On being queer at "the Wedding Experience"

If you were down at the Convention Center this weekend, chances are you were in orange and black and ready to wait in line for your photo op with The Bird at Orioles FanFest. Or maybe you were part of the much smaller group of moms and a few dads who were there escorting young cheerleaders and dancers with their bump-its, wiglets, and stage makeup to the American Cheer and Dance Championships. Or perhaps—congratulations!—you were there as a bride or groom, perhaps reluctantly, pushing forward to see the fashion shows and get your tastes of cake, scan price lists for DJs and dance floors, and try out the latest in photo booths and their goofy props, apparently de rigueur for the contemporary "fun" wedding.Weddings are big business, and there's more to buy than the unmarried could possibly imagine. Sure, you can spend $1,175 for a cake with Natty Boh and the Utz Girl crafted in fondant, but did you know you can also rent a trailer of portable toilets? One-night-only mosquito eradication? A portable pole dancing studio? Sure, of course you knew that, if you've planned a wedding. For the newbies in the crowd every booth was a reminder that there's going to have to be a little more wiggle room in the budget, especially since you're going to need a ride in a vintage Rolls Royce with a chauffeur wearing a top hat just to get to the next planning meeting.For the queer consumer, a visit also brought stares from a surprising number of the betrothed and excited shouts of "who's the bride?" from most vendors, because hey, business is business, and Mary Kay and David's Bridal are happy to serve whomever's going to pay, and isn't that equality after all, in our capitalist world?And then there were the knowing glances with other gay folks setting foot on this most sacred of heterosexual grounds that end up being open to anyone with deep pockets. Then again, the few askance glances from vendors notwithstanding, there is something to this part where one is interpolated as being a part of this wedding business, because no matter how you feel about the idea of dropping thousands and thousands of dollars on dresses that look like doilies and cake that tastes like cardboard (though this is a dead stereotype, if this weekend's samples were telling the truth), the welcoming shout is preferable to the "what are you doing here" stare any day of the week. Hey, Bridezilla—take a picture, it'll last longer.

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