The middle of the summer means that wedding season is at its absolute peak, with the chicest soirees being headed by some of the chicest gay couples in your friend group. Feel free to take inspiration from them as you plan your own wedding, and–if your want to and your budget allows–you can turn it into the biggest fête in town.
Before we can get anything accomplished, the very first (and most important) thing to do is sit down with your partner and discuss what it is you want to have, together. This is the natural beauty of gender equality, without the archaic institution of the dowry there is no excuse for slacking and letting your partner do all the work. A wedding is the celebration of a love that you’ve spent your whole life searching for, don’t let the planning of that celebration be the thing that gets in the way of your happiness. It can be an incredibly stressful thing to plan, and it’s not fair to leave that burden onto a single person. Even if you “just don’t care about weddings”, if it’s important to the love of your life, it’s important to you.
Make A Guest List, Budget, And Date For The Thing
Now that you are more or less on the same page as your partner regarding the distribution of your responsibilities, it’s time to select which of your friends and loved ones are invited to your oh-so-exclusive fabulous affair. The size and scope of this VIP list will determine the entire scale of your wedding. Before you start ordering flowers or selecting a location, it’s critical to decide how many people are coming in order to figure out where to fit them all and how to pay for it. Is this an intimate affair or an extravagant one? Are you showing off or keeping things humble? Are exes invited? How big of a cake do you really need? Once your logistics are in place, then you can transition to the fun stuff.
Now that you know how many people are coming and how much you’re willing to spend on the wedding, it’s time to have some fun and figure out where you’re going to plan this wedding. Get creative and challenge your partner to think outside of the box when coming up with ideas. Don’t forget that your guests will have to show up as well. As beautiful as a wedding in Hawaii may be, if you’re not paying to fly your guests over than you are putting an expensive burden on everyone you know and love. If you think they can afford it than great, go ahead, just be sure to keep in mind the logistics of brining you guests to and from the actual wedding.
One helpful hint is to do whatever you can to make it personal. Is there some park or bed & breakfast that has a special meaning to you and your partner? Is there a place where you first kissed or held hands that could in theory hold a wedding ceremony? Sit down with your partner and make a list of all the locations that mean something to you. Then go down that list and see which locations are feasible for hosting weddings. If you want to save money than you could get creative and ask friends and family for ideas and recommendations. Perhaps someone you know may have a bit of excess land that would be just perfect for you two, or perhaps someone knows a guy who knows a guy who could let you use his barn or his restaurant to host the reception. You can even play around with the theme of your reception. Maybe you can’t afford to have a wedding in France, but you can certainly order French food and French décor for the reception. Your options are limitless, just don’t be afraid to ask for help and you’ll find that many people are more than willing to give you whatever aid they can.
Now that you’ve decided whether or not your wedding will be taking place indoors or outdoors, it’s time to plan the wedding itself. This part is really important, because what you decide to do at this point will be the ritual that binds you together with your partner for the rest of your life. It should be personal and full of meaning for the two of you. Whether you are religious or not, having a formal ritualized ceremony is a critical element of the wedding and adds weight to the decision to say “I do.” This is your moment to take a pause, breathe, and look into the eyes of the love of your life and fully commit to spending eternity with them. If you’re afraid of boring your guests, they can wait – just be sure to plan a killer reception.
One of the benefits of planning a gay wedding is that even the ceremony is customizable. You are not bound by heterosexual religious customs just to please your extended family, you can throw the whole thing out and write a wedding ceremony of your own choosing. It should follow the same basic formula of procession-reading-vows-kiss-rings, but you can tweak those moments however you want. The old custom of the bride being escorted by their father doesn’t quite make sense in a gay wedding, so you could choose to walk down the aisle with your partner, or perhaps both of your parents, or perhaps you could walk down a very wide aisle with your parents as well as your partner and their parents at the same time. Point is, you pick the order and you pick the structure according to your needs. You can even pick the music! No need to play “Here Comes the Bride”, especially when there’s no bride.
For the reading, choose something relevant to the moment. You’re not bound to read passages of religious text, so pick a reading from something that has given you something comparable to a religious experience. If there’s any text that’s had a profound impact on you, say Harry Potter or your favorite poem, it’s relevant to your wedding. Don’t be ashamed to include something personal just because you think it might be perceived as nerdy or non-traditional; whatever is authentic to you will be authentic to your wedding. The same goes for the vows. Don’t just parrot what you think you need to say, and certainly don’t google “good wedding vows”. Write your own and write them from the heart. If you’re uncomfortable with your skills as a writer, then write what you can and whatever feels natural, and then have a trusted, talented friend look over it and edit for you.
