If you’ve never been to a same-sex wedding, we have some potentially bad news: They’re not all that different from straight weddings.
Still, weddings between same-sex people are still fairly rare and, chances are, you might have some burning questions about what to expect from your first one.
While the basic structure of the wedding won’t likely differ too much from the weddings you’ve been to in the past — a short ceremony, cocktail hour and then a reception — there will probably be some other gender-related differences you might be curious about.
6 same-sex wedding questions, answered!
Is the ceremony going to be religious?
This is totally dependent on the couple. If your friends are the religious sort in their everyday lives, chances are they’ve found a way to marry religion with their same-sex nuptials — pun intended!
It’s true that many religions have traditionally been less than hospitable to queer people, but that’s changing. Many same-sex couples choose to celebrate their faith in Hindu ceremonies, secular ceremonies with shout outs to the Jewish faith and full-on Christian same-sex weddings.
On the other hand, if the couple isn’t religious, it’s unlikely that the wedding will be affiliated with any sort of religion, but rather readings or poems that are significant to the couple.
The bottom line is not to assume same-sex identity and religion are automatically at odds.
How should I address a genderqueer person who is getting married?
The number of folks who don’t identify as either male or female is on the rise, and an increasing number of LGBTQ weddings feature one or two partners who won’t be “brides” or “grooms.”
In general, the proper pronouns for genderqueer or gender nonbinary people are they, them and their, as in “Heather invited me to their wedding and I can’t wait to celebrate with them!”
Although the pronouns are plural, when it comes to genderqueer people, you can use them to refer to one person.
When you’re addressing a card, use the title “Mx” without any punctuation, unless the person has guided you to use a different honorific, like “Dr.” or something else.
Avoid using gendered terms like “bride” or “groom,” unless the person specifically refers to themselves that way.
Will the grooms or brides’ parents walk them down the aisle?
This is a perfectly fair question, since wedding tradition dictates that women are escorted down the aisle by their fathers while men wait at the altar for their brides.
When both partners are women, how does the processional work?
What about two grooms? This is really up to the couple. Just as many straight couples have chosen different ways to process into the ceremony as a way to honor one or both of their parents, queer couples typically decide how to enter based on their family relationships.
In general, weddings with two brides usually feature at least one bride who chooses to walk down the aisle, either escorted or solo. Some two bride weddings make room for both brides to be walked down the aisle, separately or at the same time.
For weddings with two grooms, it’s less common that they are escorted down the aisle, but there is still lots of variety in how they choose to process.
Will both brides wear dresses?
You have about a 50-50 chance of showing up to a wedding with two brides and seeing two women in traditional white wedding gowns. Lots of lesbian weddings see both brides enjoying this tradition, but still others don’t.
It’s not uncommon to see one bride in a wedding gown and one bride in a suit, or to see both brides in suits or both brides in dresses that aren’t wedding gowns. The wedding attire possibilities are endless, so there isn’t a cut-and-dry answer to this same-sex wedding question.
In most cases, you could simply call them by their new name — if they’ve chosen to have the same last name. For example, “The Smiths.”
If you are unsure whether one partner will change their name or if the couple has chosen a neutral last name to share, then something more general like “the happy couple” is appropriate for any written correspondence or card to the couple.
If you know the newly married same-sex couple will be keeping their given last names, it’s still appropriate to refer to them as “Mrs. and Mrs.” or “Mr. and Mr.” and include both last names.
What about parent-child dances? Bouquet tosses? Cake-cutting?
There are some facets of wedding receptions that most same-sex couples wholeheartedly embrace, like the cake cutting, if there’s cake. Others, like bouquet tosses, are pretty unpopular among same-sex couples.
While you can expect a fun party with lots of exciting surprises for guests, don’t expect to see too many of the traditional activities you’ve come to expect from straight weddings at same-sex weddings.
When it comes to planning a same-sex wedding ceremony there are no pre-defined rules as there are for heterosexual weddings.
Many of today’s wedding traditions surround heteronormative practices include wearing garters, dictate which parent pays for the wedding, which parent walks the bride or groom down the aisle, and throwing a bouquet, to name a few.
As a couple you can make up your own rules for your wedding day as you go along.
For instance, you can change traditions, or you can scrap them altogether if they do not fit in line with your vision for your wedding day ceremony.
Decorating with Florals – When it comes to decorations, florals, and arrangements like centerpieces, the sky’s the limit when it comes to your wedding day. Gay couples can distinguish their ceremonies by choosing floral arrangements that signify the union of the couple in a very meaningful way.
For instance, some helpful floral do’s and don’ts include the following:
Do choose florals in colors that are the best match for the overall wedding plan and based upon the couple’s personal preferences.
Do place florals decoratively, taking into account the overall venue space and layout for the event.
Don’t use florals traditionally if you don’t want to. For instance, with there being two grooms or two brides there does not have to be a bouquet toss unless you choose to do so. This will ensure a fully inclusive occasion that takes the needs of both partners into account.
All in All, Remember to Have Fun with It
Planning any wedding can be challenging and hectic. The dynamics of planning a same-sex wedding can be even more challenging given there are no set rules as to how the wedding ceremony should flow.
But no matter the logistics, remember to have fun planning this very special occasion. The best ceremonies are the ones that encapsulate your relationship as a couple. Invite supportive friends and family who will celebrate the love and positivity of your union.
Also choose the best vendors, planners, caterers, bakers and florists that will translate the vision of your wedding into a beautiful reality.
Your wedding to your spouse is a day to remember and it should be one filled with fun, joy, and love as you celebrate your happy union.
Couples can jumpstart their wedding planning efforts today by getting in touch with us here. Fran is ready to help you choose your Save the Date cards, wedding invitations, and all of the other elements of your same-sex wedding stationary suite.
While there are some traditions that have been relied upon for centuries in heterosexual weddings, this does not mean gay and lesbian couples have to follow these same rules. Instead, plan your wedding day on their own terms for the most amazing, memory-filled day ever.
In the meantime, we’ve put together a tone of curated wedding images for you to review. You never know where the next great idea is going to come from!
Your day is going to be amazing, memorable and altogether magical! We know it!