More LGBTQ couples are tying the knot and while we’re saying “I do,” we’re also doing it our way — spilling glitter and rainbows all over the big day and teaching straight couples how it’s done. Here’s an LGBTQ-specific breakdown of the basics you need to know when planning your own fabulous day (go to advocate.com/weddings for more).
Pictured: Bride Katie Furze-Walker and her femme wedding party at The Potting Shed in Beverley, East Yorkshire,U.K. | Photograph by 2 Point 8 Studios.
You may have seen ads for bridal shows and want to check out the vendors. Here’s what you should consider. First, try an LGBTQ-specific Wedding Expo (a more gender neutral term), like Rainbow Wedding Expo (April or May shows in Washington, D.C.; San Antonio; and Dallas; and elsewhere this summer). Started by Marianne and Cindy Puechl-Sproul nearly 15 years ago, RainbowWeddingNetwork.com was the first U.S. wedding gift registry specifically dedicated to the LGBTQ community. The couple founded it after trying to plan their own commitment ceremony with traditional vendors.
That first Same Love, Same Rights LGBTQ Wedding Expo was a smash in 2004 and they’ve been helping couples ever since. But if you’re thinking you’ll get the same treatment at a traditional wedding expo or bridal fair, think again.
“The bridal shows were very disappointing and demoralizing,” wrote one respondent to Community Marketing and Insights’s study, LGBTQ Weddings in 2018, of same-sex and queer-identified couples. “So much heteronormative crap out there left us feeling unwelcome and alienated.”
In that study, 20 percent of all couples, 39 percent of millennials, 30 percent of female same-sex couples, and 39 percent couples in which at least one person is trans or nonbinary reported discrimination or negative gender or heteronormative assumptions from vendors or government staff in planning their wedding. Fear of rejection from wedding vendors (from cake bakers to license clerks) impacts 61 percent of transgender and nonbinary-identified couples and 44 percent of same-sex couples overall. —Diane Anderson-Minshall
Queer people and religious institutions have long been pitted against each other, but in the last decade, as society has made progress toward equality, many churches have embraced same-sex wedding ceremonies. Even for those whose religious leaders may still argue that being LGBTQ is a sin, there are ways to have the traditional ceremony you always dreamt of.
While the Roman Catholic Church itself does not approve of same-sex relationships, there are several denominations that consider themselves Catholic but do not report to the Vatican, and therefore take a more liberal view, offering same-sex ceremonies. These include Christ Catholic Church (ChristCatholic.church), Communion of Synodal Catholic Churches (SynodalCatholics.org), Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA.org), United Catholic Church (UnitedCatholic-Church.org), the National Catholic Church of America (NationalCatholic.org), and White Robed Monks of St. Benedict (WhiteRobedMonks.org).
Held together by the idea that men and women are equal under God — no matter color, orientation, or identity — other denominations like the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA.org), United Church of Christ (UCC.org), Metropolitan Community Churches (MCCChurch.org), Episcopal Church (EpiscopalChurch.org), Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA.org), Covenant Network of Presbyterians (CovnetPres.org), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA.org), and Baptist Peace Fellowship (BPFNA.org) are reshaping the landscape of modern Protestant Christianity by publicly affirming that love is love.
Plenty of Jewish queers find room in the halakhic (Jewish law) to sanctify their wedding in similar ways to reflect today’s egalitarian values. It’s all about finding the right balance between tradition and modernity. Given that there’s no traditional same-sex Jewish wedding ceremony, the possibilities can truly be endless. You needn’t wear a traditional ketubah to retain a ceremony’s Jewish character. MyJewishLearning.com has incredible wedding ideas for LGBTQ couples. The Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist movements of Judaism are all LGBTQ-affirming.
Despite being depicted in the media as anti-woman and anti-LGBTQ, modern Muslims are often far more progressive than given credit for. As scholars like Reza Aslan and Hasan Minhaj have been pointing out since the Supreme Court ruled, a majority of U.S. Muslims support marriage equality — and discussions about the place of LGBTQ people in Islam are hardly new.
