Image Credit: Chapel of the Flowers
If there's one thing we know about weddings, it's that no two are identical. What makes a wedding memorable are those special moments that capture the uniqueness of the couple and the love they share.
We love that many LGBTQIA+ couples are blazing a trail by redefining wedding traditions and giving them a modern twist. From the engagement rings to the wedding attire and the ceremony, there are so many creative and meaningful ways couples are designing weddings that feel incredibly authentic to who they are.
We spoke to eight wedding professionals in the LGBTQIA+ community and asked them to share some of their favorite fresh wedding ideas for couples.
LGBTQIA+ engagement and wedding ideas
Getting engaged and planning a wedding is undoubtedly one of the most exciting experiences of your life, but how can you create an event that feels authentic to who you are and honors the love you share?
"Engagements and weddings are about celebrating the bond between two people. LGBTQ+ couples should in no way feel obligated to follow a certain set of rules," says the team at Bride & Blossom, a full-service, luxury floral design house in New York. "In fact, what makes these weddings so special is seeing couples put tradition aside in order to create a day full of moments that are genuine, heartfelt expressions of their love and personality,"
Image Credit: Reigh & Katie Ring
It all starts with that all-important question: "Will you marry me?", but we love that LGBTQIA+ couples are embracing the idea of both partners proposing. "Not only do you have two beautiful engagement stories to share, but you both also have the opportunity to create a special, romantic experience for your partner reflect on the joys of your relationship," says the team at the Same-Sex Wedding Guide, the award-winning same-sex wedding inspiration blog.
For couple Reigh and Katie, this involved a reciprocal proposal in Nicaragua. "We both independently decided to propose during a vacation. Reigh proposed at a treehouse hostel in the jungle with a ruby engagement ring, (the birthstone of Reigh's birth month), and Katie proposed a few days later at a charming bed and breakfast with a bunch of guava trees on the property. The scent of guava always reminds us of that place and of being newly engaged. We eloped to Canada and had a quick, courthouse ceremony five months later!" they say.
Not forgetting the other special thing about both partners popping the question: two stunning engagement rings! "We've seen all kinds of wonderful things, including matching his-and-his, her-and-her, and they-and-they engagement rings," says Jack and Adie from B'LOVED, the destination for modern romantics and a new generation who are redefining what it means to get married.
The Wedding Attire
Image Credit: Chapel of the Flowers
From Julia Roberts to Grace Jones, many famous women have cut a striking figure in a well-tailored suit. Today's brides are taking inspiration from these iconic looks. "We are outfitting countless brides in our suits and tuxedos for their wedding day, moving away from what's expected and curating a look that is authentic to themselves," says the team at the SuitShop, which offers premium suiting for men, women, and kids, at affordable prices. "While some brides have opted for our Women's White Tuxedo, our blue suits have been the most popular choice for brides on their wedding day."
The team at King & Allen, an inclusive tailors that celebrate diversity and personal style, agrees. "We've found that our couples each have their own unique take on wedding traditions. For our brides, this means that one of them may wear a suit or both. They might wear matching suits, or they might each choose their own unique style that complements the other."
Ultimately, you should wear what you feel good in. "If you envision yourself in a wedding dress, wear a wedding dress; if you prefer a tuxedo, sport a dapper tuxedo. Can't decide? We have seen tuxedos with veil-inspired capes and trains," says the folks at the Chapel of the Flowers, the award-winning Las Vegas wedding venue.
The Wedding Jewelry
Forget everything you think you know about engagement and wedding rings. Couples up and down the country are defining their own traditions with special pieces of jewelry to mark their unique nuptials.
"After the proposal, the recipient of the engagement ring often returns the gesture by getting their now fiancé a ring, or special piece of jewelry," says Bride & Blossom.
Both men and women are choosing to give engagement rings to each other—and it's not just rings—some couples are opting for other pieces of engagement jewelry like matching earrings and pendants.
When it comes to wedding bands, there are no strict rules. People who prefer a minimal style might opt for a simple metal band, whereas those who want to show off some sparkle might choose a dazzling diamond. According to the Chapel of the Flowers, diamond solitaire rings are for everyone. "We have seen many guys showing off their stunning diamond engagement rings during their ceremony," they say.
We believe you should choose pieces that you'll feel special in and wear them with pride and confidence!
The Wedding Party
Image Credit: SuitShop
Your wedding day is about bringing together those people who mean the most to you, and the good news is that you don't have to be bound by tradition when it comes to assigning gender-based roles. Many couples are choosing to mix up their wedding party with meaningful results.
"No longer structured as bridesmaids and groomsmen, mixed wedding parties are happening, which allows for couples to have a support group made up of their closest and truest friends," says the team at Bride & Blossom.
"Mixed-gender wedding parties have been a big wedding trend in the past decade. The LGBTQ+ community started this wedding trend, and now hetero couples are jumping on board too," says the Chapel of the Flowers. "Why not have a Best Maid or a Man of Honor?"
Kimberly Sevilla, the founder of inclusive floral design business Rose Red & Lavender agrees. "Moms walking sons down the aisle, pets as ring bearers, no aisle walking at all; it really depends on the couple and how they want to celebrate their union. I especially love blended attendants—men on the bride's side, women on the groom's side. As long as there is love, it's all good." We couldn't agree more!
Image Credit: Danielle Coons Photography, planned and designed by Mango Muse Events
Traditionally, couples would come down the aisle in a procession but this is not the only way to do things. "Today, same-sex and hetero couples are doing whatever feels best, whether that's walking down together hand-in-hand or having each person walk down the aisle separately," says the Chapel of the Flowers.
