When it comes to wedding planning, many of the standard matrimonial traditions simply don't work for same-sex couples. Psh, who likes rules anyway? BuzzFeed reached out to Kate Schaefer, founder of H & H Weddings, to provide some insight on how same-sex couples are making their big day different. "LGBT couples are faced with a unique set of challenges as they plan their weddings; there are no rules! None. Zilch," she says. "This can leave couples feeling overwhelmed, or unsure of what traditional elements of weddings to include. The best way to plan is to do whatever feels the most you."
"While plenty of lesbian brides still have their maids, and many gay grooms still have their groomsmen, just as many couples are opting to make their wedding party exactly what they want. Removing gender from the equation makes it so much easier," says Schaefer.
"If you are a groom and you want your sister in your wedding party, why not have her?! We are seeing so many amazing wedding parties that include all genders! It's really about the people who love and support you."
"I love all of the wedding attire variety that I get to see on a daily basis," says Schaefer. "From kilts to feminine suits to rompers, there are so many options! Because LGBT couples often don't feel tied to the religious meanings in traditional weddings (let's be honest, how many virgins are getting married and wearing white to symbolize their purity these days?!) they are able to make the day truly about themselves as a couple."
"For couples who aren't keen on traditional wedding ideals, wearing a ring can feel disingenuous. Many couples now are getting matching tattoos, or exchanging other pieces of jewelry rather than a traditional ring," says Schaefer. "Jesse Tyler Ferguson proposed to his husband with a watch that said something along the lines of, 'Spend all of your time with me.' In my opinion, there could not be a sweeter, more genuine gesture." Besides, consider all the money you'll be saving!
"On the whole, LGBT couples have been together for longer than straight couples," says Schaefer. "For the time being, this is only due to the fact that same-sex marriage has not been legalized everywhere, but, regardless, marriage is something many LGBT couples never considered an option. I have read so many stories about couples who make a decision together to get married. No bells and whistles, no flash mobs, just like any other major decision — they make it together. Maybe it's over dinner one night, or maybe it's while walking the dog. One of my favorite stories is Steve and Mario's — I think their story is so lovely and speaks to the understated proposals that many couples experience (and love)."
"These days, couples (LGBT and heterosexual) are striving for a day that is all about the love they share as they exchange vows. One amazing way that couples are tackling this is by walking down the aisle together, or just not having an aisle," says Schaefer.
Clearly, not all trips down the aisle are straight. How about round? "This is the next step in your lives together! What better way to celebrate than to be surrounded (literally!) by your loved ones?" suggests Schaefer. "Forming a circle around the couple is a great way to support them as they say 'I do.'"
"So often, we see signs that tell guests to sit anywhere! There is no seating chart or assigned side. This makes things significantly easier on the couple as they plan because they don't have to worry about who is sitting where at the ceremony," Schaefer explains. "This is a concept that could certainly extend to your meal — no seating charts make planning simpler and can make the wedding much more fun! Your grandma might love sitting next to your friend who is in full drag."
Hyphenate? Combine? Pick just one? A lot of couples are passing on any sort of change. "I think, on the whole, people are getting married later in life and see that there is no real need to change their names (unless [it would make them feel] more connected or more like a family)," says Schaefer. "The tradition of a bride taking her husband's last name came about when women were not allowed autonomy, making this tradition inapplicable in today's world. Again, many people do it because they feel tied to the tradition, and for same-sex couples who have fought for so long to be legally married, taking their spouse's last name solidifies the legitimacy of their marriage. However, I would guess that the vast majority of millennial LGBTs will not change their names."
Most wedding guests will agree: The whole three-course meal situation is never that satisfying. And if you're paying for your own wedding, the food can be a big chunk of the bill. Why not opt for an easy breezy buffet or throw back to the simple cocktail and cake receptions?
No stress, less mess, more dancing.
Flowers are beautiful and life is short — always have more flowers. "If they want to, why wouldn't a groom carry a bouquet?!," says Schaefer. "They are beautiful accessories that compliment the décor and attire from your ceremony to your wedding party! Though a bouquet can seem cumbersome to brides and grooms alike, they can also be the perfect touch."
Whether you and your soon-to-be betrothed are religious or not, it's important that both your personal beliefs are respected. "The Jewish tradition of stepping on a glass is very popular amongst LGBT couples, as well as unity candles, ring warmings, and the unity sand ritual," says Schaefer. "We love how Ross and Jeremy chose to include readings from various faiths that they connected with."