You’re probably well-aware of the Western wedding traditions that involve your family of origin, like father-daughter dances and being walked down the aisle. But chosen families are just as important, if not more important, to many of us in the LGBTQ+ community, and we deserve to honor them at our weddings.
When my wife and I were planning our beach wedding, we knew that there were some wedding traditions we wanted to keep: my dad walked me down the aisle and my wife’s mom walked her down the aisle, in a twist on that tradition. But we also wanted to honor our chosen family and include them in our traditions. You can choose to dream up entirely new traditions for your chosen family, or reimagine existing wedding traditions with your chosen family in those roles.
THE AISLE WALK
Walking down the aisle doesn’t have to be something you do with a parent or family member, it can also be someone in your chosen family who walks you down the aisle. One of your best friends might be a good choice, or your person of honor/best person if you’ve chosen to have one. You can even have two people walk you down the aisle, with one on each arm.
My wife and I asked one of our oldest friends to officiate our wedding, and it’s one of the best decisions we could have made. This is a role usually reserved for professional officiants and religious leaders, but sometimes it goes to family members. In our case, it went to someone in our chosen family who knows us both deeply and was excited to respect our wishes for our wedding day.
First dances are traditionally reserved for parents and are often dependent on your gender, but it doesn’t have to be that way! If you want to have a first dance but don’t want to share it with a parent or family member, it can be someone special in your chosen family who gets this honor instead. You two can collaborate to pick a meaningful song to dance to, and depending on your relationship, you can make it slow or turn the dance into a really high-energy, choreographed part of the night.
BEING “GIVEN AWAY”
You might decide to forgo this wedding tradition altogether, but if it’s something you want to do, ask someone in your chosen family to give you away. Think of this not with its original intentions, but as a way of showing someone you love that you want their support on your wedding day.
While my wife and I didn’t have a traditional ring bearer, we asked my maid of honor to carry the book with our rings in it during our ceremony. She’s one of our best friends and has been with us throughout our relationship, and we thought it would be a meaningful way for her to be involved during the ceremony, since maids of honor don’t really get the spotlight until they give a toast (if they choose to).
Speaking of toasts, you can ask people in your chosen family to give toasts during the wedding and/or wedding rehearsal. This can be a wonderful way to include them and honor your relationship, especially since most toasts touch on how long you’ve known each other and the person’s support for your marriage. My wife and I asked both of our maids of honor to give traditional toasts and my dad gave one as well, but we also had one of my longtime friends who came from out of town give a toast.
Many people include friends in their wedding party, and in our case, our wedding party was entirely composed of our chosen family. My wife and I decided not to have separate wedding parties and instead had one big wedding party with ten of our closest friends, including our officiant, who served as a bridesmaid too (with a very efficient outfit change). We invited our wedding party and their dates to join us the night before for a rehearsal dinner too.
Featured photo by Create It Photography