Gay friends, hire your wedding planners—as of this Tuesday, it's official. Gay and lesbian couples who want to have as noisy or quiet a legally recognized wedding as they damn well please this summer can now do so. We can feel it already: A new glossy-magazine niche has just been born. Everything you ever needed to know about matching tuxes, coordinated brides' dresses and proper etiquette for the nouveau wedding party. But the big collective sigh of relief that was felt by same-sex marriage supporters throughout California when the right-leaning state Supreme Court ruled last month that a statewide ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional was soon tempered by the prospect of appellate courts and ballot initiatives.
"Here in the county, it's caused a lot of confusion, above all else," says Alan Katz, a Long Beach-based wedding officiant who runs RainbowWed.com and has been performing gay marriage ceremonies throughout Orange County and LA for five years. Katz is also notarized to issue wedding licenses in Los Angeles, so he fields calls that a county clerk-recorder's office might get. "The phones are ringing off the hook. There's a different story in every newspaper about when, how, who, where. The more information that comes out, the more confused they get—and the more confused I get."
His advice to antsy would-be brides and grooms? Be patient. "Already, I know of one couple who put down a $500 deposit to hold a date, and then the person ran off with their money. People are saying they can issue licenses or perform ceremonies, and then they're disappearing," says Katz, who refused to take money from any couple until last week, when the state officially rejected the plea by opposition groups that the court hold off on issuing licenses until voters weighed in on a November ballot initiative that would once again ban same-sex marriage.
Only a handful of people have scheduled license appointments for June 17, the date when the Orange County clerk-recorder's office will begin issuing licenses, says spokeswoman Jean Pasco. "I think folks are waiting to make sure it's actually a go," she says. "I think some folks are looking at what happened in San Francisco, where licenses got issued, ceremonies were planned, and then people got bounced."
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But the pre-wedding confusion hasn't precluded all the appropriate agencies around the state from preparing for the big day. "In Orange County . . . you can just walk in on the 17th if everything's a go and get a license," Pasco says. "You can get a civil ceremony on the same day as long as there are people there to perform it and the office isn't swamped."