6 Handy Tips for Planning a Same-Sex Wedding

By Luke Ellery

We would be remiss to say that planning a gay wedding is very different from planning a straight wedding. However, there are a few differences to take into account. While wedding planners are worth their weight in gold when it comes to planning a dreamy same-sex wedding, not everyone has the budget to afford a planner. For this reason, we’ve put together a handy list of helpful, sanity-saving tips for the bride and bride, or the groom and groom, or the non-binary folk, who are just starting to plan their wedding. And as an extra bonus, to support our friends in the community, at the end of this article, we will supply a list of LGBTQ+ friendly vendors that you can rest assured will welcome you and your partner with open arms to make your big day everything you dreamed it would be.

1/ Venue

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Image by Perspectives Photo + Cinema 

As with all weddings, lock in your venue first. The most important thing to consider when it comes to your venue is size. Some couples opt to arrange their guest list first, so they have an idea of what they will require in terms of venue space. Other couples start with the venue and then go about creating a guest list that matches. One limitation to gay wedding planning, in terms of selecting a venue, is that we are more often than not limited to secular venues (the silver lining is that Auckland has a stunning range of secular venues that will undoubtedly bring you and your guests joy). A handful of churches in Auckland will bless same-sex marriage and potentially a congregation of which you are a part of would happily do the honours of blessing your marriage. Ultimately, it will just take a little bit of extra planning. 

2/ Find the Right Celebrant 

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Image by D.Lillian Photography 

Marriage is such a wonderful and meaningful occasion for the engaged couple and there are many different religions and values that comprise the sanctity of every couple’s marriage. It is important to find a celebrant who reflects and supports your values and ideals. If you’re a couple of faith, finding a supportive celebrant isn’t difficult in New Zealand as many religions have readily embraced same-sex love. It is also absolutely fine to create a ceremony that isn’t influenced by religion, so that is something to consider when planning the ceremony with your celebrant. You can also have a loved one "fake-marry" you if you elope before the big event (the wedding will feel just as real - even though you're already secretly married). What better way to be married than to have someone who loves you dearly perform the ceremony?  

3/ Write Your Own Vows 

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Image by Hazelwood Photography

Gay marriage is legal, awesome. That doesn’t mean you have to incorporate heteronormative phrases in your vows. Though traditional vows can be very beautiful, why not tailor your own vows to suit you and your partner’s relationship and personal values? Take time ahead of those final weeks before your wedding to think about what to put in your vows and then write them from the heart. Speak honestly about what it is you adore in your partner and how excited you are to spend the rest of your lives together. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend for help – if you know someone who is a writer, then, by all means, make use of their skill! Try to learn your vows by heart a little, but know that it is okay to have them in paper form on the day. For some extra tips on writing vows, John O'Leary collaborated with Auckland Weddings to write an article on how to write vows that will ring a tear out of all your guests. 

4/ Brief Your Photographer 

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Image by Perspectives Photo + Cinema

Wedding photography is a large investment of time and money, but it is worth every second and every penny! Photographers capture ‘forever moments’ from your big day, a day that same-sex couples have awaited for a long time. Choosing an excellent photographer who you feel comfortable with is essential. Find a photographer that has experience in shooting same-sex weddings. At the very least make sure you are open from the outset, so you find a photographer as excited about your wedding as you are - you want a confident photographer to be at your wedding, who won't shy away from capturing a single moment. It is also important to brief your photographer in advance about the individuals that make up your wedding party. It can be somewhat less obvious to pick who's who, if you decide to opt for a mixed-gender wedding party, or a man-of-honour, or best-woman.

5/ Dedicated Dressing Time 

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Image by Tarabeth Photography

It is important to give yourselves a lot of time to get your outfits just how you want them. It is all too common for lesbian brides to be dressed in poorly fitting suits on the day due to a lack of marketed options for tailored women's suits.  But this doesn’t have to be the case! If you are a bride who wants to wear a suit, give yourself time to be properly fitted (like the stunning bride above). Suit tailoring can take a couple months, so keep this in mind when you’re making wedding plans. Even better, have a look at options for getting a suit designed and fitted specifically for you - it can still be an affordable option and you can guarantee a perfect fit. For brides who are both opting for dresses but still want to surprise one another, consider showing photos of what you want to a friend or wedding planner. This means that they can help guide the two of you towards dresses that won't clash in formality, style, or colour. The extra time you spend on this will make you both look and feel your very best on the day. 

6/ Pre-Wedding Parties 

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Image by D.Lillian Photography 

Many same-sex couples are blessed with having a close group of mutual friends of varying genders and identities. Therefore, sticking to the age-old heteronormative idea of a stag do and a hen's night is not necessarily a viable option for gay and lesbian couples. The bonus is, you can choose to have your bachelorette or stag party together! This could prove to be a lot of fun and a huge money saver because you won’t have to organise and cater for two events. Another option is to have separate parties but meet up at the end of the night so you still get to share the experience with all your mutual friends. 

Bonus/ Shake Up Old Conventions 

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Image by Perspectives Photo + Cinema

This is the biggest and best thing about same-sex marriages! Your right to marry the person you love is new and, as such, there are no set rules for how to do it. You might like to do away with certain traditions or even create new ones. Something many same-sex couples choose is to have a ‘first look’ where they see each other in privacy before the wedding. This is a perfect opportunity for the photographer to catch forever the emotional moment you first lay eyes on one another. Other ideas include walking down the aisle together, or one after the other. Rather than getting caught up restructuring old norms, see your wedding as an opportunity to throw an event exactly how you’d like it.  

Our List of lgbtq+ Friendly Auckland Wedding Vendors

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Image by Kami Olavarria

Venues

Kumeu Estate

Gracehill Vineyard Estate

Kelliher Estater

Auckland Museum 

Mudbrick 

Photography 

Perspectives Photo + Cinema 

Wild & Grace Photography 

Zahn 

L&L 

Samantha Donaldson 

Kate Little Photography 

Suits and Dresses 

Devonche 

Trish Peng

Rembrandt

Vinka

Celebrants 

John O'Leary 

Hadley Taylor 

Catering 

Little Wolf 


This article is edited from an original piece by Felicity Newbury 

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