If you are looking for a religious ceremony, then gaychurch.org is a terrific resource for LGBT couples looking for officiates.
The Wedding Ring
Any savvy jeweler will tell you that the ring is the most important part of a wedding, and maybe even the most important part of a marriage itself. A marriage with a subpar ring is certainly doomed to fail, they claim. They will then charge you thousands of dollars and wish you a nice day as you leave the store. Yet another advantage of breaking tradition, no one will be pressuring you to buy the nicest, most expensive ring available (hopefully). In the old days, an expensive engagement/wedding ring was a signal to the bride’s father that the groom was of good standing and could easily support the bride both financially and emotionally. Saying “I do” is definitely a commitment, but dropping 20K on a ring is a whole other kind of commitment. These days, our gender roles are a little more balanced and it’s less likely you’ll have your partners father staring over your shoulder and asking how much those rings cost. Hopefully you’re getting married out of love and not out of trying to inherit a great fortune.
These days, we also have the Internet, which makes price matching a lot easier than walking right into stores and being pressured to buy something. If you shop smartly, you could find some amazing and creative deals for rings all over the Internet. Sure you could just google “gay wedding rings” and buy some gold ring with rainbow gem inlays, but there’s a whole market of DIY customization online that’s just waiting to be explored. Sites like Etsy and Artfire are democratizing the jewelry industry for the benefit of all of us. More than just a ring, you can get a completely personalized set of rings done however you choose. Depending on what you’re willing to spend, you can even contact the artist directly and make a personal request.
You’re only limited by your imagination, browse sites like Pinterest to get some inspiration as to what other people are doing here. You could get a fabulously gay rainbow wedding ring, or you could get a ring made from recycled coins and silverware. There are even wooden rings, and gold-plated wooden rings. Some people are even 3D printing their own rings! But as always, be sure to be in agreement with your partner. Spending above or below their expectations could plant the seeds of a big argument, so be sure to understand how they feel about wedding rings. Don’t forget that your finances are about to collide, so money that is spent now is money that could always be saved for later. It’s up for the two of you to decide whether that money is better spent on wedding rings or perhaps a nice honeymoon or new furniture. No matter what the ring is though, the love will be there regardless.
The Reception, from the perspective of everyone who isn’t you, is the most important part of your wedding. This is the part that people really think about when they get invited to a wedding, and this is the part that they are going to remember. Don’t get entitled just because this is your wedding and that they should be here to support you. They sat through your long and boring ceremony without a word, they brought you nice gifts, and many of them had to take off from work just to show up. You owe your guests a good time, and the reception is your opportunity to thank your guests for all the support they’ve shown your relationship by coming here. The reception is also an opportunity for you to impress the extended family of your partner, don’t be surprised if you overhear things like “Yes Mom he does actually make me very happy,” or “Yes Mom you actually can afford this on a writer’s salary”. The ceremony was for the union of your new love, the reception is the lasting impression that love makes.
One of the joys of breaking tradition is that it opens the gate for many new traditions to be born. Your wedding reception is a chance to reflect back your personality, and there’s no need to keep a somber and simple ceremony just because tradition dictates it. That same tradition wouldn’t let you get married 20 years ago, so there’s nothing from stopping you from doing whatever the hell you want with your wedding.
Is there a specific book or movie series that you and your partner feel particularly close to? Perhaps there is a city or country that played a special role in your relationship? Perhaps a steamy summer abroad that first put you two together? Tailoring your reception to a common theme is a great way to keep the experience personal and remarkable. Sure you could have white tablecloths and a basic catering service if you want, but you could also have a Drag Wedding or a Harry Potter-themed Great Hall Feast.
Keep the food delicious and theme appropriate, but be sure to keep options for people with dietary restrictions. Keep the alcohol flowing but be sure not to make a fool of yourself – this could be the last time you see many of these people for years. If you can afford it, hire some entertainment. Keep arts and crafts like clay and coloring books available at the tables for a regular activity. This is a great way to give people something to do with their hands other than check their phones. If you want, you could even institute a no-phones policy, though that could impair people who need to work on the go. Depending on the age range, this is also a great way to keep children occupied. Even if you are young and child free, your great uncle may be coming, and he could bring his whole family with him. You may not care now, but you will definitely care when the kid starts screaming loudly because there’s no chicken nuggets.
With the reception done and the ceremony completed, there’s only one last thing to do with your newfound partner-for-life. Open up your gifts and relax on what should be one of the greatest vacations of your life. The work is over, your friends have come and gone, and all that’s left is to enjoy the company of the person you’ve agreed to be with til death do you part. Enjoy the time off, you’ve earned it. Oh, and be sure to keep the receipts for the all the shitty gifts you got.