Love is Love

Weddings are a special event in everyone’s life, and it is an occasion that people love to celebrate with their loved ones. When my husband and I got married, his little sister was just finishing up high school. There is about a ten year gap between them but they have always been super close. Now it is her turn to walk down the aisle and she and her fiancée have asked the two of us to help. Yay! It was wonderful news that they had decided to spend the rest of their lives together and wanted to celebrate their love with a beautiful country wedding.

Who doesn’t love weddings? (disclaimer: loaded question)

She and her future wife have been making plans for a while and when they were over to visit their nephew (he will be the ring bearer) a couple of months ago they shared some of them with us. As soon as they started discussing wedding plans, I knew I wanted to help them in any way possible. They knew that when my SIL said “yes” that a lost of planning lay ahead of them. I know first hand that planning for a wedding can be a daunting task, for them this is especially true, when it comes to weddings within the LGBTQ community. Despite increased acceptance and tolerance for same-sex weddings, many couples still face discrimination or lack of resources during their planning process. Her fiancée comes from a very conservative southern family that has never been happy with their daughter’s choice. Needless to say that it is tense when she and my SIL go to visit. Several of them have straight up said that they will not attend or spoken badly about them behind their backs. (This post felt a lot like what they are facing.) This is where I found myself helping my sister-in-law plan her LGBTQ wedding.

That Southern Charm

As I said my sister-in-law’s future wife is really just a country girl at heart and she wanted to embrace that in some fashion at the wedding. My SIL, being the sweetheart that she is decided to go all out, and well, that part of the wedding is in good hands. She has as much love for flowers as I do and when she would visit us during Spring Break she would help tend my flowers. That put the idea of a wildflower (see the country connection?) wedding into motion. As it turns out, they are pretty easy to organize and there are a lot of different flower styles to choose from. She even intends to take a bouquet of flowers from my garden down the aisle, which I will be honest was about the flattering thing I could have imagined.

When my friends were all getting married they were opting for the “rustic wedding” and I will be honest when I say, that they were slightly overdone IMHO. My SIL laughed when I voiced my concerns, and she ensured me that it would be a tasteful wedding with a touch of country charm.

Who Knew?

While I am not expected to handle a lot on the actual wedding side of things there is still a lot to be done. And as it turns out, organizing an LGBTQ wedding requires a slightly different approach than traditional heterosexual weddings. Love it love, but apparently in this country that means less, there are specific legalities and social customs that need careful consideration when organizing such events. It was naive of me, but we have had to look for specific vendors who support the LGBTQ community to navigating the legal requirements, every aspect requires deliberate attention.

One of the first challenges we faced was finding vendors who supported the LGBTQ community. It was essential for my sister-in-law and her fiancée that they work with businesses who not only aligned with their values but also had experience working with same-sex couples. We have spent hours online researching and asking for recommendations from friends in the community, everything needs to be checked and double checked before finally selecting our vendors and ensure that they met our criteria.

We also had to navigate legal requirements unique to LGBTQ weddings here in our state. For example, depending on where you live, there may be specific laws related to marriage licenses or name changes after marriage that differ from state-to-state or I suppose from country-to-country. We made sure we researched these laws thoroughly so that nothing would stand in the way of our loved ones’ happiness on their special day. Can you imagine having everything ruined based on a technicality?

A Family Affair

Another challenge we faced was negotiating family dynamics and perspectives surrounding queer relationships during our preparations. As you know, unfortunately, the poor bride to be’s family isn’t the supportive type. While our family was overall supportive; however, there were still some who were uncomfortable or uncertain about the wedding. One example is my husband and SIL’s aunt, she was/is concerned about the reception. Apparently she thought it would turn into a darg party or something. My SIL jokingly said that was a great idea, one she handn’t considered yet. I don’t know if it is due to ignorance or miss information in the media, but it seems like their is still a lack of understanding about the topic even though it has been legal in all 50 states since 2015. We have had to have several conversations in order to understand their fears and concerns and find ways to help them overcome their biases.

For me it has been undoubtedly a journey of discovery, as we slowly progressed through the planning phase it has opened my eyes to some of the discrimination that the two of them have faced by embracing who they are. We learned a great deal about what goes into an LGBTQ weddings, the legal requirements, and social aspects involved in making these celebrations happen successfully. Helping my sister-in-law plan her celebration has been an experience that I will always cherish. After all, what is life other than an opportunity to support my loved ones and learn more about how to create inclusive spaces for same-sex couples. With increasing acceptance of diversity within society today, it is important that we acknowledge all forms of love and celebrate them with respect and inclusivity. One of today’s truths is that planning an LGBTQ+ wedding requires more work than traditional weddings; however, every small effort leads to the creation of a beautiful celebration full of joy, love, and memories that will last a lifetime. And one day I hope that this foundation will pave a way for other young couples don’t need to face the challenges these two have. Still, when all goes according to plan it will be a tasteful day with that touch of southern charm.

XO Hannah