Callie’s Catholic upbringing does take a toll her in the episode as she struggles to find a balance between her love life and religion. “Callie was raised Catholic and she loves her church and she loves her God, and that’s OK,” Capshaw said.
After consulting with Bailey (episode director Chandra Wilson) — who officiates the nuptials — Callie turns the corner and winds up getting the traditional wedding she’s always dreamed of. “Arizona in the beginning of the episode has been an empowered woman who knows exactly who she is and has known all her life,” Ramirez said. “Callie has been on a different journey; she’s investigating it and experiencing it and figuring it out as she goes, especially with her parents who are very Catholic — her mother in particular.
“Callie starts to understand and embrace the notion that God is everywhere and that you don’t have to be in a church to share God’s presence of love and acceptance and to have a union with someone and a wedding and ceremony that means everything to you,” Ramirez said.
Added Capshaw: “That’s what’s interesting: Arizona coming from a military family where the military isn’t exactly friendly with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and you have a father and a mother and there’s never a question of if they’re OK with it; it’s literally a non-issue, which is really what we’re aiming for, right?”
As for the vows themselves — Bailey says, “I now pronounce you wife and wife” — McKee researched the language used in traditional Catholic weddings and incorporated the way the character would go about officiating.
“It’s a very traditional, classic way of pronouncing two people as a married couple,” McKee says. “In the writers’ room, [that they're gay] is such an afterthought. To us, they’re just our favorite romantic couple right now so they needed the most romantic wedding. … I don’t think of them in a gay or straight fashion; they’re the ones who are in love so they’re the ones who get married this season.”
Getting to the altar hasn’t been an easy road for Callie and Arizona, and Capshaw is well aware of upset viewers who questioned Callie “cheating” with Mark (Eric Dane). “I do read AfterEllen.com, I know a lot of people were upset,” she said. “I think it’s always been pretty clear that Callie’s character is bisexual. While there was certainly, in Arizona’s mind, a betrayal of their relationship, I do think a lot of people got up in arms about the gender of it. I don’t think they’d have been as upset if Callie had cheated with a girl instead of a guy.”
The actress questioned the writers at one point when Arizona says, “That’s my baby in there” — because she felt that Arizona hadn’t “earned that right.”
“I remember going to the writers and saying, ‘That’s all fine and great if she gets to earn that right to call that baby her own,’” Capshaw said. “Callie earns Arizona’s partnership so that Arizona would feel like that was her baby. But that’s not to be taken lightly.”
As for what comes next for primetime’s leading lesbians, she has been pitching Arizona treating a patient with sexuality issues. “I got a letter from a young woman who came out to her parents when she was 19 and they decided that she was not going to be part of their family any longer,” Capshaw said. “Then 10 years later her mom, being an avid fan of the show, had watched the episode where Arizona has the ‘Good Man in a Storm’ speech where she says to Callie’s father, ‘I love your daughter and my parents raised me to be a good man in a storm.’ It’s a wonderful speech. The mother called her after 10 years. It wasn’t happy-go-lucky and she didn’t tell her to come home, but it was the opening of a dialogue.”
Capshaw ultimately hopes the Grey’s wedding has an impact similar to Portia and Ellen DeGeneres. “I feel like Portia and Ellen’s marriage must have done so much,” she said. “This has the potential to as well.”
For Ramirez, portraying Callie is the ultimate wedding gift. “This character has helped me so much,” she said. “Playing this character has really opened me up to understand the world and human condition a lot better. It’s been a real gift.”
McKee, meanwhile, hopes the fact that it’s a gay wedding is just a passing thought.
“I hope that people who are fans of the show and fans of these characters enjoy the magic and romance and shed a tear at a beautiful wedding,” McKee said. “And that it becomes an afterthought that it happens to be a wedding with two women. It’s just a beautiful love story at the end of the day.”
The Grey’s Anatomy wedding episode airs Thursday, May 5 at 9 p.m. Are you excited to see Callie and Arizona march down the aisle together to Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” after saying their vows?