Building Your Wedding Team


Planning a wedding is an extraordinary team effort.  In fact, the average wedding has 43 different vendors.  That's a pretty big team. How can you tell if a vendor is the right fit for you?  In addition to the obvious (LGBT-friendliness), pay attention to the following things when you're meeting with them:

  • Does the vendor listen more than talk?
  • Does he or she seem flexible or rigid?
  • Does he or she support your ideas or shoot down your ideas?  
  • Your gut instinct.  Do you just click?
Many of my clients' weddings require vendors to think outside the box and be creative.  Some vendors are always used to doing things the same way every time.  I like to push the envelope as you can see from the work above.  One of our favorite "team" members is Ladyfingers Letterpress who designed the beautiful invitations you see.

What do you look for when hiring a wedding vendor?


Imaginative Wedding Entertainment

I was sitting with clients recently and we were talking about the flow of their gay wedding in New York.  I have this four page questionnaire I go through a few months before the wedding with our big wedding clients.  The conversation went something like this:

Me:  Are you having a first dance?
Them:  Nope
Me:  Are you having anything tossed?  Garter and bouquet are the typical things.
Them:  No
Me:  Are you dancing with your parents at all in any formal, announced way?
Them:  No
Me:  Are you cutting anything on the dessert display (this wedding has no wedding cake)?
Them:  No

All of these are fairly common answers when we're planning a gay wedding, though.  After all, those are traditional elements and many of our clients love the opportunity to be non-traditional and reinvent what weddings should look like!  And you completely have permission to do so!

The problem with those answers is that when we take out so many things, there is a lot of dead space and time.  The guests get bored and heaven forbid, the wedding ends early.  I believe it's very important to add things back in that are conversation starts and memory makers...

Here are some examples that we've experienced, have recommended or are recommending:

  • photobooth (the obvious example)
  • drag kings/queens 
  • some dance performance (fire dancer, salsa dancers, tango dancers, burlesque etc) 
  • caricature artist 
  • casino  
  • psychic (see above photo by Kelly Guenther Studio) 
  • cigar bar (if the venue allows it) 
  • aerial artist

The experience doesn't have to detract from the wedding or all the time spent dancing.  If it's a performance, keep it short, 1-2 songs MAX and keep it upbeat and appropriate.  

What are you doing to add some conversation starters and entertainment to your wedding?

A Cocktail-Reception Style Wedding

Cocktail party style weddings are very trendy right now, particularly with couples who want to do something nontraditional. While sit down dinners are great, they are not for everyone. This style of wedding can work extremely well - or it can be a disaster. Keep these tips on mind to avoid the pitfalls of such a wedding.

1. Feed your guests - a lot. Just because it's a cocktail party style event doesn't mean you can skimp on food. Whether you have passed hors d'oeuvres all night or some good stations mixed in, keep the food flowing. Your food budget will probably not be less than a typical sit down dinner, so get that idea out of your head!  Your guests may be drinking more of the hard stuff since there's no tableside wine service with dinner so you have to keep them well fed. The last thing you want is guests bad-mouthing you because they had to go out for pizza on the way home from the wedding.

2. Provide enough seating. I suggest seats for at least 50% of your guests. These seats can be lounge seats, small cocktail tables, bar seating, picnic benches or whatever floats your boat - but at some point each guest will want to sit so don't leave them hunting for a chair.  If you have many guests over the age of 60, then provide even more seating.

3. Provide adequate flow. Just because it's a cocktail party doesn't mean there shouldn't be a first dance, toasts, a cake cutting or other forms of entertainment. You may have some wallflowers in your group who need conversation starters and those elements do just that. Don't let anyone get bored or the party will end early. I promise.

4. Be aware of time. Most wedding venues rent for a 5 hour reception.  Your guests will start to lose steam at the 3-4 hour mark unless there is dancing - but many cocktail party style weddings don't have dancing.  Don't tell the guests this, but plan for a 4 hour reception and make a game day decision to keep the party going if guests are still having a blast. Tell your vendors that this could be a last minute decision and assign your wedding planner or friend to make the call so you don't have to worry about a thing.

5. Communicate with your guests. Let them know it's a cocktail party rather than a sit down dinner by using the term 'cocktail reception' on your wedding invitation. This sends a signal that they may get less food and that they may want to wear more sensible shoes because of all the standing around. Help everybody by managing their expectations.

Are you planning to host a cocktail reception instead a formal dinner?

(photo by Kate McElwee)

Tips for a Great Gay Wedding

Wedding planning can be an overwhelming process!  Here are ten tips to get you started and help you have the most fun ever when planning your wedding.

