Gay Wedding Ideas & Advice for Same-Sex Couples

Planning advice and wedding ideas from the couples who have been there (and looked damn good doing it).

Photo by Molly McElenney Photography.

For same-sex couples, planning a wedding can feel like uncharted territory—even if you’ve been personally planning your dream wedding for decades. Navigating a wedding industry that has historically catered to only one variety of union creates a unique set of challenges for LGBTQ+ couples.

That’s why we’re celebrating the ones who took on that challenge to create a wedding that truly represents their love, who they are, and what they value. We chatted with ten couples to learn how they managed each aspect of their wedding—everything from the proposals to Santa (really). Read on for inspiration and guidance.

Table of Contents

i.The Proposal
ii.Wedding Traditions
iii.Planning & Advice
iv.Wedding Photography
v.When It Became Real
vi.Unexpected Surprises
vii.Wedding Attire

i. The Proposal

Willie & Joe

W: “What’s great about a proposal is that the person proposing gets to tell all the reasons they love you and want to spend your life with you. We decided we would both propose to each other. We had engagement rings designed for one another. I had been dropping hints to Joe that whenever he was ready to propose, I was ready.”

Photo by Kelley Jordan Photography.

Ricky & Ben

R: “Caught off guard on vacation in Aruba. Headed down to dinner, and had that cliché vacation moment on the balcony at sunset doing the over-the-shoulder shot of my back looking out into the sunset. I’m like, ‘Did you get it?’ And I turn around and he’s on his knee.”

Ryan & Joe

R: “I was talking to Joe’s best friend to plan a proposal. And it turns out Joe was doing the same thing with the same friend. We were both planning on proposing to each other at the same time.”

Travis & Charles

C: “I was the one that asked. It was on Travis’ birthday while we were traveling throughout Europe. He’s always wanted to go to Paris, so while we were there I proposed when we were in one of the gardens.”

Photo by Sarah Mack Photography.

T: “I was also contemplating if I wanted to propose while we were in Europe. And then three weeks before, I decided no, I don’t want to put on any added pressure, so let’s just make it a vacation. I didn’t talk to Charles about it at all, and I was completely surprised on my birthday when he asked.”

Joe & Gordon

J: “The whole day traveling from LA to New Orleans was crazy because I had to check 30 times to make sure that ring never left the carry-on. So we finally get to New Orleans and we were supposed to go out and meet up with friends and I was going to propose. But I decided I couldn’t wait any longer, so I did it in the hotel room. As I got down on one knee and asked him to marry me, we heard a knock on the door and it was the security guard because he heard our room was having some problems. So mid-proposal, Gordon invites the guy in and tells him we have problems with the lighting.”

Steven & Louis

L: “Our first date was a Lady Gaga concert. Fast-forward to November of 2017, Lady Gaga’s back in town at the very same venue, and I was like ‘Full circle, let’s make this happen.’ I was the one that asked. The first thing he said was, ‘Did you ask my dad?’ And I go, ‘Of course I asked your dad.’ And he goes, ‘Really? What did he say?’ And I’m like, ‘He said as long as you’re happy, he’s going to support you 100%.’”

“What’s great about a proposal is that the person proposing gets to tell all the reasons they love you and want to spend your life with you.”
Willie

Nathan & Matthew

N: “We had a big ski trip planned with 26 of our friends. There had been this long-running joke that I’m not romantic at all, so Matt always said he would have to be the one to propose. I knew this would be the event that he would target, so I had decided to do it because I thought it would be more surprising that way. That Saturday morning, we planned a group photo. I had my friends line up and hold memory signs that I had printed that had pictures and phrases from our relationship. I walked Matt down the line of them and ended on the last one asking how we would remember today, and I proposed.”

Lauren & Lindsey

L: We don’t just fit into a male or female role—we are just two people in love—so we both gave each other rings at different times. I proposed in our home town. Later, Lindsey planned a great surprise for me. I had always wanted to see Wicked, so while we were in New York we got tickets. During “For Good,” she just slipped the ring on my finger. I was floored, excited, nervous, and elated!

Photo by Martindale Media Group.

Daniel & Kevin

K: “It was more of a mutual proposal.”

D: “It was a practical, mutual decision. We had a conversation and were like, ‘You know what? I think we should get married,’ and Kevin agreed. It was so cute.”