There are also plenty of other ways to include God in your ceremony even if you’re not celebrating your love in a church, temple, or mosque. Recruit a religious figure to officiate or simply speak at your wedding. Invite friends and family to share favorite readings from religious texts that speak about the foundations of love and importance of partnership. Or hire a religious band to jam out with worship songs during the ceremony or reception. That’ll awaken the spirits! —David Artavia
Of all the traditions LGBTQ couples discard (when was the last time you saw a garter toss or heard a vow with the word “obey” at a queer wedding?), the giving and wearing of rings isn’t one of them. That 2018 CMI wedding study found that over 90 percent of LGBTQ couples wear wedding rings, although men were far less interested in engagement rings. When shopping for rings, consider these tips:
• Shop together. Yes, the down on the knee, surprise ring in the box proposal is beautiful in movies, but many LGBTQ couples want both partners to have a say in choosing the rings that will symbolize their commitment. Buying the ring together can cut down on ring regret, keep you both aware of the financial realities involved, and allow you to have rings properly sized before leaving the store.
• Ignore the traditional heteronormative ring advice (like buying an engagement ring that’s equal to three month’s salary). This isn’t 1950. Consider what your budget can allow, knowing you have a ton of other expenses with your wedding and life together.
• With that said, do remember rings are the one thing from your wedding that has to last long after the last crumb of cake is gone. If you need to cut back, skimp on the food and DJ — you’ll forget all about it over your honeymoon. Skimp on the ring and you have a lifetime of regret every time you look at your finger.
• Speaking of fingers, queer and trans couples are notorious for upending rules like which finger to wear the ring on. Some choose the traditional ring finger, but index, thumb, pinky, and even knuckle rings aren’t uncommon either.
• Research the potential metals and stones (gold, silver, platinum, or titanium; white or chocolate diamonds, rubies, etc.) before you hit the store and think carefully about your career and lifestyle. If you’re a prep chef, competitive boxer, or hands-on farmer, you might not want to buy a soft metal or easily dislocated diamonds. Titanium is especially popular among men in part because of the chic look and the strength of the metal.
• Think outside the jewelry store. Sure, nobody turns down a Tiffany wedding band and if you’re closer to a mall than a boutique jeweler, you’ll find LGBTQ-friendly sales associates and well-priced rings at chains like Robbins Brothers. But also consider designers who have supported LGBTQ causes and rights even before marriage equality.
• And feel free to let your ring make a statement if you want it to. Gay-owned Love and Pride (LoveAndPride.com) has been making queer wedding bands for eons now, especially those with triangles and male or female symbols. Equalli (Equalli.com) is another supporter, which offers the world’s first transgender flag ring (above), a surprisingly subtle band using all-natural rainbow sapphires.
• Rony Tennenbaum, whose rings can be found at numerous stores, including Rogers and Hollands, has designed a couples’ collection (right) that speaks to LGBTQ couples. “I am an avid believer that everyone has a natural birthright to wed anyone they choose, under their own personal belief system and confess their love to one another before the world in any manner,” Rony Tennenbaum said in introduction to the collection. “In turn, I believe that society has an obligation to accept every union, commitment, partnership, marriage equally without prejudice or judgment.”
• Swedish lesbian designer Efva Attling offers up popular chic wedding and engagement rings while Lori Linkous Devine, the Seattle designer behind the jewelry store Lolide makes modern, artisan, and ethically-sourced gender neutral rings that fans adore. Lastly, Larson Jewelers offers up a bevy of queer-friendly (and dare we say, butchtastic?) wedding bands like this Thorston Elise black tungsten ring (left). —DAM
Creating a wedding website is a fun and easy way to announce your special day, and it is by far the best way to pool all pertinent info related to your event in one convenient place. It’s also a great vehicle to give guests a “sneak preview” of your wedding’s style and theme as well as give them an opportunity to ask questions or offer feedback on things like dietary restrictions or accessibility accommodations.
