needed and that eluded me in New York. To let me really soak in my life. And to maybe find direction towards work that really feels like “Yes!”

Crater Lake, Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Northland, NZ. Photo by Mara.

I still don’t know why that decision was so simple to make, because even what’s simple is not always easy. It was the start of something perhaps so predictable, but still unseen.

When B. and I met, love followed—as easy as breathing and as familiar as knowing.

But then, love always involves a leap, entrusting yourself to someone else. So, my faith was blind. Our love would stay strong. What distance would take away, love would transcend.

Mt. Cook reflection. Lake Matheson. Southland, NZ. Photo by Mara.

And then, recently, there was a moment just as I was waiting to turn in a line of traffic that it entered my mind—just one question. It was easy, the way doubt slipped in: would our love survive the journey?

One question to release the flood gates for all others. Is love transportable? Is love durable? Is love enough? Is love renewable?

If everything begins and ends with love, I had not considered finishing this journey with our love not still thriving. But how had I made that presumption? What had told me to take that chance?

Tongariro National Park. Northland, NZ. Photo by Mara.

You see, I had to first become the person who met B., because once I was lost and without love for myself. With work and in time, I became that person who loved herself strong enough to both choose love and leave a life in New York for the journey that would diverge in New Zealand and converge again in New York at some future point.

Mara sitting in a rock. Coromandel Peninsula. Northland, NZ. Photo provided by Mara.

Now my time in New Zealand is nearly over and soon I’m going to Indonesia. Though I’m getting closer to home, I’m leaving the last place our love physically touched the ground. What I must do out of love for myself, and what I must do out of love for B. are sometimes seemingly at odds, though I know the bigger picture blurs these relatively tiny movements, the daily decisions.

We speak and we write, and most days our love carries the vast ocean and time between us, but there are times when it feels strange to be so focused on me, and also a committed part of We. And that is where the faith, in all its obscurity, comes and takes my hand.

Faith inherently is blind, but in it I know that wherever the day or doubts might stray, love—transportable, durable, renewable love—is enough. Love has been my source and sustenance, and in it, anything is possible on my journey.

Mara jumping. Lake Matheson, Mt. Cook. Southland, NZ. Photo provided by Mara.

Mara worked with Wall Street investment analysts to incorporate environmental, social, governance issues into investment strategy, until she realized she needed to give her voice to the issues she cares about. Having deferred graduate journalism school, Mara now travels, writes and curates words in an eponymous blog–:mag:. Of all the magical places in the world, Mara loves to be anywhere where she could stay…just a while longer. For more from her journey, check out Mara’s blog,, or follow her on Twitter: @maragrbenick.


Filed under Contributor, Life Stuff, Love, New Zealand, Travel