The stereotypical man dreams about his wedding like he dreams about his first prostate exam: He's not sure when it’s going to happen, but he knows that when the time comes, he won’t be able to avoid it. When pressed about what they envision, plenty of guys do come up with some variation on “pass," “I’ll let her plan it,” or “I haven’t really thought about it.” Some men, however — including gay men who have only recently gained access to expensive cakes, cringe-inducing vows, and embarrassing toasts — have very particular feelings about exactly which foods and drugs should be on offer. Here, 12 men on their dreams for the big day.
The men would be dressed as clowns and standing on stilts.
"I’d just want it to be fun. I’d fly everyone I know to Bali for a weeklong party. The wedding would be on the last day in a church. I’d rent out an entire hotel. There’d be activities like Jet Skis, sailboats, fishing, paddleboards. Wild horses and 100-year-old Galápagos tortoises would roam the beach. The Blue Angels would fly in heart formations and drop money from the sky. Every night there would be a bonfire with a different cultural theme and some kind of performance from that culture. Seven different groups, one from each continent. I’d give everyone a GoPro camera to film all week long and an editor would cut all the GoPro footage into a film we’d watch at the end of the week. For the ceremony, the men would be dressed as clowns and standing on stilts. All the women are in old-fashioned carriages like from Cinderella. And then fireworks. And go-karts. I forgot about go-karts." —Lance, 31, Comedian, Straight
I’m not going to tell Sam Cooke what to do.
"What I’ve thought about is what I’d want it not to be. Conceivably, my parents could find a reason to invite every Jew in the world, but I don’t want people there I don’t know. Maybe a grand total of 30, so that everyone who’s there is meaningful. Despite my atheism, I would want my dad, who is a cantor, to officiate in some nonreligious but culturally relevant way. I’d want to wear something that was perhaps a little bit vintage and is a tad out of the ordinary. Not a regular wedding suit, maybe something repurposed out of something else. I love the idea of a community of friends bringing what they are to it, like a pot luck of talent. A live rock-'n'-soul karaoke band. If I could have the impossible, I’d dig up Sam Cooke and he could do whatever he wanted. I’m not going to tell Sam Cooke what to do. I’d find some old barn and turn it into a weekend celebration. Maybe we sleep there. The food would be sublime and delicious, farm-to-table. Green beans that knock you out." —Jack, 40, Teacher, Straight
There will be no chicken dance.
"It’d probably be at the Players Club in Manhattan because it’s cozy and old school, and there’s a pool table. Surrounded by friends and family and not too many of them. I’d have a friend be the officiant. I’d have one hour of dancing that included every style of dance, and I’d make the playlist. There might be the hokey pokey, there might not, but there will be no chicken dance. The ceremony is brief but moving and funny. I don’t care about the food except there has to be mashed potatoes and gravy. Maybe we watch some TV clips of The Dick Van Dyke Show or Green Acres. Maybe a montage of famous TV weddings during the ceremony. We’d play games such as running charades. There’d be card games at all the tables. I would want my friends who are musicians to play. And then I could get up and sing. I’d hire Don Rickles to do a set. We’d end up at my apartment where there would be mattresses laid down for everyone to crash on. When we wake up, we have an amazing but minimal breakfast. Then we do MDMA and get massages." —Danny, 52, Writer, Gay
I’d wear a really great Marc Jacobs leather sandal.
"When I was in high school, I pictured a large wedding, like Vanity Fair’s Oscars party, but now I want a small intimate affair, so it feels like being inside a warm loving embrace. I love water, the beach calms me, so I would have close friends and select family members join us in Maldives, Africa. I’d wear a really great Marc Jacobs leather sandal, and a taupe or khaki suit with turquoise accents in my pocket square or tie to reflect the colors in the water. There would be a string section playing classical music during the ceremony. Afterward, we’d have a delicious six-course meal but there’d be pie with compote instead of cake. I would love it if everyone at the wedding spoke about me and my husband and told stories, and then we’d speak about ourselves and everyone at the table. We’d dance all night, mostly to hip-hop, with a strong emphasis on Biggie." —Jason, 40, Actor, Gay
Any wedding is doomed if they don’t have shrimp cocktail.
"I really love the beach and the waves. Maybe the officiant comes in riding a dolphin. I like looking sharp but with some informality to it: white linen suit, no shoes. Would be brilliant to have a brass band from New Orleans play a funeral dirge during the ceremony as I’m taking the stand. I just want good food and an open bar with high-quality tequila. I’ve always thought that any wedding is doomed if they don’t have shrimp cocktail in the reception. No coconut on my wedding cake. I’d like my wedding to be like the end of Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, where every character from the movie is at Pee-wee’s movie premiere, congratulating him. I’d want everyone from every chapter of my life to be there." —Andy, 40, Writer, Straight
Nobody has their cell phones.
