Same Sex Wedding Ideas and Help
Five Big Changes for Same-Sex Couples
#1 Parents are stepping up. And in?
More than ever, same-sex couples are receiving help paying for their weddings. Five years ago, a strong majority of same-sex couples (79% in 2013) reported paying for all or most of the wedding themselves, compared to 2017 where that number has dropped significantly to 59% of couples.
This shift tells us that more parents (and extended family) are participating in and supporting their kids’ LGBTQ weddings, and, as a result, the overall wedding spend is increasing as more vendors are hired, more guests are invited, and as LGBTQ couples have shifted away from practical and often quickly planned legal elopements to a more typical engagement and wedding planning process.
This also means that identifying the decision-maker in the booking process may be shifting now that a couple’s parents may have more financial investment in the wedding and, as such, an expectation around decision-making.
#2 Growth of the guestlist
The growth of the guestlist at gay and lesbian weddings is a direct result of more couples coming out, more couples choosing to marry, and more couples feeling comfortable celebrating with a broader circle of families, friends, and co-workers. It’s also a function of being able to get legally married in one’s home state and having the chance to plan accordingly. In fact, the 2015 Survey of Contemporary Couples revealed that 79% of same-sex couples were planning a wedding ceremony and reception, almost doubling the result (43%) of couples surveyed previously (Same-Sex Couples: Weddings & Engagements, 2013).
Prior to 2013, the size of the average guestlist was 65
In 2014, the average size was 80
In 2015 and 2016: 100
In 2017: 107 (which still lags behind non-LGBTQ couples average guestlist size of 127)
In sum, having both a ceremony and a reception is a relatively new development for a majority of same-sex couples and marks a major shift with clear planning and budgeting implications and has had a direct impact on the growth in size of the average guestlist.
#3 Size of wedding party
As same-sex weddings have grown in size, so, too, has the supporting cast. In 2013, 63% of same-sex couples reported that they had anywhere from 0 to 3 persons in their wedding party. Yes, you are hearing that correctly. Five years ago, same-sex couples had 3 or fewer people standing up with them as witnesses. Today, the average wedding party size for same-sex couples is 7, compared to 9 for heterosexual couples.
More moving parts, more guests and bigger wedding parties are just another indicator that same-sex couples are following the structural rules of traditional wedding planning compared to the highly personalized, more modestly-sized ceremonies from years’ past.
#4 Blended Wedding Party
There is perhaps no better example of a wedding custom than the wedding party in order to illustrate not only the difference in the willingness of same-sex couples to break with tradition, but also an impressive example of how gay weddings have influenced straight weddings. Only 14% of LGBTQ couples reported dividing their wedding parties based on gender.
That is, guys on one side and gals on the other. Same-sex couples have always tended to blend their wedding parties, asking their closest supporters to stand with them, regardless of gender and often in whatever attire they choose (eg women wearing pants and dresses to suit).
What’s most remarkable is to understand how this repurposed vision of a wedding party for same-sex couples has dramatically influenced the choices of opposite-sex couples in a short amount of time. Seventy-four (74%) of straight couples divided their wedding parties by gender in 2015, but the needle moved to 69% in 2016 and, more recently, dropped to 60% in 2017.
‘What’s most remarkable is to understand how this repurposed vision of a wedding party for same-sex couples has dramatically influenced the choices of opposite-sex couples in a short amount of time.’
As same-sex couples are assimilated into the mainstream market, it’s clear that there has been a two-way street of influence, which has been amplified by Millennial couples, who choose rituals and make planning choices that are highly customized to their preferences.
#5 Age of the couple
In 2014,one third of LGBTQ newlyweds were over 50. The average age of same-sex couples who had married in 2015 and 2016 was 35 (with a smidge of variation in age between gay grooms and lesbian brides). In 2017, the age dropped to 34. Today, LGBTQ couples still skew a bit older than non-LGBTQ couples (the average age for heterosexual couples in 2017 was 32), but the shrinking gap reveals not only how opposite-sex couples are getting married a few years later in life, but also how same-sex couples are getting younger.
