An LGBTQ+ Guide for Wedding Ceremonies and Receptions

Tips for helping you get organized for your big day, keeping your needs as an LGBTQ+ couple in focus.

By Anni Irish

LGBTQ+ Guide for Wedding Ceremonies and Receptions
Photo by Kathi Littwin Photography

As if planning a wedding isn't hard enough, there are things that queer couples may consider or have to think about durring their journey that straight couples may not.

You should choose whether you want to be open about your sexual orientation with your vendors, whether or not you want to work with LGBTQ+ businesses, and how you will deal with stressful social situations with your wedding party, and friends and family (who may not be as informed) as they may arise. Other tasks, such as choosing a venue, selecting a wedding photographer and/or videographer, narrowing down a timeline and a budget, and making a guest list are just some of the things that will need to be crossed off your wedding planning do-list.

Here are six tips for helping you get organized for your big day, while also keeping your needs as an LGBTQ+ couple as a focal point of your wedding planning. Don't worry, your dream wedding awaits!

Have a Timeline for the Wedding

Coming up with a timeline for the wedding and ceremony will play a huge role in planning it, and it’s something that every couple goes through. Picking the time of year and date is the first big decision. From there you can start to plan for a morning, afternoon, or evening wedding reception and ceremony and the location. Once you have these details down you can start to tackle the other aspects of your reception and ceremony.

Have a Budget

Deciding on how much you can/want to realistically spend on your wedding is one of the most important details to nail down early. Knowing what your budget is can help give you a realistic picture of what your wedding will look like, and it can also help you decide where you want to spend the most money. Perhaps you want to spring for a larger venue, or maybe you’d rather spend more on food or decor—it’s easy to daydream until you’ve made definitive money decisions. Once you nail down the numbers you and your partner can focus on the bigger details of the wedding.

Find an Inclusive Venue

Finding a wedding venue is another important element that will play a role in the ceremony and reception. As you are looking for a venue, deciding what you want as a couple is important, therefore getting on the same page is essential. From there, you can start to narrow it down, and planning a wedding is expensive. Wedding Wire's report from 2020 found that in 2019, the average cost of a venue was $10,500.

While it’s illegal in most states to discriminate against someone because of their sexual identity, sadly it does still happen. When you’re choosing a wedding venue, you want to feel as comfortable and inclusive as you can there. Picking between hosting your wedding at a venue that has had LBGTQ+ weddings before and can accommodate you, versus one that fully embraces and celebrates what it means for you and your partner makes all the difference in the world.

Find Vendors With Vision

A LGBTQ+ Guide for Wedding Receptions and Ceremonies Photo Credit // Levi Stolove Photography

From picking the food, furniture, and flowers, no matter how you cut it vendors play a huge role in wedding receptions and ceremonies. Finding vendors that are the best fit for you can also take a little time. People from events management companies, florists, and caterers will work closely with you throughout planning your perfect wedding, they will get to know you and vice versa, and you will develop a working relationship with them.

As a result, the topic of being open about you and your partner's sexual and/or gender identity may come up. Whether you’re an openly same-sex couple or a trans couple or identify as something else, it’s up to you how you choose to disclose or not disclose this information.

How you choose to handle this is up to you and your partner, and this is not the “right” or “wrong” way to do so. It’s about what makes the most sense for you and what you’re both most comfortable doing. Being open about who you are and the role this plays in your ceremony may be important to you, so letting your vendors know this upfront can help them.

Another avenue to pursue is finding queer owned and operated wedding vendors. Doing some research to find queer owned and operated vendors that are local to you can help the planning process be as seamless as possible if you choose to go this route. This can allow you to feel the most comfortable and also ensure that you are also working with people who have your needs in mind (and are a part of the LGBTQ+ community). Working with queer-owned wedding vendors will also allow you to support the queer community.

Make the Ceremony Your Own

When you're planning your wedding ceremony, there are a lot of things to think about. While it generally consists of exchanging rings and vows, there are lots of ways to make the experience your own through music, readings, and even thinking about the kind of entrance you want to make. First, decide on the location and also who will officiate the wedding are the biggest ones. Are you and your partner more traditional, or would prefer to be a bit more creative about it? Whether your ceremony is religious or non-denominational is up to you and there are lots of ways to go about it.

Getting clear on what kind of ceremony you want can help make other decisions a little easier, too. If you’re going the less traditional route and aren't having a religious ceremony, this can leave lots of options open for you. Thinking about who will officiate your wedding is something you’ll want to determine ahead of time. If it’s a justice of the peace or someone from your house of worship, making sure that you book them ahead of time is important.

Think about readings (religious or otherwise) that have meaning for you. Perhaps there is a certain poem or even lyrics from a song that has the sentimental and personal meaning that can be incorporated into the ceremony.

Also, don't forget your vows. Many couples choose to write to them, which can be very moving and romantic. If you go that route, speaking from the heart is always your best bet. And, now with the fight for marriage equality and same-sex marriages have been legal for the past few years, being able to say them publically in a ceremony like your wedding makes it even more special!

There are also lots of ways to make a big entrance, and it will make the ceremony memorable in another way. Maybe you want to come in together as a couple. Or, sometimes you can go down the aisle separately, and perhaps you can be accompanied by a family member or close friend. Another option is to have one partner wait at the front where the ceremony will happen and the other person will walk down the aisle. You can also make an entrance down a separate aisle and meet at the front.

Personalize Your Reception

A LGBTQ+ Guide for Wedding Receptions and Ceremonies Photo Credit // Brown Photo

This should be one of the best parts of your wedding day. Everyone you love, regardless of familial relationships, or if they are your chosen family and friends, are there to celebrate you. When it comes to the reception, have fun, and don't be afraid to shake things up.

Instead of having a seating chart encourage guests to find their seats. You can go all out with personalized details for both the reception and ceremony in terms of the décor to make it stand out more. Think about incorporating both you and your partner's favorite plants and flowers into the floral arrangements. Fun signs can also add a personalized touch, as well as photos of you and your partner throughout the venue. Rainbow-themed elements, if that's your style, can even make an appearance. Try to capture your style and flair as a couple, and be open about who you both are. Celebrating your new life is what's most important.

Planning a wedding for you and your partner that is true to who you both are is everything. And having people who are there to love and support you is also what's most important. Honoring who you are as a couple and the love you have for one another is what a wedding is all about, and all of the details that come up in the planning of it will help make this a day to remember.

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