Over the last few weeks, I’ve been talking about various roles in weddings such as best man and maid of honour. But if yours is a same sex wedding, how do these roles vary? And what else is different for you?
Obviously, the legislation allowing same sex weddings is relatively new so couples are designing their days within this new legislation and many old wedding traditions are being changed and new ones formed. You basically have a lot of flexibility which is great as it allows you to design your day to suit you. But there will probably be some things you’ll still want to do and some things you have to do to make it legal.
Here are some thoughts and tips to guide you through.
Best Man/Maid of Honour
You don’t need to have a best man each at a male same sex wedding and neither do you need a maid of honour each at a female same sex wedding. What you do need is your nearest and dearest by your side to help you and support you. You can read more about the traditional roles of maid of honour and best man and this should help you to think about which areas of your wedding you do want some help with.
So basically you can both choose who is going to be in your bridal party. The phrase ‘honour attendants’ is often used in same sex weddings to describe the re-defined best man & maid of honour roles.
One thing you do need to do though is make it clear what everyone’s role is. So set out your expectations and the boundaries up front so everyone is clear on what they are doing.
And there’s no reason why you can’t still choose younger family members or kids of your friends to be flower girls or page boys.
Hen & Stag Parties
Many gay couples opt to have a joint night out or even a holiday with their friends. You can still have separate events if you prefer and you can call it whatever you like.
Chances are you’ll have a mixed gender group so calling it a stag or hen doesn’t really work. Many people use the terms sten or hag instead.
The tradition of getting reaady separately is based on superstition that it’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the ceremeony.
Many same sex couples choose their wedding outfits together. In this case, you may be happy to get ready together and this is absolutely your choice.
However, you might still want the element of surprise when you see each other for the first time at the ceremony and therefore may choose to get ready separately.
Walking Down The Aisle
The tradition of the ‘ownership’ of the bride being transferred from father to husband is very out of date. These days, it’s more about someone close to you being there to support you and to show their support for your marriage.
Many female same sex couples still choose to have their fathers walk them down the aisle and many male same sex couples walk with their mothers. You could walk down the aisle together or have a close friend walk down with you both.
Or you could choose to both be at the front of the room before your guests arrive. It really is up to you and what feels right for you as a couple.
The Ceremony & Vows
In England and Wales, same sex weddings can’t take place in Anglican churches but they can in Scotland. If you’re marrying in a Scottish church, talk to them about your options and the rules for what can be included in your vows.
In England and Wales, you can marry at a registry office or a venue which is licenced for civil ceremonies. Again speak to the registrar to find out what they will allow but having personalised vows makes for a really special ceremony.
If the registrar for your area doesn’t allow this, then you could think about having your legal ceremony at a registry office a few days ahead of your wedding celebration. You could then have a celebrant to conduct a completely personalised ceremony for you in front of your friends and family.
During the ceremony, it really doesn’t matter which side you both stand on so just stand where you are comfortable.
The role of the speeches is primarily to thank guests for attending and to thank those people who have really contributed to the planning and running of the wedding as well as entertaining your guests. Traditionally speeches are made by the father of the bride, the groom and the best man. That obviously isn’t possible at a same sex wedding given that the first two can’t be there at the same wedding.
I’m seeing a lot of variety these days in who makes a speech and there’s no hard and fast rules here for you.
So both fathers of the bride may want to make a speech at a female same sex wedding. Or both fathers of the grooms at a gay wedding. Some couples choose to both say a few words. Maybe a good friend of you both will be best placed to speak?
My top advice is whoever is speaking, ask them to keep it short and sweet for the benefit of all your guests!
The traditional long top table set up causes issues at modern weddings with divorced and separated parents. Traditionally the top table has male and female guests sitting alternatively.
It starts with the maid of honour, then the grooms father, the bride’s mother, the groom, the bride, then bride’s father, grooms’ mother and the best man on the end.
Now this obviously doesn’t work for same sex weddings so you can work out a solution which suits you and your families. You could have a sweetheart table just for the two of you. Or don’t have a top table at all.
Round tables are great for removing hierarchy and encourage better conversations. But depending on your venue, you may opt for long banqueting tables.
You could have parents and honour attendants hosting tables if you have enough of them. As with any wedding, think about who you seat together and try to sit people with at least some people they know. Forcing guests to mingle can lead to lots of stilted awkward conversations which I’m sure you don’t want. You can read more tips on seating plans here.
There are some traditions which you will probably still be keen to include in your day (but again you don’t have to!)
Things like cutting the cake and the first dance still happen at the majority of weddings so chances are you’ll also want to include these. They’re both intimate elements of any wedding and great photo opportunities.
After your first dance, many couples still do a daughter & father and son & mother dance. You could include any combination of these to suit you and your families.
Remember, this day is about celebrating your love and you should do it in a way that suits you as a couple. So get creative and have the perfect day that you’ll always remember.
If you need some help planning your wedding or need someone to run the day for you, why not get in touch and let’s have a chat about how I can help you. All my planning services are tailored to suit your needs to you’ll only ever pay for what you need.