And it’s surprisingly easy to create your own website. With sites like Wix.com that provide free personalized wedding pages, creating a professional, elegant, and streamlined site for your event is a snap. Wix doesn’t have a special LGBTQ wedding section per se, but since everything is customizable, from images to backgrounds to text, you’re free to make it as queer as you want. And we do love that Wix has same-sex couples featured on the main page of its wedding site templates!
For something a little more spe-cialized (and still free), try WithJoy.com, which focuses on wedding websites. It’s easy to use with a very nice but not overwhelming selection of well-designed templates. We also like TheKnot.com, a general wedding planning site that also offers free wedding websites. Check out its “gay and lesbian” wedding section, which offers everything from images of other LGBTQ weddings (for inspiration) to help choosing a local queer-friendly officiant. Having all of this in one place can be a lifesaver, especially if you’re not employing a professional wedding planner. —Desirée Guerrero
Pictured: License to Chill: Jeffrey Leach (far left) and Douglas Washington fill out their marriage license at San Francisco’s City Hall.
It’s not as glamorous as shopping for rings and gowns, but getting a marriage license is a requirement in all 50 states, with each having their own conditions.
At least one future spouse (but often both) must appear in person at a county clerk’s office (or in some states, the office of another county official, such as a judge) to fill out the marriage license application in the presence of the official. If one or both people are state residents, the application fee can be as low as $20; for out-of-state couples it can be upwards of $150. Most states don’t require you to be a resident of the state in order to obtain a license there.
Some form of identification is always required, usually a photo ID and proof of birth facts, but different states accept different documents. Some require a birth certificate. In all states except one, both people must be 18 years old (in Nebraska, you must be 19) or have parental consent. Even if parents approve, most states still require a court to also approve the marriage if either individual is under 18 (in most states the youngest one can marry, even with this approval, is now 16). Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, and Oklahoma allow pregnant teens and those who’ve already had a child to get married without parental consent, so long as the court approves. Only one state (Montana) still requires a blood test before issuance of a marriage license.
Once you’ve turned in the paperwork, offered proof of identity, and paid the fees, you may be granted a license on the spot, or it may take a few days to process. Either way, your application is not officially complete until after the ceremony — when the couple, the officiant, and two witnesses over 18 are required to sign the license. Make sure you get the signatures before the reception and before the alcohol starts flowing. Many couples have had to redo their signatures due to minimal errors, incurring more fees in the process. It is the officiant’s job to return the marriage license to the county clerk, either by mail or in person. Later, an official and certified copy of the signed marriage license is mailed to the couple. —DA
Pictured: Doggone Fun: Wedding planner Hannes Sasi Pálsson of Pink Iceland with his husband, Villi and their dog Smurf
Everyone deserves to have a little fun before they walk down the aisle, and if there’s one group who knows how to party, it’s LGBTQs. So when it comes to pre-wedding celebrations, don’t be afraid to pull out all the stops or simply add a naughty straw to your decorative drink.
The joy is in the details, which include party favors. Etsy.com has tons of stuff for queer parties, including matching shirts like “Two Brides Are Better Than One” and banners that read “Lesbian AF,” or “I’m Gay I Slay.”
To truly make the pre-wedding party your own creation, it’s important to talk through the nonnegotiables. Think of these important questions: First, what do you want to get from the party? Call it whatever you want, but would you prefer a bachelor party (one last night of drinking and debauchery) or a bridal shower (where friends and family literally shower you with gifts for domestic bliss)? Do you want to plan the event or allow someone else (traditionally the best man or maid of honor) to do the honors? Do you want a destination party or a local celebration? Do you want to celebrate together or do you want to have separate parties? Who’s on the guest list? More importantly, who are you not inviting? Any toxic friends or family members to avoid? What’s the max capacity of the venue? Should you have multiple parties — a wild one for your crazy queer friends and a staid affair for conservative family and work colleagues?
You can keep or discard tradition as you want and ignore gender norms. Want to have all the guests bring sex toys as gifts? To have a raunchy bachelorette party in Vegas that the maids swear never to speak of again? To take the kids on a pre-making-honest-parents-out-of-you Disneyland trip? Do it your way! Doing a destination wedding and party there? Check out a queer-owned wedding and travel company like Pink Iceland, which can handle everything including the pre-wedding parties (under the Northern Lights in their case).
