In the short time that gay marriage was legalised in the UK, just how have wedding traditions evolved for same sex weddings? Many couples don’t want to follow the hetero-normative conventions, but can feel a little lost as to how to structure and personalise their ceremony. To save you from wedding day structure purgatory we’ve asked two couples, who tied the knot last year, the conventions they followed and the ones they created.
Jen and Catherine had a relaxed and beautiful ceremony in Leicester Guildhall in December 2015. Neil and Rumen had a classic country house wedding at the Elvetham Hotel in 2015.
J&C: Catherine had a hen party, Jen just went for a couple of quiet drinks with two close friends. They weren’t on the same date – about two weeks apart.
N&R: We had separate stag dos, otherwise it just seemed like another night out or holiday. It was a fun way to get all our friends together before the wedding, and do what we each wanted to do. Neil had a weekend with friends and family and Cardiff and Rumen had a weekend in New York with some friends and a day out in London.
Bridesmaids, Ushers and People of Honour…
J&C: We didn’t have bridesmaids, we had best people. Catherine had a best woman and Jen had a best man. They are our closest friends.
N&R: We decided to have ushers to organise our stag dos and help us with odd bits and pieces on the day and chose our best friends for the jobs. They weren’t chosen by gender or any other reason really, just people we are closest to. And it helped that they knew several of the guests, so they could help herd people to their places on the day. Rumen had two ushers each – one who organised the stag do and the other who was a witness at the ceremony and made a speech at the dinner – and I had two as well; they organised my stag do and helped on the day.
The ‘Big Reveal’…
J&C: We decided on the big reveal – albeit in a side room at the Guildhall – because we wanted to walk into the ceremony together.
N&R: We bought our outfits together; we wanted matching suits, shoes, belts and shirts but with different ties and pocket squares. We thought this was best to avoid looking like two random unrelated guests! We also got ready together and travelled to the venue together. It was brilliant to be able to share all these parts of the day with each other, including getting ready with our closest family and friends and greeting guests.
Personalising the ceremony…
J&C: We picked music for all the key points of the ceremony: walking down the aisle together (Etta James, At Last), signing the register (Sixpence None The Richer’s Kiss Me, and Queen’s Thing Called Love), and walking out together (Jess Glynne, Hold My Hand). Catherine’s seven year old nephew had the rings. One of the best bits for Jen was when the registrar got her name wrong at the beginning of the vows; it completely broke the tension in the room and allowed us both to laugh and relax. That’s when it then felt like our ceremony, because, like our relationship, it’s full of laughter.
N&R: We personalised our ceremony in many ways. Firstly through our choice of music. It was wonderful to have a live string quartet playing Ly Cygne by Saint Saens as we walked down the aisle one at a time. We had two readings, one was quite traditional and the other was an original reading by Neil’s sister which she wrote herself. It was incredibly touching and a wonderfully personal addition to the proceedings
J&C: I like to think we kept the best bits of a conventional wedding and got rid of any bits we didn’t enjoy or think were relevant to our relationship. We’d been to a mammoth seven weddings the year of ours, so knew a thing or two about it by the time we got to ours. We wanted it low-key, simple, no stress, but romantic.
N&R: We stuck to a few wedding conventions because they worked for us or were fun. We really just mixed and matched whatever worked for us and didn’t feel under any pressure to stick to conventions just for the sake of it.
Catherine & Jen – Ragdoll Wedding Photography
Neil & Rumen – It Must Be Love Wedding Photography