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ii. Wedding Traditions

Nathan & Matthew

M: “Break all the norms. You don’t have to fit yourself into this cookie cutter of what you think it should be. Whatever ceremony you want, make it yours.”

Photo by Forget Me Not Media.

Ryan & Joe

R: “This is regardless of sexual orientation or identity—it’s about what you enjoy when you go to a wedding. We cut out all the stuff we didn’t really like and reimagined it as a real celebration with our family, and our chosen families. We also tried to have our ceremony be a real ode to standing on the shoulders of those who came before us, those who rallied and voted and marched for us. An ode to the people who made our wedding possible.”

Travis & Charles

C: “For many, it was the first gay wedding they had ever been to, so we wanted there to be some tradition so it was a familiar-type wedding to our friends and family. But we did make it a really fun spin on many of the events throughout the day.”

Ricky & Ben

R: “There’s this notion that weddings have heteronormative traditions. But at the end of the day, we all deserve to have what we want to have. If you want traditional ceremonies, that’s okay. Don’t be afraid to just want to have fun. Lighten up and have a party with your favorite people. What’s to hate about that?”

Couple shares gay wedding ideas
Photo by Logan Cole Photography.

Kevin & Kevin

K: “The wedding as a same-sex couple isn’t a traditional wedding. You have the freedom and the creativity to make this day as special as you want. It’s not according to anyone else’s traditions or the way they think it should be.”

Willie & Joe

W: “In addition to exchanging vows with each other, we made a vow to the people who came to our wedding, to the people in the room. This was especially meaningful to us because we had some issues with members of our family choosing not to come to the wedding because they didn’t believe in gay marriage. It was really important to us to make a declaration to those people, who came out for us and who loved us and who supported us, for us to tell them that we vow to love them and support them throughout their lives as a couple. And they’ll always be welcome in our home and always be a part of our life.”

Joe & Gordon

J: “We were going to do away with all of the traditional stuff, and then you notice once you start talking to family, they all enjoy the first dance and this and that. So the big thing for us was adding touches like our sign-in board. We actually had our tattoo artist draw up a logo that we were eventually going to get tattooed on us.”

One of the best gay wedding ideas: tattoo sign-in
Photo by Ellysia Francovitch.

Steven & Louis

L: “We didn’t do engagement rings. We talked about getting engaged and everything, however I did give him an engagement rose. On this rose there was a ribbon that said ‘Happily Ever After’ with two tiny honey bee charms. Six months after we met, his mom passed away. His mom’s nickname was Honey, after the honey bee. I told him, ‘No matter what we go through in life, all of our milestones, I want you to know your mom is always going to be a part of it.’”

Photo by Naomi Manuel.

Daniel & Kevin

D: “I actually come from a Greek-American background. I have a very large Greek family that traveled here, from mostly Chicago but also from Greece. We had a big Greek-oriented wedding where there was Greek dancing, and there was a lively cultural background expressed in the wedding. There was a lot of cultural expression on that day.”

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iii. Wedding Planning & Advice

Kevin & Kevin

K: “When you’re planning a wedding, you get a lot of unsolicited advice, but it’s definitely important to keep your sights on making it your own. If you like something and it’s special to you as a couple, that’s all that matters. I know that gets said a lot, but it’s so true…especially as a same-sex couple.”

Photo by Lo Photo, LLC.

K: “We went our whole lives going to all of these weddings. And we never really thought we would end up getting married, even before we met. When it all started happening and we met each other and got engaged, we definitely wanted to make it our own and make it as unique and special to us as possible.”

Ryan & Joe

R: “For gay couples, they have the ability to create a blueprint for the next couple that comes along. We found ourselves searching the internet for gay proposals on YouTube, gay weddings on YouTube. And there are some, but there aren’t that many. So you end up picking and choosing sources of inspiration. Focus on creating a blueprint that you can be proud of.

Joe & Gordon

J: “We were very upfront with everyone right away. We didn’t think there would be any problems with any vendors but I didn’t want to go down that path of awkwardness. Whatever response we got, we weren’t going to let that ruin our day. Somebody was going to do all of our stuff.”

Ricky & Ben

R: “We were just going to go to city hall, and my mom was devastated. Our plan evolved because we remembered that this is a memory that’s not just for us, but for the people in our lives. My advice is, do what you want to do. You can’t redo this day. Money is one thing, but at the end of the day, you make the money back. You can’t make the memories back. Focus on what memory is most important for you to have that day—for you, not for anyone else. You can’t rewind time and wish you spent money on a nicer cake. If you want a nicer cake, splurge.”

