If you are an LGBTQ+ couple getting married and have some wedding guests whose familiarity with the LGBTQ+ community is unknown to you, or if you have been invited to attend a queer wedding and aren't entirely sure on what to do, don't worry. There are some things you can do ahead of time to prepare and educate guests before your special day. Here are three tips to help your guests before attending your LGBTQ+ wedding.
Gender identity is a complicated thing, and it doesn't just come down to being a man or a woman. There’s more than one way to identify, and the gender pronouns people use are important. While for some people it may be hard to wrap their heads around this larger idea, at the end of the day, it’s about being respectful of the people you’re around.
If you are planning the wedding, letting your guests know what your preferred pronouns are either ahead of time or on the big day will be a huge help. By letting them know you are saving them the trouble of wondering and you are educating them in the process. This can even be something that’s indicated on the invitation and can carry over onto place cards for the reception.
If you are attending an LGBTQ+ wedding, one of the most important things you can—and should—do is use their preferred pronouns. Some people may use he/him, she/her, they/them, or something else. And in the LGBTQ+ community, preferred pronouns are incredibly important. Whatever way the person you are speaking to refers to themselves should be the same way you refer to them. Using their preferred pronouns is a sign of respect and also shows you are acknowledging who they are.
At an LGBTQ+ wedding, not everyone will refer to their partner as a husband, wife, or even spouse. Let the couple getting married set the tone, see how they refer to one another, and use the same terminology. Even though you may not fully understand why it's not important. What's important is being there to celebrate the two people getting married and who they are.
This is sometimes easier said than done and can extend to both the guests of the wedding and also the couple getting married. While it can sometimes be exhausting as an LGBTQ+ person to have to educate other people about your sexual and/or gender identity, you are also helping them learn more about your lived experience and the queer community at large. As an LGBTQ+ couple, helping your guests to get a better understanding of who you are and what is acceptable on a day as important as your wedding day can be empowering for you and your guests.
As a guest, it's important to understand that an LGBTQ+ wedding is just a wedding at the end of the day. It’s about two people committing themselves to one another for the rest of their lives. Thinking about it as just a “gay wedding” or just an “LGBTQ wedding” can make it seem like you are missing the point and aren't recognizing what this means for the people getting married. Love is love, and focusing on the couple's sexual identity is another way of making this wedding seem less legitimate than any other wedding. The couple getting married should be the focus, so if you are invited to attend an LGBTQ+ wedding, one of the best things you can do is be open-minded.
One way to educate guests ahead of time is to be communicative. Letting your guests know what to expect or altering them to a potential issue or thing that may come up can be extremely helpful. It can put both of you at ease by having a conversation and getting whatever information you need to get across ahead of time to them before the big day. If you have some older relatives who may be attending or even friends of your family or partner's family who may not be as familiar with LGBTQ+ weddings or the community, talking to them ahead of time is probably a good idea. That way you can answer any questions they may have or explain things.
If you have concerns about certain people attending, like a conservative relative or someone from work, talk to your partner, and go from there. If you still want that person to attend, talk to them about what you’re worried about and explain your point of view. You have to decide what works best for you. At the end of the day, you want all your guests to be there to love and support you and your partner.
Talking to your guests ahead of time can help make things easier for them and you. It will open the lines of communication and also take the pressure off the big day. Keeping an open mind, being true to who you are, and helping people you care about better understand you and your partner is hopefully what will happen. By taking the time to educate your guests before your gay wedding, you show that you care and you are being true to who you and your partner are. Having a stress free, fun, and loving atmosphere for your wedding and being surrounded by people who care and support you and your partner is what matters most.