“Petitioners…ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law.
The Constitution grants them that right.” ~ Justice Anthony Kennedy
(The Green Wedding has been rescheduled to next week.)
With its Supreme Court decision on Friday, June 26, declaring that same-sex marriage is legal nationwide, the United States joins a growing list of nations that in a twenty-first century movement recognizes such unions; the list includes Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands (first country to make same-sex marriage legal, in 2001), New Zealand, Portugal, Scandinavia (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway & Sweden), South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom (except for Northern Ireland) and Uruguay. On the brink to legalize same-sex marriage next seems to be Nepal, the first South Asian country to do so.
The U.S. landmark five-to-four decision recognizes the Constitutional rights of same-sex couples to marry legally, and echoes another U.S. Supreme Court decision nearly a half-century ago on June 12, 1967 — also based on the Fourteenth Amendment and that one unanimous — which decriminalized interracial marriages.
Congratulations to the LGBT community and to all who are headed now and in the future to the altar with confidence and great joy!
While the same wedding etiquette rules apply to everyone, following are some of the special considerations that same-sex couples frequently find necessary to address, especially as society adjusts to fairness, equality and protocol on both sides of the wedding aisle:
- Gay-Friendly Vendors – All wedding couples want to feel comfortable with the vendors with which they will be working to plan their big event. Some members of the LGBT community might wish to work with gay-friendly vendors or those who are LGBT-owned or managed and specialize in same-sex weddings. A major online source for such vendors is GayWeddings.com, which was very recently acquired by WeddingWire, Inc.
- Religious Ceremonies – A number of churches in the U.S. perform same-sex nuptials, and others are welcoming to the LGBT community, including the Roman Catholic Church. But, in general religious organizations will continue to struggle with issues of the Church vis a vis the U.S. Constitution. Across the nation, they will remain split on same-sex marriage, from Massachusetts (the first state to legalize same-sex marriage) to Texas. But same-sex couples are not alone; throughout history opposite-sex couples frequently have run afoul of their church’s teachings and rules, including interracial (even decades after the 1967 ruling!) and interfaith unions and those who are divorced and wish to remarry. It is frustrating, but sometimes workarounds can be found, and progress on this front may be achieved.
- Honor Attendants – According to Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners for Every Occasion (a book I recommend for all LGBT individuals as well as for all etiquette consultants), “Bridesmaids and Groomsmen…are often simply called “honor attendants” at LGBT weddings, with a gender mix of the couple’s choosing.” This is also an idea for opposite-sex couples, according to Martha Stewart‘s webpage: “A bride who is especially close to a brother or male friend may choose a man as her honor attendant; the same holds true for a groom who wants to include a close female relative or friend.”
- Bride’s & Groom’s Wedding Attire: Same-sex couples have a lot of leeway to be creative with their wedding attire; both brides and grooms have options to dress stylishly and strikingly alike or different. Take advantage of your groundbreaking social advances to launch some innovative fashion trends for both same and opposite sex wedding couples.
- Parental Roles & The First Wedding Dances – Modern wedding couples, whether gay or straight, have been moving away from the tradition of the father-of-the-bride “giving away” his daughter to the groom. Thus, gay couples can choose to include and honor their parents in a variety of ways, including in the first wedding dances. Again, Steven Petrow offers excellent guidance on both topics to get you thinking; be sure to check out the delightful video included in his Q&A.
Whether you are an LGBT bride or groom, parent or other relative of same or an invited guest to a gay or lesbian wedding, these are just a few of the issues involved with evolving LGBT wedding etiquette. As the PROWESS Workshops Wedding Series continues, additional issues will be addressed as necessary.
Of course, by the very fact that LGBT wedding etiquette continues to evolve, so does traditional wedding etiquette; each will impact and enhance the other. How exciting that we are not only participating in historic social advancement but also in the writing and practicing of the associated developing customs and rules of etiquette!
Until next time,