Column One:
Eye on Unmarried America

April 23,  2007  



Spouseless weddings with solo vows not catching on

By Thomas F. Coleman


April showers bring May flowers, which in turn are used in floral arrangements for June weddings.

The weddings involve beautiful brides and handsome grooms.  Fancy weddings for a happy man and woman are traditional, of course.  But not everyone follows tradition.

For quite some time, same sex couples have been breaking the bride and groom tradition.  But one brave soul has gone even further.

Meet Kevin Nadal, 29, the man who married himself two years ago.  Who says weddings are only for couples?

The ceremony occurred in New York City where Nadal took his vows "I, Kevin Nadal, take me, Kevin Nadal, to have and hold, in sickness and health''   and then partied for hours with 125 family members and friends.

The only close family members absent from the ceremony and reception were his parents who, Nadal said, hold traditional Filipino values and would not understand. 

Nadal told Sharon Krum, a reporter for The Hindu, that his purpose in staging the special event was to celebrate single life while also highlighting discrimination against single people.

"I've attended at least a dozen weddings, and I have bought tons of gifts for those couples," Nadal observed.  "I'm happy to do it. But I started thinking: we always celebrate married life, why not single life?"

"Single people are marginalized in our culture," Nadal added. "People think you don't have the commitment to be in a relationship."

Nadal kicked off the event with a speech about what it means to be single in American society.  By the end of the night, he felt people understood that the "wedding" was an important personal statement by a single man -- not just an excuse to throw a big party.

So far, I have not found any other news stories about solo marriages.  Apparently, Nadal's wedding is, at least so far, a unique true life story.

But short-story author Charlie Sundt got a head start on the idea when he wrote a fictional piece about himself in 1999 entitled "The Man Who Married Himself."  He filled the story with humorous anecdotes about his wedding day and honeymoon.

In the story, the main character, Charlie Fish, recounts how he convinced his minister that self marriage did not violate any biblical precepts.  His parents were harder to convince, but they eventually gave in.

Real people like Kevin Nadal and fictional characters like Charlie Fish are few and far between.  But other unmarried men and women are creating ways to celebrate their single life, even if it's not through a solo wedding.

Consider Deb Gruver, a writer for the Wichita Eagle.  She wrote an essay for the paper entitled "Single and 40 calls for a catch-up celebration."

In it, Gruver recalls the numerous wedding shower, marriage, and baby shower presents she has bought for people over the years.  Being single and without children, Gruver always seems to be on the giving, not the receiving, end of gifts.

So Grover decided to throw her self a "40 and Single" shower, rather than a wedding or baby shower.  And she pledged to register at a department store so guests would know what type of gifts she preferred.

Other single women have started using gift registries too, especially for a milestone birthday.  And with so many single women buying homes prior to marrying, it seems reasonable that they would use a gift registry for a house warming party.

But what do the etiquette experts have to say about a gift registry for singles?

Judith P. Bowman, president of Protocol Consultants International in Boston, told a Massachusetts journalist for the The Eagle that a singles' registry doesn't fall within the boundaries of protocol.

"I am totally horrified," Bowman said. "It's a very sad time and a poor reflection on what is happening in our society. I think it's just disgraceful."

But Becca Kaufman, etiquette expert at, disagreed.  "If you're 30 and you don't have a wedding on the horizon and you just bought a new house, why shouldn't you register?"

So even if solo weddings don't catch on, I'm betting that more single people will be participating in gift registries in the future.

And why not?  Why should married folks get all the goodies?

To read other editions of Column One, click here.

Unmarried America 2007

Thomas F. Coleman, Executive Director of Unmarried America, is an attorney with 33 years of experience in singles' rights, family diversity, domestic partner benefits, and marital status discrimination.  Each week he adds a new commentary to Column One: Eye on Unmarried America. E-mail: Unmarried America is a nonprofit information service for unmarried employees, consumers, taxpayers, and voters.