For Same Sex Brides Choosing Between Gown and Suit Stories

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But Now, What to Wear?

Duffy, on the left, and Kathy Tucker both went the suit route.
Published: May 23, 2012

THE bride wore Carolina Herrera, the other bride wore Ralph                                          FACEBOOK

Lauren. That was the big reveal at the wedding of Christine C.                                       TWITTER

Quinn, the New York City Council president, and her longtime                                         GOOGLE+
partner, Kim M. Catullo, a products liability lawyer, in a ceremony
held in the meatpacking district last Saturday evening.

                                           And with one donning a traditional
The Collection: A New
                                           wedding dress and the other a
Fashion App for the iPad                                                              REPRINTS
A one-stop                                 custom-made pantsuit, the couple
destination for
                                           elegantly addressed one pressing
Times fashion
coverage and the                           issue that many lesbians grapple with before walking
latest from the                            down the aisle: What do we wear?
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                                           Unlike the largely codified pageant of a heterosexual
                                           wedding, the sartorial rules are still being written for
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Follow                                     lesbians. And it goes beyond choosing between things like
@NYTimesfashion                            mermaid or A-line silhouettes or strapless or long-sleeved.
for fashion, beauty
and lifestyle news                         For some, there are tuxes and tails to consider, and those
and headlines.                             suits must be custom-cut for curves. And there are                             3f

                                           heretofore unplanned challenges, like how to fit two                           T
                   Enlarge This Image
                                           cathedral trains trailing side by side on the exuberant walk
                                           back from the altar.

                                           The options multiply, rather than retract, when the two
                                           spouses are the same sex. Both partners might wear
                                             gowns, or perhaps a pair of suits, or one bride might
                                             choose a gown and the other a suit. (But which one?)
                         William Alatriste
Christine Quinn chose a floor-
                                             “I think that with men, there’s suits and there’s tuxedos,”
sweeping gown with a train and Kim           Ms. Quinn said in an interview before her wedding.
Catullo a pantsuit when they married
on Saturday.                                 “There’s choices in that, but there’s a lot fewer choices.”
                   Enlarge This Image
                                             In a news conference last week at City Hall, Ms. Quinn
                                             revealed that her search didn’t stop even after she found
                                             her trumpet Carolina Herrera gown with its delicately
                                             beaded waistband, after a relatively brief tour of just three
                                             bridal shops. “They say when you try on the right dress,
                                             you know it right away, and that was absolutely the case,”
                                             she said. “Though I continued to try on a whole bunch
                         Maggie Winters      after that.”
Gown versus suit is just the beginning
of the dressing choices faced by
lesbians who wed.                            Ms. Quinn said she knew what Ms. Catullo was wearing to
                                             walk down the aisle, but did not show her spouse-to-be
                                             her own gown until the big day.

Carolina Herrera said she did not want to discuss the specific dress chosen by Ms.
Quinn, but said she was “honored every time” a bride chose one of her gowns. (Ralph
Lauren, who designed the suit for Ms. Catullo, declined to be interviewed.)

Some women planning same-sex marriages say they add another step to shopping that
may not be necessary for their straight counterparts.

When Heather Sarver first embarked on the rite of wedding-dress shopping with her
mother in the small-town bridal boutiques in Virginia where she grew up, she said she
had her wedding planner, Bernadette Coveney Smith, call ahead to inform the                                  G

salespeople that Ms. Sarver, 31, a lawyer, is a lesbian, and then gauge their reaction.

The reasons were both profound and pragmatic: to protect her from salespeople who
might be uncomfortable in that situation, and to avoid that awkward moment when a
salesperson would inevitably ask about the spouse-to-be, “So what does he do?”

Lesbian brides “need to screen the people they are working with,” Ms. Smith said. “It
ends up being an extra level of stress or potential stress when you’re shopping.” For
couples like Ms. Sarver and her wife-to-be, Ms. Smith founded the event planning
company 14 Stories, which specializes in non-heterosexual weddings, as well as the Gay
Wedding Institute, which trains wedding industry professionals about the nuances of
same-sex weddings.

Ms. Sarver and Jessica Mullan, 31 and also a lawyer, will both wear lacy strapless gowns,
a decision that posed its own challenges. The pair used Ms. Mullan’s sister as a go-
between to analyze each choice and make sure the dresses didn’t clash for the wedding
ceremony in Boston, and have revealed tiny pictures to each other on their cellphones,
held at a far enough distance so as to not give away the details. “I didn’t want one dress
to be a lot more over the top than the other one, and then have one of us look like more
of the center of attention,” Ms. Mullan said.

When the ceremony starts, they will walk down two separate aisles toward each other —
getting their first full glimpse of their dresses at that moment — and then they will
depart together down a central aisle. But there are still some wrinkles to work out.
“Hopefully there’s not any falls or stepping on each other’s dresses,” Ms. Mullan said.
“But if there is, that will make for an even more memorable evening, I’m sure.”

In the case of Kathy and Duffy Tucker, from Raleigh, N.C., no dresses were involved
when they were married in 2010 in Boston. “I feel like I’m in drag when I wear a dress,”
said Duffy Tucker, 46, a bank manager who met her spouse 22 years ago when both
were in the military.

Both decided to wear suits, but white was a must. “I was a bride. I didn’t consider myself
a groom,” said Kathy Tucker, 44, a systems analyst. “I’ve never been married, I wanted
to wear white.” White was emotionally significant. “I wanted our marriage to be as
official and real as anybody else’s standard wedding,” she said.

But they were searching for outfits in January, when white suits go into hibernation.
“Any bride can go to a bridal boutique in any time of year and find a white dress,” said
Duffy Tucker. “When a bride goes shopping, you have a whole store of people who cater
to you.” For a suit, she added, “You’re pretty much on your own.”

In addition, an off-the-rack tux from, say, Men’s Wearhouse, won’t necessarily suit a
woman’s curves. Jussara Lee, 44, a designer with an atelier in the West Village, has a
specialty in suits with bridal flair.

“You’re still a girl, so I think you kind of want certain things from the experience,” she
said, like wearing white, plus a fabric in satin or lace. Ms. Lee tweaks cummerbunds with
white sequins and adds flouncy jabot collars and flirty fluted pleats. “You just spin it a
bit and add a bit more charm to it,” she said.

Dina Weisberger and Jenny Greenstein will marry in New York in late October, followed
by a more traditional ceremony and party Nov. 3 in Palm Springs, Calif.

For the Palm Springs ceremony, Ms. Greenstein, 32, a visual merchandise manager at
Ann Inc., has chosen to wear a dress. Not so her fiancée. Ms. Weisberger, 40, a senior
director of business operations at ESPN, said she had no desire to emulate friends who
chose to wear a dress on their wedding day, yet would not be caught dead in one the
other 364 days of the year.

“Women struggle with, ‘What do I wear?’ and ‘What am I supposed to wear?’ and get
pulled into that traditional side of wearing a dress.”

Ms. Weisberger’s choice? An off-white $1,800 custom outfit by Ms. Lee, the West Village
designer, complete with pants.

A version of this article appeared in print on May 24, 2012, on page E1 of the New York edition with the headline: But
Now, What to Wear?.

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