Attending a wedding for any couple is a great show of support and encouragement for the next big step they’re taking. As a guest there are specific things you can to keep in mind and while every couple is different, not every wedding is the same. However, if you’re attending an LGBTQ+ wedding, there are specific things that may come up that are unique to them versus attending a heterosexual couple's wedding.
While some of the same wedding etiquette applies—paying attention to the wedding dress code, being polite and curious, and trying to avoid drinking too much—there are things that are unique to an LGBTQ+ wedding that should be taken into account ahead of time. Here are five tips for attending an LBGTQ wedding as a guest.
Within the larger umbrella of the LBGTQ+ community, there are many ways people identify in terms of both gender and sexual identity. Being aware and sensitive to the way people identify is important. If you are unsure of how the couple whose wedding you are attending identifies, ask them or a mutual friend ahead of time. Nowadays many people will ask what your preferred gender pronouns are. Often people will use she/her, he/him, they/them or others.
Gender and sexuality is fluid and people have the right to express who they are and should be respected regardless. It is important to be sensitive to people's situations and be respectful of their gender and sexual identities. Also, if you are attending an LGBTQ+ wedding, there may very well be other queer people there. Asking their names in addition to gender pronouns is never a bad way to go.
Whether this is your first LGBTQ+ wedding or your fifth, it is important to never ask who the bride or groom is at the wedding ceremony. While you may have good intentions with the wedding couple, asking this question makes assumptions about their gender identity. Some weddings may have two grooms, two brides, two partners, two spouses, or other ways they choose to express this. Everyone is different and this includes the couple getting married.
Every couple will approach gender expression differently. This may mean using different pronouns, being walked down the aisle separately or together, or doing something else. There is no right or wrong approach. All couples, regardless of sexuality, are free to think about these aspects differently when it comes to their big day. As a wedding guest, your job is to show your love and respect and celebrate the couple getting married.
Remember: Its only been five years since same-sex weddings were legalized in the US. And while you may feel that you want to distinguish an LGBTQ+ wedding from a heterosexual one, at the end of the day it’s still a wedding. Unless making note of the difference is necessary or relevant, there is no need to specify one from the other. Love is love and any wedding is about the two people getting married.
While you may want to ascribe labels to the couple getting married such as “wives,” “husbands,” or “partners,” it’s best not to assume the term they prefer. If you’re unsure, your best bet is to ask ahead of time.
Once you are there, you can also take note of the way that the deejay, the wedding officiant, and other guests refer to them as well. You can also pay attention to the way the couple introduces one another.
If you are still unsure or don't feel comfortable asking, using a gender neutral term, such as partner or spouse, is another option.
When people get married, sometimes their names change. When you're buying the couple a gift, it is important to know how to address it. The couple getting married may choose to hyphenate their last name, use one of their partner's names, keep their names, or even create a new name. You won't know what the couple is deciding to do until you ask, and it is a completely OK thing to find out.
Like other gender terms, prefixes are another area where you should always ask someone's preferences versus assuming. By assuming you could also be guessing the wrong one and this could be viewed as hurtful or insensitive. When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to ask. While some people may feel okay with being addressed by “Mr.”, “Mrs.”, “Ms.”, or “Miss'', others do not. There are other non-gendered versions of this nowadays that are becoming increasingly popular, such as Mx. If you are unsure about what prefix or pronoun to use, you can just ask by saying something like “What gender pronoun or prefix do you use?”
These tips can help better prepare you for an LGBTQ+ wedding. By asking what people prefer in terms of their pronouns and prefixes shows that you are trying to be respectful of their gender identity and also who they are as people. By educating yourself more on topics and being sensitive and respectful of people shows not only that you are a good guest, but also that you care about the people around you. And it showcases how much you love and care about the couple getting married.