What to Expect at a Gay Wedding 

BY Steven Petrow

July 22 2011 9:00 AM ET

LESBIAN MARRIED SAN FRANCISCO 560x (GETTY) ADVOCATE.COMWhere do I seat guests at the ceremony?
Traditionally, the bride’s family sits on one side of the room, and the groom’s family sits on the other; but most gay couples are feeling the love from friends, their community, and their families, and they’re mixing it up accordingly. When it comes to seating, don’t stand—or sit—on ceremony!

How do we add a gay twist to our wedding?
While the tone this first week will be one rivaling any Pride festivity, you can definitely personalize a ceremony in a number of ways: the choice of readings, the wording of your vows, how you involve your loved ones, and even what you choose to wear can all be tailored to reflect your unique values and personality. While many gay couples follow well-established religious or straight traditions, others of us choose to be less formal, more activist, or even somewhat whimsical. Here are some great ways to gay up your ceremony:

• In your vows, talk not only about your love and commitment but also about our struggle for the right to marry in every state.

• Ask your officiant to speak to some of these issues, too, during his or her part of the ceremony.

• In lieu of gifts (how many blenders do you need?), suggest donations to an LGBT advocacy group.

• Choose readings with a political dimension, such as “We Two Boys Together” by Walt Whitman, “If Thou Must Love Me” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, or any of the poems in Pablo Neruda’s 100 Love Sonnets.

• As to your attire, there’s plenty of leeway, ranging from traditional taffeta and tuxes to leather, western wear, an androgynous outfit, or one that amps the masculine or feminine up even more. Just make sure you both look as though you’re attending the same ceremony! (And pay attention to the record-breaking heat.)

Do we invite unsupportive family?
This is a dilemma that some gay couples face as they plan to tie the knot. Because weddings are about new beginnings, they can be an occasion to make peace with your most difficult relations. Try talking directly with family members about your love for each other and why marriage matters; then, depending on how they respond, decide whether to extend an invitation. Family members don’t have to hoist a rainbow flag or donate to LGBT causes to be at your wedding; they just need to support and love you as a couple. If they don’t, they don’t belong there.
 

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