TIPS & ADVICE
OUR TOP TIPS FOR PLANNING A WEDDING
THINGS WE WISHED WE KNEW BEFOREHAND
SAME-SEX WEDDING TIPS
If you build it they will come Ė donít underestimate the effect of a gay wedding on your straight guests if you do it right.
Watch out for a leadership vacuum. When you have a traditional ceremony led by professionals there is no doubt about who is in charge. However, in our situation at least it seemed that some of our wedding party misconstrued an alternative ceremony as an open invitation to take the lead on any aspect they felt they could improve when the wedding day came around. Perhaps when a wedding is planned by the engaged couple instead of their parents it leads to the plans being perceived more as suggestions than firm decisions. Certainly the situation was only compounded by the inclusion of amateurs in some of the roles usually played by professionals. Therefore we would recommend that a couple in a similar situation clearly indicate to everyone involved just who will be in charge of what aspects of the wedding day. Even if some of these people are amateurs or volunteers, make it apparent that they still know exactly what they are doing and have your complete trust.
Ironically, in some of the areas where we had hired professionals, we found ourselves in a unexpected power struggle at times! This was likely due to the assumption that because this was a first time same-sex wedding for our professionals we could not count on them for the guidance they would provide straight couples. It took us a while to realize that while they may not have any experience with same-sex couples they have tons of experience with weddings and the vast majority of their services had nothing to do with gender! However, it was difficult to pry that experience out of them because they seemed so reluctant to offer us guidance on traditional wedding practices. It might just have been that they weren't as interested in tradition as we were or it might have been because they didn't want us to feel bound by conventions that were designed for heterosexuals. Rather than guessing at their reasoning and having them make assumptions about us, we should have addressed the uniqueness of our situation right up front and made our desires and expectations of them very clear.
TEN TIPS FOR
FORGUESTS OF GAY WEDDINGS
1. Treat the wedding like a straight wedding.
2-10. Repeat step 1.
Seriously though, you'd be amazed at the effect this simple piece of advice can have. On your part, you will be able to relax rather than worrying about what you're supposed to say or do. On their part, they will feel more accepted than you can imagine just by the fact that you are treating them like any other engaged couple. When our friends responded by sharing stories of their own wedding planning we felt a real sense of camaraderie with them. Insisting on a shower and gift registry were two other ways our guests (unknowingly) indicated their total support for our impending commitment.
Take your cue from the invitation as to whether it's going to be a formal ceremony or not. If you're a close friend don't assume that because they're arranging the wedding themselves that they don't need help. Offer assistance as you would to any other couple - volunteer to transport guests, make lunch on the day of wedding, transport gifts or watch the couple's house during the honeymoon.
Of course a gay wedding is going to have some unique aspects. Foremost is terminology but the easy solution to figuring out how to refer to things like the ceremony and participants is to simply take the lead from the couple. (Actually, if they're traditional people you can probably just call it a wedding right from the start as they'll likely be thrilled to hear that that's how you view the ceremony!) Better yet, ask questions whenever you're unsure - the couple will probably be excited at the opportunity to discuss their thoughts and plans and may even be looking for input from straight guests. (Indeed, a couple that was impatient with such legitimate questions should have known better than to have a same-sex wedding in the first place.)
The couple may likely share their amusement at some of the peculiarities of their situation but be careful about being too familiar in return. You should tease them about which groom is wearing the dress only if you had that kind of relationship before the engagement otherwise you could appear to be treating the wedding itself like a joke. A sure-fire way to avoid any misconceptions is to send a sincere engagement card - it will demonstrate right from the start that you respect them and their decision to get married regardless of humourous remarks you might make. (Just make sure you buy a gender neutral card - buying a heterosexual card as a joke will defeat the whole purpose!)
"ADVANCED" PLANNING TIPS
In the ideal scenario, everyone would hire a professional wedding consultant to plan all the little details while they just did the fun stuff like choose the colours for bridesmaid dresses, sample entrees and flip through photographers' portfolios. But since few of us can afford that here are a couple of Peter's tips from the world of professional event planning that you won't likely see in any wedding magazine.
Basically, the most important elements of good planning are anticipation and communication. Anticipate everything that will be needed for the event to go smoothly by first researching commonly available wedding planning information then assembling it all into a detailed agenda both for the months leading up to the wedding and for the day itself. List the actions that have to be completed in chronological order, the person(s) responsible for each action and the timing of the action. For the planning agenda, just grouping tasks by week will be fine up until the week of the wedding at which point actions should be broken down by day. As for the rehearsal and wedding day themselves, tasks should be listed by hour or even minute when necessary.
Include key steps from any professionals you are hiring. For example you really don't need to know when the caterer will start folding napkins but you do need to know when the room will be ready for guests. Never make assumptions, always check with professionals. For example, don't assume how long it will take for guests to be seated for dinner or how long it will take to drive to the venue - ask the caterer and limousine service instead! (Of course if their estimates seem overly optimistic it never hurts to pad them a bit.) You should also avoid assumptions regarding the key players such as how they intend to carpool to the venue - they may well be assuming that someone else is making those plans for them!
Now that you've anticipated every step of your big day, it's time to communicate those plans. Professional event planners will gather all the key players together a couple of days before the event and walk through the detailed agenda step by step. Obviously it won't be practical to include the professionals in this meeting but that won't be necessary as long as you have communicated your schedule to all of them in writing. This is a very useful step as your wedding party members and friends who are volunteering to help will all be in the same room at the same time to provide different perspectives than your own and subsequently point out potential problems that you had not thought of. The following day you can revise your agenda accordingly and give everyone their copy so that each person is aware of the big picture and not just their part in it (this is invaluable when surprises inevitably pop up on the actual day as it provides people with the information they need to quickly devise an appropriate solution.)
Communication is vitally important on the wedding day itself particularly when dealing with multiple venues or with a very large venue such as an historic village or any outdoor venue. In these situations your key players can be spread out all over the place in the hours leading up to the ceremony and minor glitches become major problems simply because one person can't find another in time. Professionals use two-way radios (walkie-talkies) in these situations but cell phones work just as well for a wedding. Make sure that not only does every key player have one (and have it turned on) but that they all have each other's phone numbers (this time be sure to include people like off-site caterers and your rep from the venue even if it means lending them a friend's phone.) Of course, you shouldn't be doing any of the work yourself on the actual day - part of your planning should be to designate someone to execute the wedding day agenda. It is that person's responsibility to lead you through the day as if you were a child so that you are free to do nothing but treasure the occasion with your friends, your family and, of course, your beloved partner.
Finally, keep in mind that nothing is perfect. Even professional event planners expect some hitches. The point is that by planning properly to weed out significant problems in advance and by providing key players with the tools to deal with unexpected scenarios, anything problems that do occur will be so minor as to be unnoticeable to anyone but the planners. After all, you've got to have some sort of humourous anecdote to share with your spouse later on, don't you?
Page last updated October 06, 2013