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Planning Gay and Lesbian Weddings

Updated on March 25, 2013

LGBT Weddings

Planning a gay or lesbian wedding is like blazing a trail!
Planning a gay or lesbian wedding is like blazing a trail! | Source

Congratulations, You're Getting Married!

Presiding Over Gay And Lesbian Weddings

As an ordained minister of more than twenty years, I have presided over one hundred and twenty-two weddings. Some couples were new to me, some were acquaintances, and the weddings that made my heart sing were those of friends and family. I even had the honor of marrying my late wife's little sister, Barbara, to her husband—which was quite the honor.

Beginning To Plan A Wedding

In my religious, as well as personal life, I do not discriminate as to what "kind" of couple should have the right to engage in nuptials. All love; gay, lesbian, and of course straight, is equal in my eyes. Pretty certain this is do to the fact that I am a lesbian myself. Regardless of any of this, one thing that has always remained the same no matter what orientation a couple may be is this: Once the romance surrounding "popping the question" has been traversed, it is time to get down to the nuts and bolts—so to speak—of preparation; or better known as "wedding planning."

Everyone Hits The Brick Wall At Some Point When Planning A Wedding!

Even gay and lesbian couples run into a few brick walls when planning their wedding!
Even gay and lesbian couples run into a few brick walls when planning their wedding! | Source

LGBT Wedding Etiquette

Does A Gay And Lesbian Wedding Differ From A Straight Wedding

Avoid a planning brick wall

The somewhat unknown territory of same-sex weddings brings with it many unanswered questions. The goal here today is to get you rolling in the correct direction by answering the five top queries surrounding LGBT weddings. If you are preparing for your wedding, the following questions are surely running through your mind.

  1. do rings still hold a traditional role in LGBTQ weddings
  2. should we invite non-supportive friends and family
  3. who pays for what in the lesbian or gay wedding celebrations
  4. how can we fund the wedding with little money of our own
  5. how to correctly word same-sex wedding invitations

Wedding Ring Tip

Remember that a beautiful simple wedding ring can be a wonderful, yet economical offering. By keeping it simple now, it affords you more cash for other elements of your wedding costs. Adding perfect diamonds later, as anniversary or valentine's Day gifts can work to keep that old spark alive throughout your marriage.

The Role Of The Wedding Rings

Do We Exchange Rings

Not all couples choose to exchange rings. However, in my years of presiding over couple's ceremonies, I have yet to run across a single duo that has not. This part of your wedding is entirely up to you and your partner. You can exchange kittens as far as I am concerned. But, if you do decide to exchange rings, there are a few rules that need to be followed.

Wedding Ring Rules

  • Shop with a jeweler that is affordable for you (forget about Tiffany rings if you are on a shoestring budget).
  • Make certain your jeweler is reputable (get recommendations from friends and family, choose a long standing jeweler within your community or online).
  • Try shopping with LGBTQ businesses (supporting our LGBTQ business community empowers us to do great things).
  • Learn the policies of any business you hire or shop with (layaway and return rules, and where they buy their diamonds—no blood diamonds than you).
  • Will you be buying rings together or as a surprise for each other (if it's a surprise, the cost falls on each of you individually).
  • Consider a sentimental engraving (by adding the month, date, and year it can help commemorate the day, as well as being an anniversary reminder for a forgetful spouse down the road).

LGBT Weddings, Commitment Ceremonies, Or Civil Unions

Does Your Wedding Count

I can not tell you in one article just how important your wedding, Commitment Ceremony, or Civil Union truly is. Being denied the 1,100 rights afforded those who's marriage is "legal" simply by virtue of dual-sexuality has hardened even the most committed same-sex couples to the concepts of marriage. But, until every person, state in the union, and country in the world finds equality in all human rights, you may simply have to revise what you call your service. (This does not in any way mean we should neglect the fight for equal marriage rights for all.) Let's just consider saying this;

Until marriage rights are won for all, we have a few nicknames for our public expressions of love. Just because it is called something different, does not reduce the value or importance of the love within your heart. The law is quickly catching-up, if it hasn't already in your state or country, it will. So, my answer is a resounding, YES! Your wedding counts!

Do Nonsupporting Friends And Family Get Invited

No Day For Judgement

You can invite whomever you and your fiancée decide to invite. But, when it comes to a gay or lesbian wedding, you have to make it clear to those who may not be all that supportive, that this is no day for judgement. This is a day of celebration for you and your soon to be spouse.

