LGBTQ+ Wedding Planning Tips

Let’s be honest, so many wedding traditions are incredibly heteronormative, catering only to couples who fit the “bride and groom” mold. Not only that, but so many wedding planning resources seem to forget that couples that aren’t heterosexual or cisgender get married too! It can be really hard as a queer couple to navigate an industry that’s still so heteronormative – so this guide has some LGBTQ+ wedding planning tips that can help you un-gender some of those traditions, get inspiration for your wedding day, and celebrate your love in a way that suits you!

An LGBTQ+ couple sitting on a cliffside on their wedding day.

LGBTQ+ Wedding Planning Tips & Alternatives to Traditions

There are so many traditions, expectations, and more that come with planning a wedding. Here are some ways to put a spin on it, and some LGBTQ+ wedding planning tips!

Wedding Invitations

The day you get married is a big deal – and you should be surrounded by people that love and support you. It’s unfortunately common for LGBTQ+ couples to have complicated, or nonexistent, relationships with family members, and your wedding day can feel like a lot of pressure to reconcile or to invite certain people. 

When planning a wedding, couples often face the pressure to invite distant family members that they hardly know, and to extend invitations to every person they’ve ever met – but you absolutely don’t have to do this! Your wedding day will be more special and personal if the people you’re surrounded by are the people that you truly want to be there – so think about what that means for you. 

It may mean eloping instead of throwing a traditional wedding, it might mean downsizing and planning an intimate ceremony with just a few dozen people, or you may love the idea of a big party and I want to go all out! The important thing is that this is totally up to you, and who you invite to your wedding is your decision, and yours alone. The people surrounding you should be the people that love and support you, and they should be the ones that you want to be a part of your life, before you get married, and after.

Tips for Choosing a Wedding Party for LGBTQ+ Couples

Traditionally, wedding parties are separated into groomsmen and bridesmaids, those who wear suits and those who wear dresses. But, whether you’re a same-sex couple, you or some of your best friends or gender nonconforming, or the two of you just have a lot of friends in common and don’t feel the need to separate them into different sides, this traditional split may not work for you!

My recommendation is that when you’re deciding the people that will stand by your side as you get married, just think about who you truly want to be up there with you! Regardless of gender, choose the people that are closest to you, or to both of you. When it comes to choosing their attire, though many couples decide on a color palette, it can be a lot more comfortable for everyone if you let your wedding party choose whether they’d like a dress, a suit, a jumpsuit, or whatever they feel comfortable in for your wedding!

An LGBTQ+ couple on their wedding day in Deception Pass.
An LGBTQ+ couple on their wedding day in Deception Pass.

Walking Down the Aisle as an LGBTQ+ Couple

Another tradition that you can tweak for your wedding day is how you walk down the aisle. You can definitely stick with what many couples do – have one of you walk down the aisle first and wait, and then have the other partner walk down last. 

One thing to think about when it comes LGBTQ+ wedding planning tips is who will be walking down the aisle with you. Parents are the default for most weddings, but if that doesn’t work for you or doesn’t feel right, you can choose absolutely anyone, you can walk down alone, or you can walk down with your partner. Some options can include siblings, other family members, or friends and chosen family.

Walking down the aisle together is definitely a big twist on tradition, but many couples choose to do a first look before their ceremony, and this can be a really sweet way to symbolize the two of you forming a family. Another option is to have two aisles, so that the two of you can walk down at the same time, and meet each other there! If your venue allows, you can walk in from different sides, meeting each other in the middle before you walk down.

First Look Tips for LGBTQ+ Couples

The old tradition of not seeing each other until you walk down the aisle is on its way out for a lot of couples, and many people choose to see each other privately before the celebration begins, and to have that special moment shared just with each other.

In a heterosexual wedding, for a first look, typically the groom faces away, while the bride walks up behind him and taps him on the shoulder, so that he can turn around and they can see each other for the very first time. You can definitely decide to follow this template, if one of you wants to do the standing while the other wants to do the walking up behind them. But there are also some creative ways to do a first look instead!

One alternative first look idea is to stand on opposite sides of an open door, or at adjacent corners outside of a building. This way the two of you can’t see each other – but you can hold hands and talk to each other if you want. You can even do this as an alternative to a first look if you decide not to do one, but you can also begin your first look this way! When you’re ready, you can both turn around at the same time and walk towards each other, so you get to see each other all glammed up for the first time, at the same time.

Parent-Child Dances

The gendered traditions don’t end with the ceremony! Receptions have plenty of them as well, including dances. Traditionally, heterosexual couples will dance with their opposite sex parent. If it feels right for you, the two of you can totally do this for your reception, but if that’s not your jam, there are some alternatives!

First, you absolutely don’t have to do a dance if you don’t want to – some couples just do a first dance with each other before opening up the dance floor to their guests, or decide not to be the center of attention for that moment at all and skip it entirely.

You can also dance with whoever you want to – a sibling, a grandparent, choose one parent, dance with both parents, dance with each other’s parents, or do some or all of the above!

Bouquet and Garter Toss

The bouquet and garter toss is another gendered tradition that happens during receptions, so if you’re an LGBTQ+ couple, you can personalize this to fit you. The two of you can toss bouquets together, or toss something else if bouquets and garters aren’t even a part of your wedding (candy, chocolate, a flower from one of your centerpieces…). Instead of having your DJ announce single ladies and single men to the dance floor, have all your single friends come out together!

Hiring an LGBTQ+ Wedding Photographer

Of course, all the vendors that are around you on your wedding day should be LGBTQ+ affirming and should be there to celebrate and support your love story! As a queer wedding photographer, it’s so incredibly special to be able to document queer love stories and to be by your side on your day.

So if you’re planning your unique wedding day, contact me! Let’s talk about your dream day, and how I can help you make it happen.

Katelyn Dilworth

January 22, 2023

Katelyn Kristine is a Washington State based wedding, elopement, and senior photographer. She has a passion for storytelling and loves using words and pictures to bring memories back to life. 


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