Updated: Sep 2
Fresh on the heels of Pride Month, I decided to kick off my first official blog post highlighting several unique LGBT+ wedding trends that are helping to reshape and modernize the wedding industry and stamp out many antiquated, and often times sexist wedding traditions. Many elements typical of traditional wedding ceremonies are deeply rooted in cultural and/or religious beliefs. Many of these traditions no longer work for a modern couple and they certainly do not resonate with LGBT+ couples.
Here are 11 fresh alternatives to conventional wedding customs, trading something old for something new and making it all about you.
Have Both Parents Walk You Down the Aisle
Many in the LGBT+ community are choosing to have both parents, or any friends/family members whom have been their support system, accompany them down the aisle. This is a beautiful way to acknowledge the role they have played in your life and to recognize them as equal contributors.
Traditionally, the Father of the Bride walks her down the aisle and "gives" her away to the groom. This custom symbolized her father, and head of household, relinquishing control over the bride and her dowry and handing it over to the groom. Women's rights have advanced by leaps and bounds since then. They are no longer seen as property or possessions, and since not all unions include a woman and/or a man; this has become an outdated or incompatible tradition for many.
In keeping with the sentimentality of the custom, many betrothed have opted to have both parents "give them away" to their partner as a sign of love and respect from their parents to their chosen life partner. It is a way of saying, "Here, we trust you with the greatest product of our love for one another and trust that you will love them and care for them as we have." While others tend to think of it as a rite of passage where their parent or loved ones are letting go of their little one, to share their heart with another.
Mix Up the Processional Order
LGBT+ couples are having fun coming up with unique ways to change up the traditional processional order. The old custom usually has the groom and/or his groomsmen, walk down the aisle to be in place at the alter prior to the remaining bridal party processional. However, some modern twists include: the couple walking down the aisle together, or each member of the couple being escorted by their parent(s) or loved ones, either one group at a time, meeting at the alter or splitting the aisle and walking down simultaneously to meeting in the front where the officiant is waiting.
Tradition dictated that the bride stand to the left of the groom. There is conflicting history on the origin of this. Some say this is because the left is the side closest to his heart and others say its to keep his sword wielding hand free to defend against other suitors - so aggro! Abandoning those gendered roles means you're free to choose where to stand, just make sure it's discussed in advance to curb any confusion for you or your wedding party.
Fun tip: Keep the Flower Person and Ring Bearer! Who hasn’t seen the hilarious videos of flower guys, prancing down the aisles while showering guests with petals thrown from a coordinating fanny pack, or the couple’s adorable pup happily galloping down the aisle with a ring pillow bouncing on their collar? There are so many ways to customize your wedding day and make it authentically you.
Have a Blended Wedding Party
Breaking with tradition, many couples are opting for their nearest and dearest to stand by their side regardless of gender or gender identity. Gender should no longer define a person's role in your wedding day. Best Man, Maid-Of-Honor, Flower Girl... You want a Best Gal, a Man-of-Honor a Flower Guy? No problem!
It's important that your Wedding Party feel comfortable to be who they are, and also wear what they like. Having a blended wedding party means that you may have people of the same sex, but differing gender identities. We see so many weddings where the wedding party members are dressed in coordinating attire, styled in a manner that they are most comfortable in.
Pro Tip: Make sure you are choosing LGBT+ owned or inclusive vendors. These vendors will be more apt to the use of gender neutral wedding industry terms and will honor your preferred pronouns.
Dual Proposals - Dual Engagement Rings
Breaking from the gendered tradition of "groom asks brides father for her hand in marriage/groom proposes to bride", LGBT+ couples are opting to share in the fun! When both parties ask each other's families for permission and/or propose to each other not only is it a beautiful and romantic gesture for each, it also symbolizes their equality within the relationship. A fantastic benefit of a dual proposal is the inclusivity of each partner being able to rock a stunning engagement ring, commitment necklace, bracelet, tattoo or annoy other token of affection you choose to symbolize your upcoming union.
