Reliving our wedding through many many blog posts - sixteen so far to be exact - has been so much fun, and I am so thankful for everyone who has taken the time to read about our best day. But now that all of the substantive recaps are done, I want to take a minute to pass on the wisdom we gained from doing something that looking back, was big: plan a gay wedding, essentially by ourselves, having never attended one before. I do not mean to sound cheesy, overly political, or fishing for sympathy at all. But the plain truth is that I remember in high school having NO idea if I would be legally allowed to get married, ever. Gay marriage wasn’t even 100% legal in the United States when Grace and I started dating in 2013. And neither Grace or I knew anyone personally who was gay and had planned a wedding. We didn’t really have any mentors or role models in the process. But our wedding day turned out even better than my wildest dreams, and I think I learned a lot and have a lot to share! Here are my best tips:
Overall, as a gay couple your wedding IS just like any other wedding—but know (and celebrate) the fact that it is still “different”.
I think this was one of the hardest things for me to grasp, but sweetest to embrace once I finally did. Our wedding was traditional in a lot of ways, even more traditional than many straight weddings I have been to. My dad walked me down the aisle, I wore a cathedral length veil, Grace and I didn’t see each other before our ceremony, and we had a religious wedding. Those are just a handful of examples. I think at the beginning of wedding planning, I really fought for our wedding to be “normal” and resisted anyone asking what my “partner” and I were doing for our wedding (why not fiancée like everyone else?), etc. But as time went on, I grew to love the fact that we could go non-traditional in certain ways, and I took the liberty of throwing out a few wedding traditions that didn’t appeal to me. A garter toss—no thanks. I actually didn’t even toss my bouquet because I loved it so much I wanted to take it with me at the end of the night! We didn’t do parent dances, either. We also chose to keep our wedding menu pescetarian, which has nothing to do with being gay, but is just our preference and something you don’t see at a lot of weddings. One of Grace’s bridesmaid’s dad (who was also a guest at our wedding) brought a rainbow flag and Grace waved it and danced with it during the reception, and we had some amazing queer friends vogue on the dance floor and they were SO fun. Even though I didn’t want anyone to think of our wedding as different—or less than—any other wedding, I’m so glad I was able to cherish the fact that it was different. One of a kind :)
Choose vendors carefully, but don’t get hung up on contractual language.
We were extremely lucky to get married in a part of the country where gay weddings are not uncommon. But even still, I found it important to go through potential vendors’ galleries, online reviews, and showcases and see if they had worked with gay couples in the past. This was not meant to unfairly disqualify anyone just because they hadn’t worked with a gay couple, but honestly, my sensitive heart couldn’t take the chance of being rejected. And yes, I have heard of gay couples being rejected by wedding vendors. Working with people who proudly showcase their queer clients was important to us and calmed my fears.
However, even with the most gay-friendly vendors, I often found that vendor contract language was outdated. There was pretty much always a space for Bride and for Groom. My advice is to not get hung up on this. If it was a paper contract, I’d cross it out (maybe also as a gentle nudge for them to update it for the next couple), but overall, I just let those things roll off my back. If you already know the vendor has showcased their weddings with gay couples, then personally I choose to assume the best and not worry about “standard” contractual language.
Surround yourself with your people.
I mean this in two ways. First, I LOVED having a huge wedding party (we had 10 bridesmaids each) and highly recommend it if that floats your boat. Who says you can’t have 10 (or more?!) bridesmaids! After years of not knowing if I’d ever get legally married, having so many besties stand up with me was really special and filled me with pride.
Second, when making our guest list, Grace and I wanted to be sure we had room to include as many of our queer friends as possible. Knowing that we hadn’t attended a gay wedding ourselves, we hoped to be that for some of our friends who maybe also hadn’t ever been to one. This isn’t to say we invited people that we wouldn’t have otherwise, but nonetheless this was important to us. We also made sure to express how much they meant to us in the letters we wrote each guest at our wedding.
Infuse your wedding with what sets you on fire as a couple.
I wrote a post all about the little details of our wedding, and I think that really sums up my feelings on this. Chances are, your wedding might be the first or one of the first gay weddings your guests have attended. And for Grace and me, many of our friends and family were meeting our new spouse for the first time. We dated for three years long distance and grew up on different continents, so there was pretty much no overlap of mutual old friends (except for college friends). We really tried to show our guests who we are as a couple and we took pride in the little details.
Make everything easy for your guests.
My final piece of advice is to make sure to give a lot of instructions to your guests who might be well-meaning but unfamiliar and wondering if there is anything “different” about your wedding they should expect. I made a wedding website that gave every last detail I could think of, from driving directions to nearby accommodations to details for our welcome drinks party to a heads up about our pescetarian menu. I even put instructions on our flower petal packs for guests to toss after our ceremony—extra signage and direction can never hurt, I think!
Every wedding—no matter the genders of the couple—is different, so I don’t mean to provide blanket advice for any gay wedding. But I hope this is helpful, and thank you for reading my wedding blog series! If you’re a recently engaged bride or groom to be, congrats!