Chicks Getting Hitched: The complexities of the lesbian wedding party

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When heterosexual couples get married, dressing the bridesmaids and the groomsmen is pretty straightforward. Sure, there are a few questions to be answered: Strapless or halter? Bowties vs. neckties? But basically, the girls line up in frilly dresses over there, and the guys stand in suits over here. Done and done. When a couple of chicks get hitched, choosing a bridal party and figuring out how to dress them can be a lot more complicated.

Maybe you’re wearing a traditional white gown, but your best friend is a more androgynous lesbian who wouldn’t be caught dead in a dress. Or maybe you’re wearing a suit to your wedding, and want to have your girlie little sister by your side. Perhaps some of your friends are gay girls who wouldn’t feel comfortable in a dress or a suit. You might even count a few gay boys and straight men among your nearest and dearest.

So how do you round up your crew and create a wedding party look that is stylish and cohesive, without forcing anyone to wear something that doesn’t suit them? Enforcing gender roles at a lesbian wedding would be a tad ironic, after all.

There are a few simple ways to get around the lesbian wedding party conundrum. Here are a few wedding party options for lesbian brides and brooms to consider.

The most obvious is to skip it altogether. Let people who might be expecting an invitation to stand up at your wedding know you’re bucking that tradition, and give them another meaningful role on your big day.

Alternatively, you and your wife could keep it simple by each choosing just one “bridesmaid.” Maybe it’s your brother and her best friend, or your favorite cousin and her sister or her college buddy and your “gay husband.” In this scenario, you can basically let everyone – boy or girl – wear whatever they’d like. Choose a theme color or style to bring the looks together in a subtle way. If your brother is standing up with your wife’s best gal pal, for example, ask your brother to wear a tie that matches her dress. The same principle applies to butch best friend/little sister combos. If you and your fiancé both have girlie-girls standing up for you, ask them to consider wearing them same dress or let them choose different dresses in complementary shades of the same color.

If you have a large family or have just always dreamed of a big wedding party, I say go for it. If you and your fiancé both have a range of people you’d like to include in your wedding party (i.e. – women who wear dresses, girls who wear ties, straight dudes, gay men, etc.), you can choose a few different looks and let each person choose the one that matches his or her personality. If you have some women donning menswear, make sure you choose pieces the girls can have tailored to fit their bodies. Even if you and your wife are wearing more traditional wedding looks (one dress and one suit), I don’t think it’s necessary for your wedding party to line up according to “butch/femme” aesthetics. If you’re in a dress and your maid of honor is in a suit and the girl next to her is in a cocktail dress, so be it. You probably don’t want your photos to look like cookie-cutter versions of a straight wedding anyway.

Another scenario that is more common among gay folks than straight couples is mutual friends. Lesbian couples are far less likely to have “your friends” and “my friends” than straight people. In fact, if you’ve been together for a while, you’ve probably befriended one another’s pals and may have even forgotten who initially brought who to the table. No need to artificially divvy up your posse for the big day. Just create one big wedding party that includes all of your mutual friends. Marriage is about unity, so I think this is an ideal option for a lesbian wedding. See paragraph above for tips on how to dress your big gay wedding party.

Lesbian fashion runs the gamut from ultra-feminine to classic masculine – which I think is part of what is so great about us. You may have a gay girl in your wedding party who falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. If you’re not sure what the formalwear version of her style is – ask her. She’s been dressing herself all of her life, so she probably has some ideas of an in-between look that will work for her. That could be a version of the dress some of your other bridesmaids are wearing, but modified to be less revealing or a little sportier. Or, perhaps she’d rock a feminine pantsuit in the style of the one Ellen DeGeneres wore to her wedding. The point is that there are many options. Explore all of them to create a unique wedding party look that shows off who you – and your friends – really are.

Have you dealt with a wedding party attire challenge? Let us know how you solved it.

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