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Photo courtesy of Laura Goldenberg - Sharpe Suiting

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Photo courtesy of Laura Goldenberg – Sharpe Suiting

Deciding to marry the love of your life is easy. Planning your perfect wedding can be much trickier. GayWeddings has been leading the LGBTQ wedding planning and inspiration conversation since 1999, and as editors of GayWeddings, we chat with a lot of couples every day, learning about how they met, how they fell in love, and how they knew that each other was “the one.” We also receive a fair number of questions; mainly those that ask what the “rules” of wedding planning are when the “traditional” male−female gender dichotomy is removed. Our advice is usually some variation of “whatever feels right for you.”

However, many couples have questions that require a little more guidance and knowledge of the same-sex wedding landscape. To help you out, we’ve joined forces with Steven Petrow, “Civilities” columnist for The Washington Post and author of Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay and Lesbian Manners, to discuss on how to handle the prickliest of wedding hosting and etiquette conundrums.

(Photo by Denis Largeron)

(Photo by Denis Largeron)

Hosting the Wedding
Most same-sex couples still host their own weddings, but parents are playing a bigger and bigger role, which we think is great. We recommend that that the brides-to-be sit down with their families—together or separately—and talk about how they might contribute, and not only in terms of dollars and cents. Even with modern-day straight couples, the rulebook about who hosts is history.

You might be unsure of how to word your wedding announcements and invitations if one or both of your sets of parents don’t support your upcoming nuptials. If that’s the case, we recommend using the following wording:

Suzana Rodriguez and Megan James

Invite you to celebrate their marriage

Date | Time | Place

If one set of parents is hosting, here’s another option:

Mr. and Mrs. Jose Rodriguez

Would be honored to have you join them at the marriage of

Suzana Rodriguez and Megan James

Less-Than-Supportive Relatives
With greater acceptance of marriage equality, we’ve been hearing less frequently about family members who don’t support same-sex marriage. (Thank goodness!) However, if there is an issue, we recommend that you talk to your relatives about why marriage matters to you. Get into the nuts and bolts stuff, like tax benefits, hospital rights, and kids having two legal parents. But in the end, if a family member can’t support you, it’s their loss—don’t invite them.

Choosing Your Wedding Vendors
When looking for wedding vendors, ask for referrals from LGBTQ friends. Use websites like GayWeddings, WeddingWire, and others, which have “pre-approved” LGBTQ-friendly vendors. This is the easiest way to make sure your vendor is supportive of marriage equality and comfortable serving you and your partner. If you run across a vendor who isn’t listed on an LGBTQ-friendly directory, you can search the vendor’s social media channels to quickly learn if they’ve worked with same-sex couples in the past.

If you need to come out to a vendor, say something like, “We want to make sure you and your staff are comfortable with a same-sex wedding,” or, “Have you catered a lesbian wedding previously? Can you help us with some of the new rites and rituals?”

It’s also important to note that while a lot of wedding vendors are new to same-sex weddings (particularly those in states where there were explicit bans on the practice just a year ago), many are extremely eager to serve you and learn. If you choose a vendor who hasn’t served a same-sex couple before, be prepared to do a little research and provide examples for how you want things done.

Wedding Traditions to Choose or Lose
As same-sex couples increasingly exhibit the same engagement-to-wedding trajectory as straight couples, questions about how to engage rituals that are traditionally heteronormative begin to arise. As you consider how to propose to the love of your life and how to celebrate prior to the wedding, choose traditions because they have meaning to you, not because they are familiar or something that a straight couple might choose to do.

Bachelorette Parties and Showers
As a same-sex couple, you might be unsure if you should have joint or separate bachelorette parties or wedding showers. If family or friends offer to host a joint party—and you and your fiancée want to do it together—that’s great. If one of you wants to run off to Vegas with your girlfriends for a weekend, that’s fine by us—as long as it is by your other half. Whatever you do, talk to each other!

(Photo by Denis Largeron)

(Photo by Denis Largeron)

Proposals are as steeped in tradition as weddings themselves. More and more same-sex couples are adhering to old-time traditions like asking their partner’s parents for their hand in marriage or getting down on one knee to propose.

We think it’s sweet when one partner asks the other partner’s parents for her hand in marriage, but only if that’s what the couple wants. However, you shouldn’t feel obligated to ask her parents, if that’s not what you want. Either way, it’s not like the parents have any veto power; asking for permission is simply another way to include them in the wedding if you choose to go this route.

What about the proposal? Should one of us prepare a formal proposal?
Additionally, while the much-ballyhooed down-on-one-knee proposal was once virtually non-existent for same-sex couples, it is rapidly becoming more popular for same-sex couples. However, proposals are as unique as the couple. If you are dying to be married to your love, and feel it’s right, don’t hesitate to propose in whatever way is comfortable and will make the both of you happy. If you know your partner would like to propose, don’t feel like you are totally out of the proposal game. Many couples report that both partners proposed marriage at different times, either with or without a ring. It gives both partners a chance to declare their love, and both partners a chance to be on the receiving end of a romantic proposal.

Final Thoughts
Ultimately, your wedding is a celebration of the love and commitment between you and your partner, so say “I do” to the traditions and choices that make both of you happy and “I don’t” to choices you might be tempted to make because they’re expected or because they’ll please your family and friends. Whether the two of you decide to have a small and intimate ceremony or a huge party of a lifetime, there are so many choices you can make to have the wedding of your dreams, and your special day should reflect your special partnership.