Without a doubt, Your Fabulous Wedding is going to be UNFORGETTABLE! For the last 23 years since we founded www.RainbowWeddingNetwork.com, so many vendors continue to tell us how they adore the authenticity and uplifting vibes that LGBTQ+ couples mindfully create with their ceremonies and receptions. And that is still true today!
That being said, some couples -especially given the ongoing headlines and proposed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation... ask our team here at RWN how they can include yet another level of meaningfulness in to their Special Day.
Easy! Creative ways to incorporate Activism, a Nod to History, and to Facilitate Meaningful Conversations are not difficult to weave in to the theme, decor and rituals of your wedding celebration.
Conversation Starters: Let's face it, breaking down barriers begins with open communication!
Assign reception tables with signage that reflects LGBTQ+ landmarks: ‘The Castro District,’ ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ ‘Ptown,’ ‘Stonewall Inn…’ Include a short sentence or two on each sign that explains what the name represents either to you & your partner, or to the community at large, that way everyone at the table will gain insights and not feel awkward if they're unsure about the reference.
Names like this can also be applied to your culinary selections or signature cocktails: "Ellen's Vegan Cauliflower Parmesan," "Sunrise over San Francisco.," "Obergefell, meet the (your last name)!"
Weave Your Personal Story in to the Celebration, even more than you originally planned:
Provide an outline to your Officiant and ask them to expand the mention of Your Personal Story within the matrimonial ceremony, offering some of the background info about how each of you came out, or how you met, or your wedding planning process. You might want to keep this short, yet pointed details can really help your guests feel inspired and more personally connected to the two of you as individuals and as a couple.
If you want to include a longer version of Your Story, consider printing it on the back of the Wedding Program, or writing a little booklet as a keepsake for your guests. Select details that share your experiences as LGBTQ+ individuals and as a couple that will help your guests gain insights about who you are and where you've come from, and the vision for your future together... But be sure to choose with care whether to include details that might go too far and detract from the joy of your celebration: You want your guests to feel connected to you and your story, inspired and uplifted, not dis-connected.
Pride of the Rainbow:
Of course many couples incorporate a rainbow theme in to their attire, or the attire of their attendants. Whether as bold as different colored outfits for each attendant, or a subtle accent such as rainbow suspenders, this is an eye-catching way to include a reference to Pride within your festivities.
Some find it fun to go a step further, inviting guests to join in your theme by dressing in rainbow-inspired outfits or accessories, or attire inspired by each person’s individuality, allowing everyone to contribute to the vibrant atmosphere and fostering a sense of both unity and freedom of self-expression. This invitation can easily be mentioned on your Save-the-Dates as well as formal Invites.
Leaning in to the well-known tradition, it’s easy to find things old, new, borrowed and blue…
Getting creative with the basic concept, consider borrowing an LGBTQ+ related emblem from the past or from the broader community, such as a pink triangle, the lambda, or perhaps a gender inclusive symbol. These can be worn as jewelry (even your wedding bands can be custom crafted based on your favorite emblems), lapel pins, or added as an adornment piece to tie around your bouquet or as an accent in your boutonniere.
Gifting such pieces to each of your attendants, or as small keepsake items for guests, is another beautiful way to add to the meaningfulness of your celebration.
For further information on lesser-known symbols:
Quotes, Readings & Words of Inspiration:
Choose readings or poems that celebrate love in all its forms, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. This can be done during the ceremony and presented by your officiant, attendants or by guests, or incorporated in to your vows. The idea can also be added in to the reception as part of speeches or toasts. Including literature from LGBTQ+ authors or incorporating their stories can add depth, inspiration and authenticity to your celebration.
Include a short message of equality, inclusivity or diversity as a motto or quote on your wedding invites, programs and other priinted materials.
Simple Additions to Your Decor:
Consider small vases filled with the multiple flags of our community. Whether you'll have a lot of guests who identify as LGBTQ+ or not, these emblems are beautiful, colorful and also incredible conversation starters to help your guests realize the wonders inherent in diversity.