Travel out of your budget? Bring the destination to you with themes that help plan music, dress, party games, and favors. Is there a favorite movie, city, or historical time you can build around to create a party vibe that’s so uniquely yours? —DA
The traditional bridal party features female bridesmaids, male groomsmen, a flower girl, and a ring bearer (usually a young boy). But that’s not necessarily true for LGBTQ couples. In fact, according to the 2018 CMI wedding survey, only 38 percent of couples even had mixed-gender wedding parties.
The study notes that female couples are more likely to follow tradition in all aspects, and 46 percent of female couples versus 30 percent male couples had bridesmaids and groomsmen. Only a quarter of respondents had a flower girl and ring bearer and LGBTQ couples with children under 18, which accounted for 9 percent of respondents, frequently had their own kids carry flowers or rings down the aisle.
The majority of queer couples have rejected traditions and their gendered nature. Alternatively, LGBTQ couples are more likely to mix it up with wedding parties of a single gender or of mixed genders but not in gender-specific roles. Some even incorporate pets into the wedding party, particularly as ring bearers or in place of human escorts. Now that’s a very queer (and fun) wedding. —Jacob Anderson-Minshall
Here’s the truth about wedding dresses and tuxes and the other things that grooms and brides or other betrothed wear: the more gender-normative you and your fashion choices are, the easier it will be to find what you want. Two traditionally masculine guys who want to wear suits have choices galore (Armani and Kenneth Cole have 100 percent HRC ratings) and the same goes for women buying wedding gowns (may we suggest David’s Bridal, a recent LGBTQ supporter?). Consider finding something online at an LGBTQ-supportive retailer like TheBlackTux.com and having it tailored to your body at home.
If you’re a femme man or nonbinary person looking for a dress, or a butch or masculine woman trying to find a tux, things are a little dicier. If you’re trying to fit a wedding party of men, women, and nonbinary folks all wearing tuxedos, it can be even harder. But don’t fret. Since marriage equality has become the law of the land, more vendors have realized the power of the rainbow dollar. That doesn’t mean all super-leggy transgender brides will have it easy, but it is easier now than ever.
The best bet is going local. Visit a tux rental shop and ask them about working with women, and on same-sex weddings. If the answers feel icky, look elsewhere. Same goes for wedding dress makers. Local chains are serving more same-sex couples, but gender expressive men might still get awkward treatment, so ask first and go where you’re comfortable.
Macy’s, a long LGBTQ-supporter, sells off-the-rack tuxes and suits in relatively affordable prices, for those looking to buy, and most big city locations have clerks used to fitting masc women.
After local activists began working with Texas-based chain Al’s Formal Wear, its franchises have gained a good reputation for fitting women in tuxes for wedding parties without awkwardness. Even better, the 40-year-old Friar Tux Shop in California launched a new click and mortar evolution with Stitch & Tie (StitchAndTie.com), the first website to offer online tuxedo rentals specifically tailored to women.
One tip for women, trans men, and gender-nonconforming folks wearing tuxes: if you’re petite, check the boys section (seriously) and for femme men and gender-nonconforming folks wearing dresses, remember bridal shops are evcen overwhelming for gender-conforming femmes. Straight brides are often in tears during wedding dress fittings without all the heteronormative bias you’ll deal with, so make your dress shopping as easy as possible by finding someone who gets you as early as possible. —DAM
The renowned stylist is here to save your wedding day, one follicle at a time.
Gay celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons combines his passions for beauty and LGBTQ activism in his collaboration with the L.A. LGBT Center’s Trans Wellness Center, where his Trans Cosmetic Donation Program distributes hygienic and cosmetic products to low-income trans folk.
“It is really important to me that any time I create something in the beauty industry that it’s a reflection of my values, which is why I’m so excited to be partnering with the Trans Wellness Center to bring my first masterclass to life,” he says.