R: We put a lot of work into our playlist—our DJ had no creative freedom. For instance we played the song “Eye to Eye” from A Goofy Movie, and my friends and cousins flipped out cause we grew up with that movie. Music brings back memories and the music really defined the night and it really made it so much more fun. It reminds you that it’s silly, it’s fun, it’s a party. It’s distinctly us.

Willie & Joe

W: “You shouldn’t let the opinions of your family, or your friends, or distant relatives make you choose things that aren’t you, or make choices that make them feel comfortable at your expense. One thing that I realized I was doing early in our wedding planning was trying to find ways to tone down the gay at the wedding.”

Photo by Kelley Jordan Photography.

W: “There was a moment where I was like ‘Wait, this is our wedding, we’re getting married.’ We’re going to kiss, we’re going to dance. It would defeat the purpose of us getting married if we hid it in some way.”

Travis & Charles

T: “We didn’t want anybody there who we know would be uncomfortable or would have a negative thought, so we didn’t invite those people. On the day of the wedding, we were completely comfortable. We even had a few gay couples who had never been to a gay wedding before as a couple, and they said to us after the fact, ‘We loved that we could dance together and kiss in front of everybody, and not have anybody give a second thought to it. We felt so comfortable at your wedding.’”

C: “Because we had out so much thought and effort into it, the day of our wedding really went smoothly. We had a really good time. It didn’t feel like the day went too fast. And it really was just getting as much done in advance as you can. We didn’t have to think about anything but having fun.”

Steven & Louis

L: “Be true to who you are as far as what you want. Be empowered to go to any vendors that you want to and just don’t be afraid. Going through this process, for us, it was a little difficult to talk to people. They would ask about my fiance and ask, who is she? Actually, it’s a he. They’re just thrown off. Not in a bad way, but they assume.”

“It really was just getting as much done in advance as you can. We didn’t have to think about anything but having fun.”
Charles

Daniel & Kevin

D: “There was a bit of a tokenization of the wedding. You know, it’s a ‘gay wedding,’ not just a wedding. It’s almost like a celebrity event. Luckily we have a really affirming family and a really welcoming and open-minded community.”

K: “I don’t know if it’s a stereotype, but during the photography sessions we had three strangers independently ask us if we got married at the courthouse. I don’t know if it’s a stereotype still that gay couples get married at the courthouse, but I feel like if we were a heterosexual couple that question would never be asked of you. Everyone would assume there was a ceremony and family.”

Lauren & Lindsey

L: Splurge on a good photographer, videographer, and band!

Nathan & Matthew

N: “Don’t sweat the small stuff. On a form, it said ‘bride and groom.’ I was very intentional about thanking vendors who were very intentional about putting ‘groom and groom’ or ‘Mr. and Mr.’ or ‘groomspeople.’ Every vendor we worked with was reassuring and happy to celebrate with us.”

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iv. Wedding Photography

Joe & Gordon

J: “I don’t like showing PDA, but our photographer was great. We wanted her to realize that it was a little different as a same-sex wedding, that we’re not going to do the same traditional poses that a straight couple would. She really made us feel like it was our day.”

Photo by Ellysia Francovitch.

J: “One of my favorite photos is the one with the gold Mr. & Mr. balloons. It ended up being a last-minute photo.”

Willie & Joe

W: “Right after we kiss and say ‘I do’ and are walking down the aisle. So meaningful to see. We’re so happy that we got married. We felt really connected to each other. If I could send my younger self a photo from the future, it would be that photo so that he would be able to know that was in his future some day.”

Kevin & Kevin

K: “I have a soft spot for the one where we’re holding hands and laughing because we were definitely laughing our asses off that day. We couldn’t believe it was the day of our wedding and that this was really happening. We grew up as young boys who thought we would never end up getting married because it was illegal and we knew that we were different, so it just wasn’t in the cards for us.”

Ricky & Ben

R: “I wanted to hire one of my friends or colleagues to have a very Vanity Fair-type photo booth for people and take it to the next level, but I also know that’s pretty expensive to have a fantasy moment with a painterly backdrop. But our venue was beautiful anyway, so we were fine without it.”

Photo by Logan Cole Photography.

