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A Complete Start-To-Finish Guide on How to Dress as a Guest For a Gay Wedding

pointers on how to dress at a gay wedding

The past two decades have been an incredible time for members of the LGBTIQ+ community in lots of countries as they, their friends, families and supporters have embraced marriage equality. The long struggle for the right to marry the person we love has led to a change in legislation in approximately 30 countries, since 2001, when the Netherlands became the first country in the world to make gender identity and sexuality irrelevant in marriage law. 

Many of us have been allies and supporters of the LGBTIQ+ community. We shared the pain of members of that community being prevented, legally, from marrying the person they loved. And, rightly, we shared the joy and euphoria that swept over them and us when we learned that, finally, they could. 

same sex marriage

We also know there’s still lots of work to be done before genuine equality is achieved. There are some members of the LGBTIQ+ community who still face both covert and overt discrimination and harassment in many aspects of their lives. Some, for example, are required to jump over administrative hurdles that no other members of the general population have to jump, in order to get married – eg to provide evidence of their identity that entails them needing to provide a statutory declaration, signed by a medical professional, that they have had gender-affirming surgery, if they are trans. 

And, whilst there are those who say that weddings are just weddings, I say this: the wedding industry, and the institution of marriage, have been constructed over decades on the assumption that those getting married are straight. No issue there. That was the law. And so, of course, the traditions and rituals around weddings and marriage have been heteronormative. 

But – and here’s the thing – most LGBTIQ+ couples don’t live their lives in gender-based roles. Hence, lots of those gender-based traditions and rituals have little meaning or relevance to us as couples. Why on earth would we want to simply adopt straight rituals and traditions on the day that is arguably one of the most important days of our lives? Why would we slavishly want a straight wedding, rather than thinking about how could we make our wedding reflect who we really are? 

Cis het people don’t get to tell members of the LGBTIQ+ community that a wedding is simply a wedding! It’s up to us members of the rainbow community to decide the style and vibe we want for our wedding. And it certainly doesn’t have to look or feel anything like a straight wedding

LGBTIQ+ weddings can be different from straight weddings. We wouldn’t think twice if a Jewish couple expected us to acknowledge and respect Jewish rituals and traditions at their wedding – the same applies to an Italian couple and so on. So, why not, for a couple from the LGBTIQ+ community? There is an LGBTIQ+ language and culture. We can, and should, happily incorporate them into our weddings

Gay weddings are filled with love like any other wedding on the planet. However, the emotions run particularly high when an LGBTIQ+ couple is finally legally married after fighting for the right to do so. 

Perhaps you haven’t yet been to a gay wedding. What should you expect, as a guest? Here are some things to perhaps keep in mind before you attend the couple’s big day: https://gaycelebrant.melbourne/7-things-you-must-know-before-attending-a-same-sex-wedding/

The rule is this, when it comes to LGBTIQ+ weddings: there are no rules (apart from the legal requirements that must be met).  If you’ve been invited as a guest to a gay wedding, consider yourself fortunate: it means that the couple considers you a close family member (or chosen family member) and a strong ally and supporter. But you have multiple things to think about: your attire and the perfect gift for the gay couple, to name a couple of things. And here’s a few pointers on how to dress as a guest at a gay wedding:

Shoes

As the saying goes, shoes can make or break an outfit. Again, the biggest tip is to choose footwear that you’re going to be comfortable in for the whole day.  Are you going to be better off in a nice pair of heels or would you be more comfortable in low heels or no heels? Investing in a good quality shoe that pairs well with your attire, is an extremely wise choice.

guest wedding shoes

Remember: don’t buy a brand new pair of shoes before the big event, without wearing them in, as you’ll likely be on your feet for a number of hours. You want to be comfortable rather than working out how to discreetly treat your newly-found blisters on your sore feet! You don’t need to spend a fortune on the latest pair of Jimmy Choos or Zegna boots. A great fitting pair of Oxfords, or a nice fitted heel will speak volumes and your feet will thank you. And try to buy something that you know you’ll be able to wear again, rather than just a one-off.

Whilst a pair of shoes can make an outfit, wearing the wrong shoes with the outfit is a no-no, too.  However, these rules can be broken – for example, a suit can be dressed down with a canvas belt and a pair of Converse sneakers. Or match your suit with a great pair of loafers that have a no sock look – you can get invisible appearance socks or at least give your feet a spray with some deodorant to keep them fresh all day.

Accessories

Accessories can just add that little bit extra to your attire at a gay wedding. I remember some wedding guests just because of the bright yellow clutch they were holding or because of the shiny bow they had paired well with their blue suit. If you’re someone who wants to look their best but doesn’t want to spend a lot, this is your playground.

wedding guest accessories

Be smart by investing in any good accessory that you can pair differently. It could be an eye-catching watch, a great bag, a fetching (rainbow?) bow tie, subtle but gorgeous lapel pin, or just classy earrings

Here’s an opportunity to show, in a subtle way, that you are indeed a strong ally or supporter of the couple getting married. Why not buy and wear a pair of rainbow earrings or earrings in the ally pride colours? Or, if the couple is trans, why not buy and wear a gorgeous lapel pin in the trans colours? 

Or perhaps paint your nails in the relevant colours! It’s easy to do, won’t break the bank, and your couple – and other guests – will appreciate those small gestures more than you’ll ever know!  

When done right, a good accessory can be the focus for your entire piece of attire you’re planning on wearing. While men can choose from a fabulous leather bag, a stand-out watch etc, women have many different accessories to choose from. It could be a watch, a hairpin, a clutch or a statement neckpiece

Attire/Ensemble

Simply ask the couple what they’d like you to wear, if they haven’t already told you. Is it a formal or informal vibe? What are they asking as a dress code? Simply go with the vibe they’re seeking to create on that day. 

Just be yourself. Of course, it’s a happy day for the couple and for everyone invited to the wedding. For some, it’s a time for healing and it’s a time of great joy. But don’t over-gush. Help them have the best day of their lives. 

Of course, the venue or location of the wedding will help inform what you will wear. If the wedding is in a public garden or park or on a beach, then you’re likely to wear different attire than if the wedding is in a reception home, for example.  

At the same time, look after yourselves. Make sure you dress comfortably and in attire that suits your personality. Otherwise, you’ll be self-conscious and not comfortable for the duration of the entire ceremony and after-party. Don’t try to keep up with the latest fashion trend, if that just isn’t for you. Buy, hire or wear attire that fits you nicely rather than thinking about what others will expect or think.  

wedding attire

If the dress code is neat casual, then a great pair of Chinos and perhaps a linen jacket with a pair of loafers or again Converse sneakers will work perfectly – always a comfy look and you will be feeling pretty relaxed all day. The best advice I can give is “don’t overdo it; be yourself”. You’re the guest. You’ve been invited because you mean something to the couple. They want you to enjoy the day, much more than they’ll be caring about what colour socks you have on or how high your stilettos are!

Try to not steal the limelight away from the stars of the day, the couple. This is one of the many basic wedding etiquettes for guests at every kind of wedding. There’s a fine line between being plain bland and being overly dramatic. Perhaps get an indication from the couple of their colour scheme and ask them if they’d prefer you to fit in with it or to wear attire that’s completely different from what they’ll wear. 

As a woman, you can choose to wear a simple & elegant dress or a nicely paired shirt & smart pants. Remember, gay weddings don’t need to stick to gendered lines, so go have fun!

Author Bio – Australia’s Bronte Price is the first ever certified gay celebrant from the continent that now boasts marriage equality. He is also the founder of The Equality Network (https://theequalitynetwork.com.au/), an organisation that trains wedding suppliers, workplaces and individuals in Queer Literacy – ie how to be more LGBTIQ+ inclusive. His website Gay Celebrant Melbourne is a stunning example of his dedication for celebrancy that unites the power of love. 

19 thoughts on “A Complete Start-To-Finish Guide on How to Dress as a Guest For a Gay Wedding

  1. I never would have thought of any of this when my gay friends were married. I guess I just assumed that I would be able to dress the way I wanted or based on the couple’s recommendations. Thanks for the tips to keep in mind.

  2. This is the first article where everything is adequately written about preparing a guest for a gay wedding. Everything is so clear. Thank you, Olga, very much for this info! You saved at least 5 pairs. Already sent your article to my friends. “don’t overdo it; be yourself” – this will be our motto in preparing for Joseph’s wedding.

  3. Sorry but this article is overridden with stereotypes and assumptions- dress cocktail attire and according to customs of the wedding and don’t make assumptions based on the sexual orientation about what type of wedding it will be. When I’m doubt, ask

  4. Im sorry but am I the only reading this and thinking what BS this is? A gay wedding is not a spectacle for all to see. It is the unity of two individuals who love each other….like EVERY OTHER WEDDING!!! You dress yourself accordingly not just because the couple is gay. This article is disgusting in every sense of the word and should never have been published! If you took any advice from this dumpster fire of an article I certainly hope your friends know what company they are keeping!

  5. This isn’t only not helpful, but is wildly offensive to the queer community! What a way to ostracize gay people. As a queer person, I hope no one coming to my wedding has to google “What to wear to a gay wedding” . My wedding will be just like other peoples; my fiance and I will give a dress code and people can wear what they want (just not white 😉 ).
    Please consider taking down this article.

  6. Where do I even begin… this article is insulting/disgusting way to portray those in the 2slgbtqia+ community. The countless amount of wording in this article needs to be taken down.

  7. Respectfully, this is the worst article I have ever read in my life. Would you ever write this about CIS hetero weddings? If not, you are further damaging the work for inclusivity the LGBTQ+ community is fighting for. Take this article down. Do better.

