Part 2 – Telling the Family


The morning after our engagement, New Year’s Day, Ryan and I went for a walk by the Santa Monica pier. We were both still so excited from the events just a few hours ago and were buzzing with ideas of what we wanted our wedding to be like. We were starting our new cookie business (Boys Own Bakery) and knew that was going to be a lot of work. A summer wedding was what we both felt would be ideal and we knew we wanted it by the water. So the question was whether we should wait for a year and a half and plan our wedding for the following summer? Or should we go for it and have our wedding that same year?

Starting the bakery was going to be a full time job. We were planning on attending farmers markets all summer long and knew that we had a ton to do if we wanted to launch our bakery. Could we really find time to plan a wedding at the same time?

On the other hand, being engaged for a year and a half just seemed like way too long for us. We had already been together for almost 6 years so it’s not like we needed time to get to know each other or get used to the idea of living together. But planning a wedding, especially in Vancouver during the summer, was going to be hard. If we wanted to do it, we needed to hustle!

We talked about it and by the time we got to the airport later that day, we had pretty much decided that we were having our wedding that year. When looking at dates, we thought the August long weekend would be the best bet for great weather. We didn’t realize it at the time but that weekend was also Pride Weekend in Vancouver. Looking back, it’s hilarious how it all worked out because not only was my extended family going to be adjusting to the fact that I was marrying a man, they were also going to do it all on the gayest weekend of the year! As I always say, “go big or go home!”

Almost our entire family lived out of town so we had to get the invitations out and logistics figured out pretty quickly. First, we needed to tell our family. I spoke to my brother and sister-in-law on New Year’s Day and was dying to tell them the good news. However, Ryan and I decided that we wanted to tell our parents first, out of respect. So I bit my tongue when talking to my brother and waited. I had a trip planned in 10 days to go back home to Edmonton anyway so I thought it was best if told my family in person.

I was so excited (and nervous) the day I boarded my flight to Edmonton. I knew my parents were going to be supportive no matter what but I also knew that the idea of me marrying another guy was going to have an impact. I didn’t know how they were going to feel about that and if they were going to be worried about what the family might say or what their friends might think. They belong to a close-knit Muslim community where everyone knows everyone else. My whole family knew I was gay for a couple of years and had even met Ryan at family events. So there wasn’t much of an issue there. My parent’s friends however, they may have been another story. Still, I felt that my parents were well-respected enough within the community that everyone would be supportive. So off I went to tell them what I hoped would be good news.

My parents had just got back from a trip to the Far East where they visited Hong Kong and Singapore and a few other places. On the ride home from the airport, my dad could not stop talking about the fake wallets he had bought for Ryan and I. I think he had bought something like 10 wallets from all the top designers and was so excited for Ryan and I to have first pick. It was pretty funny!

I thought about telling them about our engagement in the car but then thought just in case it was too much of a shock, we would be safer when we were all sitting down and not travelling 110 km/hr on the highway. So I waited until we got into my parents’ house before sharing the news. We were in the kitchen and I was wearing my engagement band but they hadn’t noticed yet. I told them I had something important to tell them and they both looked at me like deer in the headlights. I had a history of telling them ‘important things’ in the past that tended to throw them for a loop. There was that time when I decided to drop out of Computer Systems Technology at NAIT and skip my final exams (I didn’t tell my parents until after returning home from a trip to London). And of course, there was the time I told them I was gay (yeah, that one was a real doozy!) So it was understandable for them to be a little on guard when they heard the words “something important to tell you.”

I held up my hand and pointed to my engagement band as I told them that I had proposed to Ryan. My mom looked shocked at first but quickly smiled and hugged me in congratulations. My dad, well, he left the room. My mom and I looked at each other and didn’t know what to think. I whispered to her “is he mad?” but she looked just as confused as I was. A minute later, my dad walked back into the kitchen holding a stack of wallets and asked me to pick one out for myself and for Ryan. I just looked at him and asked him if he had heard what I had just said. He took a moment and then said, “Oh yeah, congratulations!” as he hugged me. And then it was right back to the wallets.

Needless to say, I was more than a little confused. I picked out our two wallets and then we all sat down at the kitchen table for tea. I asked them how they both felt about the engagement and that I understood they were probably quite surprised. I told them they could ask anything they wanted and I promised not to be offended. It started off slow at first so I volunteered some answers to questions I thought they might be wondering about. Slowly I got my dad to open up a bit and he asked some questions about what we had in mind and if we were going to be inviting the whole family. I knew that he was a bit uncomfortable with this but I let him know that my family was one of the most important things to me and it wouldn’t feel the same if they weren’t there. He totally got it and I promised him that it was all going to be okay. It didn’t take long for him to come around and start getting excited about the idea.

My mom on the other hand, she was already planning things in her head. We had gone over to one of my cousin’s houses later that day and I told them about my engagement. They were all so excited and were practically jumping up and down. Instantly they all said they would do whatever was necessary to be in Vancouver with us, no matter what. I think that sign of support really helped my dad as well. My mom chimed in soon after I told them and proposed a henna night for the ladies! You see, typical weddings in our culture are 4 day events. One of the days involves the bride getting henna done with all of the ladies in the family while the men enjoyed a big feast. When my mom suggested the henna night, I just laughed at her and said “just who do you think the bride is in this scenario?” She looked at me like I was stupid and simply said, “there doesn’t need to be a bride! This is about us ladies having some fun!” That was enough for me and I already knew Ryan was going to be all over the idea! In fact, the year before at my cousin’s wedding, he was first in line to get henna painted onto his hands and the design he choose was the envy of all the ladies that night! Ahh Ryan, such a character!

I got to tell my brother that same day too and he was amazing, as usual. He was so excited for us and I knew he had our backs. I told him about my dad’s reaction and he assured me that he would help our dad come around and get excited about it all. I knew from the moment we started planning the wedding that I wanted my brother to be my best man. I was his best man when he got married and it was something I will never forget. As far as I was concerned, there wasn’t a single other person in the world I wanted standing by my side as I got married to Ryan. When I asked him, I think he was really touched and honoured. Anyone who knows my brother knows that he’s not the most emotionally expressive guy but I knew that it meant a lot to him to be my best man. My sister-in-law was awesome too! She was all over the idea and said if my brother got to be my best man, she was getting to plan my bachelor party! She just had to say two words and I was sold – “Vegas Baby!”

All in all, it worked out being one of the best trips back home to Edmonton. By the end of the weekend, my dad was fully on board and was even bursting with pride as we called each member of our very large family and told them the good news. He was already boasting about how his son was getting married and how he wanted to make it the best day possible for our entire family. What really blew me away was something he did all on his own, without saying a word to myself or my mom. He picked up the phone and called Ryan, who was still in Vancouver. My mom and I were there and were both caught off guard when we heard my dad say “Hi Ryan!” We practically held our breath as he spoke but what he said to Ryan is something I’ll never forget. He congratulated him and welcomed him into our family with open arms. He told Ryan that he had never seen me happier and that my happiness meant everything to him. He also said that before this weekend, he had two sons and now, he had three. It was quite simply the most amazing thing my dad has ever done. And of course, he told Ryan all about the fake wallet he had bought for him!

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