Words Of Wedding Wisdom: GAY WEDDINGS

Welcome to this series of articles based on my popular book, “The A to Z of Wedding Wisdom” … a few juicy extracts that you might like, to give you a taster of what the book can do to help make your wedding (or a friend or relative’s wedding) superbly successful.

This time, we look at…

Civil Partnerships / Same Sex Marriage

Please note that although this post focuses on the current issues surrounding civil partnerships in the UK as at April 2012, similar circumstances apply in many western countries. Watch this space for updates.

Can you go to another country?

Many countries now have civil partnership / same sex marriage legislation that’s similar to that of the UK, and a ceremony conducted there will be recognized under UK law. First though, it’s important that you check with the embassy or high commission of the country concerned to find out how you stand. And if you’re in the USA, Canada, Australia or other countries, you’ll need to check out the local rules carefully, too.

How do you go about organizing yours?

In the UK, you organize a civil partnership just as you would a straight wedding to take place in a registry office or licensed venue. Probably your first port of call should be your local registry office where you’ll get the information you need.

As you can imagine, since civil partnerships became law in the UK in December 2005 numerous websites and other organisations have sprung up especially to cater for “gay weddings.” I have no doubt whatsoever that the majority of these organisations are extremely helpful not only in advising you about procedures and other practical aspects of organizing the day, but also in answering any questions you may have about the legal and emotional aspects. This applies equally to the US states and most of Canada where same-sex marriage is legal.

To find out more about how to organize your civil partnership, where to find gay-friendly religious ministers, gay-friendly suppliers, etc, key “gay weddings” into Google or other search engine, or look in the “Wedding Guide” of your local Yellow Pages.

To find out all you need to know about the legal implications of civil partnerships / same sex marriage in your area, key “civil partnerships” or “same sex marriage” into Google or other search engine.

How do you make the announcement to your families?

Obviously, a lot depends here on how far “out” you are in the first place where your families are concerned. I’m straight, so have no personal experience here, but have many gay friends who advise me that ideally you should get the “coming out” issue achieved with your families before you announce your wedding plans. That makes sense, really.

As civil partnership ceremonies currently may only be conducted by a Registrar in the UK, the issues of who should give one partner away, who should be the best man/woman, etc., do not arise unless you plan such customs into your ceremony deliberately.

However there is nothing to stop you – and everything to be gained by – involving your parents, siblings and children in the ceremony as far as possible. Not only does this make them feel part of your ceremony, but also part of your partnership. And that can be very precious to all concerned.


Generally speaking, the only areas in which there is still some disapproval of civil partnerships is within religions. At the time I’m writing this, it’s only Liberal Judaism in the UK which has accepted CPs/SSMarriage and in the UK has published a gay wedding liturgy to be used in its synagogues. Getting a religious blessing in other religions is not necessarily impossible though, and there are many gay-friendly officiants willing to help. As is the case with straight couples, you’re not allowed any religious content in the civil ceremony.

Any differences?

In the context of the civil ceremony, the short answer is that there are no restrictions. You are allowed to conduct the ceremony in any venue licensed for civil services, whether gay or straight. You’re perfectly entitled to design the ceremony as you wish provided that it has no religious content (see above,) but your options are still wide and varied. You can have readings, an exchange of rings, your own personalized vows, and pretty well anything else.

What should you wear?

As is the case with most weddings these days – with the exception of those conducted within stricter religious environs – essentially you can wear whatever you like.

On the other hand, though, a wedding is a special occasion and you may well want to honor it by wearing appropriately formal outfits, and even “traditional” wedding outfits like bridal gowns and morning suits.

Whatever you choose, let it be an expression of who you are and what matters to you. That’s all that counts.

For all 174 pages of helpful tips and advice, grab your copy of “The A to Z of Wedding Wisdom” from Amazon (USA), Amazon (Canada), Amazon (UK) and all other Amazons.