Decorate your reception venue with a variety of LGBTQ+ inspired items: rainbow fabrics spanning the rafters, twinkle lights with LGBTQ+ symbols attached or hanging from the strings... art work from your favorite local LGBTQ+ artists... props at your photo booth that include lots of bling, crowns for the kings & queens, silly lamda shaped sunglasses, Pride flags, drag items, etc. Get creative in including a variety of references on your chalkboard signs, menu items and more. Then invite your guests to enjoy a Photo Scavenger Hunt: exploring the space and discovering the LGBTQ+ symbols. Ask them to take photos and upload them to a live feed playing onscreen during your reception, using your wedding hashtag: It's an interactive way to inspire guests to walk about and truly enjoy all the nooks of your reception venue throughout your celebration... and the photos you collect will be corny, festive and one-of-a-kind treasures for your digital wedding album!
Inviting a Speaker to Your Reception:
Toasts for the Happy Couple are important, of course, but you might also consider asking neighbors or activists within the local community to attend, share a meal with you and your guests, and say a few words:
*A couple who married decades ago and can speak about their personal perspective about the history of LGBTQ+ marriage equality
*President or co-chair of the local LGBTQ+ community center, chatting briefly about current events and how legislative proposals may affect the future of LGBTQ+ rights in your area
*Build on the knowledge and presence of your Officiant: ask them to include a short mention of LGBTQ+ equality in to your ceremony... or go a step further and request that they offer a brief speech during the reception, from their own perspective as an an activist and spiritual mentor
Choosing Vendors Mindfully:
As our community is well aware, investing our dollars with companies that uphold a policy of non-discrimination does make a difference! Whether your wedding budget is $1000 or $100,000, imagine multiplying that times all the LGBTQ+ couples throughout the country who are this year planning a wedding... And then imagine all those budgets being funnelled directly to businesses and wedding pros who support the tenets of Equality. That's a lot of financial power!
Supporting Others & Giving Back:
Go Exponential with this idea by getting others involved in your vision of Activism - it extends your effort!!
*Organize a community service project instead of an engagement party.
*Create a keepsake flyer or small printed directory with all your wedding vendors' names and contact information, asking guests to support them too - by doing so, they help support local businesses who uphold a policy of non-discrimination.
*Many couples request contributions from guests in lieu of wedding gifts, providing the names of 3 or 4 organizations on their formal invitations, so that guests have advance notice and ample time to choose.
*But you and your new spouse might also consider making a donation to an LGBTQ+ organization as a wedding favor in your guests' honor. This gesture not only supports a cause close to your heart but also raises awareness and encourages others to contribute to LGBTQ+ rights and advocacy. The two of you can mention this contribution during the speeches and toasts at the reception - be sure to play it up so that your guests understand the meaning behind your generosity!
*Also in lieu of gifts... you might incorporate the artwork of local LGBTQ+ artists in to your reception decor, and sell the pieces either for the benefit of the artists directly or for charity.
Add an Interactive Station at your Reception for Voter Registration:
This one may seem over-the-top, but Hey... If your guests truly want to support you and your newly committed life together (and they do!), a reminder that their vote has a direct impact on your future rights as an LGBTQ+ couple is a very substantive way to help them remember the import of our political process. While most of your guests will likely already be registered, this interactive station represents a visible cue to prompt them to remember the personal consequences of their vote every time they head to the ballot box.
Be sure to also include a flyer or pamphlet about resources voters can use to find out more, truthful information about candidates and legislative issues so that they not only have the tools they need to vote, they have the tools they need to vote wisely.
Making History Fun!
After all, your wedding is a CELEBRATION! Add to the playfulness of the day by creating an interactive way for your guests to learn about and perhaps learn from history:
Trivia about LGBTQ+ equality - Make Bingo cards, either for each guest or for each reception table if you'd like to encourage team-play. Have your emcee or DJ ask questions about the journey toward marriage equality... about current events... about historic milestones or LGBTQ+ historic figures...
A secondary game of Bingo, as follow-up to further extend the fun and also lighten the mood: Create the second round based on the personal story of you and your partner. Include details about how you met, fun facts such as your birthdates, astrological signs, location of your first date, or your middle names... Include other notables that many guests might not be aware of, such as what your last name/s will be now that you're married, your plans for the immediate future, where you'll go on your honeymoon.
Other Interactive Game Ideas:
No matter how you choose to incorporate meaningfulness in to your own wedding, Your Special Day will be founded on authenticity. After all, it marks a celebration of the Love that you and your partner have found and created together. And that energy, no matter how you choose to express it and build on it for the vision of your wedding day and your committed lives together, will shine through. Congratulations!!