One of Linda Seifred’s most memorable weddings was a small, intimate affair between two men.
There were no more than 15 people at the wedding, and as part of the ceremony, each groom addressed each of their guests.
“They spoke to them during the ceremony about why that particular guest had been invited, and honored each guest,” said Seifred, a local marriage commissioner.
“I’ve never had that happen in a straight marriage,” she said.
Seifred has been performing ceremonies for same-sex couples since the British Columbian government made it legal the summer of 2003.
She said that over the past five years the number of same-sex marriages has increased in Whistler. This increase stems from the fact that it took a few years before people around the world fully realized same-sex marriage was legal in Canada.
According to B.C. Vital Statistics, 14 same-sex marriages were performed in Whistler in 2003, compared to 37 in 2007.
British Columbia has also become a popular marriage destination for gay and lesbian couples from the United States. In fact, more marriages in the province are performed for American couples than Canadian couples. In 2005 alone, over 1000 marriages were performed for Americas compared to just over 900 for Canadians.
Seifred added that men and women from United Kingdom are also starting to journey to Whistler to get married.
Yet while the number of marriages in Whistler has increased over the years, the type of wedding ceremonies same-sex couples request has not changed much.
“Generally, I find same sex marriages tend to be smaller. The guests tend to be true long time friends of the couple. The couple is so happy to be allowed to be married, that’s the love it just kinds of generates. It is just wonderful. I love doing them,” she said.
Seifred added that some marriages have even turned into political statements. For example, Seifred once performed a ceremony for two ladies in their early sixties who had been together for 30 years.
“You have to imagine coming out 30 years ago and how difficult that would have been. And some of their guests wanted to get up and speak during the ceremony. It was a political statement,” said Seifred.
Seifred added the WinterPride weekend is not necessarily a popular week for gay and lesbian couples to say their vows.
“Initially when this (legislation) was first passed back in 2003, everybody thought the first gay week up here would be abundant with marriages, but it was not,” said Seifred.