Professional wedding web sites are full of practical advice and we have no intention of repeating all those tips here.  Instead what you will find here is some helpful general advice that we didn't find anywhere else and some valuable tips pertaining specifically to planning a ceremony like ours. 


  1. research, research, research.  In particular, check wedding websites for tips from people who have been through the experience Ė youíll discover advice there that they donít tell you in any professional magazine or book

  2. put together a planning schedule and stick to it

  3. put together a budget and stick to it

  4. buy wedding insurance: $150 could easily save you $15,000 if something beyond your control goes wrong

  5. if guests canít drive up to the front door of the ceremony or reception venue, consider it an outdoor wedding and prepare accordingly

  6. if you unexpectedly come across something that would make your wedding really special, spend the extra money to get it (you'll regret saving the money once you realize you will never have another chance at this big day)

  7. don't skip the tasting on the assumption that you've had great meals before from the same caterer or restaurant (if the venue only offers one menu choice per tasting book far enough in advance of the wedding to return for a second tasting if necessary)

  8. quality over quantity!  Save money by eliminating things you can do without rather than scaling back on things that are truly important (if money is tight your guests will hardly miss a wedding cake but you may sorely miss the friends you'll have to cut from the guest list to afford the cake)

  9. when the big day finally arrives, continually remind yourself to slow down and enjoy it because otherwise it will be over before you know it (plan time-outs into your schedule if you have to!)

  10. plan the wedding for your guests as much as - if not more - than yourselves (e.g. don't leave them high and dry for two hours while you're off getting wedding photos after the ceremony) 

  11. go on a honeymoon no matter how short and plan not to be alone the day after the wedding (it can be a real shocker going from the centre of attention for months on end to just another married couple!) 

  12. donít let any of your friends offer professional or amateur services for free (e.g. photography, printing).  Instead offer them a fee so that no-one feels taken advantage of when you insist on good results.  (Better yet, hire acquaintances instead of friends to avoid risking hurt feelings on either side)

  13. definitely have at least the ceremony videotaped.  It doesn't have to be professionally done but after all the planning you put it, a videotape will be the only opportunity you'll have to see how the wedding actually turned out from your guests' point of view 

  14. Peggy Post is right when she bemoans the lack of consideration in today's society.  Schedule plenty of time to repeatedly try to contact guests who have not responded by your RSVP date.

  15. Delegate!  If you try to do everything yourself you will fail.  Take advantage of friends and family's volunteers to help out and remember that your wedding party is there to provide crucial support you on your big day, not just to look pretty!



  1. order invitations to be ready at least one week before your mailing deadline so you have time to have them re-done if necessary  

  2. collect full names & addresses and order foreign return postage stamps (if applicable) well in advance of your mailing deadline

  3. be aware that the typical Canadian wedding costs $18,350 according to the June 2001 Report on Business magazine

  4. you can get great ideas for your big proposal by visiting websites like

  5. fall colours arenít guaranteed  

  6. the stamps on sale at the time you mail invitations may not match the look and feel of your wedding theme so stock up in advance if you see something appropriate

  7. if your families have never met, don't overlook the fact that the rehearsal will be a significant event.  Book some social time into the beginning of your rehearsal schedule if this is your situation (actually, that's a good idea in any situation as it allows participants to settle down before the rehearsal begins!)

  8. clearly explain your RSVP process if not all ceremony guests are invited to the reception or vice versa (don't assume your guests are all as familiar with standard wedding etiquette as you are)

  9. digital photos are preferred if you plan on having a wedding website and/or an online photo album but make sure they are high enough resolution to print because you'll still want a hardcopy album

  10. make sure you allow for at least an hour to do nothing but mingle otherwise you'll never have the chance to talk to many of your guests

  11. don't try to satisfy (gay) nightclubbing friends and straight relatives & parents at a party or reception (leave the heavy duty partying for afterwards - your friends will be just fine until then)

  12. be sure to assign someone to attach cards to gifts when they are dropped off at your reception.  In the commotion of the day these things easily become separated and you are left with the horrible feeling that at least one guest thinks you are inconsiderate jerks for not sending them a thank-you card! 

  13. those disposable cameras distributed at receptions are just novelties - you don't realize how little of the evening you see from the head table!

  14. be aware that reception lines may spontaneously form outside the ceremony venue if you don't plan on leaving immediately afterwards 



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.



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!)  



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?  




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Page last updated October 06, 2013