Book Review:

Rainbow rose flowers on table against color background

There was no pony in there, no new car, not even a stuffed animal. The box was too small for all that, but it held so much more: dreams, ideas, happiness, congratulations! And if you’re lucky, your wise new fiancé tucked Before I Do by Elizabeth F. Schwartz( afterword by Jim Obergefell) in the box with your beautiful engagement ring.So you put a ring on it, made the proposal, and now you’ve got a wedding to plan. It’s all quite exciting, but slow down a minute. If you’ve grown up thinking that this day would never come, then you might not have thought about what marriage entails.“LGBT people,” says Schwartz, “have not lived in a world with premarital guidance for LGBT couples. We have suffered systemic exclusion...”Just because you can be married now is no reason that you should, she points out. Yes, you’re in love, and yes, you’ve been together forever but now’s the time to be sure you know exactly what you’re in for. That starts by asking yourselves a series of difficult but important questions.Once you’ve gotten that (perhaps uncomfortable) part out of the way, be sure that any past relationships are completely and legally finished and“do not create confusion with multiple statuses with multiple people.” Know what paperwork you need in order to proceed, and what questions you’ll be asked as you’re filling it out.This pre-wedding period is a good time to talk to a financial expert, a tax consultant, and a lawyer. Don’t trust word-of-mouth to protect your finances; the laws in your state may horrify you, if wedded bliss goes bust.Talk about debt: how much each of you has, and how you perceive it. Educate yourself on insurance coverage, asset protection, pre-nups, and estate planning.Though she says her advice in this book is appropriate for anyone, author Elizabeth F. Schwartz focuses more on gay and lesbian couples, as well as trans individuals and their prospective spouses. She does so, in part, because she feels that they’ve only seen marriage “on the fringes.”What somewhat sets this book apart from the thousands of other wedding-planner books on bookshelves; what really makes it different, however, is that Schwartz admits her no-nonsense words may talk prospective brides and grooms out of having a wedding.Truth: readers who might’ve somehow taken marriage lightly before will absolutely be convinced otherwise.

Justin Ayars