Photo: Allan Zepeda Photography
We've all loved our grandparents since we were kids, but the above-70 crowd tends to have a fairly traditional lens through which they view the institution of marriage. So how can gay couples celebrate their love and include the eldest generation?
"If you're not out already, that's the first step," says Jason Mitchell, author of Getting Groomed. "Go ahead and tell them about your sexuality. It comes coupled with the information that you've found the person you want to spend your life with, and how lucky we are to live in a time that our love is recognized in the same way."
Whether you sit down with your grandparents by yourself or with your own parents (their children) in the room as well, depends upon the family dynamic. If you have a supportive mom and dad, then it's probably a good idea to include them. If Grandma and Grandpa haven't already met your fiancé, let him or her sit out this conversation and make the introduction at a later date. And set aside some time to role play and practice how the conversation might go, suggests Linwood Campbell, President of the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE), who had a friend act out the best and worst scenarios to prepare for the real thing.
Some people only see grandparents once or twice a year. If that's the case for you, then make sure you first catch up about everything else that's important in life, Mitchell says. Once you've reunited and enjoyed each other's company, then you can find a quiet time to talk about this important moment in your life. If at all possible, try to avoid sharing the news during the holidays or someone else's birthday or anniversary party, advises Kevin Brant, a former president of NACE.
If an in-person chat isn't possible because of geographical distance, make sure your phone or Skype connection (if you have tech-savvy elders) is strong. The last thing you want is to be battling bad service to get the special information across to your relatives. No matter what, the message should be one about the love you have with your partner. To that end, it's key for you to tell your family that you and your partner love each other, care for each other, and will do so for the rest of your lives, says Campbell.
What to do if 85-year-old Nana or Pop is shocked or not exactly accepting of the news? "Explain that this is what makes you most comfortable and most yourself," Mitchell advises. Then, tell them how you want them to be a part of the celebration, whether that means giving a reading or walking down the aisle with a bouquet of beautiful flowers. Regardless of how your elders react, sending them a save the date out of courtesy and respect is always a classy move, according to Campbell. Even if you know the recipients won't be attending, you've done all that you can to make them feel included.