Defining Marriage – Confusing? You Bet!

Nearly 80% of all weddings take place in a church, synagogue or other place of religious worship. I found this shocking. Mainly because, I thought that it would be the opposite, that  more weddings were civil ceremonies held at reception sites, officiated by individuals licensed by the state rather than performed by ordained members of various religious institutions in a house of worship.  In fact, ‘church’ weddings are on the rise. However,  it is technically not the signature of the priest or rabbi  that makes your marriage legally binding, it is the stamp by the state. So, the thing that  makes the marriage legal has nothing to do with religious affiliation or lack thereof.  If you are keeping score, this means that technically ALL marriages are ‘civil unions’ but, not all ‘civil unions’ are marriages.

Of course that takes us into the whole same sex marriage debate.  Miriam Webster defines civil unions as: “the legal status that ensures to same-sex couples specified rights and responsibilities of married couples“. However, states: “Civil unions are legal contracts between partners that are recognized by a state or government as conferring all or some of the rights conferred by marriage, but without the implicit historical and religious meaning associated with the word ‘marriage’.” No mention of same or opposite sex. I was married in the Cook County Courthouse in a civil ceremony… no priest, no rabbi, no minister. Therefore, although I am legally ‘married’ to my husband, by definition it is still a civil union. However, technically it is referred to as a ‘civil marriage’ . You see, because we have different chromosomal makeup, we are allowed to be legally married.  Are you still with me?

If you are confused, welcome to my world. But, lets get back to the church for just a second.  Centuries ago, people who wanted to be joined together for life simply set up house together (mutual consent), no questions asked. No ceremony, no gown, no DJ or flowers. Somewhere around the middle ages, things got confusing. Some countries required the government to sanction marriage, some required sanctioning by the ‘church’. Realistically, this was done to document, track and control marriages and probably to make a profit somehow.  To this day, some states still recognize common-law marriage which is based on  length of co-habitation and mutual consent.

Without getting into a detailed  history of marriage , let’s fast forward to the year 1999.  Bombarded by requests for marriage licenses by same sex couples, Vermont lawmakers took matters into their own hands and decided to create a parallel license (equal to marriage in everything except name) to issue to same sex couples wishing to be afforded marital rights. Thanks a lot, Vermont…. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! If I understand this properly  (please correct  me if I don’t), “Civil Union” licenses were created to appease some voters  without offending the other voters along the way. In order to be completely politically correct, perhaps it should be called a “Duplicate  Chromosome Union” license. This way individuals with gender re-assignment wouldn’t have to have an additional parallel license.

This brings us to 2012 where  you can have a civil ceremony and civil marriaige  but, it isn’t considered a civil union.  You can have a civil ceremony which can be a civil union but not a civil marriage. Fortunately more churches are accepting of all kinds of marriage, unions and cermonies and are willing to accept the religious and cultural differences of couples everywhere. Perhaps that is why ‘church’ weddings are on the rise. Stilil shocking to me but, then again, I’m still trying to figure out who came up with the idea of a  ‘parallel’  license.

Click here to find out some of the best matrimony sites from where you can find your life partner.

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago

Kim’s Fairytale Wedding – The Party’s Over

There is always that moment after the wedding is over when you wish you could do the whole thing again. The dress, the party, the dancing and seeing all of your friends/family in one place – everything and everyone looking so wonderful. Then you start addressing the Thank You Notes and settling into married life and realize how much work went into the whole thing, thinking maybe you can wait until your 10th anniversary to plan another event of this magnitude. After about six months, when all of the excitement has died down all you want to do is have one nice quiet evening at home with no tasks or ‘to-do’ lists.

