When same-sex marriage became legal in the U.S. in June 2015, LGBT Americans finally got the right to have their unions be legally recognized.
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy
Since that ruling, the LGBT community is forging a new path for what a wedding “should” be. For reasons both practical and personal, some wedding traditions don’t work or simply don’t fit a couple’s desires.
Here are a few examples:
- The wedding party – While a traditional wedding party typically has female bridesmaids and male groomsmen, that often wouldn’t work in a same-sex wedding ceremony. Where would the male best friend or family member of a lesbian bride fit in? This diminished focus on gender is happening with heterosexual couples as well; we know of at least one recent more traditional wedding where the best “man” was a woman.
- Wedding vows – Traditional wedding vows were written from a heterosexual perspective, so gay and lesbian couples often have to either rewrite or come up with their own. Now is the time to get creative and tell your partner (and the world) how special they are!
- New outfits – An article in the Telegraph from March 2016 notes that there’s a shift in what couples wear. From a wedding where one woman wears a wedding dress and the other a suit, to ones where the men are wearing something more fashionable than the traditional tux, there is no reason to be bound by tradition.
- Wedding cakes – Here’s another place where LGBT couples can get creative. Check out this Pinterest board for ideas on everything from Mr. & Mr./Mrs. & Mrs. wedding cake toppers to rainbow-hued cakes.
- The ceremony – Gay and lesbian couples often opt for alternatives outside of the traditional religious establishment. That means they have more flexibility to create the ceremony the way they want it to be, rather than having to follow strict guidelines. While there are requirements about what it takes to be legally married (e.g., wedding license, the officiant may need to be confirmed by the county), there are generally no limitations on what the ceremony itself should be. Make it your own!
Your wedding is YOUR day. Make it what you want it to be!
(And remember that we’re here to help if you need us.)