4 Reasons To Invite Nonsupporting Guests:

  1. By witnessing your wedding they get to see there is nothing to be fearful about
  2. It can serve to open someone's mind to LGBTQ people
  3. Resolves misunderstandings
  4. You rise above the hate by sharing a loving encounter.

4 Reasons Not To Invite Nonsupporting Guests:

  1. Potential for aggressive behavior or taunting
  2. Negative people can ruin your wonderful day
  3. Takes the the focus off of the wedding couple
  4. Can be too emotional to deal with on this day

LGBTQ Weddings

Your LGBT wedding is all about you and your mate! Let the love shine!
Your LGBT wedding is all about you and your mate! Let the love shine! | Source

Planning The Ceremony

No matter if you are throwing together a backyard wedding, or pulling out all of the stops for a celebrity-worthy event, there are some mandatory criteria to remember when planning a wedding of any size or formality for Gay and Lesbian couples.

First Resolve These Questions

  1. What can we afford within our budget
  2. How many people do we invite to the ceremony and reception
  3. Is the service going to be religious or secular
  4. What month, and time of day
  5. How formal do we want it to be
  6. How do we show our personalities in the ceremony
  7. Who is going to preside (Minister, Rabi, Reverend, Wicca Shaman, Justice of the Peace)
  8. How to incorporate family and friends' participation

The Budget

Keep A Running Budget Checklist

When you are planning your wedding, it would be devastating to forget or leave something out accidentally, only to find the piggy bank already emptied. You don't have to use all of the items listed in the table's checklist, but you certainly don't want to forget one! (Print out, save this article to your computer, or create your own spreadsheet so you have the information at all times.)

Wedding Budget Checklist

(EXAMPLE DATA) caterer
Silvia Lyolastein / intitial contact Feb 22, 2013 / Tuscan Catering Co. 1313 Nuptial Lane,Irvine, CA. / #(555)555-5555
March 14, 2013
Agreed to include 60 servings of 1 hot shrimp appetizer at no extra cost
Wedding planner
Marriage License (when applicable)
Food Menu
Beverage Menu (include: wine, champagne, cocktails, ice, mixers, soft drinks, juice, and water)
Bartenders and Servers
Musicians / Disc Jockey
Locations of Cermony & Rception
Wedding Clothing (including dress)
Transportation (limo, carriage, rental, fuel)
Photography / Videography
Clergy (Minister, Rabi, Reverend, Wicca Shaman, Justice of the Peace)
Wedding Party Gifts
Surprise Expenses (trust me, there will more than one)
Rentals: tables, chairs, linens, silverware, arch, champagne fountain, decorations, specialty items)

More Than A Pot Of Gold

That pot of gold at the end of the rainbow doesn't always mean money!
That pot of gold at the end of the rainbow doesn't always mean money! | Source

Is It Okay To Ask My Parents To Help Pay For My Same-sex Wedding

You can certainly ask. But, understand that whether or not asking mom and dad for wedding money is proper etiquette remains to be defined within the LGBTQ wedding dilemma.You may get surprised when they agree to you help pay. Unfortunately, this may become more of an issue for two grooms, than for two brides. Most parents plan and save for their daughter's wedding—it has, after all, been tradition that the bride's parents pay. So, two grooms may encounter difficulty in this regard. If your parents have dished-out the cash to pay for your sister's wedding, you may have better ground to stand upon by utilizing the, "You paid for Sally's Wedding" defense. But, no matter what, tread lightly here. This can become a hotbed topic for parents who have not expected a gay or lesbian wedding to take place, or do not fully support the concept.

Where Has All The Wedding Money Gone?

Remember that trip to France your parents took the year after you came out to them? Yeah, that was your wedding fund.

If your parents can't pay, won't pay, or are simply not part of your life, you will need to pick up the financial responsibility for your own share of the wedding. Keep in mind, you can always see if your fiancée will ask his/her parents to spring for part of your wedding. Best wishes in your endeavors!

