Pronouns & assumptions: Gay wedding etiquette rules every guest should follow

Updated Mar 29 2019
Guest post by Bronte Price
Gay wedding etiquette rules every guest should follow
Monique & Pamela's gamer girls wedding
Photo by Amy Hill Photography

Thanks to the monumental decision by the Supreme Court in the U.S. (and strides made elsewhere), things have changed significantly for LGBTQ couples. This judgement is finally liberating same-sex couples to live the lives they planned for themselves.

And with this change, chances are you have been or will be invited to a gay wedding (or any type of LGBTQ wedding!). Maybe you're a seasoned pro at attending same-sex weddings or maybe they're a new concept for you, and you don't want to be responsible for any awkwardness on someone's wedding day. It's easy to fall prey to a faux pas when it comes to saying the right things. Understand that the basics, love and respect, remain the same for both straight and LGBTQ weddings.

Here are six gay wedding etiquette rules that will make you the couple's favorite…

Don't force yourself into a wedding just because you're curious

The guest list for any wedding is always extremely crucial and private. The couple gets to decide which friends they want to be with for their own reasons. LGBTQ couples might not be comfortable sharing their big day with everyone they know. Don't crash gay weddings just because you know the couple. You should be at a wedding because you care for them and not because you're curious.

Use the same terminologies as the couple

There are a lot of resources that can help you understand the pronouns and terminologies LGBTQ people use. Go through them and understand the reasoning behind them. Once you understand the terms, it's much easier to use them correctly and adhere to the terminology and pronouns the couple uses for themselves.

Their gender might not match what you expected and they might not want to be called "bride" or "groom." Stick to the terminology the couple uses for themselves or just stick to their names. Most importantly, stick to it after the ceremony, too. And if it changes down the line, you should adapt to any new or changed terms the couple chooses to use.

Be mindful of gender and terms in gifts and cards

A lot of wedding businesses are attempting to be inclusive of gender in their products. One can find an inclusive photographer for instance with just with a couple of mouse clicks. Make sure your gift and/or cards are inclusive as well. Even if a card says, "Here come the brides" or have two men wearing tuxedos, that still may not match the couples identity.

This area is a little grey, so as a guest you might need to put in extra effort to find a neutral gift/card or find out what the couple's preferences are. If you know the couple and their preferences closely, you could even make a handmade card. When in doubt, feel free to default to a gender-neutral card just to be safe.

Don't use your RSVP card to talk about your opinions

Stick to any RSVP guidelines. The couple sent you the card to check if you will be attending their wedding or not. Use it only for that purpose and not to show any opinions about their wedding or relationship. If you can't make it, that's okay, but if you just aren't comfortable attending their wedding for any reason, the RSVP isn't the time to make that known.

Don't make things awkward by asking about their next step

There's a big divide between people who think it's okay to ask about future plans for children and family and those who believe this is a personal and private conversation. And this applies to LGBTQ couples and straight/cis couples alike. Sure, you might be curious if the couples is planning to expand their family in some way, but try not to pry, especially at the wedding.

Understand that it's a very personal question and is far more complicated in many cases. Your well-intended question might end up making things awkward for everyone.

Don't assume it will follow a specific format

Just like with straight/cis couples, there may be a range of traditions and offbeat choices that they've made. LGBTQ weddings can be just as traditional as any other. The couple also has all the reason and opportunity to experiment with traditions, too. It's also likely you might encounter some elements at an LGBTQ wedding that you've never seen. There could be a best woman, a flower boy, or a man of honor. Maybe the the couple will enter the ceremony together. You might see rainbow colors, political statements, or maybe nothing new to you at all.

Enjoy all of their choices and don't pass judgment on them. As a guest, you don't have to understand the reasoning behind it. All you are expected to do is be supportive of their choices and be a part of their happy day.

What new rules for LGBTQ weddings did we miss? Help us out in the comments!

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