A man getting on one knee to propose, is a long standing tradition that hails from the times of knights. The gesture was actually a sign of respect, loyalty and fidelity. Placing gender aside, many still appreciate the sentiments of respect, loyalty and fidelity and now either partner can "bend the knee" if they choose.
Have a Joint Bach Party!
Now commonly called Bach (pronounced Batch) or BachX (pronounced Batch-ex) is a gender neutral term to refer to the final night of celebrations before you enter into wedded bliss! The practice of throwing a bachelor party can be traced all the way back to the 5th century when the Spartans would hold dinners to toast the groom prior to his nuptials. Years later, women joined in on the fun and began throwing bachelorette parties. As a same sex or queer couple, often times you have overlapping and/or mix gendered friend groups. To many it just makes more sense to have a joint party, outing or trip.
Flowers are for Everyone
Bridal bouquets get their origins in ancient Rome. They were carried by the bride as a symbol of new beginnings, fertility & fidelity. Why should brides get to have all the fun? Wedding flowers are no longer gender specific, anyone can carry a bouquet, wear a corsage or boutonniere! You can have all the symbolism without the heteronormative BS.
If flowers aren't your vibe, there are so many alternatives to match your aesthetic. Try arrangements made of dried leaves, and wispy grasses, plump and colorful succulents, feathers and twigs, delicate paper flowers, twirling pinwheels, or even a collection of vintage family brooches. The options are limitless.
Pick Your Own Officiant
Traditionally the officiant chosen for a wedding is often the couple's pastor or reverend. There are many LGBT+ friendly officiants you can hire, if you don't have your own church officiant. However, many couples are choosing to keep it personal. An officiant conducts the wedding ceremony, leading you through your vows of commitment to one another. For this reason, couples are opting for those with a more intimate connection to them, such as trusted family members, friends, or loved ones. Some consider it a great honor to be chosen for such a special task. There are many websites where anyone can become ordained in a couple hours. Work with them to co-write the perfect ceremony to define your love.
Write Your Own Vows
In lieu of traditional wedding vows, which often have religious context and sexist undertones, write your own vows. Take the time to tell your love story and explain to your guests what makes your partner the only one for you. This is the moment to let your partner know exactly how you feel for them and all the ways you vow to show up for them for the rest of your lives.
Cheers to an Open Mic
Speeches are traditionally done by the Best Man, Maid or Matron of Honor and occasionally the fathers of the bride and/or groom. But in keeping with the theme of creating new traditions, you are open to toast as you please! You can have as few or as many toasters as you want. Some suggestions may include allowing each of your sets of parents or chosen family members, your honor attendees (fka bestman/maid of honor), and even you yourselves may want to give a little toast to thank your guests for sharing in the greatest day of your lives.
Pick Your Dance Partner
During the reception its common practice to have a Father-Daughter dance and/or a Mother-Son Dance. These dances may not apply to every LGBT+ couple and it may make others feel excluded. Couples are open to dance with the loved ones of their choice. If you prefer to dance with both your parents or even your brother, it all comes down to personal choice. Just make sure to discuss the plan and song of choice with your DJ and/or your planner.
Throw it all or Throw it Away
We have all been to a wedding where they have all the single ladies line up for the bouquet toss, or watched in discomfort when the groom drunkenly creeps under the brides dress to pull the garter off of her thigh before flinging it to the single guys. In recent years many couples have opted to alter this custom or toss it out altogether, LGBT+ couples are no exception. You can opt for more dancing time in place of these activities or you can replace them with a more gender inclusive alternative.
Here are some of our favorite ideas after you have invited all your guests to the floor: Pass out shots to everyone, then make a toast directly to them. Toss a number of fun gifts for them to catch, such as t-shirts with a fun pic of you guys, hats, bandanas, single shot liquor bottles, gift cards. Have the DJ play a fun song and do a surprise balloon or confetti drop. Get creative, the sky is the limit!
One of the single greatest aspects of an LGBT+ wedding is that you are not bound to traditional gender norms. You can break away from customs rooted in religion or traditional gender roles. You have the freedom to create your own unique and beautiful traditions that resonate with who you are and the love you have for one another, to pass down to future generations.