Who Is Paying For My Gay Wedding

Knowing where those big chunks of wedding money are coming from is important!
Knowing where those big chunks of wedding money are coming from is important! | Source

Who Pays For The Wedding

Do Gay And Lesbian Couples Pay For Their Own Weddings

As discussed above, traditionally, the couple's family and/or relatives will pay—or at least help pay—for their child's wedding. This is not really how it works for gay and lesbian couples...for the most part. Some families view the marriage of their LGBTQ child as a joyous and welcomed occasion, while others find this a difficult pill to swallow. What you must keep in mind is that this is about you and your mate, everyone else can take their judgement elsewhere. In most instances, the same-sex couple will be paying for their own wedding, so keep these two questions in mind: 1. How much can we afford? (And still eat and make the car payments.) -and- 2. How much do we really want to spend? (Which is rarely the same as the first answer.)

Editing Your Guest List Save Big Bucks!

Editing down your guest list can save big money on your overall wedding expenses.
Editing down your guest list can save big money on your overall wedding expenses. | Source

5 Ways To Reduce The Cost Of Your Gay Or Lesbian Wedding

  1. Reduce the number of people on your guest list: There is no better way to regain financial control of your wedding planning than to edit down the number of invites.
  2. Consolidate The Ceremony And Reception Locations: Finding a venue that can be both a wedding and reception location in one reduces overhead cost immensely! A bonus find would be a naturally beautiful setting for the wedding that is attached to a great reception hall with bright clean facilities.
  3. Dinner Doesn't Have To Be The Main Event At The Reception: You can significantly reduce cost by having a bar-style reception, luncheon, or a good old fashion backyard potluck. Getting people from both sides of the wedding party to pitch in a main dish, hors d'oeuvres, or drinks, is just the thing to bring two families together!
  4. Limit Your Bar Services: The rules do not stipulate that you have to have a full open bar at your reception. Having a "pay for your cocktails" bar is actually quite common. Offering only beer and wine is totally acceptable, as well. While some drinks are fine to charge for, it is only proper to have free champagne available to your guests. (This does not mean you have to keep pouring for those guests who are in it to drink your champagne well dry!)

Wedding Fundraiser Tips

7 Ways To Keep Your Fundraiser Guests Excited

You will need to keep your donors excited about their contributions. Seven solid ways to manage this is to:

  1. Update your wedding site regularly when new donations arrive.
  2. Praise those who give you money (offer donors a chance to opt out of praise by allowing them to donate anonymously, this should be as simple as checking a box).
  3. Keeping everyone involved can keep the donations trickling in.
  4. Word of mouth can bring more funds as well, so social media is your friend!
  5. Inform your donors about new plans you make as the funding comes available.
  6. A fun way game to get a few bucks trickling in is to allow donors to choose songs for the reception at $5, $10, or $15 a song.
  7. Take pictures of your shopping, tasting, and planning and post these to your site with little notes on progress; "We tasted cake samples today! Only $45 more and the cake is funded! Thank you for your donations!"

Making it fun and as interactive as you possibly can will keep your supporters in a helpful state of mind and involved! Consider adding a "How Well Do You Know The Couple" quiz, with winners getting to make a toast at the reception!

Modern Funding Technique For Weddings

Paying For Your Wedding With A Wedding Website Fundraiser

If affording your wedding is a real concern, you can always resort to a uniquely fun website idea, the fundraiser. Some LGBTQ (and straight) couples have embarked on a new online frontier. This is done by creating a wedding site for you and your fiancée. Within the site make it possible for contributions to be made for certain elements of your wedding. You can (and very simply) create a PayPal account for willing philanthropist to contribute.

How An Online Wedding Fundraiser Works

It is somewhat like any other fundraiser, but it is designed to fund your wedding/reception costs. One method is to have the wedding divided up into the many aspects of a wedding, (i.e., reception catering, rings, bar, dress, tux rental, etc.). NOTE: I do not recommend having a section for your wedding party gifts, this should be all you and your own hard earned money.

You can have set donation amounts, or open amounts. This is entirely up to you. What follows is a set amount scenario, just to give an example of how to word your fundraiser site.

  • Contribute $30, $50, $75 to reception caterer (total cost of catering $2800): Show the amounts already donated, and the rolling balance due. List your menu items with photos for donors to view.
  • Contribute $50, $100, $200 to wedding cake (total cost of cake $1000): Showing the amount required for cake and the amount already donated, and the rolling balance due. Post photos of the cake for donors to view.
  • Contribute $10, $25, $50, $100 to wedding dress (total cost of dress $2100): Showing the amount required for cake and the amount already donated, and the rolling balance due. Post photos of the dress for donors to view.

