Heather Matarazzo has played some tough parts in her career — from Dawn Weiner in "Welcome to the Dollhouse" to Sadie Atkins in the upcoming "Manson Girls." But the 28-year-old actress sees her next role as the most important.
With New York becoming the sixth, and largest, state to legalize same-sex marriage, Matarazzo plans to wed longtime girlfriend Carolyn Murphy.
"My eyes and spirit have opened up since I found someone that I get to share my life with," Matarazzo says of Murphy.
But the couple had no desire to make history last Sunday by getting married on the first day the law took effect.
"I always wanted a wedding," Murphy says. "Not a trip to City Hall."
Wanting to share their union with their closest friends and family, the couple opted to plan their dream wedding. Though they could offer few detail at this time, both seem to fancy a bucolic setting in the fall or spring for the ceremony and reception. And with large families on both sides, Murphy expects the wedding list to top 200 guests.
For the ceremony, Matarazzo envisions wearing a simple, off-white dress, but has yet to find the right one.
"Oh jeez, Louise," she says. "I'm looking forward to seeing what selections the universe brings to me. When I see it I will just know."
Murphy, a recording artist currently working on her first album, says she will likely wear a white pants suit when she walks down the aisle. "But a sexy one," she assures.
While planning a wedding is a luxury for many couples, time has not been on their side in the past. Engaged for three years, the couple originally planned to marry in California two years ago. But their plans were nixed when Proposition 8 eliminated the rights of same-sex couples to marry in the state. Now they hope that impending court challenges do not reverse New York's law before they can say, "I do."
Ironically, Proposition 8 offered a bit of a reprieve for Murphy who said she was beginning to feel exploited with the hoopla surrounding their wedding — offers of free wedding gowns and gifts from media and public relations outfits.
"There was a little part of me that was relieved that we would have a second chance to do it our way," she said.
The couple experienced another bump on their way to the alter when they returned to New York and met with then governor, David Patterson.
"He led us to believe gay marriage would be legal last September, and he even agreed to marry us," Murphy said. "We started planning on that, and that went away."
Like most same-sex couples, they have to deal with these unique dilemmas on top of the more traditional issues that couples engaged-to-be-married face. Household finances always seem to provide a hot topic as individuals begin to think and act as a single entity. For so many, these money-related issues become the catalyst for many domestic disputes. And same-sex couples are not immune.
While Murphy states the couple continues to explore a financial plan, Matarazzo has a more concise idea.
"Each of us should have an individual bank accounts as well as a shared bank account," she said. "Ten percent to 20 percent of each of our monthly wages goes there for common expenses."
It's important, she feels, for each of them to be financially self-sufficient, citing that throughout history, women in traditional marriages often depended on men for their weekly allowance, and that can lead to resentment.
"If I want to buy a new dress that costs $700," Matarazzo says. "I should not have to ask Carolyn for permission because its money I've earned. And the same goes for her."
Besides money issues, the distribution of household chores can lead to quarrelling.
Neither Matarazzo nor Murphy foresees a problem.
"It's about getting to do things without any expectation of return," Matarazzo feels, citing the following example.
"If I have a secret desire that Carolyn cleans the dishes in the sink, and I'm going to do that by making her a cup of coffee, and then quietly think to myself she will clean the dishes, and then the dishes don't get clean and I get resentful."
Instead, she says she opts for clear, open communication to get the point across.
Murphy says that the couple has yet to experience any serious issues over household chores, and finds that each has settled into their own roles.
"For example," Murphy says. "I take care of the cats, and Heather will deal with the dog."
Neither can wait to start a family. Of the three options for a lesbian couple to have children, both agree they will choose all three.
"We've always talked that Carolyn would have a child first, and then I will go," Matarazzo says glowingly.
After that, they plan to adopt, though Matarazzo does point out that if she's busy with her career, she will opt for adoption before getting pregnant.
Matarazzo wants their love to last and says she lives by having "an attitude of gratitude" that remembers that the foundation of their relationship.
"I don't believe that I've found my other half," she says. "That would mean I was thinking of myself as incomplete."
Instead, Matarazzo sees herself and Murphy as complete beings that come together to help one another grow.
Murphy agrees and remembers calling her mother the day she met Matarazzo and telling her: "Mom, I just met my wife."