The Dublin-born stylist has tended the manes of the world’s biggest celebrities, including the Kardashian sisters. Who better to offer advice on wedding day hair? Here are his top tips:
Cut and Color Before the Big Day. For long hair, I recommend making your appointment one week before the wedding. For short hair, color the week before but [also] cut one to two days before, even facial hair.
Condition, Condition, Condition.
Prepare locks by using weekly conditioning treatments to improve the health and appearance of your hair, like NatureLab Tokyo’s Perfect Repair Treatment Masque ($16, NatureLab.com).
Experiment Ahead of Time. Not all products will work on your hair. Make sure you try out all grooming products prior to the ceremony.
Do a Trial Run. Always have a trial run for whatever hairstyle you plan on doing — this goes for everything.... Clear out any chance of mistakes by perfecting everything beforehand. —DAM
When it comes to photographers, there are probably more LGBTQ-friendly photographers than any other type of vendor needed. However, while queer and LGBTQ-friendly photographers are abundant in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, couples in smaller Midwestern or Southern towns may not have as many choices.
Try using search terms like “gay wedding” and “same-sex wedding,” even if it doesn’t exactly describe you as a couple (many well-meaning allies aren’t hip to the terminology or identity markers).
Review sites and descriptions carefully before proceeding. Many photographers will add “gay” and “lesbian” search tags to their websites to draw in more customers, but they don’t really specialize in LGBTQ weddings.They may very well be experienced wedding photographers, but many queer or trans couples prefer someone who specializes in photographing those in the community. Often you can tell the difference from perusing the website. Atlanta-based photographer Amanda Summerlin, for example, has a page devoted to same-sex and LGBTQ weddings and displays photographs of queer clients (AmandaSummerlin.com).
Sites that list LGBTQ-friendly vendors (EnGAYgedWeddings.com, for example), can help you find the perfect photographer in your area. You can also search for LGBTQ-friendly photogs on social media, especially image-based ones like Instagram. It’s all in the hashtags.
Ask about base pricing early — no need to waste time on vendors out of your range. Consider whether you want someone who will attend all of your wedding events or can set up in-studio shots. In the end, the right photographer for you is someone whose visual style matches your couple style, is respectful, in budget, and local. —DG
It’s important to think about accessibility right from the start so you won’t book a venue without an accessible bathroom, force someone with fibro to stand for hours, or invite a deaf friend without offering an interpreter. Some of your wedding party or guests may have conditions that interfere with their enjoyment of or ability to participate in the big day. Let them know early on what will be available — or ask those attending what accommodations would improve their ability to fully appreciate the events.
If you have a disability, don’t force yourself to do uncomfortable things for photos or appearances. Make sure venues are accessible (through the front door); plan seating accordingly; make sure the interpreter is available at all times; plan accessibility equipment into your outfit; bring your medication; and have moments of quiet to soothe your mind. Being mindful about accessibility needs will help make your wedding day enjoyable for everyone involved. —JAM
Wedding planner David Tutera’s advice for creating the perfect day.
Award-winning wedding planner and designer David Tutera has been creating gorgeous events for the past three decades. Now he’s merging his love for fashion and weddings in Lifetime’s eight-part series My Great Big Live Wedding with David Tutera, a visual banquet of wedding culture
Honored by Life & Style as Best Celebrity Wedding Planner, Tutera has an impressive client list that includes Hollywood stars, royalty, politicians, and socialites. He’s also the author of seven books — all drawing inspiration from his unique attention to detail.
The gay designer’s new bridal gown and menswear collection will also be rolled out for sale on DavidTutera.com as each episode ends. Viewers who see his dresses and other designs on TV will be free to purchase them on the spot, rather than waiting six to nine months later when the designs become available in stores.
Weddings are in Tutera’s blood. His grandfather was a successful florist from Italy and had a flower shop in New York City. His grandmother was a seamstress for bridal gowns. His great aunt owned a bridal boutique on Long Island where she also made fashion gowns. Still, he recalls, at 19 he sort of fell into the wedding industry when he agreed to throw one party — which led to others. “All my knowledge of what I do today comes from all the mistakes I made way back then, by having to teach myself.” Here’s some of what he’s learned along the way:
“One of the biggest mistakes is many couples today try to overachieve a look that they sometimes can’t afford on their budget,” he says. “What I always tell couples is, ‘That dilutes your vision. That dilutes the ability to create something magical and unique. You don’t have to have an astronomical budget to create a memory.’”
