Saturday 16 December 2017

Wedding Pride: The new etiquette

Since the traditional roles for a male-female wedding go out the window for same sex nuptials, Tara Leigh talks to a celebrant and a wedding planner about the new rules for planning your special day

There's one moment in every wedding that we all look forward to. That moment when the music begins, the bride enters and we get a glimpse of a stunning white dress. Is there anything that could make that moment more magical? Well, perhaps the sight of two stunning white dresses.

"I performed a wedding last week where the father walked his daughter down the aisle just as we've all grown to expect from a traditional wedding," says Marian Purcell, owner of Gay Weddings Ireland and a celebrant. "The difference this time was that the second bride followed with her father.

"It was really special to see. However, there was a lot of commotion outside the room to make sure that the two brides didn't see each other before the ceremony started!"

Marian is quick to point out that while same sex couples might be breaking new ground in terms of what they can now do legally, they often still want to hold onto some of the traditional elements.

For example she has never performed a ceremony where there has not been the exchanging of wedding rings. When it comes to engagement rings both brides tend to wear them while men tend to wear none and opt for a gift instead. The proposal, however, is a different story.

Traditionally the man is supposed to get down on one knee and offer the woman a ring, right? In a same-sex wedding either party could propose or none at all.

"One wedding I did, the girl who proposed was told she had to walk up the aisle first. She said she got the short end of the stick as she was the one who had to wait patiently for her partner to enter."

If you're unsure of what traditions to keep and what to abandon, it may be a good idea to enlist the help of a wedding planner.

"There are obstacles that same sex couples face when planning a wedding," says Sharon McMeel, wedding planner. "It's something many people don't think about but sometimes same sex couples nearly have to come out over and over again with everybody they are dealing with when planning their wedding. For example, up until now when couples were booking suppliers or photographers they would ask if suppliers had done a gay wedding before and if they were comfortable doing one.

"The referendum has been a very big reassurance to everybody that the majority of the country is supportive of same sex couples having their big day. I still feel that it's important for me to vet all the suppliers in advance and make sure they are suited to the style and budget and needs of the couple getting married. For me to be able to take that extra stress away from them is great and leaves them time to focus on the day itself."

And Sharon predicts that the number of weddings taking place next year will grow substantially.

"A huge number of people got engaged when the referendum was successful. A lot of them are waiting till next summer to give themselves time to plan their wedding.

"After all, they've been waiting a long time for the opportunity to get married - some people decades - so they want to take the time to plan a really special day."

And Marian predicts that these weddings could get bigger and bolder.

"I think people should get prepared for a bit of flamboyancy, particularly from gay men. I was officiating over one ceremony where a dog was a ring bearer, and a friend of mine had a hawk as his ring bearer. I think there are going to be some fun and exciting aspects to upcoming weddings. Heterosexual couples may even get some tips and ideas to liven up their weddings!"

Irish Independent

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