14 Stories
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Weddings Redefined

Traditionally, At a Gay Wedding 

When I'm asked by a reporter, a prospective client, a curious acquaintance, or a stranger at a cocktail party, "What's the difference between a straight wedding and a gay wedding?", my response begins with, "Well, traditionally, at a gay wedding..."

That's right - there are gay wedding traditions, mostly at the ceremony.  Let me explain further.

There's a strong and palpable feeling of triumph and celebration at gay weddings.  But before that feeling actually sets in, many of the guests who have never before attended a gay wedding simply don't know what to expect.  So the guests start out with a great deal of anticipation, are a little nervous, excited, curious.  We like to help them relax.  Traditionally, at a gay wedding, guests are greeted before the ceremony with champagne and sparkling water.  This can last for 5-30 minutes before the ceremony begins and sets the tone of something a little bit different but definitely celebratory and fun.

Then comes the processional...and not your typical Wedding March, the Bridal Chorus or Trumpet Voluntary with a massive wedding party.  Traditionally, if there is a central aisle, the couple walks in together holding hands.  If there is no central aisle (often), the couple walks in from two different directions each accompanied by their family and/or wedding party, and meets in the middle.  And the music?  How about "All You Need is Love""Ribbon in the Sky" or another contemporary piece with meaning to the couple?  Sometimes this piece is played live and sometimes it's the recorded version of the song.  Our processional is "Your Precious Love" by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.

example of a Foundation Covenant, designed by    Modern Ketubah

example of a Foundation Covenant, designed by Modern Ketubah

Following the processional, the guests remain standing, champagne in hand, for the opening remarks and tradition of "Validation & Affirmation" - which is essentially a brief introductory blessing/toast.  Then the guests sit and the ceremony proceeds as you might expect but with often a bit more emphasis on the history of the couple.

Later in the ceremony, after the vows are exchanged, the officiant asks the couple to sign the Foundation Covenant.  This document is inspired by the ketubah, Quaker wedding certificate and other sacred documents and is an art piece that the couple, and later the guests sign.  We work with two producers of Foundation Covenants - custom and modern art pieces.

The couple then recesses out to a contemporary/pop song and take some time alone (no receiving line), adapted from the Jewish tradition of the yichud, while the guests sign the Foundation Covenant as witnesses to the marriage.  The Covenant is often later framed as art (and conveniently can serve as a guest book.)

If it sounds like gay weddings are fun, it's because they are!  I seriously hear from a guest at almost every wedding I plan that "this is the best wedding I've ever been to."  Have you seen anything especially fun or outside the box at a gay wedding ceremony? 

Bernadette Smith