According to the designer, it’s not worth going “into debt before you start your life together,” but the most important things to focus on are “entertainment, food, and decor.” Additionally, he urges couples to pay special attention to details often overlooked: lighting and movement.
Sometimes a couple will have a DJ but they haven’t planned the right lighting and dancers are literally in the dark. Tutera says he sees “things being moved around” too often in many weddings. For example, “You go from ceremony to cocktails, and then dinner, and then to an after-party, and then sometimes a dessert station. People are exhausted... Keeping it simple and in one location, to me, is much more unique and magical.”
When couples are in a creative block about their wedding, he’ll ask: “Who do you want to visually be on the day of the celebration...? You and I may live our lives in a modern environment, and we may want a totally traditional wedding... Once they figure out if they’re a beach wedding, a ballroom wedding, or a country wedding... they can expand how to make it their own.”
One of the nation’s top wedding planners on arranging your big day.
Both The Knot and Brides magazine have named Jove Meyer one of the top planners in the country. He hosts the podcast Weddings-ish With Jove! and created the tote bag campaign #TotesGettingMarried in support of marriage equality (JoveMeyerEvents.com).
“Being a gay man, it is very important to me to support LGBTQ-plus people in our fight towards equality,” Meyer says. Here’s more of his advice:
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned about wedding planning? Being authentic is the best way to be when it comes to planning, design, and running a business.
What’s the biggest mistake couples make at or around weddings? Losing sight of their style, personality, and relationship in the planning process. The ideas they had and the things they love are chipped away and the wedding is no longer theirs.
Your top suggestions for cutting costs? Have an intimate wedding — the fewer the guests, the lower the costs. Also, DIY projects are a great way to save on costs.
What does a wedding planner do that I can’t?
Planners have connections with vendors... The time it takes to research, interview, hire, and manage is great. Not everyone needs a full-service wedding planner... [but they] should at least have a coordinator to help them tie it all together and manage the wedding day.
What one area would you splurge on? For me it would be décor. The way a space looks and feels sets the tone for the celebration.
Last word of advice? Stop worrying about who you will offend if you dont do something that’s expected of you and worry more about what makes you and your partner’s hearts happy — pursue that and others will celebrate it! —DAM
While the reading of religious verses is an integral part of many weddings in the Western world, the tradition is less strong for same-sex couples — many of whom have been made to feel unwelcome in the churches they were raised in. The 2018 CMI wedding survey found that only 25 percent of LGBTQ respondents who were either planning a wedding or were already married felt it important to include religious or cultural elements in their weddings.
But even if you are planning a secular wedding, you may still find some passages of the Bible, Koran, Tanakh, or other spiritual text a beautiful way of expressing your devotion to each other. And there are plenty of passages perfectly suited for your LGBTQ wedding.
Perhaps the most popular New Testament Bible verse is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. While written by Paul as a primer for behavior during services in Corinth’s fledgling first-century church, the words have wider resonance today: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast.” Perhaps no other quotation so perfectly encapsulates the requirements of any successful marriage.
Some verses in the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible, known to Christians as the Old Testament) are revered by both Jews and Christians, and these include two other wedding favorites: Song of Solomon (a collection of love poems) and the Book of Ruth. Ruth, the grandmother of King David, is known for her devotion to her mother-in-law, Naomi, and her words have been quoted in numerous lesbian ceremonies (and in Fried Green Tomatoes). Ruth 1:16-17 reads, “Wherever you go I will go, and wherever you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.”
One passage from the Koran that has been embraced by LGBTQ couples is 30:21 “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts: verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.”
