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.
Hello friends and happy Sunday! We’re here once again, back at it to talk about the good things in this world, like babies being born and NEW NANCY MEYERS SPECIALS, and so much more. I’m not gonna ruin it for you, let’s get right on into it.
What’s that about bridal wear being gender neutral? We love to see it!
Hot take! Masc people can absolutely wear a wedding dress if they choose to. Bridal wear is / should be #genderneutral. (Yes, this is totally an excuse to show off my glamorous masc bride wearing the biggest, poofiest, bridal gown she could find.) pic.twitter.com/zauB3uLChR
This is what makes Batman and Robin so interesting. It seems to exist largely as a rejection of that vanilla and bland sexuality in Batman Forever. If Batman Forever felt like an uncomfortable embrace of the homophobic paranoia of Seduction of the Innocent, then Batman and Robin plays like a firm rejection of the philosophy of Frederic Wertham. There is something quite compelling in all of this, and Batman and Robin is fascinating to revisit in that context.
Editor’s Note 9/27/20: An earlier version of this column referred to Chaya Milchtein and Morgan as femme partners. That reference has since been updated. We apologize for the error.
And that’s all folks. For this week’s good news, and also for my time at Autostraddle. Today’s Sunday Funday is my last post as a writer for Autostraddle dot com, a place I have grown so much at and have great love for. I will miss writing these for you each week, I will miss answering your questions in the A+ Inbox, I’ll even miss moderating your comments. But everything, literally everything comes to an end, and this is the end of my time. I’m going to remember it fondly. I’m leaving with a full heart, and eyes excited about what the future brings for me.
So, like I tell you every week: I love you so much. Do something for yourself this week: read a book you’ve been meaning to read, take a long lay on your couch, get a weighted blanket. Snuggle your pets, snuggle your person(s), wear a danged mask, and believe that everything, bad things and good things, will have an end. And that endings are not bad, they’re just endings. Okay, I really do love you, mean it, bye.❤️🌈✨
Ari is a 20-something artist and educator. They are a mom to two cats, they love domesticity, ritual, and porch time. They have studied, loved, and learned in CT, Greensboro, NC, and ATX.
Almost every country has implemented social distancing measures because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The measures have thrown many large-scale family gatherings into disarray – especially weddings.
Queerty caught up with four same-sex couples who all wed in the last few weeks to find out how the virus had made them change their plans.
Michael and Josh
Michael McPhee, 32, and Josh Stock, 30, live in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. They met via a dating app in 2012 and got engaged in 2017.
Their original plan was to hold their wedding over two days, with a ceremony for 30-40 people on July 11, followed by a community hall reception the following day for 100 people. The ceremony would take place on Edmonton’s historic High Level Bridge streetcar, followed by a gathering at a nearby restaurant.
“We started getting nervous about what would happen to the wedding halfway through March,” says Josh. “The province of Alberta started to shut down on March 17, 2020.”
The men paused their wedding planning until May, to review the situation.
“We gave some thought to postponing the date to later in 2020, but I had zero confidence that gathering restrictions would be lifted to the degree we needed them to go ahead with our plans. The streetcar service notified us they were likely to not operate and offered us a refund. We accepted.”
“I was reading local news when I saw a story about physically distanced mini-weddings for up to 15 persons (the largest number of persons allowed to gather at the time under Alberta’s restrictions) at Edmonton’s historic Fairmont Hotel Macdonald. The hotel was offering a space for a ceremony and a reception if needed. I called to reserve immediately,” says Josh.
“Fifteen persons meant 15 persons: this included us, photographers, and wedding officiant. This meant we were allowed just nine guests. We decided to have two sets of friends for our wedding party and immediate family only (e.g. no spouses). This was extremely difficult to do, and it wasn’t possible to eliminate hurt feelings.”
The men purchased CA$500 of customized face masks for the wedding party (“We decided we might as well have fun with this and it would make the event even more memorable”), along with hand sanitizer.
Josh got permission from his work to set up a Zoom call using his workplace account to capture the ceremony for those unable to attend. He also sync-ed the speakers to his Apple Watch so he could control the music (e.g. going down the aisle, etc).
Besides some nerves and ensuring all the Zoom and other tech was working, the ceremony itself went without a hitch. In the end, they were also able to increase the guest list to 20 as restrictions were eased slightly just days before the ceremony.
