The Differences in Planning a Gay or Lesbian Wedding

Gay Marriage
Upstate New York Wedding

Photo: Elena Zhukova

Planning a gay or lesbian wedding isn't that different from planning a straight wedding, except there are traditions and some etiquette that must be adjusted to properly suit a same-sex couple.

One of the most obvious times the differences are brought to light is at the wedding rehearsal where nothing will be done exactly like it's done for a wedding with one bride and one groom. There are no rules and couples are creating their own traditions. The brides and grooms have to choose how they want to do it. Figuring it out ahead of time (and sharing that information with your wedding planner, if you have one) will really help speed things along and avoid any uncomfortable moments.

You have to consider how you are getting down the aisle. If it's two brides, are two dads (or moms and dads) walking them separately? Will there be two processionals? Two grooms also have the option of being "given away" by parents. Sometimes the couples choose to escort one another, or each process alone. It's 100 percent up to you — but you should decide this in advance and let your parents know the game plan so there are no surprises.

Who sits on what side is entirely up to you as a couple. The brides and grooms can simply designate the sides and have ushers tell the guests which is which, or they can declare it "open seating" except for the one or two rows reserved for family. Cute signs with the brides or grooms names on them can be hung on the back row of chairs if you're feeling creative.

See more: WATCH: Jennifer Hudson's "I Still Love You" Video Stands Up for Marriage Equality

Brides have more options than grooms as far as their wedding attire goes. Most men pretty much have to wear pants. But brides have the option of wearing a wedding gown or not. I've had more than one lesbian couple split it up — with one playing the traditional bridal role in a huge gown with a bouquet while the other chose to wear pants with a shirt and vest.

Sometimes both brides go all out on the gown, veil, and bouquets, and I've learned a lesson about this. When you have two brides who want the whole wedding enchilada, you have to plan to have two photographers on hand to get all the pictures that will make them happy. Dressing photos will take place at the same time, and both brides are likely to have a whole list of photo ideas of things they want done of them with their friends.

What's fun about planning a gay or lesbian wedding is that nobody expects you to stick to convention — you can be as creative as you want to be. Basic manners still apply, but beyond that, you can do what makes you happy as a couple.

Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a full-service traditional and destination wedding planning company and Do-It-Yourself wedding planning consulting service for DIY brides and grooms based in the Washington, DC area. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show "Wedding Island," about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques. Sandy's book "How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional," will be released on March 1st, but is available online for pre-orders now where books are sold.

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