Someone made a comment to me about all of the displaced reBar couples. “What’s the big deal?” they flippantly asked. “It’s just money.”
True, the couples have not lost their homes, jobs, or their health, but many of them have lost over $15,000, which is not chump change. Hell, there are a few couples who have lost over $30,000! For me, that’s half a year’s salary! That’s financially devastating.
But this is about more than just the money.
You see, life is series of joyous little events that we can look forward to. Parties. Hot dates. Madonna concerts (ha.) The newest X-Men movie. Vacations. There are also monumental milestones that we look forward to as well. Getting our driver’s license. Prom. Retirement. Graduating high school. Having children. Our first apartment. And a huge one: Getting married.
Many of these brides have been dreaming of their wedding day since they were little girls. They wore grandma’s lace curtains on their heads as a veil and their teddy bears were their ministers. They filled their Trapper Keepers with magazine photos of wedding dresses, handsome grooms and ornate, tiered cakes. They quietly took mental notes when watching romantic comedies about weddings (Ice sculptures and geese, bad. Gay besties and cutesy sing-a-longs, good.) And then, when these gals got older and after they dated a few jackasses, they found the right guy and he proposed. They started planning the wedding. They found reBar, a unique venue that suited their unique personalities. And maybe instead of a cake, they decided to have cupcakes. And maybe the groom wants to wear a pair of fresh chucks with his tux. Or maybe it’s a gay wedding and they are modern day pioneers, embarking on a new journey that gay folks before them were never privileged to enjoy. They’ve already picked the song for their first dance and they’re excited to pose for photos. They’ve invited a hundred or so family members, friends, co-workers and some people they don’t even know because their parents insisted upon it, but, hey, it’s all good because they are in love!
And then, seemingly in the blink of an eye, reBar abruptly shut down without explanation. The couples not only have to find a new venue, but also a DJ, a florist, a caterer, waiters, bartenders, a bar and a coordinator. The couples have now suddenly lost tens of thousands of dollars that they’ve saved or borrowed and they’re forced to start all over. They contemplate changing the date but out-of-town guests have already booked plane tickets and hotel rooms. Other venues are out of their price range or already booked. They need plates and chairs and glassware and candles and all sorts of things they never even thought of. The logistics of it all are so overwhelming but above all, this has destroyed the wedding that they’ve been looking forward to having all their lives. So, no, it’s not just about dollars and credit cards. It wasn’t just money that was stolen from them.
This is personal.
In the time since reBar’s iron gates have been padlocked shut, I’ve spent my days looking for a new job, talking to lawyers, the Brooklyn DA, and the media; but I’ve also met with a lot of these distraught couples. I’ve crunched numbers with crushed, confused grooms and I’ve watched helpless brides openly weep in crowded coffee shops. It’s been rough.
But despite the frustration, cursing and tears, something else eventually prevails. Many of the couples are having downsized celebrations like pizza parties and rooftop barbecues. “As long as we’re with our family and friends, a big, fancy party isn’t that important,” said one smiling bride as she reached across a cafe table and lightly took her partner’s hand. “We’re still getting married no matter what.” Their wedding dream still lives on! There may not be a tall, extravagant cake or a bountiful buffet, but there will be dancing, joy and a celebration of their love.
These couples don’t realize it, but they are setting such great examples for me and I want to publicly thank them. Instead of allowing all of this chaos to chip away at the foundation of their love, the shuttering of reBar has actually fortified their relationships. I watch them reassure each other. I watch them take turns being strong for one another. I see their combined determination and strength and I think, this is the kind of team I want to be a part of. This is the kind of partnership I want to invest in.
This is the kind of love I want.
This is the kind of love I deserve.