Ideas & Advice

Same Sex Weddings

This gay marriage guide offers advice on those situations unique to gay couples that need to be addressed before diving into the rest of the planning process.  Consider this your starting point…

Your relationship may be unconventional, but the premise is still the same: your wedding should be a distinctive expression and celebration of your love for each other. While’s Ideas and Advice Wedding Planning Guide will help you plan every detail, we understand that certain questions arise when planning a same sex wedding that don’t necessarily apply to heterosexual weddings – and that’s where this guide comes in. 

Planning a Gay Marriage - Commonly Asked Questions:

Is the term “wedding” appropriate for gay couples?
The term “wedding” is not exclusive to heterosexual couples. But maybe you don’t want to call it that if same-sex marriages are not legal in your state or if it is not an accurate reflection of your experience together. Perhaps you prefer to call it a commitment ceremony, a holy union, a rite of blessing, or another sentimental phrase. Call it what you want, but “to wed” is to unite as a couple, and that is exactly what you plan to do.

What is an appropriate way to make an announcement?
While tradition dictates telling your parents before anyone else - who you tell first depends on who is the most supportive of your relationship. If your folks have been anything but encouraging, you may prefer telling your closest friends first to gain the confidence you may need to break the news to your parents.

If gay marriage is not legal in your state, how else can you make it official?
Marriage is more than just a piece of paper. Marriage involves commitment, compromise, even a joint checking account. Aside from that, you may want to write up a relationship agreement that outlines your emotional expectations to each other and have it notarized, listing your partner’s name on medical paperwork as your spouse, and including each other in your wills.

Who should marry you?
If same-sex marriage is not legal in your state, then your officiant need not be “official.”  A judge or a justice of the peace can consent your union symbolically, or a close friend or family member can do the honor. If you so wish, a man or woman of the cloth can also speak at your ceremony.

Is it necessary to let wedding vendors know that you are a same-sex couple?
It’s not necessarily if you don’t feel comfortable, but rest assured that vendors are not hired to judge you. In fact, letting them know of your unique situation may enable them to infuse creativity into your celebration. You aren’t the first couple to plan this type of event, so your vendors may have some good ideas from other gay weddings.

If friends or family members are not accepting of your relationship, should you invite them to your celebration?
If you really think this person will be uncomfortable attending, send an invite anyway and let him or her make the final decision. When it comes down to it, some people may surprise you. Just remind yourself that someone who does not want to attend because they have a problem with your sexuality is probably not someone you want there to celebrate with you.

Should your ceremony deal directly with your sexuality?
Some couples don’t feel it is necessary to draw attention to their sexuality, while others want to call out the fact that same-sex weddings are not readily recognized. Ultimately your ceremony should reflect the way you feel about each other, and should speak to why your lives will now be joined in marriage. Include whatever you feel is relevant for your situation and beliefs.

What should take place at the ceremony?
There is no set formula for any wedding ceremony, but there are a few key components that should/could take place: the greeting (“we are gathered here today”), vows, ring exchange, readings, and the pronouncement of marriage, sealed with a kiss. But this is your day, so do what your hearts’ desire to make it personal.

How should the processional be arranged?
It is a time-honored tradition for the bride’s father to walk her down the aisle. But what do you do when there are two brides or two grooms?  There are a number of options: One partner can wait at the end of the aisle while the other walks or is escorted down, you can walk down together, or you can create a seating arrangement with two aisles that convene at the altar. Do whatever is most comfortable for both of you.

What should you wear?
Wear anything that speaks to your style. Women may choose to don the traditional gowns and veils, but if frills and lace aren’t your thing, another style of dress or even a pant suit will do. Men can wear tuxedos or a nice suit purchased especially for this occasion. You may choose to wear matching attire or separate outfits to complement your individual style.

Who pays for what?
No matter your sexuality, this will always be an issue. But before you book a site and start sending out save-the-dates, check with any possible contributing parties to figure out who can afford what. Maybe your parents will be willing to chip in for a certain portion of the wedding, or maybe not. This is the case with all marriages – gay or straight. It is important to have this conversation at the beginning of the planning process before you get too deep into the planning process. Our complete budgeting guide offers more advice on setting your wedding budget.

How should you address your new husband/wife?
While there is no unvarying term to describe a spouse in a gay marriage, there are a few standbys that encompass the legitimacy and intimacy of your relationship. Say whatever is most comfortable for you, whether it is husband/wife, spouse, life partner, significant other, companion, or soul mate. Just choose a term that reflects that a new step has been taken in your relationship, and understand that it is okay to adjust his or her title depending on the circumstances of the conversation.

Should you change your name?
Again, changing your name is completely optional and up to you.  If you feel a name change is a preferable way to establish your gay marriage, then go for it.  Lucky for you, you can choose the better of the two names (or the one that is easiest to spell and pronounce!). You could also hyphenate both of your last names or even come up with a totally different last name for the both of you to take. We dig deeper into the various married last name change options and implications here.