Things to Consider When Planning Your Lesbian Wedding in the UK

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Some ladies just kill at taking engagement photos


It may always be a mystery why gay and lesbian engagements seem to spike during the summer… just kidding, we know it’s because of Pride Month.

If you got engaged recently, congratulations! After you’ve finished #humblebragging on Facebook, you’ll need to start planning your epic wedding day because there are a lot of things to think about.

Do you want a marriage or a civil partnership? Do you want to quote Audre Lorde in your vows? Should you invite Andrea even though you know she’ll decline because of her religious beliefs?

Ahh, let’s dive right in.

 

Legal – These are your options.

In this section, I’m going to talk specifically about the legal situation (dw, I’ll keep it brief) for lesbian couples in the UK but for all those outside of Britain, I recommend finding out the relevant laws in your country.

Lesbian couples in the UK have two options for joining themselves legally as a couple; civil partnerships and marriage.

To help you decide, I’ve laid out the main benefits and drawbacks of each – but just to be clear, this is only a short guide, which compares same-sex marriage to civil partnerships only.

In most areas of law, including parental responsibility, child maintenance, full life insurance recognition, inheritance tax, social security, tenancy rights, and next of kin rights, there is no difference between a civil marriage and a civil partnership in the UK.

 

Civil Partnership

Yay

  • Can be held on religious grounds and feature a religious ceremony, as long as the actual formation is secular.
  • Can be converted to a marriage at a later date if you change your mind.
  • Doesn’t have to include vows, which might be handy if you get a little choked up, although you are more than welcome to.

Boo

  • You cannot represent yourself legally as married: This applies to things like mortgage applications, joint bank accounts etc. You must instead tick the box labeled “civil partnership”. Although in social situations, you can certainly introduce your partner as your wife, and set your Facebook relationship status to “married”.
  • Bizarrely, adultery is not a reason to end a civil partnership: Either the law assumes that same-sex couples never cheat or that they don’t care if their partner cheats; neither of which is true.
  • Civil partnerships must last for at least a year before they can be legally ended. Hopefully yours will last a lot longer, but it’s still an odd requirement that does not apply to marriages.
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Same-Sex Marriage

Yay

  • Depending on your religion, you may be able to get married in a faith centre: as of 2017, Reform Judaism, Liberal Judaism, Unitarians and Quakers will conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies.
  • You don’t have to ‘out’ yourself when filling in legal forms because marriage is open to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, whereas civil partnerships are only open to same-sex couples.
  • Marriage has a lot of social capital behind it (because of hundreds of years of history) and may be more socially idealized.

Boo

  • Not available anywhere in Northern Ireland because… religion.
  • Not available in an Anglican Church anywhere in the UK: If you’re a member of the Anglican faith and want to marry, you’ll have to choose a civil marriage ceremony. However, you aren’t allowed to use any religious songs or readings. This is true for straight couples too, but they at least have the option to choose an Anglican marriage.

I recommend checking the official UK Government page for more info, especially if:

  • you’re getting married in Scotland or Northern Ireland because certain laws are different
  • you and/or your partner are EU or foreign nationals
  • you want a religious ceremony

Ultimately, it’s up to you and your fiancée to decide which is best for you.

 

Ceremonial – So many choices! 

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Now onto the cool stuff, your awesome wedding ceremony. Whether you’ve chosen a civil partnership or marriage, same-sex couples can basically rewrite the rules for weddings because you don’t have hundreds of years of tradition behind you (yeah, there are terrible reasons for this but let’s take positives where we can).

Do you want to walk down the aisle with your fiancée? Go for it.

Do you and your fiancée both want to give speeches? Do it.

Do you want to skip the first dance? Sure thing.

It’s all up to the two of you. There can be anything from dozens to thousands of decisions to make about your wedding, from the date to the budget, to your guest list.

For this reason, I recommend using checklists to keep track of your planning process,  just to be on the safe side. After all, while you’re unlikely to forget to book the day off work or pick out an outfit; it’s going to be dangerous if you’ve forgotten to specify to the caterers that your grandma has a peanut allergy.

After you first get engaged, it’s best to look at a long-term checklist which will help you decide when you need to sort stuff out, like setting a budget, booking the venue, and applying for a marriage license (it would be super awkward not to have that done on time!). But there are also ones to help you get through the day itself i.e. when to get your hair done, how to ensure the catering staff get tipped, and who should pack up the wedding gifts for you.

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Showing Pride

One of the coolest things that you can do at your wedding is show some Pride. And feel free to make it as overt as you want; I mean, it’s not like anyone who accepted your invitation is going to suddenly tell you that your wedding is “too gay”… hopefully.

 

Decorations

Photo via Pinterest

Photo via Pinterest

 

From rainbow table runners to bunting with the equality sign, to a seating sign which advises “pick a seat, not a side; either way, it’s for a bride”, there are plenty of ways to bring Pride into your wedding.

If you have a specific theme to your weddings, like the Renaissance or the Roaring Twenties, you may wish to choose something a little more subtle like sprigs of lavender in your bouquet, in your updo, or pinned to your lapel.

 

Music

I’m sure I don’t have to tell that lesbian musicians are great (and underrated), so why not include them in your playlist? Whether it’s as you’re walking down the aisle or for your first dance or throughout the whole day, you’ll be showing Pride, supporting lesbian artists, and giving your friends and family new songs to download.

Some suggestions to get you started:

  • Tegan and Sara: When I Get Up
  • Indigo Girls: Power of Two
  • Tracy Chapman: Wedding Song
  • Mary Lambert: She Keeps Me Warm
  • Melissa Etheridge: Fearless Love

 

Catering

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The obvious thing here is to have your two brides on the top of your wedding cake, but consider ordering a hidden rainbow cake, so that you can have the big reveal as you cut the cake.

Alternatively, if you’re having a buffet-style feast, you could spruce up the toothpicks by attaching the Pride Flag or use rainbow colored sweets in your Make-Your-Own-Sundae bar.

 

Gifts

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Traditionally, the happy couple has received gifts on their wedding day; typically household items to help set them up in their new house but if you already live together then you probably already have a cutlery set and a blender.

In fact, you may feel like you don’t need anything at all. So why not ask for donations to be given in your name to a charity that champions LGBTQ+ rights, like Stonewall, Galop, or MindOut?

Ultimately, this is your big day, so make it as personalized as you like.

Have you recently gotten engaged? Have you already had your wedding day? What other suggestions do you have for hosting a fabulous lesbian wedding? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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Getty Images

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