6 Challenges When Planning a Same-Sex Wedding (And How to Overcome Them)

Two men hugging each other and looking out the window.

Generally speaking, a same-sex wedding is no different than a heterosexual wedding, aside from a few key points. Because a same-sex wedding deviates from tradition, LGBTQ couples tend to encounter various challenges in the planning process and sometimes even on the big day. If you’re planning a same-sex wedding, it can help to be aware of the common problems other couples face. By knowing what to expect, you can better prepare for and deal with any complexities you might run into.

1. Legal Issues

Two brides at their wedding ceremony holding hands.

If you’re getting married outside of the United States, you might find yourself limited to what kind of marriage ceremony you’ll have. Of course, worst-case scenario, your actual wedding may not be officially binding and you’ll need to legalize it elsewhere. However, if having the same place, date, and time is important to you, you’ll need to take location into serious consideration.

In addition, you may encounter other legal issues. For example, if you’re settling for a civil partnership and need to change your name, the process might have to be done via court. Hence, when getting married in a place that hasn’t legalized same-sex marriage, it might be wise to chat with a lawyer.

2. Venues and Vendors

Most wedding venues and vendors are very open-minded when it comes to non-traditional relationships. However, it’s not unusual for people or companies to decline to work on your wedding. In regards to venues, for example, you might not be able to get married in certain houses of worship. So, although it seems silly, it is always best to “come out” to the people you’ll be working with. It will help avoid awkward situations later on.

3. Guest List

It is also not uncommon to face some critique from those on your guest list. Many same-sex couples, unfortunately, get a “no” to an RSVP simply because of their orientation. This isn’t necessarily a sign to cut off a friend, however. Some people were simply raised in a very conservative environment, and although they are okay with you and your significant other’s relationship, they may feel uncomfortable with the concept of same-sex marriage. Accept the “no” for what it is and carry on with your relationship with the guest as it was.

4. Awkward Conversations

Don’t take offense if your guests or vendors ask an awkward question or two, especially if they’re not knowledgeable about the LGBTQ lifestyle. Most likely the vendors are trying to be helpful, and the guests simply curious. They wouldn’t be there with you if they didn’t mean well. With vendors, you might also encounter the default terms of “bride and groom” or “husband and wife.” Most people assume a male-female relationship and will quickly correct themselves if told otherwise.

5. Extra Costs and Expenses

Two brides at their wedding reception.

Depending on your situation, you might find that you’ll spend more on your wedding than a heterosexual couple due to additional expenses. As with the example above, if you have two bridal showers, that’s one extra event to plan. Or if both of you insist on arriving via a limo, that’s a double on transportation costs.

6. Procedures and Etiquette

When planning your ceremony and reception, there are a few kinks you’ll have to work out. Traditional weddings tend to come with a set of how-to instructions, some of which might be complicated to figure out in certain scenarios. For example, if there are two brides or two grooms, who walks down the aisle first, or will you walk together? Or in lieu of bridesmaids and groomsmen, should you consider having a mixed-gender “wedding party?”

Likewise, when planning certain pre-wedding events, you’ll have to make some alterations as well. For example, if there are no brides, do you still have a bridal shower? Or if you’re both brides-to-be, do you have one or two? Similarly, how will you plan your bachelor or bachelorette party?

These are just a few things you might have to puzzle over. On the bright side, such little challenges allow you to get creative with your special day.

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