Thursday, July 16, 2009

The same, but different

Recently this blog was reviewed on one of those blog catalogues and the reviewer commented that it was more of a general blog and less about the "how to" of creating your lesbian wedding. This got me thinking...

* what is a lesbian wedding?
* how does it differ from a hetero wedding, or a gay (boy) wedding?
* does it have to differ at all?
* are there any "how tos" in creating a lesbian wedding that a web site like couldn't provide (just change the gender when you're reading it).

Of course, I often seek out gay wedding sites... I love seeing pictures of two gals or two guys making that committed leap. I love seeing if the girls are both in dresses or not. Are they both carrying bouquets? Are there veils involved?

Bride to be and I have talked about what our day is a fair bit. We see our day as a fairly traditional day (I'm wearing a white dress, she's wearing a white pants suit, for instance) but we also acknowledge that we don't have to do everything cookie-cutter style. Not that brides and grooms have to do everything cookie-cutter style, of course, but many do, because that's what a wedding is.

When my older sister got married, I saw her as a bit of an off-beat bride. She wore a black and white dress, the bridesmaids wore black, they had music that was a little bit dark and so on. But ultimately, she still followed the rules - speeches, bouquet toss and so on. She says now that if she had her time over she would do away with a lot of the rules that even she felt she had to follow... like seating charts and bouquets.

What makes a wedding a wedding? What makes a commitment ceremony a wedding? At the end of the day, Bride to be and I want people to recognise our union, support it (though most do already), and understand it a little better.

We won't be legally married, but in our eyes, our union will mean the same, and ideally our guests will also believe that. We had to be careful therefore not to throw away too many of the traditional wedding traditions, because we do want our guests to recognise that our day is similar to that of a marriage... and marriages tend to start with
(1) a ceremony
and finish with
(2) a party

The ceremony and the party tend to follow a structure...

Groom waits down the front, bride walks down the aisle. Nice stories, readings and thoughts are exchanged. Bride & Groom kiss, certificates and rings are exchanged, photos are taken and then there's the party. With speeches, dancing and cake. With guest books and favours and the like.

Hetero couples can toss any aspect of the traditions out the window, but a wedding day will still be a wedding day....

I read something about gay weddings which said that often gay couples are creating a day from scratch, and not thinking about what their best friend or sister or cousin did. We've never been to a commitment ceremony, but we've been to many weddings. We want our day to resemble a wedding, but ultimately our day is about us. Oh, and we want people to have fun... lots of fun...

We're known for having parties, though. We have plenty of fun parties, and plenty of opportunities to have even more parties. So while our day is "fun" and a "party", for us, the symbolism of the day is more important.

So with our goal in mind of people seeing us as a married couple, we've created a day that resembles a wedding, but mostly resembles us. We're keeping some traditions, and tossing some.

Firstly, we're both doing an aisle walk. We'll be staying in the same hotel the night before, but plan not to see one another before hand. Who knows - in a small hotel, in a small beachside location, we're bound to get a glimpse of one another before our aisle walks. Our intention is that Bride will walk first and wait for me down the front. I will then do an aisle walk.

Our ceremony isn't following any set structure. Our celebrant is creating it from scratch for us. The ceremony is about us, and we're not using any published readings or prayers. Unlike my first wedding where I had about six friends and cousins say a short reading, the only people that will be speaking at our wedding will be the celebrant, and my fiancee and me. We will sign a certificate despite the fact it won't be a "marriage" certificate. We will kiss, even though my little nephew has said he'll have to look away because it's two girls (ewww!). And then we'll have photos by the beach while our guests mingle.

Our reception will follow a set structure, with speeches and the like, but we've decided to scatter speeches through the night rather than having a bundles of speeches just prior to dessert. For instance, I plan to do my speech straight up first, to welcome all our guests.

We will be doing a bouquet toss, and I will be carrying a bouquet, but the bridesmaids will be carrying parasols which match their dresses. We're using favours, we're having set tables (but not set seats) and there will indeed be cake and dancing.

So all in all, that's us, and that's our day.

So, how to plan a lesbian wedding? That's both easy and hard.

1. Think about things that are important to the two of you. If you're at the VERY early stages of planning - is there a location that means something to you? (We picked our first holiday destination as the place we're marrying at). Who do you want involved? We have an evenly matched bridal party (admittedly all girls) but we didn't need to. How do you wish to celebrate?
2. Think about a traditional wedding day and think about what's important to you in terms of that day. Are there particular traditions that you feel are important? Are there particular traditions that bother you?
3. What are your goals for the day?

This blog was never created as a "how to" guide, but there are plenty of helpful resources on the new. is a great site with lots of gay-friendly vendors and photographs, but there are heaps of others a google search will help you with.

All in all, though, I think it's important to remain true to why you're having your day....


  1. Mmm. Intersting. We mixed it up. It was important to us that we have all the tradition of marriage without traditional trimmings. For us, two bouquets. No throwing of either. One traditionalish gown (me) one girly suit (her). No church -- technically we got married in a bar. No giving away, no aisle. One very traditional, short Common Book of Prayer ceremony. Vows here: Pictures throughout the March 2009 archive.

  2. Very well put. It's been a great ride planning this wedding of ours. It will definitely mix some traditional elements of a hetero marriage combined with things that make us unique and the couple we are. All in all we want everyone to come together to celebrate our love and devotion to each other and we want to have a great fun party!

    btw, I just stumbled upon your blog for the first time and I think it's great :)

  3. We had a very traditional Jewish Ceremony because the religious aspect of the wedding was very important to us and we worked with our Rabbi who focuses on women's studies and lgbt studies to make a ceremony.
    The focus on the day was the commitment for us and not how much money we have. Nat wrote our ketubah, I read from a child's book wrote in the 40's that was banned for promoting interracial marriage, we didn't have flower centerpieces but terrariums I made...and the number uno comment I got was "Wow, I have never been to a wedding like this, it really felt like it was about the two of you pledging your love". And that's what I wanted.
    Thanks for linking to So You're EnGAYged :)

  4. Thanks to you all for sharing your stories - interesting!

    Alternative: I'm glad you enjoyed it. I love reading yours :-)