How to behave at a gay wedding

Aug 27, 2013

People are often a little unsure how to behave if it’s a single-sex wedding. I hope I can put some minds at rest with a few suggestions.

Essentially, a gay and a heterosexual wedding are the same. So why behave differently?


However, manners are something always worth emphasising, so I make no apology for basing my article around this.

Whether the wedding is heterosexual or single-sex, the following apply:

  • Make sure you actually congratulate the happy couple on the day (amazingly large numbers of attendees skip this part!).
  • Be willing to circulate among the guests. It can be dull and awkward if people stay in little cliques. You can break the ice, of course, with “How do you know X and/or Y?” and conversations – and, possibly, connections  – may flow.
  • When talking to the newly-weds, don’t go on about how prevalent divorce is these days or how appalling your own marriage is.  This is a time for rejoicing (rather than regretting).
  • Don’t tell the newly-weds that the food wasn’t up to much/the guests were dull/how ludicrous someone’s hat was/what a noisy venue it turned out to be/what an unsuitable honeymoon destination they have chosen, etc. Just be positive and up-beat; if you can’t do that, then say nothing. It is meant to be a celebration, after all.
  • If you’re giving a speech, then beware of causing offence or alienating one half of the wedding party. Be positive and sensitive (but you can still be amusing). Show respect, especially when it comes to religious or political beliefs. (See my suggestions on wedding speeches:
  • If it’s your wedding, thank people for coming, both on the day and then afterwards, preferably by sending a card (rather than an e-mail).

If you’re really uncomfortable with a same-sex wedding, you can simply politely decline to attend. Don’t risk spoiling the couple’s big day by your disapproving or embarrassed behaviour once there.

And if, as a straight person, you do attend, be tactful and don’t ask offensive questions (“Which of you will wear the dress?”, for example).

In an ideal world, all this wouldn’t need to be mentioned, but it’s surprising how insensitive people can be.

As with any wedding, go there to enjoy yourself (in a civilised fashion!), participate in the celebrations, and help make the day memorable – for the right reasons!


Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made civil ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe.