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"Same-sex weddings," says Mark O'Connell, New York City-based psychotherapist and author of Modern Brides & Modern Grooms: A Guide to Planning Straight, Gay, and Other Nontraditional Twenty-First-Century Weddings, "are unequivocally beautiful because they reveal what weddings and marriage are all about at the core."
So if you're preparing to soak in the beauty of a same-sex wedding, here are a few moments in particular that might just take your breath away.
The moment the parents give away their children.
"It's always a beautiful moment to watch as parents give away their children as brides and grooms," says Erica Taylor, co-owner of New York City-based Tinsel & Twine. But in a same-sex wedding, the act of a parent giving away his or her child represents something more, she says. The act "underscores the parents' support of the same-sex union," Taylor says.
The moment the couple exchanges their vows.
"There's something really special about a couple of brides or grooms finally getting to say the same vows their parents and grandparents have done at their own weddings," says Taylor. Plus, adds O'Connell, "hearing their officiant tell a bit of their story, and, of course watching them kiss the way we see and have seen endless straight couples kiss, is so beautiful."
The moment the couple walks back down the aisle.
"The chance to witness a same-sex couple coming back down the aisle after they say 'I do' is quite an honor," says Taylor. While the walk goes by in just a moment, it's filled with such energy and excitement.
The moment the couple gets creative.
Because so many wedding traditions revolve around having one bride and one groom, they don't always translate to a same-sex wedding. "So many of the rituals have to be adapted or re-created from the ground up," O'Connell says, "whether that means changing how the couple enters their ceremony, what music or text they will use, or who dances with whose parent at the reception."