LGBTQ+ Guide

5 Tips for Planning Your LGBTQ+ Wedding

Thank you for taking the time to read these tips!

While weddings are the same regardless of who is getting married, LGBTQ+ couples have some unique obstacles when it comes to finding vendors. I wrote this guide after planning my own wedding, which I used many tidbits I’ve learned while serving the LGBTQ+ community for the past 7 years.

LGBTQ+ Weddings in particular can be stressful for all the wrong reasons. I know when I got married, I realized 95% of our guests had never been to an LGBTQ+ wedding before, which really put the pressure on us. In general, I notice LGBTQ+ couples customize their day to match them, and really could care less about what others believe. This is good advice for all couples, but LGBTQ+ couples in particular love to create weddings that reflect the communities’ struggles.

This guide walks you through my Top 5 Tips for LGBTQ+ Couples who are planning to wed! I sincerely hope you enjoy and find value in these tips. And please! Share if there are some in your network who could find this info useful!

Tip 1

Finding LGBTQ+ Friendly Vendors

LGBTQ+ Couples face possible rejection from vendors. If you’re planning your wedding and are unsure where to find vendors who champion marriage equality, then this tip is for you.

Thankfully the country is catching up with marriage equality, and many wedding vendors are actively seeking LGBTQ+ couples.

Here’s a couple recommendations on how to find some LGBT+ wedding vendors:

  • Word Of Mouth
    Tapping into your existing network is always the most powerful. With social media, it’s very easy to post and find referrals.
  • LBGTQ+ Wedding Tradeshow
    Attending tradeshows is a great way to get in front of vendors who want your business. Even if you can’t attend, many post their vendor lists that you can access after the show.
  • Vendor Directories
    Many vendors sign up for free listings. GayWeddings.com is my go-to recommendation for couples.
  • Google/Search Engines
    Searching for LGBTQ+ wedding vendors for your venue and/or geographic area on google is a surefire to way to find some vendors.

As you research wedding vendors, here are a few pointers to think about:

  • Do you see images of LGBTQ+ couples on the vendor’s homepage/social media?
  • Do you see the use of non-gendered and inclusive language in questionnaires, contact forms, etc (“The Couple” vs “Bride & Groom”)?
  • Does the vendor explicitly say all couples are welcome?

Vendors of all kinds who want to work with LGBTQ+ couples KNOW they should be implementing all the strategies above to ensure they are connecting and embracing the LGBTQ+ communities. Be leery of vendors who use gendered language, or don’t openly advocate that all or welcome.

Tip 2

The Ceremony is Your Chance to Slam Dunk Your Vision

Wedding ceremonies are steeped in tradition. A ritual that largely is being streamlined and personalized by Millenials. The ceremony is where you’ll have most everyone’s attention and its an opportunity to create a story of you both as individuals, and what your story is as a newly married couple.

As LGBTQ+ people, we haven’t always enjoyed the right to marriage. Because of this, there’s so much emotion in LGBTQ+ wedding ceremonies, because for many community members of the past, their ceremonies were purely symbolic and not legal. Many LGBTQ+ couples look at their ceremony as an opportunity to make a statement. Some, would prefer something simple and streamlined.

Designing the ceremony is usually one of the biggest friction points for couples. For my wedding, I hadn’t realized that even though my wedding guests were largely LGBTQ+ people and allies, many themselves had never been to an LGBTQ+ wedding before. Talk about pressure!

Readings are a great way to create and weave a ceremony together using different themes. In addition to what you officiant has to say, you as a couple should carefully consider how you want your love story conveyed.

Tip 3

Pack Your Wedding With Your Chosen Family

We don’t always have full buy-in from our biological family. Fill in the gaps with your chosen family.

The chemistry of your wedding guests is important to consider. Some LGBTQ+ weddings have no family drama, but many do. If you and your fiancé find yourself inviting family members of mixed support, then this tip is all about drowning them out by inviting your chosen family.

Here’s some tips on how to navigate this:

  • Have a large wedding party of your chosen family. Keep them close throughout the day.
  • If keeping your wedding party small, reserve an additional row just for your chosen family. Be sure to let the members of that group know they have a reserved row.
  • Consider your table arrangements and assignments. Keep your chosen family close to you. This gives you a comfort and makes toasts and dancing easy, while ensuring your possible grimacers are out-of-frame.

