In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all Americans have a fundamental right to marriage. Since that decision, nearly 100,000 same-sex marriages have taken place across the country. Now that you and your girlfriend can legally marry, you may be contemplating your own trip down the aisle.
After one of you pops the question (and the other accepts, of course), there are several practical considerations to discuss in addition to the usual to-do list (i.e. selecting a venue and choosing the date). These issues are mostly unique to gay and lesbian couples, but are no less important to deal with before the big day comes. Here are three things you can’t forget to talk about:
Taking of Last Names
In heterosexual marriages, the wife traditionally assumes her husband’s last name. But what do you do when there is no husband? The answer: anything you want! It’s still a big decision, however, because what you choose is how each of you will be known for the rest of your life – and it’s likely the last name your children will have, should you decide to start a family. When discussing this, think about the practicality of how you identify with your name and what matters to you as individuals and soon-to-be spouses.
Keeping Your Own Last Name
Do you have an established career with a particular brand that necessitates keeping your name? Can you simply not imagine changing the moniker you’ve had your entire life? Keeping your own last name is an absolutely valid choice; however, the downside is you will have a different last name than your spouse and, potentially, your future children.
Taking Her Last Name (or Vice Versa)
Perhaps one of you just never liked your last name – or, on the other hand, you just really like your partner’s. Having a shared last name is an easy way to present yourselves to the world as a married couple.
Hyphenating or Blending
Hyphenating your last names or combining them to create an entirely new last name (known as blending) are nice alternatives because you both, in essence, can pay homage to who you were as individuals before you formed a marital union. Should you have children, giving them your hyphenated or blended last name can help bond you as a familial unit.
When two women get married, there’s (obviously) more than one bride, which makes wardrobe choice a little more complicated than in a heterosexual wedding. Determining what you will wear on your wedding day depends on the venue and your individual styles. You can both wear dresses, of course, but it’s not required; you could also decide to wear matching tuxes or something else entirely. There’s no rule book!
What is important is making sure your outfits don’t clash; for example, if both of you choose to wear dresses, what colors will you wear? With so many variations of the color white, wearing different shades may not make for a good look. However you decide to dress for your wedding, talk about your options ahead of time and come to a mutually agreeable decision.
Handling Less-Than-Approving Guests
Every engaged couple wants their loved ones to be excited for their nuptials. Ideally, everyone at your wedding will be supportive of your decision – but unfortunately, not everyone agrees with the idea of same-sex marriage. Even people who never before expressed an issue with your relationship may surprise you with their beliefs, now that you’re getting hitched.
Before the event, you might experience approval or disapproval when the RSVPs come in. This is where the wheat is separated from the chaff. The refusal by some to attend your wedding might be hard to accept, but don’t let it derail your plans. Remember why you decided to get married in the first place and try to focus on the life you’re building with your partner. That’s the most important thing – everything else is secondary!
On your special day, you may run into a guest or two who decided to attend despite their disapproval. It’s best to steer clear of them as much as possible to avoid getting distracted or upset. Ask a trusted friend or family member ahead of time to handle any issues that arise, such as a chastising guest making offhand or inappropriate comments. Your only job should be having a good time and enjoying your celebration of love.
Weddings have such expectations of perfection that it’s often impossible to turn the fantasy into reality. Remember that in the grand scheme of things, it’s just one day – you have the rest of your life to be married.
Winning the right to marriage was a hard-fought battle for the LGBT community, and it’s because of them that you’re able to stand in front of your loved ones, declare your love and commitment and have your union be legally recognized. During the planning stages, discuss these practical considerations ahead of time to make sure you and your partner are on the same page. Most of all, relax and enjoy your wedding day!