1. Put some love into the ceremony

Think about it – everyone is here for you, to celebrate your marriage and your commitment.  The party will be great but I can promise that if you have a thoughtful, meaningful ceremony, the party will be even greater.  Consider hiring a Celebrant to create a personalized ceremony for you.

2. Go gay-friendly

The wedding industry is STILL so bride-centric!  In NYC you may not encounter discrimination but you may encounter some accidental slip ups and references to the bride and groom.  To minimize this, check out your local Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce for amazingly talented gay-owned wedding resources including wedding planners, photography and flowers.

3. Gay weddings should never be boring

Many gay weddings skip the typical traditions such as dancing with parents, cake cuttings, garter and bouquet tosses and more.  But your guests actually look forward to those things and it helps make the evening flow.  If you take a pass on some traditions, add in a substitute.  Consider drag kings, cabaret, dancers, photo booth or other forms of entertainment that reflect your own interests and personality and present conversation starters for your guests.

4. Personalize

Hire a graphic designer to create your own custom wedding logo which then carries throughout your wedding materials.  That logo can be on your invitations, ceremony program, seating cards, menu and much more to “brand” your wedding in style.  This makes for instant, cohesive, thematic décor!

5. Flow

Even though you’re the guests of honor, you are also the host of this party.  No matter how good the food or the entertainment is, if your guests are waiting too long for a cocktail or you run out of hors d’oeuvres, that’s what they’ll remember.  Pay attention to the details around flow – make sure you have adequate greeters and signage so your guests know where to go.  Ensure plenty of bartenders so your guests never have to wait.  Anticipate heavy traffic areas and plan accordingly.

6. Be yourself

This is your wedding, not your sister’s, your mom’s or anyone else’s!  Express yourself, be non-traditional if you want to be, and don’t let anyone tell you what to do!

7. Relax

If wedding planning is stressing you out or you’re just too overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to call in the help of a wedding planner.  Services can vary and many planners can accommodate any budget or type of wedding.

8. Have two aisles

Why limit yourself to one aisle when there are two brides or two grooms? If you only have one, you have to decide who is the last one down the aisle, thereby playing more of a traditional “bridal” role.  Have two and walk simultaneously if the layout works well in your venue.

9. Only invite those who are happy for you

If you have any friends, family members or co-workers who aren’t excited for your wedding or don’t believe in same-sex marriage, screw ‘em!  Don’t invite them!  The last thing you need on your wedding day is to be self-conscious and worry about what someone else is thinking or saying.  Invite only those who are thrilled to support you.

10. Don’t forget to protect your family

Not to be a downer, but your marriage won’t be recognized by many states.  Hire an attorney and a financial adviser who understands LGBT family law to draw up the documents to help protect your new family so you can have peace of mind when you travel the world together as newlyweds!

Bernadette in Curve Magazine

I never thought this day would come, after just about 10 years in business, we finally made the pages of Curve magazine....a lesbian dream come true...check us out below or in the new issue!

Happy New Year

Happy new year, friends and colleagues!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday season.  This post is a little late because our holidays were kind of hectic...between both of us getting horrible colds and Jen's grandma passing away, we have been fairly unplugged. As always, we start the new year highlighting 14 things that were exciting about LGBTQ rights, marriage equality and our company in 2013. Enjoy the list below and we look forward to hearing from you to celebrate this new year!

1. DOMA was overturned by the Supreme Court.  In other words, even though about 31 states are behind the times, we have federal marriage equality and Jen and I can file our tax returns as "married" for the first time in 2014. 

2. Since this time last year, we've had 10+ new states with marriage equality...it's hard to be precise as the number seems to change almost daily now.  Utah?! New Mexico!?  It's amazing and inspiring and we are so thrilled for all the thousands of same-sex couples with new marriage rights. And our brothers and sisters around the world have reason to celebrate as well with legal marriage in places like France, Brazil and Uruguay.

3. Prop 8 was overturned on that same historic day as DOMA and marriage equality has returned to California!

4. We saw some notable celebrity weddings (sadly, none planned by us) including Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Dot-Marie Jones from Glee, Meredith Baxter, Greg Louganis and TR Knight.

5. We launched an exciting new partnership with the W Retreat and Spa in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

6. My second book, The Lesbian Couple's Guide to Wedding Planning, hit the shelves and feedback has been great!

7. 14 Stories worked with 38 LGBTQ couples from 14 different states in 2013!  Thank you so much for your business and we hope we served you well.

8. We co-created (with Community Marketing and Insights) a really interesting survey of 916 engaged and married same-sex couples.  If you want to read the survey results to learn more about what LGBT folks are doing with our wedding plans, check out some of the results.  