  8. This is honestly one of the most absurd articles I’ve ever seen. Besides reading as being written by a cisgendered heterosexual person for other cisgendered heterosexual people, it is audaciously ABOUT people who are LGBTQ+ (or simply “gay” as the author seemed to generalize). After reading the authors bio I’m seriously concerned that this article was written by a gay man given the frankly startling tone. To those reading this article please let me point out the things that are very wrong with viewing any queer person in the way we’ve been written here, from the perspective of a queer person. Why is it that we “make a wonderful gay couple” but not simply a wonderful couple? “Gay individuals are typically more fashionable”, and “Gay people are renowned for always being in line with the latest trends”? The one-dimensional caricatures of “gay individuals” thrown around all over this article are inaccurate if not outright offensive. The number of times “gay wedding” was written is would be kind of funny if it weren’t so worrying in the sense that a simple “wedding” didn’t seem appropriate in its stead. The most entertaining flub the author made to me personally was “it’s always wise to check with a gay friend” in regard to outfit or style choice. Frankly, though I am queer and in the author’s opinion should be fabulous and stylish, I wear sweatpants 6 days a week and and very much uninterested in couture. If the author, be them a gay man or Olga Pomeranksy, believe this is how any person should approach a “gay wedding” or view queer people in comparison to the cisgendered heterosexual people in your life and THEIR weddings, they need to remove themselves from public forums where they impart their advice onto others who may take their advice. Please, from a queer person who’s queer friends have also read this article, do not do any of these things.

  9. This is one of the homophobic post I have ever read. Gay people are people not a spectacle. It isn’t a “gay wedding” it’s a wedding. This should be removed from the internet. Saying this as a lesbian please do not read this and take it seriously. It is all incredibly offensive.

  10. Hello Lois. I think you’re correct. It’s best to ask the couple what to wear and, if they have no dress code, just be yourself.

  11. Hi Eleanor. I think you hit the nail on the head! Don’t over-do it and just be yourself! Perfect!

  12. Hello Iva. I agree with you. The previous draft of this article did contain a heap of assumptions and stereotypes. It was almost a piss-take. I apologise for that. It’s crucial we don’t make assumptions and that, when in doubt, as you say, we should always ask. I hope you like the re-written version of this article.

  13. Hello, Disgusted. The original article was written by someone who writes for me. The usual process of me ‘vetting’ the article before it goes out wasn’t followed. Hence, the article appeared as you saw it. I agree with your sentiments and I apologise for any offence it caused you. I’ve now re-written the article myself. I’m a cis gay male celebrant in Melbourne Australia. I hope you find this version better.

  14. Hello Alan. The original article to which you responded has now been revised and replaced. I’m a cis gay male celebrant in Melbourne, Australia. The original article was written by someone who often writes for me. The usual process of me seeing and editing the article before it is published wasn’t followed. That’s how the article you saw appeared as it did. I agree with your response and I apologise for any offence it caused you. I’ve now re-written the article myself. I hope you find the revised version more appealing.

  15. Hello, Anonymous. Thank you for your comments. I agree with them. That’s why I have now personally rewritten the article. I hope you get to enjoy the revised version.

  16. Hello Erin. Wow. That’s some call – “the worst article I have ever read in my life”. I can’t tell if that’s right or not, but I agree with the rest of your comments. I’ve rewritten the article. I hope you enjoy the revised version.

  17. Hello Shannon. Thank you for your comments. In fact the article was written by a cis straight male. At the time of writing, I used to ask him and his team to write copy for me, but somehow the usual process of the article coming to me for editing didn’t occur. I apologise for any offence it incurred. In many ways, the article could be seen as a piss-take. It contained so many assumptions, cliches, stereotypes that it was, as you say, ‘frankly startling’. Just to be clear, I’m a cis gay male celebrant (officiant) in Melbourne, Australia. I’ve rewritten the article and it’s been reposted here. As a fellow member of the LGBTIQ+ community, I hope you get to enjoy the revised article.

    1. I’m glad that you’ve put in so much effort to clarify the misunderstanding about the writer and contents of the original article. I did actually read the revised article and while I don’t really have many opinions on the general “guests at a wedding” field, I found this version to be not only helpful for those who need a little guidance but also much more accurate and realistic. I appreciate that you’ve replied to everyone about the issues they’ve taken with the original article personally, I think everyone does.

  18. Hello Maddie. I agree with you. The article was inappropriate and should never have been submitted, let alone published. I have revised it and it’s been reposted here. I hope you get to enjoy the revised version. I will agree to disagree with you about a ‘gay wedding’ compared with a ‘wedding’. I’m a cis gay guy and I’m also a marriage celebrant (officiant). Weddings and the entire wedding industry are highly gendered. Check out the language (terminology), rituals and traditions associated with weddings. They, also, are highly gendered. That’s understandable – it’s only been 20 years since the first of now 30 countries made marriage equality legal. But the language (terminology), rituals and traditions haven’t changed. So most couples – regardless of sexuality or gender identity – follow these rituals blindly, without thought or question. And yet, very few of the LGBTIQ+ couples I know like their lives along gendered lines. Why on earth would they want a straight wedding, when they could include some rituals and traditions that better reflect their lives? You can find a free e-book of alternative rituals and traditions on my website, if you’re interested. There are – and can be – differences between a ‘wedding’ and a ‘gay wedding’. If we choose to simply have a ‘wedding’, then by default, it’s a straight wedding. I didn’t want that when I married my husband two years ago. But each to their own.

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