Ultimately that’s what your wedding – same sex or otherwise – is all about. Celebrating your love and commitment to one and another. It’s your big day – so do whatever makes you and your partner happy, conventional or unconventional.
But there are a few things you’ll want to think about when planning your same sex wedding including:
We’ve got a few helpful tips for you.
Organising a wedding – any kind of wedding – is a big task. But when you’re planning a same sex wedding, there’s even more to think about and arrange.
Are you sticking with traditional gender roles, or are you ditching tradition completely? Are you adapting the usual format for a wedding, or are you going to do your own thing completely?
Are you two brides? Are you two grooms? Or are you simply just two people in love?
Gender stereotypes are a thing of the past, but unfortunately there’s always the chance that you’ll come across some people and some venues who are still discriminatory.
That’s not what you want for your big day.
Spend the time finding a place that’s open and welcoming as a same sex wedding venue, where the staff all love hosting same sex weddings, and don’t just tolerate them. The same goes for suppliers. You want to be 100% happy and comfortable at all times.
Speak to the staff at your venue, tell them about your plans and ask about any previous same sex weddings they’ve hosted.
At Heaton House Farm for example, we host dozens of same-sex weddings every year, and we welcome all couples alike – whether they’re gay or straight, lesbian or bisexual.
Once you’ve found your dream venue, you’ll want to decide what you and your partner will wear. Are you both wearing dresses, or both in suits? Do you want to match or be completely different?
As with every part of your day, the choice is entirely up to you. Talk about your ideas and wishes with each other and go with whatever feels comfortable for you both. If you’d never wear a dress in everyday life, don’t wear one for your wedding day.
As grooms, you might want to think about a colour scheme or palette and plan your outfits around that. You could both get the same suit, tailored perfectly for each of you. Or you might want to opt for different shades or different textures.
You and your partner might want to stand out together, in contrast from your wedding party and your guests; or you might want to complement and contrast each other.
As brides, you may have different parts of your wedding dresses that match or complement each other. One of you might prefer to wear a jumpsuit, in white, whilst the other wears a dress. Or you might both ditch the dresses in favour of a traditional suit. The choice is yours.
Amy and Elisha are getting married at Heaton House Farm in 2020, and they’ve found this a challenge too: Another thing we’ve found hard, is the fact that Elisha will be wearing a suit. People automatically assume Elisha will be wearing a dress or a female pant suit because she is a woman. However, she would not be comfortable in a dress at all!! She has actually found her suit, from a shop that tailor’s ‘men’s suits’ to women.”
Another challenge in the early days of preparation for your same sex wedding is how to split the wedding party. Will you both have bridesmaids and/or groomsmen? Or will you share the same key members of your day?
You could both have a maid of honour each, you could both have a best man each. Or you could scrap gender roles altogether and simply have “honour attendants” or “best people”, and give these positions to the people who are closest to you both.
For the big legally-binding part of your day – and one of the most intimate – you’ll have three things to think about: seating, the entrance and the vows.
Traditional seating arrangements dictate that the bride’s family sit on the left and the groom’s family sit on the right. But more and more weddings are bucking this trend, including both heterosexual and same sex ceremonies. Increasingly it’s just a case of sit where you like.
You could always opt for a little instruction like these:
“Pick a seat, not a side, either way it’s for a bride”
“Choose any seat, there’s plenty of room, we’re all here because we love the grooms”
Or you could do something completely different. Have all your guests sit in a semi-circle around you – a circle of love. This works great outdoors under our Oak Pagoda.
Next is the walk down the aisle. This can be a particulary tough decision for many same sex couples.
Nick and Dave, who got married at Heaton House Farm in 2017, said: “For a while, we thought we should walk up separately, one at a time but that didn’t feel right. Then we thought that maybe we should each walk down the aisle together with our mums. We had the thought that it’s usually customary for a father to walk down the aisle but it might make a nice change for it to be the mothers instead. However, in the end, we elected to just walk down the aisle together.”
Amy and Elisha struggled here too: “Walking down the aisle, we weren’t sure who would walk first either or even if we would walk together. But in the end we decided Elisha will go first, then myself.“
Think about the options and do whatever feels most comfortable for you both. If you want to have your moment walking down the aisle, with all eyes on you, then go for it! Have your partner meet you at the bottom like a traditional wedding, or have them walk down the aisle separately.
If you’re absolutely dreading the thought of all those eyes on you, then don’t do it! You don’t have to walk down the aisle!
At Heaton House Farm, we can accommodate all different kinds of set-ups and aisle arrangements. We can let you and your partner enter from separate entrances and meet at the top of the aisle, and we can even create two different aisles!
When it comes to the actual civil ceremony bit of the ceremony, there are some things that are legally required. You and your partner will have to say certain, specific words to make your commitments to each other.
But beyond that, you’ve got the freedom and flexibility to say what you want. There are some restrictions imposed by the registrar, but generally you can have readings, poems and songs that mean something special to the both of you.
If you want to make personal, special vows to each other, then you can do just that.
Or if you want to keep the ceremony short and simple, and just get to the party, then that’s completely fine too!
The next decision you’ll have to make is the seating plan for your meal. Who’s sitting where at the top table?
Traditionally, you’d have the couple in the middle, and then alternating male and female guests either side, including parents of the couple, and possibly the best man and maid of honour.
But both gay and straight couples are increasingly shunning these arrangements. Some don’t want to separate up their parents, others might have step-parents to consider. Many couples want their friends with them on the top table, not their family, and they don’t want to separate the best man or maid of honour from their partners.
You don’t even need to have a top table. Opt for a sweetheart table instead, just the two of you together, and sit your wedding party at the head of all your other tables. Or leave two spots at each table and move around throughout each course – a great way to socialise.
You don’t even need to have a seating plan. Keep it casual with food stations or a BBQ where guests help themselves and then take a seat wherever they feel like.
Finally, many same sex wedding plans get stuck on the speeches. Who gets to talk, if you have two best men, or two fathers of the bride?
Traditionally, it’s the men who do the speeches at weddings. But this might not sit well with your beliefs.
Some people love talking at weddings. Others hate it. The simple solution is to ask who wants to give a speech, and plan around that. If you both want to say something – do it. If you want to have 3 women give a speech, great! If both best men have great stories to tell, let them!
It’s your day, you get to choose.
And that is the most important thing to remember. You don’t have to stick to anything that’s gone before. Be traditional, don’t be traditional. Do whatever makes you happy and throw the rule book out of the window.
People are coming to your wedding to celebrate with you. This is your perfect day, so put the plans in place that are perfect to you.
As Amy and Elisha said: “We have thought about ourselves and planned our wedding exactly how we want it and so we feel comfortable on the day!”
And Nick and Dave: “Everything we came across didn’t really fit our personalities so in the end, we just decided to throw the rule book out of the window and decided to do things in the way that just felt right to us”
The great thing about celebrating a same sex marriage at Heaton House Farm is that you get a completely blank slate.
You’re still going to want a plan, and you’ll probably want to define some tasks so everyone knows what their job is and what they’re responsible for. But those roles and responsibilities can be anything you want, and you can use the venue however you see fit.
Your set-up, your decorations, your outfits, your plans – your amazing day.
Want to know more about what your same-sex wedding at Heaton House Farm could look like?