When New York State finally legalized gay marriage last year, Cynthia Nixon had only one hurdle left before marrying her girlfriend of eight years, education activist Christine Marinoni: finding the dress.
I never thought about my wedding dress growing up. Not once. I’m just not one of those girls. It has nothing to do with being gay— when I was with a man, I didn’t fantasize about my wedding dress either. In fact, I’ve spent most of my life not wanting to get married. But once I finally decided to do it, I knew I wanted a beautiful dress for the occasion.
I was engaged for three years—waiting for New York State to make same-sex marriage legal—and I didn’t start worrying about the dress until four months before the ceremony. Planning a wedding can sort of be a black hole that sucks all your energy. My wife handled most of the details, for which I am eternally grateful, but I didn’t want the process of picking out a dress to swallow me alive.
I knew I wanted Carolina Herrera, because I’ve had so much luck wearing them in the past and they know my body so well. I was shopping for several things at once: my wedding dress, my opening-night dress for Wit on Broadway, and my fingers-crossed Tonys dress, which, happily, I did get to wear. But in one-stop shopping, my mind began to play tricks on me. I started to think, What if I wore this dress to the Tonys and this dress to my wedding?
With a same-sex marriage, it’s different. There isn’t the archetype of the demure bride, the strapping groom, and the big ol’ white dress. You have a lot of flexibility. I actually said to them, “Don’t think of me as a bride. Think of me as a grown-up woman who needs a dress to get married in.” But Carolina—or, rather, Mrs. Herrera—kind of nipped that in the bud. She said, “You need to get a dress with a capital D. So even if it’s not poufy or white, there’s a certain level of ceremony.”
I liked that this dress kind of looked like an art deco skyscraper. One of the lessons I’ve learned from years of wearing gowns to awards shows is that people are always stepping on your train. This one had a train, but it was minimal enough that you could still walk and dance in it. I’m not a big dancer, but you have to dance at least a little bit at your wedding.
I decided on green by process of elimination: I already knew I didn’t want white—I wanted to leave that little-girl fantasy out of it. I didn’t want red—that would have been shocking. I didn’t want black—that would have been shocking. Maybe it was also years of playing red-headed Miranda: Even though in real life my hair is blond, green has become my go-to. And this particular shade—so light it borders on yellow—was especially apt, since it’s the color of early spring, and no matter how long you’ve been together, a wedding is a certain kind of beginning.
Aside from the dress, the big question was, What am I going to do about my hair? I’d shaved my head to play a professor with ovarian cancer in Wit, and my hair had just started to grow back. My wife was worried that my being bald was all anybody would want to talk about. My mother kept making suggestions like, “What about a little hat?” Or, “Look at this cunning beaded cap Whitney Houston wore to her wedding; isn’t it great?” She was concerned I’d have a little pinhead on top of this great big dress and was fixated on my covering my head, which was ironic, because when she got married, in a small ceremony in a judge’s chambers, her own mother was very upset that she was bareheaded—my grandmother, who was from the Midwest, thought that was improper for a bride.
I considered a veil, but Hervé Pierre, the creative director at Carolina, came up with something better: just a little bit of silver-and-white ribbon wrapped twice around my head, to which we affixed some small Fred Leighton diamond love-birds. It made me feel like Titania from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and you want to have that kind of magical feel on your wedding day.
This always surprises people, but my wife is much more into clothes than I am. She had a suit designed by [hipster bespoke tailors] Doyle Mueser. We didn’t want our colors to match, but we wanted to complement each other—her tie and jacket lining had elements of green. She also had these beautiful Fred Leighton sapphire cuff links to match my wedding ring. Still, even though she wore an amazing, beautifully built, exquisitely styled suit, it’s hard for a suit to compete. The dress is the main event.
My wife and I were not at all traditional about not seeing each other before the wedding. I sent her pictures from my various fittings. I won’t say what she said to me about it—it’s personal—but she said many, many nice things. The day of, we dressed together at the wedding venue with our kids upstairs [Max, 19 months; Samantha, 16; and Charles, 9]. But I did hold on to a different tradition: I managed to wear something borrowed, a brooch that’s an heirloom in my wife’s family; something blue, my sapphire ring; something new, my dress; and something old…me.
I suppose I never thought about my wedding dress until I needed to, because that’s the way I approach a lot of things, not just fashion. When I take on a project for work, I’ve learned it’s better not to come in with a rigid idea of that role. You have to wait for all the elements to come together—cast, crew, director—before you can anticipate how to approach it. And in the case of my wedding, when it all came together, it was perfect. interview by Elle
With President Obama re-elected (thank god), I’m sure we can expect to see many more same sex celebrity weddings!