Thomas & Don's Wedding
28 August 2003

Torcon 3
Toronto, Ontario

Before the Wedding | The Wedding | After the Wedding | More Pictures | Credits & Links

Before the Wedding

Toronto's City hall, with Winston Churchill's statue in the foreground.

We arrived in Toronto at about midnight on Thursday, August 28, after a drive of about 900 km. The next morning, Thomas and Don were up early, arriving at Toronto's City Hall at 8:30 when they opened.

It took less than half an hour to get a marriage license, and everyone we dealt with was pleasant and efficient (Stateside bureaucracies, please take note).

We didn't even have to dash to reach the British Columbia Room of the Royal York Hotel where we met the other three couples, our Minister Cheri diNovo, and Lance Sibley of Torcon 3, who had made all the logistical arrangements. We even had time to stop at convention Registration to pick up our badges and the daily schedule. The wedding, as an official convention event, was listed in the schedule for everyone to see.

Cheri ably helped us to lay out the ceremony, we had a short practice, and then it was off to the hotel room to get dressed.

The Wedding

Thomas & Don walk down the aisle.

Revernd Cheri diNovo, of the United Church of Canada, was our Minister.

Four couples were married:

Thomas Atkinson & Don Sakers
Andrew Bertke & Joe Agee
Don Kaiser & Dan Heine
James Odom & Richard Wix

And yes, we desperately wished to have at least one female couple participating. In fact, at least one Torcon Lesbian couple, Laura Cooksey and Ariana Estariel, did get married at City Hall the day before; they were unable to join the mass wedding at the con.

James and Richard were able to join the ceremony at the last minute.


Cheri welcomes the crowd.

Thomas & Don exchange vows.

At the appointed time, the music began and the couples entered, walking down the aisle in a room filled to capacity with friends, family, and general well-wishers. Thomas & Don came first, followed by Andrew & Joe, Don & Dan, and James & Richard.

Cheri welcomed the gathering by saying "Normally at my church I say 'May God be with you" and the response is 'And also with you' -- but in this crowd I should say 'May the Force be with you.'"

Thomas & Don wore Jedi robes for the ceremony. Andrew & Joe and Don & Dan had on tuxedos, and James & Richard were dressed casually.

After a few prayers, it was time for the vows. Thomas and Don exchanged vows written by their good friend Melissa Scott (the same vows that Melissa Scott and Lisa A. Barnett had used in the Vermont Civil Union ceremony they shared with Thomas & Don in February, 2001). This is how they went:

I, Thomas/Don, take you for my partner in marriage. I offer you all that I have, all that I am, and all that I shall become. May we continue as we have begun, and in all our lives, may we be reborn in the same time, and at the same place, that we may meet, and know, and remember, and love again.

Andrew & Joe read their own vows, which were a charming and touching story of their meeting, their lives together, and their love for one another.

When James & Richard repeated their vows, Richard got choked up and had to take a deep breath before continuing. It was a poignant, utterly human moment that added immeasurably to the depth of the ceremony.

Dan & Don exchanged touching and meaningful vows that they had written themselves.

We then exchanged rings. Thomas and Don have matching rings made by Laurie Edison, in the form of the Ouroboros, the snake that swallows its own tail. The Ouroboros is an ancient symbol of eternity, and we were pleased that Cheri had us repeat, "As this ring has no end, neither shall my love for you."

Then Cheri asked the couples to kiss, and there was vast applause.


Thomas & Don signing their paperwork.

After exchanging rings and kissing, it was time for the paperwork. Each couple had their own licenses to fill out. Then, to simplify things, we all acted as witnesses to each others' marriages, so everyone had to sign in the right space on the right license. Somehow, Cheri kept it all in line, pointing out the proper space to each signer, so that all the legal requirements were properly fulfilled.

When all the paperwork was completed, Cheri formally introduced all of us as married couples, and there was great rejoicing.


Happy husbands walk back down the aisle.
  At last, the happy couples walked back down the aisle, legally wed.

Tomas & Don, Andrew & Joe in the reception line.

Outside the British Columbia Room, there was a reception line. One benefit of having four couples was that we were able to completely block the hallway. If anyone wanted out, they had to congratulate all of us first.

And boy! did they congratulate us. Before the wedding, we had always heard about one of the intangible benefits of marriage being "community validation," and we had always thought, "yeah, sure." Our friends and family, we thought, already validated us sufficiently.

But you know, there really is something powerful going on there. After the ceremony, and continuing through the convention, people kept congratulating us, shaking our hands, giving us good wishes. And it did mean a lot.

After the Wedding

The wedding cake.

There was a reception in the Gaylaxians suite after the wedding.

Andrew & Joe, who had been in Toronto for a while before the con, had arranged for a really great-looking wedding cake. While the other couples were represented by traditional groom-groom figures,Thomas & Don provided their own unconventional figures. On the left is Mon-El of the Legion of Super-Heroes (Don is a longtime Legion fan), and on the right is Qui-Gon Jinn of Star Wars (Thomas, of course, is a big ol' Star Wars fan from way back).

We thought the figures added a touch of fannish whimsy, and the other couples were kind enough not to strangle us.


When folks suggested doing the feeding-cake-to-each-other thing, Thomas & Don at first demurred, but then decided to go along. In retrospect, we think it was a good thing to do.

Even though we were in Jedi robes, it was a very familiar and conventional thing to do at a wedding reception. And we think that's a good thing -- those who oppose gay marriage, out of fear or discomfort, can look at this and see something conventional and familiar.

And the more that our opponents can see something familiar and conventional, the more they realize that gay marriage is nothing to be afraid of, but is simply marriage -- well, the better for all of us.


Thankfully, though, no one did the throwing-the-garter or tossing-the-bouquet things.


Thomas with the Register of Marriage.

Although this was not the first wedding at a Worldcon, there has never been an official Worldcon Wedding Register. Due to the historic nature of this first-ever same-sex marriage, Torcon 3 purchased a Registry Book that is now part of the permanent Worldcon History Exhibit. When weddings (gay or straight) occur at future Worldcons, they will be added to this book.

Since we went in order of time together, Thomas and Don were the first couple entered in the book.

Torcon 3 was the 61st Worldcon, so we are already part of a long and honored history.

Eventually (after 12 weeks) we will be able to get a really dandy marriage certificate from the government of Ontario. For now, though, here's what makes it legal: an official Record of Somemnization of Marriage, all signed and dated and witnessed.

More Pictures

Joe & Andrew, Thomas & Don, and Cheri.
Andrew & Joe speaking their vows.

Dan & Don, James & Richard.
Dan & Don.
James & Richard.
Andrew & Joe, Thomas & Don.
Andrew & Joe signing their paperwork.

Cheri and the four couples after the paperwork is done. (Andrew is hidden behind Cheri)
Dan & Don signing their paperwork.
Beginning the exodus.

Cheri goes down the reception line.

In the reception line.
After the ceremony, in the bar.
The happy couple in the Royal York's lobby.
Thomas and Don, married couple.

The four couples together at the reception.

Credits & Links

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