On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that the US Constitution guarantees the right for same-sex couples to marry in all 50 US states. For many lesbian couples, marriage will be the fulfillment of a long-held dream that can finally come true. But while the idea of getting married may fill a couple with joy, the thought of putting a wedding together may fill them with anxiety. Very few married couples will tell you that planning a wedding is easy. It’s not. Be prepared to make decisions and compromises, deal with unreasonable vendors, fret about things like seating arrangements and put deposits down on dresses and catering halls up to a year or more in advance. Doing so on a budget may prove challenging, but it can be done and thousands of couples prove it every day…
There are more similarities than differences between straight weddings and gay weddings. When a couple is planning a wedding, the “love in the air” is palpable. It doesn’t matter if they are gay or straight. All unions are loving and unique.
One difference that some people have found is that the vows written by gay couples are often more heartfelt than those written by straight couples. Maybe it’s because some of them have been waiting for so long to publicly proclaim their love that it just bursts out of them.
Another difference is that most gay couples will opt out of the dated rituals that have not been inclusive in the past, such as “giving the bride away” or “not seeing the bride before the wedding.” When a straight couple gets married, the tradition is for the groom to wait with the wedding officiant while the father of the bride walks her down the aisle. When there are two brides, they may both want to walk down the aisle with their fathers, mothers or friends or they may want to walk down the aisle together. It’s completely up to each individual couple’s preference.
When a couple decides to get married, they should sit down together and work out a realistic budget. If they insist on having designer wedding gowns and a sit down dinner reception with a full service bar and a seven-piece band, they are going to pay top dollar. But there are many simple ways to cut down on expenses. Buffet style costs less than a sit-down dinner, a DJ costs less than a band, and a couple can save several hundred dollars by having a cash bar or cutting out hard liquor. There are also many beautiful gowns available off-season on clearance that are almost identical to expensive designer brands for a fraction of the cost.
If a couple needs to cut corners, consider being more frugal with the wedding cake, flowers, limos, invitations and the tuxedo. All of these things are used for eight hours and then they’re gone. The big question is: What will be left after my wedding day is just a fond memory? A good photographer and videographer can help a couple remember and relive their special day for many years to come. That’s an investment worth making.
Another way many couples save money and cut down on stress is by going to a wedding center. When a couple goes to several different places for their wedding day services, there is a greater opportunity for miscommunication between vendors and for things to go wrong. A one-stop wedding center enables the owner to control the quality and reliability of each vendor and save couples money. That’s not to say all wedding centers are alike. Some places call themselves “wedding centers” but they are actually many separate vendors represented under one roof. When a couple leaves their establishment, they’ll leave with nine different contracts. These vendors are essentially splitting the rent. A true wedding center is a place where a couple will get one contract for all wedding services. Make sure to see their work and ask about contingency plans for covering staff. Feel free to shop around and compare. You don’t want to break the bank, but you also don’t want to sacrifice quality service for cost on this important day.
When interviewing officiants to perform the ceremony, couples should look for one who asks questions to find out what is unique and special about them as individuals and their relationship. They may ask a couple if they want certain family members to take part in the service. If they each have children, an officiant may ask if they want a marriage of families rather than just two individuals. There are also a number of rituals a couple can incorporate into their ceremony to give it that personal touch. Lighting a unity candle, doing a sand ritual or a love lock can bring the ceremony to an intimate and meaningful place.
Now that same-sex marriage is legal in many states, there will be certain vendors out there looking to profit from it. You may notice that some ads read: “LGBT owned and operated” or “LGBT friendly” when all they want is the extra business. If you want a vendor or officiant that is truly gay-friendly, ask to see photos or videos of other gay weddings they’ve done when you interview them. Also, ask friends for recommendations and look up their reviews. Many competent wedding professionals have just begun delving into the LGBT space and others have been there for a long time. At the end of the day, it’s all about what feels most comfortable to the couple and their celebration of newly wedded bliss!
Rita Lamar is the CEO of Lamar Wedding Center. Please visit our website at www.lamarweddingcenter.com.