Steven & Louis

L: “Definitely the photo of us surrounded by our families, holding up our shaka in Hawaii. That’s why we both fell in love with each other—our love of family. If you don’t get along with my family, it’s a dealbreaker. And he’s the same way. If anyone could describe Steven and I together, it’s that we’re family guys.”

Photo by Naomi Manuel.

Nathan & Matthew

N: “The two of us, walking up the mountain slope in our tuxedos right after the wedding. And the sun is just perfect behind it. It shows the vast expanse of the mountains. For me, it captured that feeling of ‘just us.’

Photo by Forget Me Not Media.

M: “There’s one of me and Nathan dancing in the venue. You can see all of our friends looking at us.”

Daniel & Kevin

D: “The photos in the snow…our photographer did those out of the kindness of her heart. She was off the clock, but she noticed it was snowing and said ‘We have to get snowy photos of you.’”

Photo by Be Boulder Photography.

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v. When It Became Real

Ryan & Joe

R: “There was no specific moment, but it was all of the feelings and moments along the way. We were in rival fraternities in college and then we came out together. We moved across the country. We got a dog along the way. For me, it’s all of the moments and feelings Joe has given me along the way. I’m thankful for each of those moments, the good and the bad. Each one of those little moments creates this foundation. I look back to them so fondly.”

Photo by Molly McElenney Photography.

Willie & Joe

W: “It was the moment when I started to get dressed. My hands didn’t work the way that they normally do. I couldn’t put on my cufflinks. I had to get my friend Meghan to help me. Our photographer asked someone to go get me some champagne. That definitely worked. That’s when I thought, I’m a full-on groom. People are handing me drinks and taking pictures with me.”

Ricky & Ben

R: “The strange feeling when you turn to the left, and your work friend is there. You turn to your right and your aunt from Arizona is there. And you turn behind you and your best friend from Atlanta is there. And you’re like, what the hell is going on? It’s this alternate universe where you’re never going to be in the same room together. I didn’t anticipate that surreal feeling.”

Kevin & Kevin

K: “We had the bridal party enter the room to an orchestral arrangement of Dancing Queen by Abba. The event coordinators and the DJ had told everyone stand up and swing their napkins in the air when the grooms come in.”

Photo by Lo Photo, LLC.

K: “It brings us to tears. We can’t get over that moment. If we even hear Dancing Queen, which is the craziest thing, we will start to get overly emotional to the point where it’s just comical. We wish this was every day. Can we just walk into every week like that? It was just the best.”

Travis & Charles

C: “Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It’s a unique experience to be around friends and family that have never been to a same-sex wedding. But you have to go into it knowing that. Just, have fun. It’s your day. Don’t try to please everybody.”

T: “I was completely not nervous until I started getting ready. We did the tradition of not seeing each other until we get to the venue and have our first look. As soon as I felt Charles tap me on the shoulder, I started crying and he started crying. It was an incredible moment for me. I absolutely loved it. At that moment, I was like, you’re going to be my husband today. All the emotions came to me at once.”

Joe & Gordon

J: “Once we sat down for dinner, and looking out and seeing everybody, that’s when it hit me. We’re married and this is for us.”

Nathan & Matthew

N: “It wasn’t actually that day. There was a moment of quiet at the lodge when everyone had left. It was really the first moment in a probably a week which didn’t have planning, we had no schedule. It was just us. In that moment I was like, we did it. If we can get through this much planning together, we can get through anything.”

“I can’t really describe it in words, but it was almost like finally being loved 100%.”
Daniel

Daniel & Kevin

D: “When I was walking down the aisle and Kevin was already at the end of the aisle, and I saw him in his suit, I felt something unique in that moment that I had never felt before because it was everyone supporting us and our partnership. Seeing Kevin waiting there for me, it was literally the best thing. I can’t really describe it in words, but it was almost like finally being loved 100%. Everyone there for us. Seeing Kevin really triggered the crying, tears of joy, which I was not expecting.”

K: “Just seeing Daniel walk down the aisle nervous—like this is really happening, we’ve been thinking about this for so, so long—really made it incredible.”

Lauren & Lindsey

L: I was extremely nervous leading up to this day, but when the doors opened up, I saw Lauren waiting for me and all my nerves escaped me. I was finally feeling relaxed and knew this was the exact perfect woman for me.

Photo by Martindale Media Group.

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vi. Unexpected Surprises

Ryan & Joe

R: “It rained, so we had to move the ceremony from an outdoor location to an indoor location. It ended up being a good thing because it was a more intimate experience. It forced everyone to really come together and be in a small space and interact right off the bat. By the time everyone was dancing, everyone was old friends at that point.”