This is just one more example of how the engagement and wedding planning trajectory for same-sex couples is assimilating to match the typical relationship trajectory for heterosexual couples: start dating, (perhaps cohabitate), get engaged, and get married. With more open acceptance of LGBTQ individuals and couples, one’s sexual orientation is no longer a factor in one’s interest in and access to marriage and wedding planning services.
9 Wedding Planning Tips Every Same-Sex
Couple Should Know
Before you start your prep, check out these must-know tips from wedding planners and people who’ve been through the process. And don't forget that you can have a beautiful wedding no matter how big or how small, all the bells and whistles or just the basics. You can have the wedding of your dreams just like everyone else!
Wedding planning is stressful enough. It gets even more confusing when most of the advice out there revolves around a bride and groom—and you're both one of the above. To help you out, we pulled together reality-tested, sanity-saving advice for navigating the same-sex wedding planning waters.
1. Don't worry about what you “should" do
Instead of worrying about how to make your ceremony line up with (straight) tradition, view it as a chance to throw an event exactly your way, without any of the old-school “must-haves" that don't mean anything to you personally. “Because many same-sex couples don't have gendered roles in their relationship, they really have the freedom to reinvent the wedding."
2. Get creative with your wedding party
Who says a woman has to have maids of honor and only guys get to nominate best men? Choose the attendants you want up at the altar with you—whatever sex they are—and name them accordingly. You could have bridesmen, grooms maids, a man of honor or a best woman, for instance, or give the whole gang a fun name like the “I Do Crew" or “Bridal Brigade." Or skip the attendant’s altogether and keep all eyes on you and your partner.
3. Start thinking about your outfit early
If you're two men planning to wear tuxes or suits, finding what you want is pretty simple. Not so much if you're a bride who doesn't want to wear a gown. If you have the budget, it's worth looking into having an outfit tailored or custom-made for you, which can take months; otherwise, starting months ahead of time gives you time to find decent deals and styles you'll be proud to wear down the aisle. And here's a smart tip if you and your wife-to-be are both sporting dresses that you're not showing to each other in advance: “Share photos of what you're going to wear with your planner or a friend." They can steer your partner in the right direction so you and your future bride aren't clashing in formality, style or color.
4. Social media is your friend
Can't visualize what your invitations, vows or any other part of your wedding should look like? That's what Pinterest is for. TheKnot.com, for instance, has its own board chock-full of same-sex wedding inspiration, plus tons of real wedding photos and galleries featuring genius ideas.
5. Put your own stamp on the ceremony
Many traditional wedding ceremonies feature a groom waiting at the altar for his bride to walk toward him down the aisle. So what happens if you've got two grooms or two brides? It totally depends on what you and your partner feel comfortable with. Some ideas:
Walk down the aisle one right after the other.
Walk each other down the aisle, perhaps arm in arm or holding hands.
Walk in unison down separate aisles leading to the altar.
Flip a coin before the ceremony to decide who proceeds down the aisle first.
6. You can still have your own pre-parties
There's no reason you have to forego a bash with your best buds just because you're both bachelors or bachelorettes. So go ahead and plan your own celebration, whether it's a weekend in Vegas or a trip to a vineyard, and even your own showers if you have different ideas about who should be invited and where they should take place. “One thing that's really common is two partners having separate parties on the same night and then meeting up at the end."
7. Be wary of unfriendly vendors
Despite same-sex marriage now being legal in all 50 states (finally!), “I don't think a lot of planners and couples realize how many people don't support marriage equality." When contacting a vendor for a first time, make it clear from the outset that your partner is of the same sex. That way, any companies that have a problem with it can say so right away and you don't need to waste any more energy on them.
8. A planner may be worth the cash
Though a wedding planner isn't in everyone's budget, a coordinator can help you save time by steering you toward venues and officiants that he knows to be inclusive of same-sex weddings, and can vet vendors for you so you don't have to do the potentially disappointing dirty work. “It's a planner's role to be their client's advocate."
9. Vet your honeymoon locale before you book
Once you've come up with a list of dream destinations—particularly international ones—do a little research first and cross off any that don't afford the same legal protections and cultural acceptance that same-sex couples have here. That way, your honeymoon can be just as blissful as the wedding itself.
