In September of 2014 Key & Peele, the hit comedy duo on the U.S. television network Comedy Central, featured a hilarious sketch in which “a family unfamiliar with the concept of a same-sex wedding holds a Q&A session with a gay man.”
In the sketch one family member asks, “Do the men wear dresses and the women wear suits?” Another says, “None of us are gay, so I assume we would all sit in the straight section?” A third asks, “When in the ceremony to we sing ‘Over the Rainbow?’” Another family member expresses concern that he can only do jazz hands for about 20 minutes before cramping, and hilarity ensues throughout the sketch.
So, while this isn’t Comedy Central, I’m your resident gay wedding guru and I’ve enlisted real life people to share with you their own thoughts on the differences between heterosexual and same-sex weddings.
I have not attended a same-sex wedding but personally cannot imagine acting any differently than I would were I attending a hetero wedding, says Vicki Blythin. I would say, ‘Congratulations, and I wish you much happiness!’ I can’t imagine anything else, but then that’s just my take on equality in this world.”
Larry Moad, a gay man, bemoaned that when people learned he and his partner of 13 years were to be married, one person said something like, ‘which one of you is the woman?’ “Really,” he exclaimed. “It’s a gay wedding between two men. We are men, not women. Roles in straight relationships do not apply.”
David Gray, who married his longtime companion, revealed the question he was most asked: “How come we weren’t invited?” His reason is similar to that of most people of any sexual orientation getting married these days. “All our friends wanted to attend. To keep costs down, we limited our invites to immediate family only.”
And this gets to the heart of the matter. We are all much more alike than different, as are our weddings.
“I have never been to a same-sex wedding” says Trauma and Grief Coach Omie Bergquist, explaining that since the legal ceremonies are somewhat new, she hasn’t been invited to one yet. “I can assume that families will act the same, both appropriately and inappropriately,” said Omie, adding, “I think some good tips are as follows: If you must invite good ole Uncle Buck because he is the executor of your parents’ will and a right-wing conservative, don’t ask him to deliver the toast! Weddings and funerals bring out the best and the worst in people, including the soon-to-be-married. Remember, marriage is an institution.”
Mike Dunn, who married Rodger Thornberry, his partner of 31 years, at their ranch in Hollister, California, said, “With same sex weddings, there are no set rules or customs. You can make it any way you want. We combined elements of Eastern and Christian elements in our ceremony in 2008.” He added, “It’s definitely not okay to ask, ‘who’s the bride and who’s the groom?’”
Honey Ward, a longtime friend of mine and a wedding officiant herself, explained “Sandy (Davis) and I had a big wedding for 130 family and friends in 2001. As soon as it became legal for us to marry in Santa Fe, we did (in 2014). It was a much smaller event and took place in our back garden. Our dog Scout was our best man, and we exchanged kukui nut lei in honor of our great love of Hawaii.”
In this writer’s opinion, same-sex and opposite-sex weddings are extremely similar with the exception of the fact that heterosexuals have been able to marry legally for centuries and us LGBT folks are still fighting for this right throughout most of the world—so our ceremonies are deeply moving events. Additionally, we’re not constrained by tradition. We think outside the box, or rather, outside the closet! And we’re achieving these rights because people from all walks of life are fighting together in support of marriage equality.
We may not be singing “Over the Rainbow” but rainbows abound.
“The rainbow has been a major symbol for the LGBT community, said Equalli’s Euvie Ivanova. “It’s a symbol for celebrating our differences instead of letting them divide us. It’s about visibility and support.” In this spirit, Equalli makes a high-end line of artisan gay & lesbian engagement and wedding rings made with rainbow sapphires arranged as a pride flag.
Added Honey Ward, “I notice same-gender partners participate more equally in advance planning and decision-making. Same gender couples do not take the ability to marry lightly, and they always seem so grateful for the ability to take their commitment to the next level.”