It’s 2017, people. ABC, for the first time in history, just aired the New York City Pride Parade. Many large companies (Target, Smirnoff, Refinery29, T-Mobile, etc.) had massive pride campaigns for the month of June. For us LGBTQ+ folks, it feels like we’ve finally arrived. It’s like we are on the red carpet after years of community theater work. We have made it and we are being seen and we count for something. Hell. Effing. Yes.
Now, you all are here because you’re in the wedding industry in some capacity. So, while you might be inclusive and you might be pumped about the rainbow bottle Smirnoff released for Pride this year, you’re probably wondering why I’m going on and on about this. I’ll tell you why. Because it’s time for this progress to continue. We still have a lot of work to do as a society. Yes, gay marriage is legal, but now we need to talk about gender roles and trans rights. There are a lot of places in weddings that LGBTQ+ folks, gender non-conforming, gender queer and non-binary folks feel they just don’t fit in.
I think the biggest issue (that I can see anyway) in the wedding industry is that it is SO traditional and SO binary. The entire institution of marriage is about traditions and it’s hard to break down something that is rooted in customs the way the wedding/marriage industry is. For LGBTQ+ folks specifically, it can feel like one member of the couple has to decide to be “the groom” while the other gets labeled “the bride.” In the words of Michelle Tanner, “how rude!”
I don’t appreciate people making assumptions about me and I am sure you feel the same way. (though did I just assume you don’t like assumptions?!) Likewise, LGBTQ+ couples don’t appreciate people making assumptions about them, about their relationship dynamic and about their gender. Now, I am not one to bring up a problem without suggesting a solution, so here goes. Can we just all make our love parties a big blank slate where we do what feels right and genuine for us? (I would like to note that I stole the phrase “love party” from my friend, Amy, of Modern Rebel & Co, who coined it and who is also a badass). I am going to touch on a few specific ways couples can buck tradition and make their ceremonies their own.
1. Waiting Until the Aisle to See Each Other
First, what if someone doesn’t want an aisle? (I will touch on that momentarily). That being said, I am a massive fan of first looks. I have said it before and I will say it again. Do yourself the favor, take part in a first look.
Whenever we get wedding submissions and the couple does a first look, they always mention that it was hands-down, the best moment of their day. If you are going the traditional route and not seeing each other until your both fully ready, it’s even more powerful. Because there is not a sea of eyes, all on the couple, the pair is more likely to express their emotions. Who is going to break down crying in front of 150 guests if they can avoid it? If it’s just you and your spouse-to-be, it’s going to get raw. And beautiful. Our favorite images are always those from the first look. They are so genuine, unfiltered and moving.
Outside of the emotional realness, it’s the only time you have together during the day! Every other moment of the day will likely be spent making sure things are going okay, talking to guests, being in the spotlight. We love the idea of being able to take a deep breath together as you prepare for a huge step in your lives and a very hectic day.
If you opt to not do a first look, we won’t hold it against you, but we will advise a mini portrait session, after the ceremony, with you and your spouse. Get away from the craziness, leave the cocktail hour and spend a few minutes, enjoying each other’s company. Call us radical, but isn’t this day about the newlyweds? So often, it seems as though it is more about the guests and whether they are having a good time.
2. Wedding Party Titles (Bridesmaids? Groomsmen? No.)
We’ve been reading a lot recently about couples having trouble giving their wedding parties titles. For instance, if a bride includes men in her wedding party, they are neither groomsmen nor bridesmaids. This is one tradition that really gets me. I have a brother and if I were getting married to a man, I would still want my brother in my wedding party because he is MY BROTHER. It makes zero sense to put him on the other side of the wedding party because of his gender.
Our suggestion is simple; do you! Your wedding day should feel unique, special, and completely your own. Calling them “Courtney’s Crew” or “Ben’s Brood” makes it fun and personal. If you are going for a more formal feel, calling the party “Honorary Attendants” or even just “The Wedding Party,” keeps things neutral, but structured.
Ultimately, these are the people who want you to be happy and surrounded by love. They probably don’t really care what you call them, as long as you are content with your wedding.
So, here is the deal, I think if you have always dreamed of walking down an aisle, that’s fine. Do that. But if you haven’t or if you struggle to make it feel egalitarian, skip it! Couples entering the space together is equally as meaningful. We love when two people make a statement that they are entering this together. Ultimately, wherever and however you say your vows, it should feel like an equal partnership and the whole aisle thing is very grounded in the tradition of fathers giving away their daughters, which is not super relevant these days.
There are about a million more ways we can make weddings feel genuine and meaningful, but Tessa and Meghan are probably already sick of me rambling so I will cut it off here! As always, if you have questions, concerns, etc. feel free to reach out to me! If you’re going to tell me I’m crazy, don’t worry. I already know.
About the Author
Kate Schaefer is the founder and Editor-in-Chief at H&H Weddings.
She is a New York City resident, an avid drinker of Guinness and an advocate of love and inclusion for everyone. She also hates chicken.
Want to learn more about H&H Weddings? Check out Kate’s blog here.