The Ins and Outs of Planning a Double Wedding

Double Wedding

Photo by Emm & Clau

When we think of weddings, it's usually all eyes on one couple. Double the number of couples, and you might think things will get doubly complicated—but that doesn’t have to be the case. 

What Is a Double Wedding?

A double wedding is a single marriage ceremony and reception for two couples.

“As long as people want the same thing, a double wedding can more or less take on a ‘normal’ wedding format,” says event planner Jenn Laskey. “It’s also a good way to save money. You’ll be cutting down on food and beverage because of shared guest count, and, for other big-ticket items—the venue, the band—you’ll be paying once instead of twice.”

Meet the Expert

With over 18 years of event experience and more than 400 weddings under her belt, L.A. event planner Jenn Laskey runs the eponymous event firm Weddings by Jennifer Laskey. She also coordinates premiere parties and wrap parties.

If this approach sounds appealing, read on for the best tips and tricks for pulling off a double wedding of your own.

Tips for Planning a Double Wedding

Be smart about who you do this with. 

A double wedding makes sense when there’s a close bond between at least two members of the couples, the two couples got engaged around the same time, and there’s a significant overlap in guest lists. For these reasons, siblings—especially twins—are most likely to have a double wedding, but the approach can also work for close relatives or best friends. Either way, the people sharing the connection should be comfortable making decisions together and discussing finances and budgets openly and honestly. Communication is key in any wedding planning process, but it’s even more important when more than one couple is involved.

Know it could make travel considerably less complicated. 

Cost-cutting is a big perk of a double wedding, but travel is another important reason to consider the approach. If you and a sibling or close friend are both considering a destination wedding around the same time, chances are guests might not be able to attend both. Combining the celebrations will ensure people won’t have to choose one over the other.

Per Laskey, a double wedding can also be a good idea in the face of travel restrictions. If visas for important relatives living overseas are difficult to obtain, it might be too much of a gamble to expect they’ll be able to visit twice.

Establish your aesthetic—and how you’ll go about bringing it to life. 

A double wedding works best when the two couples have similar visions for their wedding days. If one pair dreams of a glitzy ballroom soiree, while the other loves the idea of a rustic alfresco affair, you’ll end up with the worst possible outcome: a compromise of a celebration that no one loves. “You need to have similar tastes, or be comfortable allowing one person’s taste to lead,” Laskey explains. “Otherwise one person picks the plates, one person picks the glasses, and there’s clashing.”

When it comes to categories that leave room for more than one option, embrace it! Laskey says that dinner menus and song choices are especially good opportunities to get all four members of the couples involved. Be sure that everyone picks an appetizer for the cocktail hour menu, and that the DJ or band plays a few of everyone’s favorite tunes. This will also go a long way towards ensuring that the members of the couples who don’t overlap still feel an ownership of the celebration.

Think carefully about your wedding party. 

While bridesmaids and groomsmen serve an important role in any wedding day, things can get complicated in a double wedding. A shared group of attendants might work for relatives or friends that wanted to share the celebration in the first place, but the same might not be true for their future spouses.

Forgoing a wedding party entirely is the easiest solution, but, if you can’t imagine the day with one, establish clear, across-the-board guidelines for selecting members so no one feels like they’ve lost out. Or, let everyone have their own crew, but alternate the order they walk down the aisle to emphasize the togetherness of the day. Whatever your approach, just be strategic about your wedding party’s presence at the altar. “Maybe they walk up, stand for five minutes for photos, and then sit down in unison,” suggests Laskey. “That way, you don’t clutter the altar with even more people.”

Plan for more time for certain vendors. 

If you’re working on a tight timeline morning-of, book multiple makeup artists and hairstylists to accommodate the larger number of people requiring their services. You’ll also want to budget extra time with your photographer, as they’ll need to shoot portraits for both couples.

Double Wedding Etiquette 

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about double weddings:

How do we format the invitation? 

The day belongs to both couples, so both couples deserve top billing. If you’re using formal invitation structure and worried some guests might not understand the nature of the celebration, include a separate insert that explains the double wedding. On the insert, direct guests to your wedding website for more information. 

Should the two couples coordinate their outfits? 

