The lack of acceptance faced by LGBTQ+ couples from religious communities, unfortunately sometimes families and, until recently, the law has meant that celebrations of gay love have broken moulds, challenged expectations and reshaped our view of what a wedding is and “should” be.
Couples and wedding professionals alike often work on autopilot, following the same blueprint without ever stopping to think about how things can be done differently; with a gay couple, certain questions cannot be ignored. Who, if anyone, will walk down the aisle? Who will do a speech? What on earth are we doing about surnames?
There’s so much that straight couples can learn from the way their gay counterparts
approach wedding planning. By removing assumptions, expectations and often traditions, you can create a truly unique day where every element perfectly reflects you values as a couple, regardless of gender or sexuality.
Who is going to walk down the aisle?
This is a really good opportunity to think about whether it’s something either of you will actually enjoy. I’m a celebrant, I stand up in front of 100 people who listen to me chat away on the reg, of course I’m going to love walking down the aisle, all eyes on me. Not everyone is so keen and it’s totally valid to not want to do it. There’s a world of opportunity to really do something different here. Why not walk down together? There are plenty of straight couples where it would be far more fitting to their personalities if the groom made a grand entrance rather than the bride.
Maybe nobody walks down the aisle – you’re both just there at the beginning of the day, welcoming your guests, having a drink with them and the ceremony is a far more casual affair. There are no right or wrong answers but considering what you really want is key.
What on earth are we doing about surnames?
When there is no gender difference to dictate tradition, there’s no obvious candidate for which surname would be shared by the married couple. Honestly, I think this one should rest purely on which name objectively sounds best. My full name is Agnieszka Konieczny – there aren’t a lot of English surnames that are going to sound good here. Everyone calls me Aggie, but my partner’s surname is Doyle. Aggie Doyle makes me sound like I’m about 300 years old.
I wish I had a more eloquent argument here with citations to leading gender theorists but my honest advice is to just pick which one sounds better and if they both sound a bit weird then keep your own.
If in doubt, double barrel. Hashtag equality.
Who is going to do a speech?
This is one I feel pretty strongly about. I have two criteria for who should do speeches: 1 – they should love you a lot. Loads and loads like the most ever.
2 – they should actually want to do a speech. Your wedding is a celebration of your love, it’s essentially a massive party where you get to have all your favourite people in one room. Why ruin that for one of them by asking them to do a speech that is going to stress them out for the entire day, purely because tradition dictates that, as part of their role in the wedding, they’d be expected to do a speech. There are plenty of people who love you and will be chomping at the bit to have a captive audience to say a few words to. Give those people the mic and let the wallflowers do other, equally important duties that don’t involve them having to speak to a room full of people.
If you have quite a few people who you think would like to say a few words, do a speech karaoke. Anyone and everyone can put their name in the hat. Names are drawn at random and they have 2 minutes on the timer to do their piece. This keeps the speeches fresh, no one bangs on for 15 minutes to a room full of yawns, it relieves the pressure on the people who might traditionally be expected to speak and imagine how fun and different each person’s approach to having 2 minutes of a captive audience will be.
Don’t take it for granted
It wasn’t until 2013 that the marriage equality act was passed in England. There are still tales of awkward moments having to explain to a venue that that’s your fiancé, not your maid of honour and horror stories of bakeries refusing to bake a cake if the cake topper is for two grooms
If you’d grown up with it being illegal to marry the person you love and you’d had to fight for the right, you absolutely wouldn’t take your wedding for granted. This hard-won victory for gay couples makes the celebration that much fiercer and that’s the energy you should go into your wedding with. It doesn’t matter if everything doesn’t run exactly to schedule, it doesn’t even matter if you spill red wine down yourself – the only thing that matters is marrying your person and celebrating your love with everyone you’ve chosen to be there with you.