Did you know that all the law requires is the pledge and pronouncement! Below are the classic elements of a ceremony, and their description. It gives you an idea of the flow of a ceremony. Of course it is perfectly acceptable to have more or less. Your ceremony, your way!
Ceremony Elements and their description:
Participation of parents (optional) Officiant may ask “Who supports this couple”? You may use any variation that is best for you or leave it out altogether.
Greeting: Welcoming and thank you to the guests -often an acknowledgment of loved ones who have passed but here in spirit will be included
Invocation: This is the beginning prayer to “invoke” or ask God to be present and bless this service that is about to begin. For non-religious ceremonies it is a poem about love and marriage
Charge to the Couple: This is addressed to the bride and groom. It is a preparation for the vows they are about to take.
*Betrothal-Pledge: This is a declaration of intent. You declare in front of your loved ones/ witnesses, that your intent to marry is a matter of your own free will. In your wedding vows you make promises directly to each other.
Vows: This is the promise, the pledge that you make to each other, to give yourselves to each other as long as you both shall live.
Exchange of Rings: This starts with a blessing on the rings. The rings are a symbol to pledge faithfulness and fidelity. It is symbolized by the unending circle of a ring. The couple will pledge their faithfulness to each other while exchanging them
Prayer: This prayer is to ask God to bless this new marriage, this special union of two people. For nonreligious this will be a poem of the blessing of love and marriage
*Pronouncement: This is when the Officiant pronounces the couple to be married or joined in a lifelong union. The union is sealed with a kiss.
Benediction: This brings the ceremony to an end. It is another blessing.
(* indicated the elements I must legally say)
~If you would like to add additional elements, such as unity candle, wine, or sand ceremony, this element would go after the ring exchange. I have wording options for those elements as well, and would be happy to share them with you upon request. Of course it is perfectly acceptable to have more or less elements than are listed. If you prefer a non-religious ceremony, all prayers can be changed to poems. All ceremony elements can be tailored to reflect religious, non-religious or a vow renewal. I am also happy to incorporate any religious customs or traditions you would like, such as breaking of the glass, jumping the broom, hand fasting, etc..
Which Churches Allow Gay Marriage?
I'm commonly asked why so few same-sex marriages occur in places of worship rather than simply at the reception site. The answer is easy - not many religions accept same-sex marriage. Here's the rundown for you in case you are asked by a couple. On many occasions, I've had to call around to local churches and specifically ask, "do you allow gay marriages to be held in your church?" It leads some pretty awkward conversations so hopefully this guide will help:
Faiths Allowing Same-Sex Marriages
United Church of Christ: The United Church of Christ was the first mainstream Christian church to fully support same-sex marriage and perform marriage ceremonies.
Jewish: Reform Judaism embraces same-sex marriage and rabbis can perform ceremonies. Some conservative and re-constructionist synagogues do as well.
Quaker: The willingness to perform gay marriages varies by meetinghouse, but there is some acceptance and performance of same-sex marriages among Quakers.
Metropolitan Community Church
Faiths Allowing Limited Same-Sex Marriage
Episcopal: In the Episcopal Church, priests are authorized to bless same-sex wedding ceremonies but not declare the marriage official or sign the marriage license. Certain dioceses can perform full marriage ceremonies.
Lutheran: Lutheran churches can decide, on a church-by-church basis, whether or not to perform same-sex marriage.
Faiths Disallowing Same-Sex Marriages
Baptists: Southern Baptist and Conservative Baptist churches will not conduct same-sex marriages, nor will they allow them to be held in their churches. Some American Baptist churches are open and inclusive.
Presbyterian (some will bless ceremonies)
In addition, I do not know of any Eastern religions which sanction gay marriage and perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.
Have you seen many gay weddings occur in churches?
Credit to: .gay wedding institute Which Churches Allow Gay Marriage
Do you need more help and information planning your LGBTQ Wedding Ceremony? Contact me . I have lots of useful ideas and information to make your special day perfect. We also offer photography packages to capture those special moments during your day. Be sure to check out our couples we had the honor to unite in marriage. And there are more in the future!!