"I like the baptismal symbology that comes along with water, like you’re going through a threshold, so my dream wedding would be on a private island. Everyone I know and love is there for a week. Nobody has their cell phones, nobody is planning on leaving early, everyone is just there, undistracted and connecting. The wedding would be in the middle of the week so you’d have a few days leading up and a few days decompressing. During the week, people can hike, play volleyball, dance, and have big group dinners where we’re all enjoying each other's company. It’d be awesome to have Michael Franti, and Spearhead, and Sean Hayes play a couple sets. I would say formal/barefoot attire, nice looking but with flair. The vows would invoke the idea that uniting makes us freer in some way. Then a big party with DJs. I love “ecstatic dance,” where everyone expresses their own individual movement to bring more joy into their lives. And no alcohol." —Jim, 40, Executive Coach, Straight
A chuppah to keep the grandparents happy.
"I would lead a small band of 10 to 12 guests and a rabbi up a hill outside the town of Lugano in Switzerland. I’d bring a token glass to step on and there’d be a chuppah to keep the grandparents happy. A brief ten-minute ceremony on a hilltop and then everyone would go back down the hill to eat tortellini, drink beer, and dance to schmaltzy late-'60s music like Engelbert Humperdinck, Tom Jones, and Abba. I’d play a Sade cover on a Spanish guitar to fulfill my dream of playing in an Italian restaurant. And at the end of the night my wife and I would have sex in a quaint boutique hotel." —Jeff, 41, Musician, Straight
I’d want there to be an alleyway so she and I could sneak off to smoke some pot.
"I’d want to do it in NYC at a really nice place like the Players Club or the Rainbow Room or a penthouse with a ton of people. I think it’d be fun to take the subway. Ease is the main thing — the closest thing to normal life as possible. It would not be formal. People can wear T-shirts and jeans. My bride could wear whatever she wanted. I would probably wear a suit. I’d go with a DJ that would play songs my wife and I picked. A round of hors d'oeuvre of fried chicken, sushi, and other finger foods. Soul food as the main course. A friend would marry us. There’d be drinking. I’d want there to be an alleyway so she and I could sneak off to smoke some pot. Probably have my brothers as my best men. Probably get a hotel that night. And we’d walk down the aisle to 'Tomorrow Never Knows' by the Beatles. Nah, that’s not a real wedding song." —Julian, 42, Music Producer, Straight
When Grandma goes home then we know we’ve had a full night.
"Being Greek, we’re probably looking at about 500 people and 100 lambs. I’d fly everyone over to Greece. It would be outdoors on one of the islands, probably Crete, and it would be in the fall, 'cause I sweat a lot and I don’t want to sweat my ass off. I would mandate that everyone show up three days early to partake in activities together so that everyone gets to know each other. Get people mixed together in nature, beauty, and adventure, like going out in the fields to collect fruit for the wedding, or a scavenger hunt. You get to explore the country and interact with Greek people. The ceremony would be symbolic but quick. There’d be all sorts of meats, cheeses, fruits, and breads so you taste different Greek foods. Hip-hop and Greek music. My family would bust out their instruments and play bouzoukis. I’d probably request that my friends take a few Greek dance lessons. We’d dance all night. In Greek families even Grandma is still up at 2 or 3 a.m. When Grandma goes home then we know we’ve had a full night." —Nick, 38, Real Estate Developer, Straight
I would love to have Sara Bareilles perform.
"I’ve always envisioned it being in the fall, being rustic, in the mountains or a country setting. Maybe a castle in the English countryside where everyone could stay. I grew up in a very rural area and when I think about comfort those are the things I think about — not so much about how big or small, or glamorous, it is, but just having the people I love and care about celebrating with me and my husband. Open bar all the way, lots of Champagne; I would love to have Sara Bareilles or Florence and the Machine perform. I would want what they have at Quaker weddings where guests stand and give anecdotal stories or well wishes for the wedding couple And then we’d eat Italian food." —Brandon, 42, Social Worker, Gay
We would dip each other in butterscotch pudding.
"Everyone would be in costumes in some kind of tribute to the gods. We would dip each other in butterscotch pudding and partake in Turkish oil wrestling. I’d like to jump off a platform into water and there’d be a dolphin in the water. There might be an Esther Williams routine involved. Somewhere in the water there’s a costume change and the three of us — because I’d be marrying two men — would rise out of the water on a platform wearing armor. There’d be some fireworks. And then an enormous talking Hercules statue would say something about love. There’d be ecstasy, and you don’t have to take it, but it would be available. A mixture of music would start during cocktail hour and then escalate as everyone’s ecstasy kicks in. Maybe this would be in Mykonos on a cliff, in a ruined temple. It would transcend the millennium. We’d dance until dawn and then have a feast the next day. Goats and pigs and whatever." —David, 50, Real Estate Developer, Gay
I’d play music all night.
"I’m imagining a destination like Charleston, New Orleans, Santa Barbara, Martha’s Vineyard, Tuscany, the Caribbean. We have very nice, comfortable hotel accommodations. All of our travel arrangements are taken care of by someone else. Most important, it’s a nice big party overflowing with happy festive people dressed their best, full of joy — for music, love, and life itself. I’d play music all night and I can see everyone from the stage, dancing, smiling, laughing, kissing, and hugging. I’m surrounded by people I love, making music I love, singing with all my heart. If the woman I love can somehow be by my side and share this feeling with me, then that would be my dream wedding." —Greg, 41, Musician, Straight