The Making of an LGBT Wedding: 10 Things to Consider

Desjardins Photography

Newly engaged or considering marriage? Here are ten important things you’ll need to think about as you embark on your planning journey.

1. The Proposal

 You can’t have a wedding without a proposal – or can you?  Well, in fact you can. Some gay and lesbian couples find their way to the aisle by mutual agreement. Others enjoy a traditional proposal (surprise or not), and in some cases, one person proposes one day, and the other gets a chance another day!

2. Selecting Engagement Rings and Wedding Bands

More same-sex couples are choosing engagement rings for both fiancés today than ever before. You have the choice of wearing identical rings, or personalizing your selection to suit you. A traditional diamond solitaire is perfectly appropriate, as is a plain band or one that will ultimately become part of a wedding set. Still other couples forego the rings. Combinations are flexible and fit all lifestyles and social situations. 

3. Choosing LGBT-Friendly Wedding Pros

More and more wedding businesses are promoting their companies as LGBT-friendly, and the more same-sex weddings there are, the more consumer reviews one has to rely on for valuable feedback. Many newlyweds recommend starting conversations with prospective vendors by simply asking if the staff is comfortable with a gay or lesbian wedding. You want to be supported, not judged, on your wedding day, so look for companies that clearly make the effort to serve the LGBT community. 

4. Selecting an Officiant

The choice of who will sanctify your marriage is a very personal one. Discuss each of your priorities early on. You may want a spiritual ceremony, and there are many denominations that now permit their clergy to perform same-sex weddings. Civil alternatives such as justices of the peace can perform non-religious ceremonies, and for a compromise, consider a professional non-denominational wedding officiant. In some states, it is possible to have a friend authorized to marry you legally. Check with your local government to determine the rules that impact your region.

5. Choosing Traditions and Forging New Territory

One of the best things about planning a same-sex wedding is that the rules are still very flexible and the etiquette is developing. It is perfectly acceptable to adopt rituals from the straight wedding world including unity candles, ring exchanges, and processional order. You can also, however, throw the rules to the wind. Pick a unique and personal ritual to symbolize your love, and walk down the aisle in the order that makes the most sense to you. Guidelines are simply recommendations – be you!

6. Gay and Lesbian Wedding Attire

Two bridal gowns, two tuxes, two tailored suits for men or women – one of each, or something totally avant garde?  Anything goes. Two brides look stunning in all white, flowing gowns, and chic in tailored wedding suits. Two grooms can pull off anything from tails to Bermuda shorts. Wear what makes you each feel comfortable and special, and you can’t go wrong.

7. Engagement, Bachelor, and Bachelorette Parties, Bridal and Wedding Showers

Same-sex couples are entitled to all of the same celebrations that other couples enjoy. In fact, the considerations on which ones are appropriate and which are not are similar to straight couples. If you have lived together for years, you may not need household goods, and may either forego showers or modify them to better fit your relationship. Consult your intended on what kind of bachelor or bachelorette party will give you the opportunity to celebrate without damaging trust. And if an engagement party appeals, by all means, party on! 

8. A Variety of Attendants

Choose the attendants who have been your closest supporters, and loved ones. There is no reason to force yourself into the mold of lining identically clad women on one side of the altar, and identically clad men on the other. The people standing next to you should be the people who would stand up for you. They may be your best friends, your siblings, other family members, or even your children. Surround yourself with love and forget the titles. They are your wedding party, period.

9. Attendant Attire

Same-sex couples are more likely than most to have attendants who have special attire considerations. Be flexible. Establish a level of formality, and a color palette, and allow them to choose something that makes them feel good. It’s okay to match, but not necessary.

10. Everything Your Straight Guests Need to Know

Oh, so much more in some cases than you might expect. As new as widespread marriage equality is, yours will very likely be the first same-sex wedding they attend. To avoid baldly insensitive inquiries like “who will wear the gown” and “who’s the husband and who’s the wife”, you may need to coach them along lovingly, and have ambassadors among your family and friends spread the word to help them understand your unique love story, and how to be aware, respectful participants. Expect missteps, but do not tolerate narrow-mindedness. And remember, you only want people around you as you begin your married lives together who fully support and accept you as you are. 

Photo courtesy of Desjardins Photography

S. Walker is a freelance writer for GayWeddings.com.