Same sex weddings and ceremonies
Forgive some of us a little yawn here. It may be news to some, but to the gay, lesbian and transgendered community, this is not much more than business as usual, in party terms. It means that same sex couples will now have legal rights and responsibilities equivalent to those of heterosexual married couples, but when it comes to the fun end of the matter, same sex couples have been cementing their relationships with stylish, smashing, souped-up or simply bizarre celebrations for some time.
Because church weddings have largely been out of the question for same sex couples, they’ve got ahead of the heterosexual world in finding new ways to make commitments and vows in spiritual locations. Vows have been exchanged in hot air balloons, on yachts, during rock concerts (okay, not heavy rock!) and on tennis courts, not to mention during picnics, as part of firework displays and – of course – at Pride events. But from December same sex couples will have access to a wider range of public spaces and there is a lot of competition for the pink pound, so if you’re thinking about a same sex ceremony, here are a few ideas to ponder:
Order invitations to be ready at least one week before your posting deadline – you’ll probably get called at least once by the printer to make sure it really is Mark and Mitch getting hitched, and that Jean and Julie really are ‘bride’ and ‘groom’.
If design and theme are important to you, be aware that the stamps on sale at the time you want to post out your invitations may not match the look and feel of your celebration, so stock up in advance if you see something appropriate. Red is an incredibly popular colour scheme for lesbian ceremonies right now, and pale grey or violet stamps just don’t look great on a scarlet envelope!
If your families have never met, don't overlook the fact that the rehearsal will be a significant event. Book some social time into the beginning of your rehearsal schedule and think about how you want to be introduced to distant relatives. Give your family simple and clear phrases they can use to describe the event eg: ‘This is Mark, who’s marrying our son Geoff,’ or ‘Stacey is making her commitment vows to Claire next week’. People will probably be very worried about using the right words – reassure them that you want them to relax, have fun, and enjoy your ceremony.
Clearly explain your RSVP process if not all ceremony guests are invited to the reception or vice versa. Don't assume your guests are all as familiar with standard wedding etiquette as you are – you’ve been immersed in the wedding world for many months now, but they might be coming to their first ever wedding, let alone same sex ceremony!
Consider including a little information sheet with your invitations. Friends of mine added a slip of paper headed: ‘Ten Tips to enjoying a Gay wedding’. Tip one read, ‘Treat it like a straight wedding’ and below that it said, ‘Tips 2 – 10, see tip 1’. If you give people confidence that you’ve invited them because you want them to share your special, fun-filled day, they’ll usually respond with great enthusiasm and warmth, it’s only when they’re worried about how to fit in that they let uncertainty overwhelm their desire to have a good time.
Clearly indicate to your supporters and friends exactly who will be in charge of what aspects of the wedding day. Especially if your guests are at their first same sex ceremony, they may not be sure whose lead to follow or what to do about toasts, jokes etc.
Consider including photo-personalised labels on the favours and goodies at your reception. Not only is it lovely for your guests to have a picture of the two of you to take home, it can make toasts and speeches easier if you’ve given them a clear lead on how you’d like to be addressed, by having your names and roles displayed in front of them.
Those disposable cameras distributed at receptions are great for candid shots. Make sure you detail a friend at the top table to grab pictures on your behalf - you don't realize how little of the evening you’ll see!
Make sure you allow at least an hour to do nothing but mingle, otherwise you'll never have the chance to chat with many of your guests.
Don't try to please gay-nightclubbing friends and straight relatives at the same reception. Your friends can wait a few hours until the family stuff is done, and you can both look forward to letting rip when the more formal socialising is over.