Who may now kiss
the bride when there are two grooms?
Since the state
of California began issuing marriage certificates to
same-sex couples in June, questions about wedding rituals
and etiquette -- not just politics -- have grown
faster than a wedding reception guest list. With no
long-established gay wedding traditions, partners-to-be and
the wedding industry are making it up as they go along.
don't see this type of excitement for weddings,'' said Los
Angeles-based wedding planner Wendy Rhodes, who's
coordinated two same-sex ceremonies since the ruling.
''They've been dreaming about being able to actually
get married for a long time, so these couples know
exactly what they want.''
And what they
want is immersed in tradition.
Rhodes said most
wedding conventions -- invitations, music, formal
attire, cake, champagne -- are finding their way into the
same-sex ceremonies that her full-service wedding and
events planning company has been hired to coordinate
since the California supreme court's ruling in May.
same-sex couples have waited so long for this, they want the
same things they've seen in the weddings of their friends,''
said Rhodes. ''They want a white wedding cake. They
want flowers. They want good food. They want
everything they can possibly have in their wedding. People
all dream of the same things when they think of a
recently organized a small wedding ceremony at the home of a
lesbian couple who had been together for 24 years. Because
many same-sex ceremonies are celebrating years of
commitment rather than the beginning of a new life
together, the weddings are more personalized affairs,
according to Kathryn Hamm, president of GayWeddings.com.
Out for most are
wedding traditions like spending the night before apart
or registering for new china.
couples are choosing rituals like writing their own
vows and including family and friends in highly customized
festivities -- recent wedding trends that extend
beyond sex and state lines.
couples don't take this opportunity for granted,'' said
Hamm. ''Generally speaking, same-sex couples don't
hide behind a basic ritual. It's not a ceremony that's
read from the book. Obviously, lots of same-sex
couples are amending tradition.''
catering to same-sex couples are on the rise. Since the
ruling in California, Hamm said she's noticed a
significant spike in gay-friendly vendors submitting
their companies to be listed on GayWeddings.com, which
provides information and resources for same-sex
But figuring out
who pays for the party, who walks whom down the aisle,
and who gets the first dance is being left to the couple.
Because same-sex weddings are still uncommon affairs,
significant traditions haven't emerged. Hamm said that
requires same-sex couples to be more original, even
when they choose to have a traditional ceremony.
Hamm said she
attended a same-sex ceremony where the lesbian couple
planned a comical take on a traditional wedding seating
arrangement: There were two bride sections. Other
same-sex spins on wedding traditions include walking
each other down the aisle and both partners-to-be donning
gowns or tuxedos.
mainstream same-sex weddings become, the more routine
they'll become when it's not this interesting,
sensational new thing,'' said Hamm. ''The thing I'm
curious about is what happens to all wedding
ceremonies once there's marriage equality. How will same-sex
marriages change the landscape for heterosexual
many same-sex couples are opting for smaller ceremonies now
and bigger celebrations later. California voters could
approve a proposition in November changing the state
constitution so that only marriage between a man and a
woman is valid.
If the ruling is
overturned, it's unclear what would happen to same-sex
couples married before November.
The Reverend Neil
Thomas, senior pastor of the Metropolitan Community
Church in West Hollywood, has officiated 15 same-sex wedding
ceremonies in the two weeks since the ruling went into
effect. What does he say when it comes to kissing the
brides or grooms?
''I just say,
'You may now kiss,''' said Thomas. ''I don't want to get
into all that patriarchal stuff.'' (Derrik J. Lang, AP)