Same-Sex Marriage: New Traditions

Equal marriage is a hard one right, and to celebrate the second year anniversary of same-sex marriage legislation, The Telegraph asked us what ‘new’ wedding traditions were emerging amongst same-sex couples. From exchanging engagement gifts and getting ready together rather than separately, to walking down the aisle as a couple and writing personal vows, we discussed conventions that have stuck and new ones that have come to the fore.

“With the long-overdue passing of equal marriage laws, for the first time same-sex couples have some sort of formal framework around which to base their wedding ceremony,” explained Hugh Wright, spokesperson for The Gay Wedding Guide. “Civil partnerships (and before that, the symbolic commitment ceremonies which many couples chose to hold) didn’t require any formal exchange of vows or public declaration, so anything gay couples did to mark the occasion was entirely of their own choosing.

“This means there are no traditions for same-sex couples to follow, so it’s totally understandable that many couples do choose to adopt some of the elements of straight weddings to give their day structure. However, almost without exception couples will strive to avoid anything which could appear to reinforce outdated gender stereotypes or be seen as ‘heteronormative’ – that is, implying that there is a ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ partner, which in a same-sex couple is, of course, nonsense.

“As a result you’ll notice that what’s missing are any of the traditional gender-specific moments of a wedding; ‘stag’ or ‘hen’ parties, if they take place at all, are often for both partners’ friends; in a male same-sex wedding there is no ‘bride’ to be given away or to carry (or later throw) a bouquet; no one bride in a female same-sex wedding has bridesmaids or a matron of honour, and no one groom gets to appoint a best man. If any of these traditions are enacted, it will be to the benefit of both partners – so there may be a ‘best man’ representing both grooms, or bridesmaids attending to both brides.

“Equal marriage has been such a hard-won right that one tradition which is very prevalent is couples writing their own, intensely personal, vows. It allows them to convey what love and marriage mean to them and makes their ceremony more intimate, more personal and more meaningful. Exchanging rings, both for engagement and the wedding, is also ubiquitous and we notice that in most couples both will wear a ring, either identical ones or subtly different variations on the same design.

“Usually, we find couples spend the night before their wedding together rather than apart; they have often chosen their outfits together to complement each other, so there’s no need for a ‘big reveal’. Most ceremonies we’ve seen do have some sort of ‘aisle’ for the couple to enter by, some enter together, some don’t; and sometimes they enter with one or both parents or someone else close chosen to symbolically ‘give them away’ to each other. Younger relatives are often enlisted in the traditional roles of ring bearers, pages and flower girls.

“At the reception, key moments including speeches, cutting the cake and the first dance (familiar from straight weddings) do very much tend to be present, as these symbolise and celebrate the union of the couple as equals, rather than playing to anachronistic gender roles.

“Many of the traditions outside of the ceremony itself, such as asking for parental consent to marry, spending a month’s salary on an engagement ring, leaving for honeymoon straight after the reception and carrying the bride over the threshold are increasingly obsolete regardless of a couple’s sexuality, so it’s not surprising that we hear very little about any of these these days.

“Ultimately, any wedding in 2016 is a celebration of the couple’s love for each other, not of their genders, and their ceremonies and celebrations reflect that. The one constant, really, is love.”

Read the full article at telegraph.co.uk

 Image Credits It Must Be Love Wedding Photography