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.
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.