8 Answers to Same-Sex Wedding Etiquette Questions

Two grooms after their wedding ceremony being showered with confetti.

These days, most people agree that love is love, and that any two adults who love each other should be able to spend their lives together as a married couple. However, wedding traditions and industries have long been divided along gender lines—and that can mean a lot of confusion surrounding same-sex weddings.

For the Couple

Let’s look at some commonly asked questions surrounding LGBTQ+ weddings, starting with a few questions the couple might be asking.

1. Who Pays for the Wedding?

Traditionally speaking, the bride’s family is expected to pay for a wedding. But what do you do if there is no bride? What about when there are two brides? According to the Gay Wedding Institute, LGBTQ+ couples are paying for the wedding themselves; around 84% of gay men and 73% of lesbians paid for their own nuptials. Whether the couple foots the bill or splits it with their families, the wedding should be paid for by someone who can afford it.

2. How Do We Find “Gay-Friendly” Vendors?

Two women on their wedding day.

Since we don’t live in a world where every single wedding vendor wants to work a same-sex wedding, you may need to put in some extra effort to find someone who will. Thankfully, there are online directories you can use to find gay-friendly florists, caterers, photographers and more in your area, or you could always call up a vendor you’re interested in and simply ask if they will work a gay wedding.

3. What Should We Call Our Wedding Party?

Can your best girlfriend be a groomsman? Can a guy be a bridesmaid? I talked about this in a previous article, but the short answer is: of course! Your wedding party should consist of your closest friends, regardless of their gender identity. Instead of sticking with the traditional “bridesmaids” and “groomsmen,” call them whatever you want. At the end of the day, your friends won’t care what they’re called, as long as they get to celebrate with you.

4. Who Should Change Their Name?

While it’s tradition for the bride to take her husband’s last name, most people realize that this isn’t a social requirement anymore. If one of you wants to take the other’s name, great! If you both want to keep the name you’ve had all your lives, great! If you want to hyphenate or create an entirely new last name for just the two of you, great! The answer to this question really rests with you and your partner.

For the Wedding Guests

Of course, same-sex weddings can also be puzzling for the guests in attendance, particularly if they’ve never been to one before. If you’re worried about embarrassing yourself at a gay, lesbian, or non-binary wedding, here are the answers to some of the common questions you might be wondering.

5. What Should I Call the Couple?

These days, more and more members of the queer community are standing up and asking people to respect their pronouns, whether they be he, she, they, or something else entirely. Also, some LGBTQ+ couples may not be comfortable with the words “bride,” “groom,” “husband,” or “wife”—and a couple’s wedding day is definitely NOT the time to upset them by using the wrong words. If you’re close with the couple, you probably know what they prefer to be called, but if you don’t know (maybe you’re a friend of a friend or a distant relative), keep it simple and call the couple by their names.

6. Will the Wedding Be “Traditional”?

Two brides holding hands next to glasses of champagne.

A gay wedding, much like a straight one, can be as traditional or unconventional as the couple wants it to be. Maybe their best friends will perform a sweet ceremony. Maybe a hologram of Judy Garland will officiate (which, for the record, sounds amazing)! The point is that you shouldn’t go into the wedding with any expectations; the only thing you know for sure is that two people who love each other will be married by the end of the evening.

7. I Have a Friend Who Wants to See a Gay Wedding. Can I Bring Them as My Plus One?

Does your invitation say you can have a plus one? Once again, a same-sex wedding is just like every other wedding out there…and that means they have to pay to feed all their guests. If you weren’t given a plus-one on the invite, assume there isn’t room in the budget for your friend and have a great time on your own. If you are given a plus one, feel free to bring your friend—but make sure he or she doesn’t make a big deal about attending. Gay weddings aren’t a sideshow spectacle.

8. What Do I Do…if I Don’t Support Gay Marriage?

If you are invited to a wedding you don’t approve of (such as a same-sex union), you have every right to decide not to attend. However, you might also feel the need to explain yourself when you decline the invite—but you probably shouldn’t. Just check “regretfully decline” on your RSVP and leave it at that; anything more is only going to be needlessly hurtful for the couple.

Whether you’re planning a same-sex wedding or planning to attend one soon, these tips will help you be respectful and happy on this special day!

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