Lesbian Wedding Etiquette: 4 Tips for First Time Guests

Lesbian couple wrapped in a blanket overlooking a mountain range

Gay marriage was legalised in England, Scotland and Wales in 2015 and Civil Partnerships a decade earlier, so why do some people still need to be schooled on how to act at a same-sex ceremony?

Or maybe it isn’t specifically an LGBTQ issue.  We’ve been writing about weddings long enough now to know that they can bring out the worst in guests regardless of the happy couple’s sexual orientation.

And it isn’t just guests who aren’t 100% on board with homosexuality that can be a problem.  There are the over-enthusiastic first-timers, too: the ones who mean well but treat the day like a novelty sideshow.

“I’m SO excited about your gay wedding.”
“I’ve never been to a LESBIAN wedding before”
“I think it’s amazing that they let YOU get married now.”

Being excited about a wedding, any wedding, is what any soon-to-be-married couple wants but remember that most gay couples have spent their entire lives having to defend their sexuality, being reminded that their relationship isn't the same and that society, until very recently, believed that homosexuality was something best practiced behind closed doors or, even better, not at all.  

By all means, be excited but be mindful of how you express that excitement.

Wedding Ring on a pink and white striped ceramic square plate

Interestingly, it’s not just same-sex weddings that rub up against heteronormative traditions.  Even straight couples can find themselves falling short of other people’s expectations when it comes to a wedding.  Questions about fertility, children, surname changes (or not) and traditions are something all couples may have to put up with.

  • Why aren’t you wearing white?
  • Why aren’t you taking his name (OMG think of the children! You are having children, right?)
  • Why do you have a male bridesmaid?

  • You have to have a wedding cake.

Ad infinitum...

We’re a funny bunch, aren’t we?  We treat tradition as some unbreakable, immutable checklist of how things should be.

Sod that.

But whatever ceremony you’re attending: a gay or straight wedding, a civil partnership or handfasting, a religious ceremony or blessing, there are a few things we can do as guests to help couples have the happiest day of their lives. 

  1. Read your invitation and see what pronouns the couple use when they refer to themselves. Use this in your correspondence with them.  Many lesbian couples will use Mrs and Mrs but some, including transgender couples, might prefer to use something different. Follow their lead.
  2. Expect to see some deviation from tradition. The legal element in a lesbian wedding will be the same as in a gay marriage or a heterosexual ceremony but everything else is up for negotiation.

    What’s brilliant about a lesbian ceremony is that you might see tradition mixed-up, swapped around, tinkered with in some way.

    Many gay couples, for example, choose to walk down the aisle together.  You could see 
    both brides in white wedding gowns or in formal suits or a mixture of both.
  3. Don’t ask dumb questions like – which one is the groom?  It ’s rude.  If you’re bamboozled about something you’ve seen in a lesbian wedding then save the question until you’re home and Google it.  You might think it’s an innocent remark but you’ve probably not spent the better part of your life having to fend off other people’s awkward assumptions about your sexuality.
  4. Enjoy it.  Celebrate it.  If you don’t think you can do that, then decline the invitation.  Your discomfort is your own issue, not the happy couples.  If you’ve been invited, then you must mean something to at least one-half of the wedding party, so do the right thing, send a gift, make your excuses and skip it altogether.

Pink bedroom with wedding planning book on side table

Visit the Pink Wedding Days website and start planning your LGBT ceremony and reception.  Remember, too, to like us on Facebook and follow Pink Wedding Days on Twitter :) 

Popular posts from this blog

Guest Who? A Wedding Guest Book with Personality

Can’t buy me love? The cost of a date night in the UK and around the world

Survey Reveals the Most Places to Propose in 2019

A Valentine’s Date Idea Flowchart to Solve all Your Planning Problems

Gay Wedding Readings: How to Pick the Best One

Pride Month: LGBT Foster Carers

How To Make Small Talk At Weddings

The 5 Easy Steps to an Eco-friendly Wedding

For Better Not Worse: Modern Alternatives to Outdated Wedding Traditions

Who Walks Down the Aisle at a Gay Wedding?