You get the idea...

Getting The Donations Rolling In

To initiate the fundraiser to your friends and family, start by sending an engaging email, linking to your site. As soon as all (or most) of your wedding elements have been contributed to, you can start planning your actual dates and hiring vendors accordingly. (I have an acquaintance who used this fundraising principle to buy his new—used—car...literally one tire and quarter panel at a time).

Planning Your Lesbian Or Gay Wedding

Are you more inclined to use ONLY LGBTQ vendors for your wedding planning?

See results

Locating LGBT-friendly Suppliers

Being Gay Or LGBT-friendly Is Very, Very Important

Who has a ton of disposable income? We do! Because of this misconception, catering to the LGBTQ community has become big business in the past five years or so. The reality is that we raise families and have mortgages just like any other community of people. This makes finding the most economical path for planning our wedding important. What is MORE important, is finding LGBT businesses to spend our hard earned money with.

Working with non-gay vendors is not out of the question. But, for most of us, they had better be pretty darn gay-friendly! Having a proven history of being an ally for our community is vital to acquiring any of our business. Fortunately, in current society, this is becoming a much easier task to accomplish.

Start Your Search Online

Beginning your LGBT specific vendor search can be very simple if you utilize the tools at your disposal; like your computer or smart phone. I'd bet a few of your LGBTQ friends and family may know some sites to surf. Most of the time a business wants to be right up front about who they are: Pride Bride, Two Bears Tuxedos, which can help reduce the undertow in your vendor surfing experience.

7 Questions To Ask Your Wedding Vendors (Before signing or agreeing to anything!)

  1. Do you belong to any LGBT alliance groups, or the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber Of Commerce, or Better Business Bureau?
  2. Do you have references to corroborate your service ethics as well as how long you have been in business?
  3. Do you have any experience with same-sex couples and their wedding ceremonies?
  4. Can you guarantee in writing that only LGBTQ-friendly employees will work the event?
  5. What elements of service do you NOT provide? (Get this in writing)
  6. What are your regular fees?
  7. Will you agree to work within our budget constraints?

Properly Wording LGBT Wedding Invitations

No different than dual-sex wedding invitations, the LGBTQ invitation has a few particular tasks. These tasks combine to create a clearly stated item that precisely informs your guests about your wedding. Where the differences pop up is in the wording of those invitations. How is it done when parents are hosting? When we are hosting? And does how formal or casual the event will be make a difference in the words and invitation style? Let's take a look at three methods to consider with Gay and Lesbian Wedding Invitations.

3 Sample Wedding Invitations

invitation Example #1 : When Parents Host Same-sex Wedding "traditional formal"
invitation Example #1 : When Parents Host Same-sex Wedding "traditional formal" | Source
invitation Example #2 : Two Grooms Same-sex Wedding Invitation "formal"
invitation Example #2 : Two Grooms Same-sex Wedding Invitation "formal" | Source
invitation Example #3 : Two brides Same-sex Wedding invitation "casual "
invitation Example #3 : Two brides Same-sex Wedding invitation "casual " | Source

Basic Information

  • time (of ceremony/reception)
  • date
  • location of wedding/reception
  • style of the wedding (formal or casual)
  • what to wear (and not to wear)

Sample Invitation For A Gay Or Lesbian Wedding

When Both Parents Are Involved it is a great idea to present the invitation as with any wedding; Mr. and Mrs. MacWitly Together With Mr. and Mrs. Corserman Request the pleasure...(see invitation #1 for "traditional formal" layout)

When Brides Or Grooms Are Doing The Inviting there is a more personal method; You are invited to celebrate the fifteen years of continued love at a commitment ceremony for Gary Calperney and Simon Markoweiz...(see invitation example #2 for "same-sex formal" layout)

When It Is A Casual Invitation you have much more wiggle room to show your personality; Tyrisha Johnson & Monique Williams Invite you join them as they pledge their love to one another in a Holy Union...(see invitation #3 for "casual" layout)

LGBT Weddings

Even as you begin to plan your same-sex wedding, know that you embark into new and flexible territory. Consider yourself a trailblazer for the cause. Start new traditions, take chances, and forge effortlessly through until your wedding is the perfect celebration for you and your fianée. The rewards you discover will not only lift your heart and soul, but may inspire new Gay and Lesbian couples to venture where few have gone before. Wishing you the wedding of your dreams!


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