Matthew and Pierre’s chic picnic wedding was held in two parts on either side of the Hudson river on separate days – first the civil ceremony in New York City and a few days later reception party at a gorgeous lush New Jersey venue. They had already been civil partners in France for 4 years when they decided to plan a summer party in the US to celebrate 5 years of partnership and 10 years as a couple. Matthew had grown up just outside New York City, so news of the gay marriage laws passing there struck a chord, and in a rather unromantic manner. They looked at each other across the dinner table and said: “While we’re at it, should we get married?”. So they did!
They opted for linen jackets and pants, with dress shirts (but no ties) and boat shoes. Matthew wore a sky blue jacket with white slacks and navy blue shoes, while Pierre wore a tan jacket with a red shirt, white slacks, and brown shoes. They wanted to be chic yet relaxed and they wanted colors. They told their guests to do the same and they obliged!
Their ceremony was in both French and English; they distributed a booklet with a translation of the ceremony so that their monolingual guests could follow along. The readings were of 2 poems, one in French and one in English, as well as a reading of the 2004 Massachusetts marriage equality decision. They also wrote our own vows, but then closed with the classic “to have and to hold, in sickness and in health… for as long as we both shall live.”
All the food was served buffet style and the guests could eat wherever they wanted, next to whomever they wanted. Anywhere inside or outside of the Mountain Lakes House, including on gingham picnic blankets spread out on the big lawn that sloped down towards the lake.
After 2 hours of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, including a pink champagne toast, they had a buffet-style dinner – featuring a whole roasted pig with various chutneys, various salads and sides, including cole slaw and baked beans and a vegetarian selection for their Hindu and diet-restricted guests.
The venue was ideal, combining 2 large interior spaces with air conditioning, a large covered terrace, a smaller open terrace and a huge lawn sloping down to a lake. Guests could eat wherever they wanted, which made for an informal and uncongested atmosphere. Some guests spent time walking around the lake and in the surrounding woods, while others played croquet or just enjoyed the sun (which came out and dried the lawn not long after the ceremony). They then danced the night away, starting with decade-themed selections (50s onwards) and moving up to recent French and international hits. Dancing was interrupted only briefly for the cake-cutting – or rather, cupcake-cutting – ceremony, and to serve dessert, which included cupcakes and homemade fruit gelatos.
“Same-sex marriage became legal in France in May 2013, and we had our marriage transcribed in France in July of that year. That means that we received a “family book” and our civil partnership was automatically terminated. We were lucky not to have to get remarried; if some in the opposition had had their way, our marriage – having been contracted prior to marriage equality becoming the law in France – would have been considered “unlawful” and thus void!
We had no trouble whatsoever finding vendors to work on our wedding (even though marriage equality had not yet come to New Jersey at the time), and we always felt treated like “any old couple”. We would say that they were so gay-friendly, that it didn’t even seem to occur to them that our wedding was anything out of the ordinary. As it should be!”
Photographer: Kacy Jahanbini | Attire: Matthew’s jacket: Le BHV, Shoes: Minelli, Pants: Kenzo | Catering – reception and cake: Chez Alice Catering, Pennington, NJ | Venue / location – ceremony & reception: Mountain Lakes House, Princeton