The heart of a LGBTQ wedding isn’t about flower arrangements, favors for guests, or color schemes.
It’s about the couple’s love for one another and how they share making such a deep commitment with their closest friends and family. The best LGBTQ wedding events are the ones that are a true representation of the couple – be it a fancy black-tie affair or a Western string-tie barn dance – and which show consideration of their guests’ experience into account every step of the way.
The beauty of any LGBTQ wedding is how easily they fit right in with established wedding etiquette – because in the end, the opportunity to create a meaningful wedding day and thoughtfully include your guests isn’t based on gender; it’s based on love.
The crew at Invitations by R Squared loves love and just everything wedding!
We know that planning a LGBTQ wedding – or any wedding, really – can be a complex process. And one that is not without its challenges.
We strive to bring you great information, so that you can take some of the stress off planning your LGBTQ wedding!
There are tons of questions when starting out in your wedding planning process.
We’ve brought you some of the more common ones, with our take on making these decisions smooth sailing.
Who Should Marry Us? – There are lots of options for officiants — the trick will be finding the right one for you. You can ask a judge or justice of the peace to sanction your union, or you can contact an Ethical Humanist officiant. You can read more about that here.
You can also ask a dear friend or relative can do you the honor. If you’d like to have a religious ceremony, speak with a minister or rabbi from the congregation to which you or your partner belong.
If no officiant comes to mind, contact a Unitarian Universalist, Universal Life, or Metropolitan Community church, all of which support LGBTQ unions. You can also look for an officiant from a religion that leaves the decision to individual clergy (Buddhist, some Protestant, Reform Jewish). Don’t overlook the Internet as a research tool for finding local officiants.
How Does the Ceremony Work? – Your ceremony itself is a binding ritual so make it truly personal. Start with the basic outline of a traditional wedding as a starting point, and personalize it from there. The basic components include:
- The Greeting/Call to Attention: Your officiant tells guests they’re here to support the commitment and love between the two of you, and may say a few words about you two as a couple.
- Declaration of Intent/Vows: Writing your own vows is a great way to celebrate your commitment to each other — and its uniqueness. You can draw what you like from traditional religious or secular vows; adapt wordings from poems, songs, and prose; or start from scratch and express your feelings in your own words.
- Ring Exchange: Perhaps you’ve already given each other rings, and maybe now you’ll add bands to go with them or re-enact the ring exchange at your LGBTQ wedding with a few special words. You may choose not to wear your rings on your left hands, which might suggest that you’re married the “traditional” way. Many gay and lesbian couples wear commitment rings on their right hands. You may also choose a nontraditional design and wear it on the traditional finger.
- Readings/Joining Rituals: You don’t necessarily have to address gay issues in your readings; you could read about love, friendship, companionship, trust, growth, or whatever tickles your fancy. Joining rituals like a Unity candle (the two of you light a mutual candle with flames from two individual candles) or Native American sand blending are perfect ways to symbolize your union.
- Pronouncement of Marriage and the Kiss: Need we say more?
If you choose a religious officiant or another person affiliated with a group (such as an Ethical Humanist), he or she may give you “sample” ceremony wording from which to work.
The more secular the officiant, the more creative license you will likely have over what is said, read, sung, or played during the ceremony.
What Do We Wear? – Just like any bride or groom, whatever you like! Some lesbian couples walk down the aisle in traditional wedding gowns and veils, complete with bridal bouquets, and some choose “tuxedas” (tuxedos designed for women).
Men might choose traditional formal wear or nice suits purchased especially for the occasion. You can wear identical ensembles or choose separate outfits that compliment your individual styles. The bottom line: Whatever style you choose, make it your own.
Can We Have a Wedding Party? – If you want your closest friends at your side during the ceremony, by all means, ask them! Traditionally, the person of honor and best human are “witnesses” — they sign the legal marriage document, along with you two and your officiant. And remember that the terms “bridesmaids” and “groomsmen” are totally optional.
What About the Reception? – Some couples plan a relatively traditional reception with dinner, dancing, and the works.
Others choose a beach barbecue or a fabulous meal at their favorite restaurant. You could have a cocktail party in your apartment, a picnic in your backyard, or champagne and cake on your roof. Or consider an art gallery or club. You can work with caterers, florists, and DJs, or you can ask friends to help with details. The only limits are your imagination and personal taste.
Gift Registry? – Like every newlywed couple, you deserve gifts. However, if you have chosen a destination wedding location for your LGBTQ wedding, and your guests are footing their own travel expenses, the gift is that they are joining you from afar.
If you’re thinking about a store registry (a department store or a national chain like Crate & Barrel or Williams-Sonoma), go for it, but prepare to deal with a registry consultant who’s potentially unclear on the concept of LGBTQ registering.