Matching dresses or suits aren’t necessary, but similar levels of formality are a good idea. For brides, hair, makeup, and bouquets can go a long way in further unifying the look of the day, even if one dress is sleek and simple and the other is beaded and glitzy. Thankfully, everyone will be dressing with the same venue, color palette, and overall vibe in mind, so similarities in fashion choices should occur naturally.

Are our guests expected to get gifts for both couples? 

This is tricky! As a guest at a double wedding, you’re technically celebrating the marriage of two couples—and each couple does deserve their own separate gift. If you know a member of each couple, the solution is easy: gift them each the same amount of money or a gift of roughly the same value.

If you’re attending the celebration on behalf of just one couple, a small gift for the second couple is still a nice gesture.

The marrying couples can make the situation easier on their guests by outlining expectations directly on their wedding website. Pro tip: A shared honeymoon or cash registry will take the guesswork out of things entirely for guests, and can later be split evenly.

How do we handle walking down the aisle? 

As with most aspects of the modern wedding, there is no “right” way to do this. If the two brides are siblings, each bride could be escorted by one parent. You could even include two aisles so this can happen at the same time. If both brides would like the same parent to escort them, Laskey suggests having a flower girl process ahead of each bride. That gives the parent time to get back to the second bride for a second trip down the aisle.

How should we split up the vows? 

“This is a more sacred moment,” says Laskey, and for that reason, she suggests keeping them separated by couple. “Stick to one couple stepping to the center of the altar and doing their whole thing, and then switch to the second one.” As for the first kiss? “I’m all for what’s theatrical,” she adds. “When one group is stage left and one group is stage right [and they’ve each been pronounced married], choreograph the kiss to be at the same time.”

Who goes first? 

If two members of the couples are siblings or relatives, let the oldest lead the way when it comes to big moments like vows, the first dance, or the cake cutting. If you’re not related (or just don’t buy into the idea of age taking priority), the more outgoing couple should lead the charge. The couple less comfortable in the spotlight will be grateful for it. 

What do we do about speeches? 

Keep them to a minimum on the wedding night—one per each member of the couples is ideal—but more can bleed into the rehearsal dinner, where guests will be more likely to know members of both couples.

What Real Couples Want You to Know About Double Weddings

Twins Elizabeth (Liz) and Katherine (Katie) Aloisi wed Brian Yuen and Akira Kanesaka, respectively, in a double wedding in Tuscany last April. Here’s what they want you to know about the experience:

The biggest perk is pooling your resources. 

They say two heads are better than one, but you know what’s better than two heads? Four. Liz, Brian, Katie, and Akira were all at busy points in their lives while wedding planning, and having more than one couple working on the wedding meant there was always someone to keep the ball rolling when real life got in the way. “It helped with the budget, too,” says Liz. “We could have four people contributing instead of two to what ultimately became our best vision.”

Discuss everyone’s must-haves at the beginning of the process. 

“When you’re making decisions across four people, talk about your non-negotiables upfront,” says Katie. “Everyone is going to have things they care about, and those are going to be different.” This will go a long way in smoothing things out down the road.

Everyone is going to have things they care about, and those are going to be different.

If every person feels like their opinion is heard in the area that’s most important to them, they’ll be more willing to compromise on things they don’t care about as much later on. 

Remember to play fair. 

When it came to the guest list, Liz and Katie knew it wouldn’t be right to restrict the number of people their fiancés invited just because there was more than one of them. “Since we invited everyone we wanted, we let them invite whoever they wanted,” says Liz. Having a destination wedding helped minimize the number of actual attendees, but the brides were sure to adjust their budget from the beginning to accommodate a number of guests that would satisfy everyone.

Your bond will deepen—and so will the bond between your partners. 

Going through this big life moment together was a no-brainer for the twins, who were born three minutes apart and attended the same college and grad school, but it also brought their husbands closer together as well. “Whether it was through planning, running errands during the wedding week, or getting ready together, they had a lot of forced bonding,” Katie laughs. “We also stayed in a private villa with just the four of us. It for sure deepened their bond.”

It’s not as complicated as you think it’s going to be. 

Liz and Katie agree that planning a double wedding isn’t that much different from planning for only one couple, provided both couples are committed to being patient, kind, and realistic with setting expectations throughout the process. “It’s really not that hard,” says Liz. “And it’s such a nice way to have a unique event with the people you love while spending half of what you want to.”

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