How We Included Large Dogs
in Our Destination Wedding
Incorporating large dogs in a destination wedding requires some creativity. Here is the solution my husband and I came up with to make sure our entire family- including our two large pit bulls- were represented. With a little creativity, you too can include your large dogs in a destination wedding.
Though my husband and I live in Miami, we were married in Central Park in New York City. It was a small wedding with twenty-five guests.
Both of my parents were there, which was a powerful statement about just how far my father and I had come in repairing a relationship that we had both deemed unsalvageable; one that was nearly destroyed by my adolescent revelation, his generational biases and each of our stubborn, unreasonable expectations of the other.
His presence that day was a turning point for us and one of the most loving and meaningful things he ever did for me.
My husband’s mother and sister traveled from Miami to celebrate with us, which for my mother-in-law was an act of courage; a willful defiance of deeply ingrained cultural norms learned several generations ago in Havana, Cuba. She did it the same way she lives her life: quietly and with grace.
The only two family members who couldn’t attend were are two large pit bull mixes, Darwin and Galileo. They are too big to fly in the cabin of the plane and my dogs do NOT fly cargo! So we had to come up with a creative solution so their presence would be seen and felt.
Our wedding was a day imagined by us and one that we planned without the guidance of professionals.
We chose every detail ourselves; the flowers, which we bought in the Flower District a day before, the cello because it’s voice is beautiful and unexpected, and the small French bistro on the Upper West Side where we invited the staff to celebrate with us. It was there, in between toasts, that it all began to sink in: we were now bound in the most traditional and natural of ways.
Until death do us part.
I find it interesting how something so personal, so family-oriented, so traditional- a wedding- can also be a political flashpoint and the cause of such vehement discourse. By having a gay wedding, we were, to many, making a bold political statement. However, to us, we were simply engaging in one of the most important and traditional human rituals: getting married.
This was not lost on me then as I wrote and recited my vows, and it is not lost on me now almost six years later.
It’s an odd juxtaposition: the love that dare not speaks it’s name is singing at the top of it’s lungs, and though many continue to rail against and fight it, my money is on love.
It was a nearly perfect day, executed with the help of beloved friends and family, new and old. From sunrise to sunset, it had our stamp all over it. The few things that didn’t go precisely as planned were quirky, delightful and, in their own curious way, made the day more special: the ring placed on the right finger of the wrong hand, the rush to finish a cake that melted just outside the refrigerator, my fingernail black as crude from slamming it in a door three weeks prior, and we embraced the beauty of the imperfection.
In a very different context, the Japanese call this “Wabi-sabi”- flawed beauty.
We had invited our photographers and their cameras to join us in our room the morning of the ceremony. We wanted to document the entire day, including the quiet, private moments as we dressed, the adjusting of each other’s bow tie and clasping one another’s monogrammed cuff links, specially ordered for our day.
That hour with our photographers, Steven and Melissa, is a blur. We were so busy tending to each other and last minute details that neither one of us paid much attention to what they were doing, what they were seeing or what they were capturing with their eagle-eyed cameras.
The photographs taken during that frenetic hour are some of my favorite, but a few in particular stand out.
Since Darwin and Galileo couldn’t travel with us, we had placed framed photos of them on a table in our suite. It was our way of keeping them close despite their distance. Steven and Melissa quietly noted this, and with a single click of the shutter, they captured what cannot be explained in words:
Darwin and Galileo (and now Edison and Foster) are always with us. Those framed photos ensured that our entire family was present, in spirit if not body. And the photographs of those photos? Six years later, they still transport me back to that most perfect day and I smile.
Darwin and Galileo will forever be framed in our hearts, and in Polaroids that we carry with us wherever we go
Our photographers were Steven Saldana and Melissa Robin of Studio Saldana.
We strongly recommend them.
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