Even once you get past the comprehension stage, say couples we’ve talked to, there may be another dilemma: Some computer systems only have one place for the bride’s name and one place for the groom’s. Until these programs become more flexible, one of you may have to do a little role-playing. Tell guests to check under both bride and groom for each of your names.
You could also choose a nontraditional registry for your LGBTQ wedding (at a sporting-goods or CD store, for example) or work with a manager to create a registry from scratch at your favorite housewares store, wine store, or book store.
Honeymoon? – Every newly married couple should run away for a little R&R.
If you decide to celebrate your LGBTQ wedding privately or with a few close relatives or friends, you might even consider a destination wedding. Hawaii and Florida are both wonderful places to exchange vows. You two could do a lot worse for a backdrop than a beautiful, palm tree-lined beaches! Learn more here and here.
The thing is, more than a few of those must-know trends being utilized are coming from LGBTQ weddings.
So, let’s take a look at what they are so that you can decide if you want to adopt any of them for your big day.
Original Attire Choices – Remember, LGBTQ couples don’t have nearly as many conventions to lean on as others, but sometimes, the best and most original ideas are born out of necessity. This has become the case when it comes to wardrobe choices at LGBTQ weddings.
LGBTQ couples are making some bold and unique choices with their attire, and couples of all kinds are starting to jump on the bandwagon.
Whether it’s a pantsuit, an unusual color choice for the dress, etc., many couples are going their own way with what they wear to their LGBTQ wedding. As folks who are obsessed with everything wedding for many years, we’ve watched first-hand the evolution in wedding attire and now, whether you’re planning a straight or LGBTQ wedding, there are a lot of fairly unusual options to choose from.
So, if it’s appropriate for your affair, don’t be afraid to wear what you want. After all, it’s your day, and you should be the one who feels that you look your best.
New Ways to Walk – With the ceremony typically being the most traditional aspect of the wedding day, it’s no surprise that many LGBTQ couples are creating their own tried-and-true trends for their LGBTQ wedding ceremonies.
And one way that LGBTQ couples are shaking up the normal wedding ceremony is in how they choose to walk down the aisle.
Many LGBTQ couples are forgoing walking down the aisle separately, accompanied by a family member, and are choosing to walk with each other, hand in hand.
We’re also seeing couples at LGBTQ weddings make some interesting design decisions in terms of the aisles themselves, with some creating two aisles so that each person can walk, accompanied by a friend or family member if desired, simultaneously.
Other couples are going even further and, when the space allows, creating three aisles. That way, couples can walk down the two outer aisles at the same time at the start of the ceremony, and then together down the center aisle once it’s complete. We absolutely love this one!
Just remember that with this kind of approach, you need to consider how you’re going to have your LGBTQ wedding party walk down the aisle, if you have one, and also how your guests should be seated in this kind of uncommon arrangement.
Also, as a longtime wedding stationer, trust us, you need to let your photographers and videographers know about these kinds of unconventional decisions. They need to know who’s going to be coming from where so that they can capture every special moment of your wedding ceremony.
The After Party – While this seems to be trending in weddings between couples straight and LGBTQ alike, the after party may have really gained steam when LGBTQ couples still had to plan destination weddings to states with marriage equality.
While, fortunately, that’s no longer the case, the notion of the after party being the real party hasn’t gone anywhere.
Many LGBTQ couples plan for an after party in a separate part of their reception space, back at the hotel, or at separate nearby location.
And what’s great about LGBTQ wedding after-parties is that they don’t need to be as fancy as the earlier portions of the celebration. It’s your and your partner’s chance to let your hair down.
After all, while you may need to invite Grandma, she probably won’t be up to attending, so it’s usually a younger crowd that you need to be concerned with entertaining.
That’s why many LGBTQ couples often choose some unusual decor or go with a unique and fun theme for the party. Also, this is where that other wedding trend usually comes into play: the late-night snack.
Again, you can think a little more casual with your choice of menu for this portion of the celebration. Many couples go with a local food truck serving foods like burgers and fries, for example. Lots of destination wedding locations can offer you the fun and whimsy of a food truck with an ethnic or cultural food experience. Win-win, we say!
Don’t be afraid to break the mold and be bold.
As you can see, some of the most exciting and inventive new trends are coming from LGBTQ weddings, the kinds of trends every couple should at least take into consideration.
After all, whether you and your partner are planning a LGBTQ wedding or not, every couple wants to personalize their wedding somewhat and give their guests a day to remember. And there is nothing more personal than the element that announces your big news – your Save the Date cards and wedding invitations!
Don’t forget about a visit to our curated collections of wedding images and ideas right here.
Whatever your plans, location, and theme, we know your day is going to be everything you’ve ever dreamed of. Magical. Memorable. Simply your Best Day Ever!