"LGBTQ+ couples are also rewriting traditional ceremony vows so that they reflect not only their relationship but how they feel," says Jamie Chang owner of Mango Muse Events, a boutique wedding planning and design company that creates personal and meaningful destination weddings.
"It's wonderful to witness couples read aloud the vows they have written to each other – sharing with friends and family their own story while expressing their love and lifelong promise of commitment," says Bride & Blossom.
Image Credit: Angelo Pantazis
No wedding would be complete without some beautiful flowers, and "LGBTQ+ weddings have really expanded the notions of who gets to carry a blooming arrangement and wear a rose on their lapel," says Bride & Blossom. "We have made bouquets for men in the wedding party and boutonnieres for brides."
The Chapel of the Flowers says it perfectly: "Do you identify as a male and want a bouquet? Have a bouquet and make it fabulous. Who says that bouquets are just for women?" However you want your flowers to look, you're sure to be able to bring your vision to life with the help of a trusted and inclusive vendor.
Create a dream wedding that's true to you
It's natural for couples to grapple with which wedding traditions to keep, which to change, and which to drop altogether. After all, there may be expectations from family about specific roles people should play or how things should be done. Let's take a closer look at how couples can balance all this and create a day that truly represents who they are.
Release yourself from expectations
"Couples shouldn't feel pressured to uphold traditions that don't support who they are and what type of relationship they would have to have, especially since so many wedding traditions have rigid gender role expectations," says the team at the Same-Sex Wedding Guide.
"Some folks might choose to use traditions as a general framework and release the gendered connotations or roles, and others might choose to do something entirely different to really step away from traditions that wouldn't be affirming.
"The important thing to remember is that this is your relationship, you get to make the decisions that feel right for each other. The beauty of being part of our 2SLBGTQ+ community is that we are already breaking the mold and living outside of expectations—enjoy this freedom and apply it to how you create these significant and memorable events in your life too!"
Focus on your "why"
Kimberly Sevilla from Rose Red & Lavender, suggests focussing on the "why" of your wedding. "If mom insists on favors, let her handle that. If Dad wants to dance with his daughter, but that person doesn't identify as female, call it something else, but still have that special moment. Gender-specific traditions, like bouquets and dresses, don't need to be a part of it if you don't want them to," she says.
"Being the mother of a teenage daughter who prefers the pronouns them/they, really brings home to me the importance of meeting people where they are. It sometimes makes me sad when I am interviewing couples and they hesitate to tell me that they are part of the LGBTQ community and I realize that a lot of times, they may not feel safe in the world. If people are kind, and truly love each other, they will always have a place at the table," she says.
Mix & match wedding traditions
"One of the great things about planning a modern LGBTQ+ wedding is that you can include as many or as little traditions as you please," says Jamie Chang from Mango Muse Events.
"There is no right or wrong way to create your wedding, and outside of taking care of your guests, there are no shoulds or have tos," says Chang. You're free to color outside the normal wedding lines and create a wedding that not only reflects your style but your personalities and what you care about."
Jack and Adie from B'LOVED encourage every couple to plan their wedding to reflect their personalities and interests and not feel bound to tradition. "LGBTQI+ couples aren't any different and they should explore their celebration with gusto," they say.
The team at Suitshop says that traditions can be useful but not essential. "You can pick and choose which traditions you will keep and which you will update, they say. "Not a fan of cake? Why not have a cookie bar instead? Have best friends who are both guys and girls? Have them stand together at your side and allow them to wear what they feel good in. Not into traditional black tuxedos? Mix and match colors and don't be afraid to be bold."
Choose the right vendors
Pulling together one of the most important days of your life should be a joy and a pleasure. Unfortunately, this hasn't always been the case for LGBTQIA+ couples.
"We have so many stories from our customers, about how they've experienced obstacles in planning their wedding or even outright discrimination from wedding vendors," says King & Allen. "Think about what makes you and your partner happy, what makes your relationship unique, and then find vendors that can honor those values."
Kimberly Sevilla from Rose Red & Lavender says it's important that your vendors' values and core beliefs are aligned with your own. "When you are hiring vendors, think about if you would like to hang out with them, would you go on a road trip with that person? If the answer is no, then you probably don't align and they wouldn't be a good fit for you," she says.
Couples can also evaluate potential wedding vendors by using sites that celebrate inclusion and diversity like B'LOVED. "Take inspiration from those who have been at the floral arch before and see how to throw a heartfelt affair," says the team. "LGBTQI+ couples needn't bow to pressure, stereotypes nor traditions that do not serve them."
The Same-Sex Wedding Guide highlights the importance of folks from marginalized communities supporting each other. "We know that we would love to support members of our communities with as many opportunities as we can, so would be trying to find 2SLGBTQ+ and BIPOC owned businesses for our venue and vendors as much as possible."
And they lived happily ever after…
We love to see LGBTQIA+ couples free to celebrate their love in a way that feels right to them. Sadly, it hasn't always been this way, and there is still some work to be done.
"A lot of our customers grew up thinking they would never be able to legally marry the person they loved, let alone plan the wedding of their dreams. But since marriage equality was brought into law, they can marry the love of their lives and have the wedding they've always dreamt of having," says King & Allen.
We think this story from Kimberly Sevilla at Rose Red & Lavender is the most beautiful note to finish on…
"One of my favorite LBGTQ weddings was my first one when the law passed in New York to allow gay marriage. It was an older gay couple who had been together for 25 years. It was their silver anniversary, so we did a themed silver wedding. The groom's father was in a wheelchair and was about 90 years old. He was so happy and proud, he grabbed my hands and said that he was thrilled to have lived long enough to see his son finally get married. I cried, the grooms cried, the father cried!"
We're not crying, you're crying!