Wedding traditions are notoriously, well, traditional, as they are based around the notion of a bride and groom with very little flexibility when it comes to gender. With this in mind, when it comes to planning a gay or lesbian wedding, it can be difficult to know how to navigate many of the classic components of a big day - especially when legislation allowing same-sex weddings is still relatively new. Can you believe it only became legal in the UK in 2014?
Here are some thoughts and tips from a wedding expert to guide you through planning a same-sex wedding:
1. Remove the roles
The well-known, traditional wedding party goes – bride, groom, best man, maid of honour, ushers and bridesmaids. These are really gender specific roles and they don’t really represent a lot of marriages in 2022.
A lot of same-sex weddings have a mixture of male and female attendants instead. But please note, without the classic labels you’ll need to make sure everyone in your party knows what is expected of them.
2. Combine pre-wedding celebrations
If you have friends and family in common and mix in similar social circles, you might want to combine your ‘stag’ or ‘hen’ dos to avoid inviting the same people to two events.
Combining parties can be a lot more fun too. You’re getting married to your other half so they’re probably the person you most love to party with anyway...
3. Embrace the rainbow
If white isn’t your colour or seems a little conservative to you, then have fun with colours instead. Go as bright and bold as you fancy with your outfits and wear what you feel comfortable with. The same goes for your wedding decor - at same-sex weddings it can be fun to go with a rainbow theme as a symbol of LGBTQ+ pride too.
4. Walking down the aisle
If you can’t decide who will walk down the aisle and who will wait at the top, or simply don’t like the idea of sticking to this tradition, then don’t.
There are plenty of other options including walking down the aisle together, walking down the aisle one at a time with a parent or friend to “give you away” (give you support) or neither of you walking down the aisle and just being there in the ceremony room to greet everyone on your guest list.
5. Changing your name
In typical wedding traditions, the bride takes the groom's surname, and although many modern hetrosexual couples are choosing to go against this ‘rule’ in today’s world, the question of who takes whose name after the big day is one to consider when planning your nuptials.
You could either blend the two names together to create a completely new name that’s special and unique to you, double-barrel your names or just keep your own names to mark your individuality.
6. The speeches
The traditional speech lineup goes: father of the bride, groom and best man. But more and more couples are mixing this up in the 21st century - you can have as many or as few speeches by different members of the wedding party as you like.
Regardless of who talks, remember to ask your wedding party to keep them short and entertaining so they don’t go on for too long and you don’t bore your guests.
What about a joint couple speech at your same sex weddings if you’re both feeling brave enough to do some public speaking?
7. Do what makes you happy
The general rule when planning any wedding is to put yourself and your partner first - try to block out the noise coming from family members or friends and instead focus on what you want and what you enjoy.
Want a pizza van instead of a three-course wedding breakfast? Do it. Want to set off fireworks as you share your first kiss as a married couple? Do it. Your wedding day is all about doing what feels right for you as a couple.
Lisa Forde is a wedding expert and founder of stationery favourites Tree of Hearts
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Olivia – who rebranded as Liv a few years ago – is a freelance digital writer at Marie Claire UK. She recently swapped guaranteed sunshine and a tax-free salary in Dubai for London’s constant cloud and overpriced public transport. During her time in the Middle East, Olivia worked for international titles including Cosmopolitan, HELLO! and Grazia. She transitioned from celebrity weekly magazine new! in London, where she worked as the publication’s Fitness & Food editor. Unsurprisingly, she likes fitness and food, and also enjoys hoarding beauty products and recycling.
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