Then there are those cases when the wedding lasts longer than the marriage. Whether it is finances, place of residence, children, or infidelity, the realization that you married the wrong person has to be painful.  Yesterday’s announcement of Kim Kardashian’s probable divorce did not come as a shock to as many people as she would have suspected. While I would like to say that Kim Kardashian deserves some time to work this out in private, I can’t for several reasons:

-With all the debate over gay marriage – also known as civil unions or in my house, just plain “marriage”, I wonder why people can’t let this go. Another example of two heterosexual people who have all the rights afforded to them by the state and federal government (and the approval of conservative marriage activists) to marry whomever they want and have it televised to the tune of $18 million +, to stay married for 2 or 3 months and divorce for no reason, to marry multiple times to whomever for whatever reason and treat the process in a disposable manner…. yet two men or two women who are truly in love and have already shared more life experiences than most couples cannot legally ‘marry’ in their state. AND even when they are afforded the rights, they walk away with a certificate that says “Civil Union”. This is completely unjust and I feel a public explanation is due.

-When you are married in front of television cameras for ratings and profit, when the entire romance and proposal and engagement are televised for ratings and profit, when you live every moment of your life for ratings and profit, you should have to answer every single question from every single person who contributed to your ratings and profit.

– If you are able to turn a  self-indulgent lifestyle into a career, you should have enough sense to ask your future husband or wife a few simple questions: “Where will we live after we are married?” and “How will we support ourselves… will we both be working?” or “Where will we raise our children”.

In my opinion, Kim Kardashian should have to answer every question, return every gift and donate every dollar made  to a charity … one that fights for equal marriage rights for all. 

-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago



Civil Unions vs. Same Sex Marriage

Civil Unions became legal in Illinois this past week allowing many couples of the same sex to make a legal, binding commitment to one another. Sounds like same sex marriage to me. Actually it just sounds like  marriage, so whats the big deal? Why does it have to be called anything other than what it is?

I have been a part of the wedding/bridal industry for 28 years. I have seen a lot of weddings, I have personally attended hundreds of weddings and I have had the honor of being a bridesmaid half a dozen times most recently at the ‘union’ of my close friends in 2009. The quotation marks indicate that the ceremony was not legal at that time but no different than any other wedding or ceremony I have attended, with the exception of  being way more fabulous.

Usually  I have facts and interesting tidbits to share about trivia and funny pictures of things like  the Queen of England’s hat. Today I just have a lot of opinions…. and some seemingly stupid questions.

 How does a Civil Union differ from a Same-Sex Marriage?  Is it the same thing? If so, why is it not defined as such? Why does the language have to change because of your sexual orientation? Is the word for LOVE different? Is the word for COMMITMENT different? In fact, why would it even be defined as anything other than marriage? No one refers to my marriage as an opposite sex marriage, even though it clearly is and many times in our union we have been less than civil!

The same people who are enraged about political correctness, who are enraged about having to say  ‘Happy Holidays’ in December are the same people changing the language of how we express our love. The last time I checked, love is supposed to be inclusive  not exclusive.

In case you haven’t guessed, this is all designed to make sure that ‘those’ people aren’t allowed to use the word marriage to define their commitment.  It is reserved for us, the heterosexual people of the world who have done such a great job of defining marriage. We have defined it as a reason to have pre-marital contracts, multiple divorces and  drive-thru wedding chapels. That sounds pretty sacred to me.

I fel in love with my husband (the love of my life) because he has a great sense of humor and a compassionate soul. I married him because he had a great insurance policy.  We might have gotten around to it eventually but we were kind of busy that summer so we just ran to City Hall to seal the deal before my next doctor’s appointment.  The point is that our marriage does not define our relationship. The words on a piece of paper do not make our commitment any stronger, they just allow us to become a legal family. So why do those same words instill fear in the hearts and minds of so many when they are used to allow people of the same sex to become a legal family?

If you are lucky enough to find someone who loves you and the two of you want to spend your life together- go for it! Call it civil union, call it same sex marriage, call it whatever you want, we all know what it is. Grab that person and hold on for dear life because it is a scary world out there filled with hate and fear.

Congratulations to all the couples who were able to enjoy their ceremony at Millenium Park this week. Kudos to Governor Quinn for passing this legislation and Mazel tov to Mayor Emmanuel for starting his day by officiating the ceremony for one of his top aides, David Spielfogel  and his partner, now husband.