More importantly, be sure to communicate to your wedding planner, photographer, and officiant if you expect any family issues. They are the 3 vendors that can do you the most help by knowing certain issues before the day arrives.

Tip 4

Ditch Traditions

At this point in the guide, this seems like an overall theme. But seriously, ditch tradition because we are defining the NEW tradition.

There’s so much symbolism and ritual in weddings, and many of my couples find themselves doing something “because they have to.” Or worse, they do it because their parents did it. Fortunately, times are changing and Millenials are taking weddings and making them their own.

Here’s some examples of how my past clients shaved tradition down:

  • Getting Ready Together is a great way to shed all the anxiety of the day. By getting ready together, there’s little pressure on first looks or first reactions at a ceremony. And honestly, your guests won’t know one way or another.
  • Mixed Gender Parties are all the rage. So much of traditional weddings are based on gender and it’s refreshing to mix up the wedding party itself.
  • Dance with parents at the same time is a fun way to condense the dancing.
  • No Flower or Garter Toss
  • No Formal Reception Events, just ceremony then party. Less is more for some couples
  • Have Flower Boys, or Flower Kids. – a fun and unique moment that is sure to make everyone go AWW
  • Involve your dog or cat children.

In contrast, there are plenty of LGBTQ+ couples who admire tradition. That’s awesome too! We’re in an exciting new world and we, as LGBTQ+ people, get to forge this new path with however much of the past we wish.

Tip 5

Choosing a Photographer That Has A Portfolio of LGBTQ+ Work

Even if I am not your photographer, here’s some good advice! So many couples don’t realize, outside of your partner, the photographer is who you’ll spend most the day with! Your relationship and their approach to LGBTQ+ portraiture will shape your images.

I’m opinionated on this topic as a wedding photographer. So many of my peers want to photograph more LGBTQ+ weddings, but often struggle to create intimate images of LGBTQ+ people in love. I believe this is due in part to a traditional approach to posing, which requires a masculine and feminine gender role.

When posing two men of similar height and build, or two women both in beautiful long white dresses, many photographers struggle in the moment. This results in a lot of images where you look like friends who happen to hold hands. I don’t believe you need to hire someone in the community. Rather, ensure that your photographer can show you lots of work from a variety of LGBTQ+ weddings. Part of that process, which is important as well, is that photographer will already work extra hard to ensure you both feel safe and secure during your session, particularly when there is discomfort with public displays of affection.

When considering a photographer, here’s some things to keep in mind:

  • Does the photographer have an LGBTQ+ Gallery?
    It’s not enough for a photographer to want more LGBT+ wedding clients. When booking a photographer for the biggest day of your life, you should see lots and lots of example work that includes couples like you. Look for dedicated galleries of same LGBTQ+ from each photographer. Ask to see full LGBTQ+ wedding galleries from start to finish.
  • Do the subjects appear as equals?
    Traditional wedding/couple photography relies on masculine/feminine gender roles. When LGBTQ+ couples are photographed, sometimes the photographer struggles to create natural images through a variety of equal poses. Learning to pose two people regardless of gender is actually very challenging for many photographers. If you look through a photographers work, do you see a lot of LGBTQ+ couples holding hands and standing side by side? You should see a range of images that communicate love, intimacy, and much more. If the subjects come off as looking like friends who hold hands, this could be a sign that you’ll receive a gallery of the same.
  • Do the subjects look comfortable?
    It’s common for LGBTQ+ people to struggle with showing affection in public. A good photographer will work with the couple to ensure that the session is a safe space. Photographers who work with the LGBTQ+ community are masters at this. When looking full LGBTQ+ wedding galleries from a photographer, take a look at the couple throughout the day. Do they look comfortable and effortless? This magic stems directly from the relationship the subjects had with the photographer. A good photographer knows they must make their subjects comfortable, safe, and validated.
  • Does the photographer have testimonials from LGBTQ+ couples?
    Testimonials are a fantastic way to build trust. Look for testimonials from LGBTQ+ couples.

Thank you for reading! I hope these tips were helpful and get you and your fiancé thinking of your wedding!