In many ways, the process of working on this book has been the most exciting venture of my professional life. I encountered so much enthusiasm from virtually everyone I told about the research that my usual neurotic process of doubt and anxiety could hardly establish itself before it was demolished by waves of excitement. If I ever had even slight questions about the centrality of the cultural creations we call "commitment ceremonies," "holy unions," or "weddings" to the unfolding panorama of gay and lesbian life, the responses people had to my project made clear that I had chosen a topic that was endlessly fascinating not only to gay men and women but to virtually everyone else. I don't think I encountered a single person who lacked a definite opinion on the issue or who was unwilling to engage in debate and discussion about it.
Whether people approved, disapproved, or merely wondered why same-sex weddings seemed to be becoming ubiquitous, they made it clear that the issues raised were important and anything but fleeting. Almost everyone--gay or straight--to whom I mentioned the study had a story to tell: a wedding they had attended, an article they'd seen in the newspaper, a theory about what it all meant. I got so many volunteers, referrals, suggestions, and ideas that I could never follow them all up; as the deadline for completing this book loomed closer, I had to resolve myself to accepting limitations on a project that seemed naturally to have none.
The need to finally stop looking for new couples to interview and ceremonies to attend has meant that there are gaps and lacunae in this work. At the same time that I found that there are patterns in the way gay men and lesbians construct and construe their commitment ceremonies, I also