Although planning a same sex wedding ceremony may require a little thinking "out" of the box, this is a great time to exercise your creativity and improve on some of the lovely wedding traditions that are out there. From the processional to the recessional, you can create a beautiful ceremony that truly reflects your values and the love you share with your betrothed.
What to Include in Your Ceremony
The most important thing to remember when planning your wedding ceremony is that it needs to be a reflection of you and your fiancé. Other than the vows, none of the elements of a traditional wedding need to be a part of your big day; it's entirely up to you. However, many same sex couples choose a ceremony that uses the traditional wedding as a springboard for creativity.
The processional is the part of the wedding that involves walking up the aisle. This is a fun opportunity to make an entrance, and it's also a good time to involve your families in your special day. In same sex ceremonies, there are a few ways you may want to approach this:
- Both partners walk up the aisle together or with the officiant.
- One partner walks first, escorted by one or both parents. The other partner and his or her family follows.
- One partner approaches with the officiant, as in a traditional heterosexual wedding, and the other partner follows.
- Instead of one aisle, you have two or even three. You both approach at the same time, with or without your families.
Invocation or Greeting
After you've both reached the front of the aisle, your officiant may offer an invocation or a greeting to the guests. If you're religious, this may take the form of a prayer. If not, it's a great way to kick things off and make everyone feel welcome and included. Your officiant may have some ideas about what he or she would like to say, but you could also select one of the following:
- "Welcome to the wedding of (name) and (name). We're here today to celebrate the enduring love of these two men (or women)."
- "Join me in celebrating and witnessing the love and commitment shared by these two women (or men) today."
- "We are gathered here today to witness the marriage of these two people and to celebrate the love they share."
A short reading or two is another great way to involve friends and family in your ceremony. Many couples choose to have siblings, parents, or special friends read important passages at this point in the wedding. If you're religious, this may be a passage from the Torah, Bible, or other religious text. If you prefer a secular wedding, you might choose something from a favorite author or poet. These readings may capture the spirit of your ceremony:
- The Anactoria Poem by Sappho makes a beautiful reading at a lesbian wedding ceremony.
- The Arbor by Sappho is an excellent choice for a gay wedding.
- She Walks in Beauty by George Gordon, Lord Byron is another great choice for two women making a lifelong commitment.
- My True Love Hath My Heart by Sir Phillip Sydney may help a gay couple express their love.
You and your betrothed may choose to write your own vows, stick to the traditional wedding vows, or do something in between. The vows are the most important part of your ceremony, since this is when you and your partner are really making your lifelong commitment. It's important that your vows reflect what you'd like from that commitment, so it's a good idea to sit down together and come up with a few ideas. Here are a few options to consider:
- "I, (name), take you, (name), to be my lifelong spouse (or wife or husband). I will support, honor, and cherish you through all the circumstances we may face, and I will never stop celebrating our love."
- "On this day, I commit myself to you. I pledge to be there for you in challenging times, to celebrate with you in times of joy, and to work with you at all times to maintain the health of our marriage."
- "Today, I take you to be my spouse. I promise to uphold the individuality and equality of our spirits, to share your joys and sorrows, to care for you in times of sickness, and to love you no matter what happens in our lives."
Exchange of Rings
After you have said your vows, you officiant will guide you through exchanging rings or other tokens of your love. After you've slipped the rings on one another's fingers, you officiant will introduce you to the guests as a married couple.
Another important part of the ceremony is the kiss. At this point, you are officially married, so it's time to show off your love.
After the kiss, you'll walk back down the aisle together. Everyone will be clapping and smiling, and your photographer may capture some beautiful candid photos of your and your spouse. Your ceremony is over, and it's time to celebrate at the reception.
Resources for Planning Your Same Sex Wedding Ceremony
There are a number of excellent resources that can come in handy as you plan your wedding:
- The Humanist Society offers ideas for what to say during the various parts of a secular same sex ceremony.
- Gay Weddings has lots of great ideas for every aspect of your wedding ceremony.
- The Knot has a section on gay and lesbian weddings with photos and information about real ceremonies.
- Love and Pride outlines example ceremonies for many of the major religions, including Paganism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Judaism.
Legal Recognition of Same Sex Marriage
A June 26, 2015 Supreme Court decision has made the question of legal recognition for same sex marriage a non-issue in the United States of America. However, that is not the case in all countries. See Freedom to Marry for information about countries where marriage equality is the law of the land.
A Day to Remember
No matter what you choose to include in your ceremony, the most important thing to remember is that your wedding is a celebration of the love between you and your partner. As long as that love is present in your ceremony, your wedding day will be a day to remember.