A Roadmap to Follow: Top Ten GLBT Wedding Traditions


Wedding-Traditions-InvitationsBy Julie Schanke Lyford of Fabulous Functions with contributions by Floral Designer Alice-Lynne Olson.

As a wedding planner, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many, many, couples over the years; straight, same-sex couples– it doesn’t matter–certain questions always arise. What is expected of us? What rules are we supposed to follow? What traditions are people expecting us to follow? They always ask, “Please can you give us a list of traditions we are expected to follow?”

Gay marriage or straight marriage– whatever terms society use–the fact remains that a wedding is taking place between two people who love one another. Years of assisting couples of all kinds create a memorable day of celebration, plus my personal experience of having a gay father who is married to his love of over a quarter century, have given me an insight into societal, cultural, and event-savvy advice. So, here is my list.

The following are just a few tips for making YOUR wedding a unique and personal experience:

1. To heck with rules and traditions. As with any wedding, this day is about your love and who you are as a couple. Make is your day with your special touches that reflect you as a couple. If you want to follow a family tradition do so, but if you want your ceremony to be totally different, that’s okay, too!

Love to travel? Why not drape the ceremony with flags from all the countries you’ve visited? Love theater? Have a full theatrical choir break out in an upbeat showtune as you both walk in.

2. Consider having you each walk down a separate aisle in unison. Why limit yourself to one aisle when there are two of you? This way you indicate you are both approaching this union separately with the culmination of coming together.

If you are considering having two aisles instead of one central aisle, I highly recommend that you invest in a second shooter so that you can have both your special moments captured on film!

3. Many GLBT wedding vows reference the law. Many couples choose to use an except from the ruling by Judge Vaughn Walker in the Proposition 8 trial. Here is some of that statement:

“Marriage is the state recognition and approval of a couple’s choice to live with each other, to remain committed to one another, and to form a household based on their own feelings about one another and to join in an economic partnership and support one another and any dependents. …”

4. “I now pronounce you legally married!” That statement has a lot of impact, and as it’s being said in more and more states, it carries a message in and of itself. I have witnessed many a calm gathering break into a room of raucous cheering and happy tears when those simple six words are spoken.

5. Offer champagne or lemonade to your guests as they arrive for the ceremony. It sets the tone that this is indeed a celebration; it will be fun and it just may help take the edge off of great aunt Mildred and her puritanical attitude.

6. The Greeting/Call to Attention: Your officiate announces to the guests that the festivities are about to begin. He/She can say a few words about you and your relationship and then lead the guests in a pre-ceremony toast to the wedding they are about to help celebrate .

7. Add a Foundation Covenant or Quaker Marriage Certificate to the ceremony. These are signed by the couple and their officiate during the ceremony, and by all of their guests who were lucky enough to witness  the ceremony. The signed document is usually a piece of art and a wonderful item to frame and hang in your new home (as photographed and provided above by Paper Thick Ink Weddings, www.paperthickink.com).

“We pledge to each other to be loving friends and partners in marriage. To talk and to listen, to trust and appreciate one another; to respect and cherish each other’s uniqueness; and to support, comfort and strengthen each other through life’s joys and sorrows….”

8. Make the reception festive and personal. You do not have to do the chicken dance, cut the cake, or throw the bouquet unless you want to! Remember though, if you cut some of those elements you need to do something to entertain your guests. Bring in entertainers–fire swallowers, drag queens, or professional dancers to get the party started.

9. Create a cake topper that reflects you. There are thousands of choices out there. Have a portrait made of the two of you, or create a stylish and fun twist to the typical cake topper. Or, use the cutouts to indicate two women or two men (as photographed and provided below by Miss Cake, www.misscake.co.uk).

10. Finally, did I mention? To heck with the rules. This is about you and your day. Who cares what others expect? Make it your own unique day filled with love and you’ll end up with a lifetime of memories for both you and your guests!


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