Photo: Steve Lee Photography
As founder of LGBT-specialized wedding firm 14 Stories, and its professional certification arm, the Gay Wedding Institute, Bernadette Smith has helped hundreds of engaged couples and industry experts navigate their way around the business, and joy, of same-sex weddings. Here, she offers LGBT Houston couples her best advice for planning the wedding of their dreams—a constitutional right they, and all gay men and women in the United States, finally won in 2015.
1. Put Some Love Into Your Ceremony.
Think about it: Everyone is here for you, to celebrate your marriage and your commitment. The party will be great, but I can promise that if you have a thoughtful, meaningful ceremony, the party will be even more amazing. Write heartfelt personal vows, choose ceremony music that means something special to you, and make sure your officiant knows both of you well, and can convey the depth and unique details of your love and devotion.
2. Don't Discard Tradition
Many gay weddings skip typical rites and rituals such as dancing with parents, cutting the wedding cake, garter and bouquet tosses, and more. But your guests actually look forward to those traditions, which help give the evening excitement and momentum. If you take a pass on some traditions, bring in substitutes. Consider cabaret performers, dancers, photo booths, or other forms of entertainment that reflect your own interests and personality, and are conversation starters for your guests.
3. Personalize, Personalize, Personalize
Hire a graphic designer to create your own custom wedding logo, and carry it throughout your wedding materials. Include your logo on your invitations, ceremony program, seating cards, menu and much more, to “brand” your wedding in style. This personal statement makes for instant, cohesive, thematic decor.
4. Relax and Let Someone Else Do The Grunt Work
Don’t be afraid to call in the help of a wedding planner. Services can vary from venue selection, vendor contracting and complete design, to simple day-of coordination. Look for a planner who has specialized training in same-sex weddings and can bring in vendors who are trained and equipped to meet your needs.
5. Go With the Flow
Even though you’re the guests of honor, you also are the hosts of this party. No matter how good the food or the entertainment is, if your guests are waiting too long for a cocktail, or you run out of hors d’oeuvre, that’s what they’ll remember. Pay attention to the details around the flow of the event, and make sure you have adequate greeters and signage so your guests know where to go. Ensure plenty of bartenders so your guests never have to wait. Anticipate heavy traffic areas and plan accordingly.
6. Be Yourself
This is your wedding, not your sister’s, your mom’s or anyone else’s! Express yourself, be nontraditional if you want to be, and don’t let anyone tell you what to do.
7. Have Two Aisles
Are you and your spouse-to-be both eager to be brides? It’s perfectly fine to have two aisles and walk simultaneously if the layout works well in your venue. If you don’t have space or a preference for two aisles, you have to decide who will be the last one down the aisle, assuming the more traditional “bridal” role.
8. Only Invite Those Who Are Happy For You
If you have any friends, family members or co-workers who aren’t excited for your wedding or don’t believe in same-sex marriage, don’t invite them! The last thing you need on your wedding day is to be self-conscious and worry about what someone else is thinking or saying. Invite only those who are thrilled to support you and your marriage.
9. Protect Your Family
While the tide is turning, and marriage equality is spreading across the globe, remember that your marriage still won’t be recognized in a bunch of places. Hire an attorney who understands LGBT family law to draw up the documents to help protect your new family so you can have peace of mind when you travel the world together as newlyweds!