Wednesday, July 27, 2011

“Something Blue”: The story behind our wedding day sashes

By Albany Intern Geoff Corey

In the days and weeks after marriage equality passed, our staff realized that another historic day was upon us. On Sunday, July 24, certain city clerk offices would be opening to celebrate the expansion of marriage rights. The first day only comes once, and our Executive Director, Ross Levi, wanted to have some sort of visual to mark the day, and provide couples with a keepsake to have and keep as a reminder of history. It was our Communications Manager, George Simpson, who first uttered “Something blue.”

A sash is used to recognize achievement. Whether on a graduate, a pageant winner, or even a hardworking member of a company, it is worn with pride by its recipient. Pride has always been a major part of our community, so it seemed natural that on a day marking a great historical achievement, couples would don sashes proclaiming their new status as a married couple.

We immediately got to work designing (in our heads and on paper) what we wanted the sashes to look like. Once we knew, we reached out to printing companies who were friendly to our cause. As it turns out, thick cloth sashes are quite expensive. Especially when ordering 1,500 of them. We instead found out we could make the sashes ourselves if we ordered 3,000 yards of custom printed ribbon. They would still look great and fall within our budget.

We had a company lined up and ready to print when suddenly they called us to say there was a problem. They didn’t have the presses to do the design we wanted. Even if they did, it was going to take at least 10 days to print them. We needed the ribbon in a week so we would have enough time to make them into sashes. We began to get nervous that the project wouldn’t work out. A few different staff members began looking online for other companies, but even if we found one we weren’t guaranteed that they would be able to print and ship them to us in time.

At the very last minute, I researched online and discovered a company that could print them and specialized in rush delivery. We worked through the weekend to make sure we would get the ribbon on time. It was a relief when it arrived four days before the 24th.

It was a relief until it sank in that we needed to cut 9,000 feet of ribbon into 1,500 sashes in a few days. The rolls of ribbon were stacked in our conference room; reminding the staff of how much work we had ahead of us. In Albany, I took on the role of cutting every two yards, and creating piles of incomplete sashes. In between organizing our push to pass GENDA, helping to implement the Dignity for All Students Act, and maintaining an efficient network of LGBT health and human service groups, staff members would come in and pin as many sashes as they could before they had to go back to work. Volunteers helped out too, such as Dusty (pictured right).

The sashes were ready to go on the Friday afternoon before marriage weekend. We sent Jonathan Lang and Brian Coffin to their hometowns of Buffalo and Syracuse, respectively. Alden Bashaw took charge of the events in Rochester. Sheilah Sable, Christopher Argyros, and I stayed in Albany for the midnight weddings. Joanna Solomonsohn took the sashes to Brookhaven, and Kate McDonough, Erica Pelletreau and Ross Levi split up to handle the hundreds of New York City nuptials. Most couples were excited to be donned with a “Just Married!” sash and proudly greeted family, friends and the media wearing them.

It’s great to know that so many loving couples from across the country are now able to legitimize their relationship in the eyes of New York State. The Pride Agenda was happy to be able to share in that celebration, and to provide couples with fun sashes as a gift on their wedding day. Congratulations to all the couples who were just married. The Pride Agenda wishes you well in the future, and hopefully you’ll one day find your “Just Married!” sash in the attic, and be reminded of all the joy of your historic wedding day.

Photos by Pride Agenda Staff and Eric Krupke

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