As an Event Designer and Caterer, I have seen countless vow exchanges over the past 27 years. And as a single man seeking my Prince Charming, I often think about my own wedding day celebration. The tradition of exchanging vows during a ceremony is an old and honored custom. A commitment ceremony with reception is becoming an increasingly popular choice among the LGBT community. It is our right to commit our lives to each other and allow those we love to witness and rejoice in that moment.
Planning an event can be overwhelming. The first step in the planning process is to determine the date, the budget and what type of celebration you want to host. As I always tell my clients, have the very best of whatever you can afford, work with the season and work within reason. If your budget only allows for a small ceremony followed by cake and lemonade, set an amazing table with the best cake and lemonade possible and be proud of it. If a fantastic buffet luncheon with centerpieces and a quartet fits the budget, go for it. Or if a glamorous evening function is the direction you are going in, provide an amazing sit-down meal and premium bar. Again, avoid debt and disappointment by having the best of what you can do comfortably. You have the rest of your life to throw other parties!
I think the biggest mistakes gay couples make when planning a reception is adopting heterosexual roles, cliche wedding stereotypes or trying to create a bar or club-like atmosphere. As a planner, I treat the event as two unique individuals uniting in faith and love yet try to retain some wedding traditions and etiquette. I find that alternating the bridesmaids/groomsmen during the wedding processional makes a beautiful statement and represents the couple equally. Partners can walk down the aisle together or one at a time with their parents. I like to create a double aisle for dramatic ceremonies and choreograph the wedding party members walking in union. A “Y” shaped aisle is also very effective and attractive. I avoid the cliche wedding songs but also find that many classic and modern music translate well for the ceremony. Whatever the level of celebration, keep in mind that this is a special and very sacred day! Have fun but show good taste.
When discussing the ceremony with your officiant, explain the points that matter most to you both and go over the verbage thoroughly. I have found that the most memorable and touching ceremonies are those with very personal messages and vows created by the couple. Traditional acts such as exchanging rings and the first kiss as partners continue to be important elements of the ceremony.
Working with an Event Planner and Facility Coordinator can help eliminate stress and expose you to a wealth of information and choices. Work with someone you trust and who shares your vision. Review their planning experience, photos of their work and check references. Be open to someone’s non-emotional point of view.
Finding a location for both the ceremony and reception and a caterer should be your first priority. Many reception sites and vendors book over a year in advance. Ask questions, review packages and menu options and make sure that their staff is both willing and comfortable hosting a same-sex celebration. Bands and entertainment also book quickly so determine the route you want to go (live music or disc jockey) and attend either public events they are playing at or listen to their compact discs.
The right photographer is critical in capturing the special day. Trust me…the day is over in the blink of an eye! Your photos and video will allow you to look back on the day accordingly and witness many of the special details that one can over look on their wedding day. Be clear about the type of photographic style you are looking for and have a list of photos you want taken. Just remember that a limited number of outstanding photos are better than several hundred mediocre ones. Invest wisely in your photographer and videographer.
Although we see many types of centerpieces, I believe there is no substitute for flowers. Male couples often question me about floral options and do not want to appear too feminine. My advice is to keep it simple, understated and elegant. Orchids, compact roses, calla lilies and long grasses all look masculine and appropriate. Clusters of potted flowers always look beautiful and make a great favor for guests to take home. Color choices can certainly go in any direction but all white flowers remain a tried and true classic. When it comes to apparel, avoid matching outfits but certainly wear complimentary colors and styles. An important rule to follow is to wear day and time appropriate outfits…such as a morning coat or suit for a day wedding and tuxedo for an after 5:00PM event. However, do not be seduced by the standard tuxedo rentals. Seersucker or linen suits in the summer, wools suits in the fall and winter, cottons and linens for a beach or grill party. Avoid fashion extremes on this important day. Whatever the theme…beach, backyard or ballroom, think timeless and tasteful.
As we redefine our role in society and continue to fight for equal rights and legal unions, the LGBT professionals of today want it all…commitment, marriage and family. The Coronado Ballroom is here for our LGBT community and we welcome celebrations of all kinds. I want to work with you and your partner to create the day of you have dreamed of and deserve. With proper planning, organization and vendor support, you can go from “I do” to “We did”.
Single, Hopeful and Available…and St. Louis Wedding Professional Hall of Fame Inaugural Inductee