9. Our clients weddings were featured in amazing publications like The Knot, Brides and Inside Weddings magazines. 

10. We were featured in articles written in the Advocate, Curve, NY Times, CNN and many more.

11. I was honored to train thousands of wedding professionals around the world about same-sex weddings and LGBT couples. I went to Mexico three times in 2013 to lead trainings and once to Canada.  All of these professionals are now prepared to work with LGBT couples in the most sensitive and equal way.

12. I was Vice Chair of the annual Family Equality Council fundraiser, Night at the Pier, which raised over $800,000 to advocate for the rights of LGBT families.

13. Rhen joined the team as our NYC Wedding Planner and Elopement Coordinator and has been an awesome addition to the team! He's in charge of all the small NYC gay wedding we are planning.

14. We participated in a really fun segment of Huffington Post LIVE talking about gay wedding planning 101. 

A Beautiful Gay Wedding at the State Room

I really really really love the work we get to do and the wonderful clients we meet. Lee and Tom are a perfect example, a very well matched couple, equally nerdy and equally funny. Their wedding had a little bit of geek for everyone - the science geek, the computer geek, the board game geek, the SciFi geek...it was such a beautiful, extremely personalized wedding and we couldn't be more proud to have produced it. This awesome gay wedding was at Boston's State Room, one of the most beautiful venues in the city.

Check out this video trailer from Generations CinemaStories

Tom & Lee Wedding Highlights from GENERATIONS cinemastories on Vimeo.

The Pilgrim Monument Wedding in Provincetown

Provincetown, MA is one of the most spectacular places on earth, and as a big gay travel destination, it only makes sense that we see a lot of weddings there. Anthony and Chad came to us as New Yorkers whose second home is Ptown, and we collaborated to create a beautiful, sophisticated wedding at the Pilgrim Monument. The wedding concept was "preppy garden party" and we brought this extraordinary production together with an incredible team of vendors.   

Our grooms are so gorgeous and happy and afterwards told us, "We cannot express how grateful we are for all you have done to get us to this day. Your patience, guidance and partnership during this process has been remarkable. You and Rhen did an amazing job creating the most incredible moment of our lives. Every detail was beyond what we had hoped for. Hope you had some time to rest and look forward to connecting again! Much love!!"

Please enjoy the photos below by Kate McElwee. 

invitation suite for two grooms

two grooms getting ready together

emotional moment for the two grooms as they are getting ready

monument provincetwon wedding wide shot of grooms portraitstwo sweet grooms holding hands at their monument provincetown wedding

two grooms holding hands one wearing blue plaid custom suit

guests arriving for a monument provincetown wedding

kid looking at the view at the monument provincetown weddingview of town and the beach at a monument provincetown wedding

pre ceremony preparations for the grooms

happy daces smiling in the crowd waiting for the ceremony to start

great moment during a reading at the groomssweet and emotional moments at the ceremony at this monument provincetown wedding

monument provincetown wedding funny moment during the ceremony

monument provincetown wedding happiness at the end of the ceremonygorgeous grooms at the end of their monument provincetown gay wedding

monument provincetown wedding details of cake and popcornwedding tent setup at gay monument provincetown wedding

cabbages and thistles make masculine flower arrangements and centerpiecesbeautiful place settings with burlap at a monument provincetown wedding

monument provincetown wedding men during cocktail hour with great suits and shoesa happy guest enjoying cocktail hour

monument provincetown wedding wedding details and scenic shot

first dance and guest reactionsbeautiful and emotional moment during the first dance at this monument provincetown wedding

cool ring shot using gay wedding stationery for two grooms

dance floor fun and craziness at a tented monument provincetown wedding

monument provincetown wedding reception tent lit up at night

Win a Free Trip to Cancun

Our friends over at GayDestinationWeddings.com are sponsoring a free trip to Cancun.  See below for more details - you can win a 5 night stay + a $1500 credit to LoveandPride.com.  You can enter the contest at this link.

New York City Gay Wedding Packages

Our New York City elopement packages continue to be a big hit with Rhen at the helm.  In the past few months, we've worked with some great couples from Texas and Michigan to create extraordinary mini weddings.

First, Bill and Nick came in from Texas with their teenage kids who didn't know they were attending their dads' wedding!  They also brought the kids moms, some other family and a small group of friends for about 12 in total.  We upgraded to a limo coach, rented a chapel, added in a mini orchestra, upgraded to a custom ceremony officiated by a former priest and made their experience the biggest elopement package to date!  Of course, as they pointed out, everything is bigger in Texas!  

Check out this photo of a wedding with our grooms Stephen and Robert from Hawaii.  Photo by Catherine Hunsburger.

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