Afterward, Josh says they, “Went home and went back to work after just a couple of days off. We wanted to go on a honeymoon, but it’s obviously not the right time to travel. We will revisit this in the years to come, perhaps as an anniversary idea in the coming years.”
Jordan and Javontre
Jordan, 26, and Javontre Booker-Medley, 23, like in Winston Salem, North Carolina. They met in High School
“I was working on a musical and needed some extra stagehands and our mutual friend introduced us,” remembers Jordan. “We started working on the show and texting all the time about girl problems, etc, etc. Like most middle/high school boys our age that haven’t yet admitted that they dream about rainbows and unicorns!
“We eventually started going out a lot, with friends and then alone. Those hangouts evolved into dates and eventually into us dating on and off for the last six years. We even went to the same college for dance!
“Everyone knew we were gonna be married one day and I couldn’t be happier to have found my soulmate.”
They got engaged on July 1st, 2019, and planned to marry July 25th, 2020.
“When the pandemic hit we initially canceled the whole event!” says Jordan. “It wasn’t until restrictions on gathering started to ease up in June that we decided to put the event back on! We reduced our guest list from 160 to 31 people. We also had to change our venue which was originally in uptown Charlotte, NC. We ended up doing a small backyard wedding in Winston Salem NC, where we currently live.
“We did everything ourselves instead of hiring a planner. The only vendor we needed was for the cake and the food. We literally designed everything ourselves from the centerpieces, table arrangements, floral arrangements, down to the napkins on the tables.
“We had to significantly change our plans but it turned out amazing and we cried so much on the day! The love that surrounded us was more than anything we could have asked for!”
Jay and Ames
Ames, 36 previously lived in New York City. Jay, 49, lives in Atlanta, GA. They met in June 2019.
“Jay was visiting NYC for World Pride and we met through a mutual friend that thought we would get along well and I could give him a nice tour of the city,” recalls Ames.
“When the pandemic hit, Jay flew to NYC to pick me up and drove me back to Atlanta with my dog and two cats,” he continues. “We have been inseparable since.
“We knew we wanted to get married in the near future, but we had so many hoops to jump through just to live in the same state! We didn’t have a formal engagement. We pulled into a parking lot and I had no idea where we were going, and Jay said, ‘time to look at rings!’ It has been really important to us to support small business during the pandemic, so we purchased our rings at Worthmore Jewelers, which is very LGBTQ-friendly!”
They got married on July 31.
“The date is important to me because it’s exactly five years from the day that I took my first shot of Testosterone to begin my medical transition!” says Ames.
“The ceremony was on our front porch. Our close friend Ben officiated, Luke was the witness, and Jackie photographed. We did not pre-write vows, just spoke from the heart.”
“Before the pandemic, we talked about what we would want our wedding day to be like. We wanted it to be an intimate celebration with our friends and family,” says Ames.
However, the pandemic made them reconsider.
“We were too worried that if we announced our plan to get married in advance that family and friends would travel, and we didn’t want to put anyone at risk or to feel guilty. Maybe we will have a celebration later, but we are very content with everything. The pandemic brought us together under one roof and we can start our life together.”
Keith and Chris
Keith, 34, and Chris, 33, live in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. They met online just over four years ago.
“We got engaged last summer at our favorite camping spot: Sombrio Beach on Vancouver Island,” says Chris.
“The pandemic put a fairly large wrench in our plans. We had to cut the guest list down from 105 to 45. We also had to organize our own food and rentals because our caterer couldn’t promise us they could fulfill their contract. We ended up cooking our own food for all the guests.
“We both have fairly large immediate families so even at 45 guests, we weren’t mixing too many groups of people who don’t already see each other.”
The men had always planned to marry outdoors. The location was the backyard of Keith’s parents in Aldergrove, BC. The men’s dog, Gus, acted as ring bearer for their July, 4th, wedding.
Were they disappointed at having to downscale?
“Initially, we thought we may not even be able to have a wedding… then British Columbia went into phase 2 COVID restrictions which meant gatherings of 50 or less were OK as long as you could keep your distance,” says Chris.
“I think the hardest part for both of us was taking an already-small, planned wedding of 105 and trimming it down even more. We had to tell a lot of people we love that they couldn’t come anymore. This is after the invites went out. There were a lot of tough phone calls, but in the end, everyone understood. We had done so much planning and ultimately decided to just move forward with a smaller group. We have a super hands-on family and everyone was a huge help!”