Do LGBTQ+ weddings follow the same traditions as heterosexual weddings?
Planning a same-sex wedding can be a unique experience, as many traditional wedding practices and customs are heteronormative and may not necessarily reflect the unique needs and preferences of LGBTQ+ couples. Should both brides be “given away” by their Fathers? Which Groom will wait at one end of the aisle? There are so many questions!
The beauty of an LGBTQ+ wedding is that couples have complete freedom to choose what is right for them. Of course, straight couples can personalise their day however they want, but for many, it almost seems easier to go with the status quo. As a gay couple, you have the opportunity (if not the need!) to break away from traditional wedding roles and customs, and truly personalize your special day.
How to Plan Your Same-Sex Wedding, when Traditional Weddings are Heteronormative
Marriage has always been an evolving institution. Its meaning and customs have changed over time, from arranged marriages and dowries, to marriage as a symbol of romantic love and commitment.
With creativity and thoughtfulness, you can plan a wedding that reflects your unique identity and celebrates your love for one another, without even thinking about the ‘hurdles’ of tradition. Remember, the most important thing is to create a wedding that feels authentic and true to your relationship, regardless of tradition or convention. Our wedding planner book is proudly gender neutral.
What are the traditional “Gender Roles” and Traditions at a wedding to Reinvent?
There are many elements of a wedding that are traditionally heteronormative, meaning they are based on assumptions about gender and sexuality that privilege heterosexual couples. Some examples include:
- Gender roles: Traditional weddings often involve strict gender roles, with the bride wearing a white dress and the groom wearing a suit. This reinforces the idea that weddings are only between a man and a woman.
- Wedding party: The wedding party is typically divided along gender lines, with bridesmaids and groomsmen. This reinforces gender norms and excludes people who don’t fit into traditional gender categories.
- The father giving away the bride: This tradition dates back to when daughters were seen as property of their fathers, who would transfer ownership to the groom. This reinforces the idea that women need to be given away and cannot make their own decisions.
- The bride taking the groom’s last name: This tradition reinforces the idea that women should take on their husband’s name and become part of his family.
- Heteronormative language: Many wedding ceremonies use language that assumes the couple is heterosexual, such as referring to the couple as “bride and groom” or using pronouns like “he” and “she”.
- Gendered expectations around attire, makeup, and hair: Brides are often expected to wear makeup and have their hair done, while grooms are expected to be more casually dressed. This reinforces gender norms and excludes people who don’t conform to them.
Here are some tips to help you plan your same-sex wedding:
- Choose attire that reflects your personal style, rather than traditional gender norms. For example, you might opt for a suit or a dress that challenges traditional gender norms.
- Have a non-traditional wedding party, with mixed gender or non-binary attendants.
- Use genderless names for your wedding party, ‘I do crew’ or whatever you choose to call the people (we’ve heard the use of everything from “bridesmen” to “groomswomen,” and love names like “best women,” “groomsmaids,” “men-of-honor” or genderless terms such as “attendants” or “party people”). In an LGBTQ+ wedding (in fact, in any wedding!), gender shouldn’t define anyone’s role. .” Tje little white book uses “wedding party” and “attendants”
- Giving away: Rather than being “given away” by a parent, each partner can walk down the aisle solo or with someone who supports them.
- Have a first-look ceremony before the ceremony, and then walk down the aisle together,or enter the ceremony in a way that feels authentic to your relationship.
- Other options are that a person of mutual importance can escort you both down the aisle on each arm, or you can proceed hand-in-hand if no one is being given away, or two brides or two grooms can come toward each other along two aisles converging at the altar at once.
- Rather than have a “Bride’s” and “Groom’s” side, have a non-traditional seating arrangement, such as a circular or non-binary arrangement for your ceremony.
- Choose non-gendered or LGBTQ+ affirming language for your ceremony, and eliminate much of the “traditional” wording which is outdated to many. Create a custom ceremony including language that is inclusive of their LGBTQ+ identity.
- Seek out vendors who are LGBTQ+ friendly and inclusive, and of course a wedding venue that is LGBTQ+ friendly and inclusive.. This can include wedding planners, caterers, and more, but I would suggest your photographers and wedding celebrant are the most important. You don’t want a wedding photographer who’s going to stage you in heteronormative poses that just aren’t ‘you’.
- Write your own vows that reflect your unique relationship and journey. Crafting your own vows is a simple and effective approach to ensure that the words exchanged on your special day genuinely represent the love shared between you and your partner, as well as the aspirations you hold for your future together.
- Have a unique first dance together that reflects your personalities or relationship.
- Parent dances: Rather than having a traditional father-daughter or mother-son dance, each partner can choose a parent or loved one to dance with.
- Bouquet toss/garter removal: These traditions can be omitted altogether, or both partners can participate if they choose.
- Genderless dress for guests: Encourage wedding guests to shun gender stereotypes when dressing for your occasion.
- Pre-wedding events: Bachelor/bachelorette parties can be combined into one celebration or reimagined to fit the couple’s interests.
- Wedding cake: The cake topper can feature two brides, two grooms, or a gender-neutral design.
- Family traditions: The couple can incorporate traditions from both of their families, regardless of whether they are traditionally associated with a bride or groom.
- Incorporate meaningful LGBTQ+ symbols, such as the rainbow flag into your ceremony or reception, or unique LGBTQ+ inspired wedding exit, such as a rainbow-colored confetti toss or a sparkler send-off.
- Create a vision board or mood board that reflects your style, personality, and interests. This can help guide your decisions as you plan your wedding.
- Have both partners exchange rings or other symbols of commitment.
- Include family or friends in your ceremony, such as having them read a poem or give a speech.
- Incorporate LGBTQ+ activism into your wedding, such as making a donation to an LGBTQ+ organization in lieu of favours, create a unique wedding hashtag that reflects your LGBTQ+ identity or consider incorporating non-traditional elements into your ceremony or reception, such as a drag performance.
- Create a surname that you both love, using parts of each of your names, or double-barrell your names.
Overall, a gay wedding celebrates the love and commitment between two people of the same gender, and offers the opportunity to create new traditions and celebrate diversity.