Some Native American prayers are also wonderful options, including an Apache blessing that includes this verse: “Now there will be no loneliness, for each of you will be companion to the other. Now you are two persons, but there is only one life before you.” —DP
Who pays for an LGBTQ wedding? Sorry, but that answer is probably you. The vast majority of queer and trans couples (nearly three quarters, or 74 percent) paid for most, if not all, of the costs of their own wedding, according to CMI. Things may shift as Gen Z grows older, given that they have higher levels of family acceptance than many LGBTQ couples in the past.
Going it alone influences a lot of wedding budget decisions. If you’re like the majority of respondents to a recent survey by the travel company Flash Pack, you too might “hesitate at spending the average $33,391 on a wedding” (66 percent—and 71 percent of women specifically—agreed). But, remember, whatever your budget, paying for your wedding yourself means you get to make all the decisions without being indebted to anyone. Plus, your parents don’t get to decide who’s on the invite list or demand that you use your cousin Carl’s BBQ catering for your reception.
Since same-sex weddings no longer require long-distance travel (yay, marriage equality!), most LGBTQ couples now get married in the same state in which they live (another budget helper). For the 20 percent who get married in other states or countries, a destination wedding can be a great way to wrap all the services you need into one flat rate. —DAM
Planning a bilingual wedding can be challenging, but many LGBTQ couples make it a priority. The decision is oftentimes practical, especially if there is no common language among family and friends. In other cases, the decision symbolizes the desire to maintain a couple’s dual cultural identity.
Mixing two languages to make a single distinctive wedding ceremony is a wonderful way to blend cultures. But when you do plan a bilingual wedding, one essential first step is making sure that wedding invites are also linguistically accessible.
Not only are invites the first impression guests have of your wedding, but they also provide essential information that should not be lost in translation. Using a single language (like defaulting with English) may inadvertently exclude some friends or family members. Consider having a double-sided invitation with all information mirrored in both languages. This will help ensure your guests get all the important details, but also signals from the start that your wedding will be inclusive and accommodating to those who speak either language.
There’s more to planning a bilingual ceremony than invitations, of course. There are different ways to have a bilingual wedding and deciding what you want will help dictate how to proceed. Will all the speeches, readings, and vows be spoken first in one language and then immediately repeated in the second language? Or will only certain passages (especially the vows) be repeated? Will an interpreter be on hand to translate as the ceremony proceeds? Will you do the ceremony in one language and provide a written translation to guests? Or will you switch back and forth, alternating between languages for different passages but not providing translation?
Or maybe you want to go even further, and incorporate aspects of different cultural wedding traditions into your ceremony? These important questions will inform your next move. And don’t forget about the reception. You may need to provide additional translation for attendees around menu options and seating arrangements, as well as the usual speeches that are given in honor of the couple. But receptions can also be a wonderful opportunity to further embrace dual cultural heritages with appropriately chosen foods, music, and traditions. A wedding and reception that melds the best of both worlds provides an excellent opportunity to bring everyone closer. —Ashley Scheibelhut
If you’re having trouble finding the perfect cake, you’re not alone.
For some couples heading down the aisle, it’s all about the dress, the ring, or the reception — but to your wedding guests, it’s all about that cake. Whether you have $200 or $20,000 to spend on the delicious staple, the path is still pretty simple:
Don’t worry about finding a baker. Far more bakeries are catering to LGBTQ couples these days than those who aren’t, even in small towns.
Schedule a tasting. The baker should have several samples of cake flavors for you to taste. Ask questions and look at photos of their designs. This is the time to bring in all the photos you’ve been collecting to show them what you want — and then see if you can afford it.
Think outside the (cake) box. Define your own limits of what’s possible. For my wedding, I couldn’t afford a five-tier brick-and-mortar bakery, so I found a woman on Craigslist who created wedding and quinceañera cakes out of her own kitchen. I met her at Starbucks, tasted several different samples, and put down a deposit on the spot. Done!
Save money, but don’t sacrifice what you want. I wanted a cake that was super tall with a cascading ribbon of frosting down each side like a giant bow. My baker made two layers at the bottom in two different flavors and then added three smaller Styrofoam cakes on top before topping it all with the frosting. (No one knew.) Why not save by having a small ornate cake with several sheet cakes in the same flavor? Or add a dessert table so the cake doesn’t have to be as large? The alternatives are endless.
