Before you start your prep, check out these must-know tips from wedding planners and people who’ve been through the process.
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 have the freedom to reinvent the wedding,” says Bernadette Smith, founder of the event-planning company 14 Stories.
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, groomsmaids, a man of honor or the best woman, for instance, or give the whole gang a fun name like the “I Do Crew” or “Bridal Brigade.” Or skip the attendants 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. “The hardest part was dressing,” confirms Lacey Vorrasi-Banis, who married her wife, Kelly, in 2011 in Norwich, CT. “I didn’t want to wear a dress, but there weren’t many options, and everything I kept seeing online showed lesbians in poorly fitted outfits.” 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,” Smith advises. They can steer your partner in the right direction, so you and your future bride aren’t clashing informality, 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. The Knot, 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 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 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 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 celebration, whether it’s a weekend in Vegas or a trip to a vineyard, and even your showers if you have different ideas about who should be invited and where they should take place. “One thing that’s common is two partners having separate parties on the same night and then meeting up at the end,” Smith notes.
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,” Smith says. Celebrity wedding planner Michael Russo learned this the hard way when he planned his nuptials. “I wanted to have a gospel choir at my wedding,” he says. “I found the choir on a site that said they did same-sex weddings and unions,” but ultimately, Russo was told that the choir couldn’t perform at his wedding due to their religious beliefs. But it gave him a valuable tip that he passes on to gay clients: When contacting a vendor for the 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,” Smith says.
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. (On the flip side, here’s a list of places where you’ll feel more than welcome.) That way, your honeymoon can be just as blissful as the wedding itself.