I think all of my gay clients have struggled a little bit with ceremony planning. Big news – it’s just a wedding ceremony with slightly different main characters. Really, it’s no different than a traditional wedding in most ways. But it’s how YOU decide to interpret the concept of “traditional” that impacts the way you’ll either enjoy (or not) planning your actual wedding ceremony.
Hopefully, the following five tips, explanations and suggestions will be helpful to those of you who are doing your own planning:
1) What will each of you wear to your wedding? I’ve yet to have a gay groom in a slip dress, but plenty of lesbian brides prefer a pants ensemble to a wedding gown and there’s nothing wrong with that. It can be gorgeous. If one of you is military, will you get married in uniform now that you can? Or will you dress in a manner that reflects your own personal taste and style? One set of my clients dressed in identical tailored suits, while another got married in Indian attire and changed into bow ties for the reception. I’ve also had several clients who got married in civilian clothing but changed into dress uniform for their first dance or toasts, and then changed back to party in a more comfortable outfit. It’s all about how you are going to feel most comfortable (and look sharp in pics).
2) How are you getting down the aisle? Do both brides get escorted? Will the grooms walk in together? This can be done pretty much any way you want to do it, and most people have pretty clear ideas in their heads. It’s beautiful to watch dads give away their daughters, but there’s also a lot to be said for watching the couple enter the ceremony together. Unfortunately, there’s sometimes a shortage of parental support at same-sex marriages and this can cause a conundrum because the couple wants to honor the parents who ARE there without highlighting the fact that others are not. My suggestions for this? Face it, everybody can tell who isn’t there so don’t waste time pussyfooting around it. Let those who have come have the full honors that should be extended – special seating, escorting you down the aisle, whatever. In one case, I saw a mother escort both her son and the new-son-in-law-to-be down the aisle because she saw herself as a mother to them both and wanted to reaffirm her support. You should do what works best for you, but remember to consider the feelings of the family members who ARE there over trying to pretend somebody else isn’t missing.
3) Are you going to use traditional vows? Will your parents actually give you away? My Episcopalian priest godmother who married me absolutely refuses to let fathers “give away” their daughters in her wedding ceremonies. That said, you should do whatever you want to do and if you have somebody there to support you, you can involve them in the ceremony. You can even ask the entire audience “Do you support Bob and Joe in this lifelong commitment and will you help them to grow together in their marriage?” or something like that. Everybody would respond “we do.” Oh yeah, I’m quite the wordsmith so if you want to include something special in your ceremony that isn’t transitioning right for you, just send it to me. I gotcha covered.
4) What are you going to do about your names? If you’re gay, the world is your oyster. You can be “Susan and Sharon Smith Jones” or “Susan and Sharon Jones Smith,” or you can each keep your own last name, or one of you can drop your name entirely. It is entirely up to you, but you should make the decision ahead of your weddings so you can announce it at the end of the ceremony. The officiant will introduce you as the new Misters Luke and John Skywalker, or Mrs. and Mrs. Rosanne and Shania Weatherby-Smithson, or Mr. and Mrs. Kris and Kim Humphries-Kardashian (that was how they were going to do it, right?). LOL Snarkiness aside, this is your chance to make the big announcement if you’re going to make a change. It’s a happy change and a happy announcement and you should celebrate it.
Alright, this next one is my bombshell for this blog – so I hope you read this far. I’m gonna get some flaming emails but it’s worth it and totally and completely true.My apologies to the lovely nuns at the Catholic girls’ school who are probably the reason I can write.
5) Should God be a part of your wedding ceremony? I was surprised to be asked this by a gay couple, but I understood their concern. My answer is that to whatever extent you are religious or spiritual, you should include your own personal traditions in the wedding ceremony. What do I mean by this? I mean that if you are Catholic and were raised Catholic and you want a Catholic ceremony, I’ll give you one. Nope, can’t get the priest to do it yet (have you considered becoming Episcopalian?), but I can have a non-denominational, non-judgmental wedding officiant marry you using the exact same readings, words, vows and promises that you would make in the Catholic Church. It will be just as meaningful and probably even more beautiful because you can get married ANYWHERE, you’re not restricted to actual church building like you would be if you were going through the whole process with a priest. Someday, down the road, when the Catholic Church wises up, you can make the decision to have the church bless your union if you want them to. God is going be at your wedding with or without the Pope’s permission, rest assured. It’s just up to you to write him into your ceremony plan!