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In the Changing World of Weddings, Who Picks Up the Tab in a Gay Wedding? The “Queen of Gay Wediquette” Explains the New Rules
Once upon a time there was an Elizabeth Post or Emily Post etiquette guide that answered absolutely every question you could even consider asking about wediquette. Unfortunately, as the times have changes, the manners and etiquette books haven’t really kept up the pace and so lots of my clients – especially gay ones – find themselves in a bit of a quandary about how to handle certain aspects of their wedding planning.
One of the issues that has come up most frequently in my experience with gay and lesbian wedding planning is the question of who pays for what if the parents are getting involved in helping with the wedding. I got out my “Queen of Gay Wediquette” crown and polished it up to try to help with this complicated matter.

In a boy/girl marriage, there is no ambiguity about the etiquette of who is supposed to pay for what, but rarely does anybody follow those rules anymore because couples are getting married older and brides and grooms are paying for more themselves. Plus, many parents can’t afford the “traditional” tab requiring the bride’s family to pay for everything except the rehearsal dinner, flowers and booze (those items are assigned to the groom’s parents). Most of the time parents contribute as much as they can and the bridal couple makes up the difference.

When I first started planning gay weddings, about six years ago, my clients were paying for their weddings themselves. And in a few cases at first, there weren’t enough parents present at the actual destination wedding weekend for me to wonder what had happened. But the times are changing for the better, and at the last few big gay and lesbian weddings we’ve planned, both sides of each couple were fully supported by their families and had them present for support. In a couple of cases recently, my gay clients have struggled as their parents have started to want more involvement.

This is causing me to adjust my planning strategies because I’m used to dealing with an overbearing MoB, and the occasional interfering MoG, but not two of each in any situation really. It’s getting interesting. But I digress, the topic is who pays for what and the rest is for another blog.

If your parents are insisting on paying for a specific piece of your wedding, rather than just contributing a sum to the overall expenses, you can break things out the same way the amazing Mrs. Posts did so many years ago. Let one set of parents pay for the rehearsal dinner, or a group activity (here our wedding groups often tour our famous bioluminescent bay the night before the wedding). If both sets of parents want to contribute, and there are no wedding gowns to be bought, perhaps they’ll generously cover the cost of your ceremony flowers and reception booze. Or host the welcome party the night your guests arrive for the wedding. These are things you can get a breakout invoice for if you need to because they’d like to pay for things directly. We can make it so that your parents have an invoice with their piece of the pie broken out and explained.

Who pays for what has a lot of history in other aspects of the “traditional” wedding too, but most of these are also gone with the wind, so to speak. For example, it’s okay to only include the paying set of parents by name on the wedding invitation because traditionally it was actually an invitation from the parents of the bride that was being extended. The traditional rehearsal dinner invite would have carried the groom’s parents’ names. Most of the gay wedding invitations I’ve seen don’t include either set of parents in print, but the one that did gave both sides equal billing.

What if one set of parents is really contributing so much that you want to find a way to acknowledge that in a special way? If the other set of parents will be at the wedding but couldn’t afford to contribute financially, you don’t want to embarrass them. So a private gesture of thanks to the ones who helped is most appropriate. Flowers or a gift basket, in addition to the welcome bags you’re already creating, waiting in their room with a very special thank you note is the perfect way to extend your thanks when they arrive. If the other set of parents is not present, you can feel free to thank those who helped publicly during the toasts or at another point during the weekend. But if both sets of parents are there and only one set financially supported the wedding, don’t do anything publicly to indicate that during your festivities. You don’t want to make anybody who loves you and has traveled so far to support your union to feel like they didn’t do enough.

Remember, when in doubt as to the gay wediquette for any issue you face during your wedding planning, err on the side of caution. Gay or straight – while it’s absolutely your wedding day and you should determine how things go, you should try your best to be polite and not alienate anybody, especially over something trivial. If something comes up that you’re not sure how to handle, let them know you’re still figuring things out. Whatever decision you and your fiancé come to will probably be the right one, but you deserve a chance to think things through. This is new for you, and because it’s sort of new for everybody, there’s no blueprint for how to navigate every speed bump and detour you may encounter.

If all else fails, visit my site and go to the “Ask Sandy” section and I’ll give you my best advice for how to tackle whatever has you stumped. It’s a brave new world out there and you are part of what is establishing the gay wediquette of today.

Until next time, happy wedding planning from Weddings in Vieques and Wedding in Culebra!

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