Celebrate LOVE – Alternative Wedding Options for LGBTQ Couples and Beyond

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Say what you will about 2016 being something of a crap year, there have been some highlights too.  Sure, we lost the likes of David Bowie and Leonard Cohen as well as the unsettling rise of bigotry and anger on the world stage.  But we’ve also seen a mass exodus from The Closet.  Issues facing the transgender community – and indeed the transgender community in general – fully stepped out of the shadows.  New ideas like gender fluidity and a more dynamic sexuality are discussed openly.  It isn’t always an easy conversation and there are clearly still problems to overcome, but a dialogue has begun about the importance of respecting love in all its forms and finding wedding options for couples who want to celebrate their special day in their own, unique voice.

All of this has, of course, driven home the idea of all-inclusive weddings within the wedding industry.  As the kinds of couples we see change, the way we approach weddings has changed as well.  Today it’s all about blending tradition and cultural heritage with true inclusivity.  Whether it’s a wedding ceremony for a gay couple, an inter-faith union, the bringing together of two families or any other combination under the sun – weddings are meant to be about celebrating love in all its forms.

So we’ve brought together a number of options to tackle some of the challenges faced by these couples.  After all, changing the landscape of wedding planning and union celebrations means we all need to come together to find ways to give couples the special day they deserve.

Wedding Options – Invitations

Traditionally, the parents of the Bride would announce the wedding and invite guests.  Even today, there are couples who opt for invitations that read “The Smith Family invites you to the union of their daughter, Susan, and her groom, Bob…”

Today, not all couples are in a position where their parents are paying the majority of the wedding, so there’s often a need for a different approach when it comes to invitations.  Coming up with the perfect wording for an invitation doesn’t have to be difficult if you take it line by line.

There are basically 5 lines in a wedding invitation.  Each one contains a specific piece of information:

  • Hosts – If you have hosts, begin the invitation with their names.  Back in the day it started with the names of the bride’s parents but these day, many couples omit this part.  Others use the introduction “Together with their friends and family” in order to acknowledge the help and support – financial or otherwise – that made the day possible.
  • Couple – This is pretty straightforward.  You and your spouse are the main attraction so list your names here as they appear now.
  • What’s Happening – This is where’s you’ll issue the actual invitation.  For a more serious religious or spiritual ceremony, people use a phrase like “the honor of your presence” while a more secular invitation might stick with something as simple as “invite you to”.  Then, this is where you’ll set the tone for the ceremony itself.  You can call it a wedding, a union, knot-tying ceremony or a boot-stompin’ Rock n’ Roll Wedding.
  • When & Where – Keep this line short and sweet.  Give people the date, time and location.  Be sure to include the full address of the venue.
  • Party Time! – Finish the invitation with any information about a reception.  You can simply say “Party to follow” and include information for the reception separately or give the details (date, time and venue address) briefly.

Once you break down the invitation formula, it becomes a lot easier to compose a heartfelt invitation for family and friends.  You can also use a website to find wedding stationery and design the rest of your invitation or reach out to a professional for a sleek, polished look.

Gift Registries and Announcements

Gift registries are still a popular way for couples to let their friends and family know what they want or need as they build their life together.  Using a registry should never be an implication to family or friends that a gift is required but, if they want to give something to the couple, at least they know what they want.

Many modern couples are already well established by the time they get married and they don’t often need the traditional gifts like dishes, small appliances and linens that people commonly associate with wedding gifts.  In some cases the couple will still create a registry or they might ask that guests make a donation to a specific cause or charity in their name in lieu of a gift.

However you choose to handle gifts, be sure you keep a record of who gives you or what or who makes a donation on your behalf.  It may be the 21st century, but Thank You notes are more than just tradition – they’re just good karma.  Send out a handwritten note to everyone who reaches out with a gift to you or a cause you’ve specified.  Being thanked personally goes a long way in showing friends and family how much you appreciate them joining in your celebration.

Wedding Party Options

Do you need a bridesmaid and a Maid of Honor?  Do you want a Best Man and the groomsmen?  How about flower girls, ring bearers or ushers?  Wedding party sizes can vary from just the people getting married to an extended party that ends up making of half of the invited guests.  A big wedding party can be great when it comes to delegating tasks or coordinating schedules for a large wedding but if your ceremony is set to be small, having too many people in your party could end up making things needlessly complicated.

Wedding Wear

What brides and grooms wear to a wedding is perhaps the one area that has changed the most over the past few years.  White dresses still reign supreme when it comes to bridal trends but other options are closing that gap.  Brides can find beautiful wedding worthy dresses in literally every shade of the rainbow as well as rainbow hued dresses sure to amaze your friends and family as you walk down the aisle.  Pantsuits and skirts have also grown in popularity – and versatility.

When it comes to suits, couples don’t have to go for tuxedos by default anymore.  Today both brides and grooms are routinely seen in three piece suits, linen shirts and other more casual looks.  At the end of the day, there really are no hard and fast rules anymore when it comes to what you wear.  You should make the choice as a couple regarding how formal you want your outfits to be (i.e. a dress or suit versus khakis and jeans) and then choose pieces that complement each other while showing off your own individual styles.

Wedding Jewelry

Exchanging wedding rings is perhaps the single most common shared tradition across all cultures, religions and regions.  Traditionally, brides would have a complementary engagement and wedding set, often boasting several dazzling gemstones.  Grooms, on the other hand, were more likely to have simple bands made from a single metal.  This combination is still a popular choice for many couples, but it’s definitely no longer the only choice.

Couples now can choose from paired wedding rings that share a specific style or decoration as well as matched sets that share the same level of “blinginess” so that one doesn’t seem to outshine the other.  For LGBT couples, there are also amazing rainbow pride wedding rings that the rings you share reflect the life you’ve built.

Reception Options

Some couples have a reception soon after their wedding and others have one the next day.  Still more elope on their own then stage a small mini-ceremony that kicks off a reception.  Celebrating your special day is – for some – just as important as the ceremony itself.

Planning a wedding is one of the most stressful things you’re likely to do as a couple.  One of the best things about the reception is how much couples can let loose and have fun blowing off some steam with family and friends.   Whether you choose to have a reception right after your service or you wait a few days – even weeks or months! – it’s worthwhile to plan some sort of reception.

That doesn’t mean your reception has to meet any specific standard or come with a hefty price tag.  When it comes to easy receptions, options abound.  A group picnic in the park or a backyard bash can be just as much fun as a fine dinner in an elegant ballroom.

For blended families, inter-faith couples and LGBTQ couples with diverse individual backgrounds, these receptions also act as a way for your respective friends and families to come together and meet each other – often for the first time.  After all, when is your Uncle Ed going to have another chance to meet Haia, the genderfluid queerboi who teaches your Yoga course and changed your life forever?

At the end of the day, the advancements made towards marriage equality by the LGBTQ community extends far beyond our own subculture.  By addressing the inequities in the law and the cultural perceptions of marriage, the LGBTQ community began a larger and all-encompassing discussion about what it means to be a couple, to be a family and to be equal when it comes to love.  So no matter how you identify, you can find the perfect ways to let your wedding day be a reflection of your love and the love you want to share with the world.

 

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