With marriage equality gaining traction and sweeping across the country, more and more couples are finally taking the plunge and planning their Big Day. Planning the picture perfect wedding doesn’t have to turn your special day into a Bridezilla Double Header though. These simple, common-sense tips will help you – and your guests – enjoy this once in a lifetime day of love, happiness and pride.
1. Set Goals … and Boundaries
Before you jump into planning your lesbian wedding, sit down with your wife-to-be and establish what’s important to each of you in terms of goals for the wedding as well as what limits you have. Setting a clear budget will help keep things in perspective as costs begin to mount and you have to start prioritizing where you should spend your money. Make a list of the things you need to have and a list of what you want. Consider other boundaries as well. If either of you have family members who haven’t been supportive, traditional rules regarding inviting them may not apply. This isn’t a day for political debate. If you have friends or family who can’t be trusted to check their politics at the door, consider leaving them off the list.
2. Know Where – and How – to Save Money Wisely
You don’t want to cut corners on the big things, but you also don’t want to spend more than you need. Find a happy medium by checking out deals in your area on websites like Groupon or Living Social to find special offers on venues and supplies as well as professional services like photography and catering.
3. Not Every Bride Wears a Dress
Some girls dream of walking down the aisle in a beautiful gown while others prefer the look of a well-tailored suit. You don’t need to match each other at your wedding and you also don’t need to have one of you in a dress and the other in a tux. The rules about wedding fashion have evolved for all types of weddings and you can both choose from a wealth of options.
4. Build a Support System – And USE It!
Once you choose your bridesmaids, maids of honor or whatever wedding party system you choose, let yourself rely on those people. If you choose to keep things low key and aren’t using a formal wedding party, reach out to close friends and family members for help when you need a hand making gift bags for guests and when you need to blow off some steam from the stress of planning a wedding. Having a support system not only makes the job easier, it will also help you keep your sanity throughout the process.
5. Get Organized or Get a Wedding Planner
Using a wedding planner is pretty common these days but some people still prefer to coordinate things themselves. If you need to be in control to feel in control, then get organized before you even begin. Invest in both paper and computer organization systems to keep contact details, contracts, receipts and your budget all in check. Sync your paper and hard copy plans and notes online by using a shareable project app such as iWed or The Knot.
6. Add Plenty of Personality
What really sets one wedding off from another are the personal touches couples bring to the decorations, the food and the ceremony itself. Incorporate your own love story into the reception by decorating with photos from your relationship, including accessories from a shared hobby or passion with table settings or choosing foods from memorable dates in your shared past. These small touches go a long way in making guests feel as though they’re a part of this new chapter of your story.
7. Address the Elephant in the Room
Let’s face it, for some people your wedding will be their first Gay Wedding. By now, most people realize a gay wedding is pretty much the same as any other wedding, complete with flowers, champagne and someone dancing their way right into a table by the end of the night. There’s nothing wrong with inviting people who may initially feel a little lost on what to expect, but address the issue right away in a light-hearted way. Putting up a sign at the entrance of your service that reads “Pick a seat, not a side as either way it’s for a Bride” seems like a small gesture, but for someone unsure of what to expect this can go a long way in breaking the ice and making them feel more at ease.
8. Make It Legal
Marriage equality for all may be right on the horizon but it’s not actually a reality in every state quite yet. No matter where you’re planning to tie the knot, make sure you will be able to get a legal marriage license and have your name changed successfully if you choose to use a common last name. This may mean having a legal ceremony in a neighboring state and then coordinating a service and reception for family and friends in your home state. My wife and I live in Ohio, so when we got married we actually had to travel to New York and had a small civil ceremony. We also needed to submit the change in my name with the Social Security office while we were there since we knew it wouldn’t be approved back home in Ohio. A month or so later, we had a small service and reception for family and friends back home.
Planning a wedding is stressful under the best of circumstances, but navigating your way through a same sex wedding brings with it a unique set of challenges. But for all the challenges same sex couples face on the way to their Special Day, in the end it’s no different from any other wedding – it’s a celebration of your love, your union and your future.