How to Plan a Lesbian Wedding
While wedding planning is mostly lots of fun, we’re not going to lie: It can also be stressful at times. Between choosing the right venue and finding the perfect attire, the process can be a bit overwhelming. And if you’re a part of the LGBTQIA+ community, the process may seem even more strenuous because your big day may not follow the template of a “traditional” wedding.
Don’t stress, we’re here to help you enjoy the journey and make sure your wedding day dreams become a reality. With that in mind, here are some answers to the most common questions when planning a lesbian wedding.
Who should pay for the wedding?
Traditionally, the bride’s family is expected to pay, but that’s now an outdated notion. Many couples are paying for their own weddings, and the number increases when it comes to same-sex couples. But remember that although it’s a special day, you don't want to start married life off in massive debt. Set a realistic budget for your big day. If your families are supportive, talk to them about how they imagined the wedding would be paid for and, if they were planning on contributing in some way, discuss how exactly you’d like the split the cost.
How do we find inclusive vendors?
Of course, you can find wedding pros right here! Start by watching videos from your wedding location, or venue if you already have one, and see which vendors have worked there. You can even contact them directly via lovestoriestv.com. Important note: If during your search you come across any vendors who refuse to work with you because you are an LGBTQIA+ couple, please contact us and let us know, so we can ensure these businesses are not listed on our site. We do not endorse vendors who are not inclusive of all couples.
If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to vendors directly to see if they work with or specialize in LGBTQIA+ weddings, here are a few ways to research before you even send a message or pick up the phone:
Watch the wedding videos on their lovestoriestv.com channel and see if they have any LGBTQIA+ weddings.
Peruse their website photo galleries and social media to see if they proudly showcase work from past same-sex weddings.
Check their “About Me” page to see if they use gender-neutral language or stick specifically to brides marrying grooms—same with any forms on their site. If they’re equality-minded, they’ll make an effort to show this in their wording.
Browse vendor guides on sites that specialize in LGBTQIA+ weddings like Love Inc., where every vendor featured has been personally confirmed by the blog’s editors for their inclusiveness.
Quickly scan the vendor’s site to see if they mention taking either of these courses or have the badges to prove they completed them.
What should we call our wedding party?
These days, more couples are having mixed-gender parties. With that in mind, they’ve come with some alternative terms for their wedding party, including I Do Crew, Friends of Honor, Bridesminions, Matrimony Homies, Pew Crew, Crew-Mates, Honor Guard, Commitment Crew or simply, entourage, attendants or posse. Of course, if you are throwing a themed wedding or have an inside joke with these honorees, you can think of something even more unique, but those are just a few that make us smile.
What should we wear?
The simple answer: Anything you want! Have you both always dreamed of walking down the aisle in a princess ballgown? Amazing! We suggest you go to the same bridal salon (on different days if you don’t want to see each other’s look!) so that the consultants know what you each picked out. That way you can have a cohesive look, while still keeping your dress a surprise. You can check out wedding dress designers to get an idea of what you like.
Of course, you don't need to wear a dress. There are so many great jumpsuits, pantsuits or even rompers out there! We love an all-white suit—so chic!—but you can also go in a completely different direction by wearing black, purple, splashy florals, any kind of print or color that speaks to you and makes you happy. As long as you feel comfortable and confident, that’s all that matters.
Should we get ready separately or together?
This is entirely up to you. Many couples have a first look where they see each other before the ceremony, while others want to meet up for the first time at the altar. Discuss it and figure out what will be the least stressful option for you before your swap vows.
How do we handle the guest list?
The people invited to your wedding should be those that support your relationship and are genuinely happy for you. With any wedding, sometimes family members (namely, your parents) can pressure you into inviting distant relatives or family friends because they don't want to offend anyone. But if you want a more intimate affair—or to simply have more control of the guest list—don't be afraid to speak up. This is especially true if you are paying for the wedding on your own.
Who walks us down the aisle?
You can follow tradition and have your father—or both your mom and dad—walk you down the aisle. If that isn't possible for whatever reason, you can always ask a close family member or friend to do the honor. Or you can simply both walk down the aisle individually or together.
Who should wait at the altar?
Probably the most well-known and documented moment in a wedding is the bride walking down the aisle toward the groom. In fact, there are movies created around this moment. However, what happens if you’re a same-sex couple? New York-based vow coach and officiant, Tanya Pushkine, aka The Vow Whisperer, explains that this is a fun opportunity to make an entrance—and a good time to involve your families in your special day. In same-sex ceremonies, there are a few ways you may want to approach this:
Both partners walk down the aisle together or with the officiant.
One partner walks down the aisle first, escorted by one or both parents. The other partner and her family follow.
One partner approaches with the officiant, and the other partner follows.
Instead of one aisle, you have two or even three. You both approach at the same time, with or without your families.
You can get creative when it comes to your processional, as well as your vows. We love the idea of a ceremony in the round so all your guests surround you—and this gives multiple entrance points so you can walk to the altar at the same time.
Where should we each stand?
Traditionally, the bride stands on the left side of the altar and the groom on the right. For your ceremony, you can feel free to stand wherever you each feel comfortable, but just be sure to discuss it at the rehearsal so there's no confusion on the big day.
How should we say our vows?
Your wedding vows are such an important part of the wedding ceremony. You can include a special reading and ask a beloved family member or friend to recite it. “The top three readings I’ve used in weddings are: Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion in Hodges v. Obergefell, ‘The Art of Marriage' by Wilferd Arlan Peterson and ‘i carry your heart with me’ by ee cummings,” said Pushkine.
She also noted that a majority of same-sex couples choose to write their own wedding vows, compared with about one-third of opposite-sex couples. This likely comes with the territory of not having many “traditional” weddings to look to for inspiration. We love her tip on swapping the traditional “to be my lawfully wedded wife/husband.”
“For gender-neutral vows, this wording can be changed to something like, ‘to be my partner, my best friend.’ If ‘partner,’ sounds too much like you’re establishing a law firm together, other words to consider are ‘better half,’ ‘life partner,’ ‘lover,’ ‘other half,’ ‘significant other,’ ‘soulmate,’ ‘spouse’ and ‘sweetheart,’” she said.
Is there a difference in wedding speeches?
Not really! But every wedding it’s worth noting the uniqueness of the couple. So, in that regard, you may want your speakers to acknowledge that this is a different and special relationship. Some of our favorite speeches we’ve heard have gone along the lines of: “The rest of the world is finally realizing what everyone in this room already knows—love is love.”
Who should change their name?
There are no rules when it comes to changing (or not changing) your name. Of course, you can also hyphenate your names or create your own new last name together.
And remember, this is your day, so ultimately you can do whatever you want, however you want! Don't allow any pressure from family members to get in the way of your wedding day vision. You want to look back on this day and realize the event was the perfect reflection of your relationship and love for one another.
Ready to start planning? Browse through our collection of wedding videos for plenty of ideas and inspiration! If you're planning a lesbian wedding, peruse these videos for even more relatable inspo. And, finally, if you're ready to hire your own wedding videographer, find pros near you here.