Having recently conducted a wonderful same-sex wedding, I started doing a bit of mulling. Presumably, there are major differences between heterosexual and same-sex ceremonies?
In this particular case, as you can see, one spouse wore a white wedding dress; her partner wore a lounge suit and tie. Obviously, formality was what the pair wanted, and that fitted the bill.
So one tick on the list of similarities straight away.
Probably not so simple. What if the family opposes your marriage? Especially if it’s same-sex.
There are plenty of examples, however, of obstacles being placed in the way of heterosexual couples, so this is a similarity, rather than a difference.
Incidentally, a possible solution to this problem is to use diplomacy. You may be able to encourage the parent (or whoever) to feel more positive by inviting them to participate in some way in the ceremony, for example, by doing a reading. Or you might assure them that you will (still) visit them as regularly as before at weekends/holidays etc.
Of course, you should get them to meet and get to know your partner, preferably informally. If the charm offensive doesn’t work, then think about asking your officiant to have a word.
If you want a religious (or part-religious) ceremony (or your parent does), then you can always use a civil celebrant like myself.
So not that different, whether the wedding is same-sex or heterosexual.
A few venues may have problems with gay ceremonies, but decreasingly so. In the same way, some suppliers may not want to work with a same-sex couple. You may recall that an intransigent anti-gay cake-maker in America was prominent in the news a year or two back. The fact that that was a big news item highlights the rarity of such an occurrence.
The only area that may cause a problem in a single-sex ceremony, as opposed to a heterosexual one, lies in vocabulary. Is the couple to be referred to at the end as “Mr and Mr Jones” or “Mrs and Mrs Smith”?
It’s possible that some of the readings will need a bit of rewording, but essentially the same-sex and heterosexual ceremony should turn out to be much the same.
The celebrant can always alternate the names, so it isn’t always the same person being addressed or referred to first.
As we have seen, the differences are actually not so great between heterosexual and same-sex ceremonies. I hope that will reassure you that absolutely nobody needs to be put off from arranging a same-sex ceremony!
Don’t forget that I can help out! Just send me an e-mail or give me a call.
Are same-sex ceremonies actually so different from heterosexual ones?
They share the same obstacles and challenges – and rewards.
You may relish the process of preparing for your big day – or you may struggle with it. With the right preparations – however you may be celebrating it – your big day should be a delight, bursting with love, benevolence and happiness.
Sure, there are a few differences of detail, but the principles are the same or similar.
So let’s talk about weddings.
- There can be nothing more challenging than your family! If they oppose your marriage, you can be in deep water, especially if they try to pressurise you.
- Choosing and obtaining the right suppliers is important, but can be difficult.
- Sorting out the invitations and venue can also be an interesting task!
Let’s take a look at these, and see how we can deal with them.
It may be that your family refuse to accept or recognise your partner. If you are closely attached to your family (they may even be paying for your wedding!), you may not want to make waves.
However, it is not they who will be living with your partner, but you! The ceremony is about you, not them. The bottom line is that it is your wedding and your big day. It is unfair for them to impose their choices upon you. Especially, for such an important event.
Of course, you should invite them to meet and get to know your partner, preferably informally. If the charm offensive doesn’t work, then think about asking your officiant to have a word. If it’s a religious ceremony, and your priest is already well-known to the family, then he may well start from a position of respect and can help smooth over the problems.
The ceremony itself may prove a sticking-point. You may not be allowed a religious service in a church, say. However, all is not lost because a civil celebrant can conduct a religious service all the same. Or a part-religious one. Or, indeed, a non-religious one. And because a civil ceremony is not formally structured, you can have your choice of participants, as well as readings, rituals and music.
You may be able to explain to, or show, the disapproving relative(s) that the service will in fact be spiritual, memorable and delightful. Better still, you may be able to invite them to read something (even of their choice!) at the event. That way, you can show how much you value them.
There’s nothing out of the ordinary to be said here, as your sexual orientation shouldn’t enter into it. You are likely to need catering, photography, flowers, a celebrant, a cake, maybe a limousine, entertainment (a magician, a DJ, a photo-booth etc.). There have been some recent, notorious cases of suppliers refusing to serve same-sex couples, but you can only feel pity for such intolerant people. Move on. There are plenty of others who will serve you excellently.
You need to take your time and do your research. Recommendation, websites, personal visits are all better than taking pot luck with Google. I have more advice on this subject in a blog: https://vowsthatwow.co.uk/how-to-avoid-wedding-rip-offs/
I have also written on this topic (please see https://vowsthatwow.co.uk/the-venue-of-your-dreams/), but here too you need to get in early, do your research and ensure, if possible, that you visit. The visit will allow you to get a feel for the atmosphere of the place. Crucially, you’ll be able to ask the event co-ordinator questions.
The jury is out on this one, but it may be worth checking that the venue has no problems with gay ceremonies.
The guest-list and (potential) table-plan is almost always a sticky issue for any wedding. Your budget must be adhered to and, most importantly, you and your partner must be in harmony over this. Ideally, so will your families (especially if they are bankrolling the event!). You may need to be very diplomatic …
So, in general, a same-sex and a heterosexual ceremony will differ very little. The officiant will need to check with the couple about the terms he/she will be using. Will it be “bride and bride” or “groom and groom”, and will the couple at the end be announced as “Mr & Mr X” or “Mrs and Mrs Y”? The wording of some of the readings may have to be changed, but, otherwise, a same-sex ceremony is basically the same as a heterosexual one.
Absolutely nobody needs to be put off from arranging a same-sex ceremony!