Cake is usually priced per slice. It all depends on fillings, types of icing (buttercream is cheaper than fondant), or how much work goes into the design.
Pick the cake after everything. Having a cake that is a mismatch with your gown or the reception is something your guests will remember. For example, if you’re serving Vietnamese finger foods, you may not want a heavy chocolate truffle ganache. You’ll want to have finalized how many people you’ll be feeding before you order. Also remember to plan who will deliver the cake to the reception. Towering wedding cakes can be difficult to carry and transport.
Choose your cake topper wisely. You want to pick one that reflects you. The greatest part of LGBTQ weddings is seeing the fun things people do with these little figurines. There are more same-sex toppers than ever before, including interracial couples. Recently I was at the wedding of a Walking Dead-loving couple and the cake had two brides at the top fending off a zombie attack from the sides of the cake. How cute is that? —DAM
Should you resort to the hyphen or combine both names? Here’s what other queer couples have done.
One of the more vexing questions for any engaged couple is what to do about a last name. Straight couples have traditionally chosen for the wife to assume the last name of her husband, but the choice is more open-ended nowadays, especially for queer couples. Despite the difficulties, a 2016 survey by The Knot found that 61 percent of male couples and 77 percent of female couples had some form of name change that year.
Many couples keep their names as a symbol of equality within the relationship. But that decision could provide difficult choices ahead. For example, whose name will a child assume? There are also concerns about symbolism. One mother wrote to The New York Times that while she was thrilled her son was going to marry his partner, she felt his decision to take his partner’s last name was indicative of a subordinate role in the relationship.
Despite the complexity of the issue, there are basically only four options. The first is to do nothing. This choice is popular for those wishing to show the independent nature of the relationship. The second is to hyphenate the two names, which is often chosen as symbol of partner equality. The third option is to go the traditional route of one spouse taking the name of the other. The last is to create a new name, often by combining the two last names — such as turning Winston and Hall into Winstonhall.
Regardless of the choice, it’s important to check the laws in your state. Some states require a court order for name changes, and any name change will necessitate action on a range of documents. such as driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, banking records, and many others. There are numerous online resources listing laws and requirements by state, but this might also be an area where you want personalized legal consultation. —Donald Padgett
It’s easier than you think. All you need is a computer and a very active imagination.
These days, choosing and customizing your event invitation is as simple as the click of a mouse — or is it? With so many online printers to choose from, deciding on the perfect invite can be overwhelming. If you’re having a more casual event or require invites to events like rehearsal dinners and showers, sites like PurpleTrail.com and PaperStyle.com have a nice assortment of elegant, economical, and LGBTQ-friendly invitation designs to size up — from fancy to casual, feminine to masculine, floral to sleek.
It’s especially nice to see companies like these with large sections of card templates pre-designed for LGBTQ folks, complete with images and language pertaining to same-sex couples: “I was looking for a simple, masculine card to invite people to a dinner and this did the trick. I upgraded to the pearlized paper and the envelope with the stripes…. We like the Mr. & Mr. idea [so much] that we are having it put on top of our cake to make a theme as well,” said one PaperStyle customer on the site’s review section.
If you’re looking for something a little more formal or personalized, try Etsy.com. Seriously. We found countless cards designed for queer folks and couples, ranging from humorous and kitschy to extremely high-end and elegant. And since all items on Etsy are designed and handmade by artists (or are vintage), it’s a fun and easy way to put your personal stamp as a couple on your special event. —DG
There are now at least a dozen (perhaps dozens) of wedding guides aimed at same sex couples, including Jason Mitchell’s Getting Groomed: The Ultimate Wedding Planner for Gay Grooms and Tess Brown Ayers’s The Essential Guide to Gay and Lesbian Weddings. You can’t go wrong with Equally Wed: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your LGBTQ+ Wedding by Kirsten Palladino, co-founder (with her wife) of the modern wedding and marriage website, EquallyWed.com. —DAM