Lauren & Lindsey

L: We gave our wedding planner free range to surprise us with an arrangement of drag queens, Ava Aurora and Vivian St. Campbell, and bio queen Mahogany Campbell to perform. This was an amazing surprise!

Photo by Martindale Media Group.

Steven & Louis

L: “Nothing ever happens the way it’s supposed to. There are always mistakes, there are always little things. It’s funny because Steven and I were the only ones who would notice it and we would laugh it off.”

Willie & Joe

W: “Our DJ who I know from work, he gave this really great speech that I didn’t expect about how happy he was for me. He’s also a black male and he talked about how beautiful the wedding was and how so many people in our culture, especially black Christian culture, don’t accept gay people. And that’s a thing that’s hurting the church and hurting progress. We’re both Methodist, so it was really important to us to have ministers perform our wedding and celebrate that part of our lives.”

Nathan & Matthew

M:Santa Claus showed up to our wedding. It was pretty magical actually.

holiday same-sex wedding
Photo by Forget Me Not Media.

N: “It was such an organic moment that nobody else realized that it wasn’t planned. It’s right up our alley to be extra and have Santa Claus show up, but it was truly unplanned!”

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vii. Wedding Attire

Ryan & Joe

R: “We wanted our looks to be very clean and classic, but also more modern. The idea of boxy suits with parachute pants wasn’t going to fly for us. We just wanted something that would shine through our photos as timeless, in that moment, a timeless photo.”

Photo by Molly McElenney Photography.

R: “The Black Tux was an easy way to do that without sticking everyone into a boxy Men’s Wearhouse suit. We thought, ‘Not only can we do this for our groomsmen, it would be a great option for us as well.”

Kevin & Kevin

K: “These suits were just fire. They were amazing. They both made us look so good. Seeing Kevin fully dressed, I would call him a stud muffin but truly, I was like, he’s such a stud muffin. I loved the way he looked. I was just so proud of him. Just so happy that he was going to be my husband, looking the way that he does.”

LGBTQ wedding ideas for attire
Photo by Lo Photo, LLC.

K: “The striking image of him when he was all dressed and putting on his bow tie, that’s what I remember. Obviously he’s the most handsome guy in the world and I was just so excited to marry him. He ended up going with the white dinner jacket and it looked SO bomb on him. Yeah, he’s a hottie.”

Travis & Charles

T: “I always wanted to get custom suits made. It was four months out and we decided that would be too expensive.”

C: “We wanted something that was a notch above.”

T: “Right, we wanted something that was a bit more customized and, you know, get our sizes down correctly. We were in LA and we stumbled upon the showroom there. Later, we went on the website and liked what The Black Tux had to offer. So I scheduled a fitting. When we got it, it fit me great. I didn’t want to change a thing about it. Charles got a couple things adjusted, and ultimately Charles purchased the tux so he could wear it for future events.”

Lauren & Lindsey

L: “We had such a wide array of body shapes and people from all over the country. The opportunity to get a home try-on really helped ease some nerves for the females to not feel uncomfortable going to a ‘men’s’ shop to try on a tux.”

Photo by Martindale Media Group.

Joe & Gordon

J: “I wanted that experience that everyone gets for their wedding, especially when women go, they get to try on their dresses. I wanted a perfect fit, and I wanted someone to take my measurements.

Photo by Ellysia Francovitch.

J: “We had every intention of wearing black and white. The showroom associate was like, ‘Did you ever think of a color?’ Gordon saw the Ruby velvet jacket and he’s like, ‘I love that.’ And I said, well, if we can find one that goes with it, I’ll do color as well. The Rose jacket was right next to it and I said, ‘That’s the one that I want.’ We put them together and that was our whole color scheme from there.”

Steven & Louis

L: “For our outfits, the #1 thing that we wanted was to make sure during our ceremony, they were traditional. So we went with a tuxedo. We wanted something that looks good and fits nicely and is super easy.”

Photo by Robert Aveau Photography.

Nathan & Matthew

N: “When I saw the Emerald Shawl Tuxedo, I knew it was going to fit so well with the natural theme of our mountain wedding. It was a no brainer.”

Photo by Forget Me Not Media.

M: “Because only the grooms were wearing the green tuxedos, we were able to pop and stand out while everybody else also looked good but stayed neutral.