So you’re getting married! Congratulations! Whether gay marriage is legal in your state or not, there are dozens of things to think about when it comes to getting hitched without a hitch.
While some grooms have their dream wedding all planned—mine involves renting a movie theater and showing romantic gay kisses on the silver screen as my partner and I walk down the aisle—most folks don’t know where to start. Make a calendar and a budget and stick to both. Other than an inappropriately drunk and surly guest, nothing can ruin a wedding more than bad planning and overspending.
Here are some tips for how you can tie the knot without coming undone.
The word “wedding” often raises the price of any product or service. If merchants smell money, they will upsell and gouge you. (i.e. cake, flowers and tuxes). Set a reasonable budget—according to the 14 Stories Gay Wedding Institute, 84 percent of gay men and 73 percent of lesbians are paying for the wedding entirely themselves—and don’t deviate. Also, don’t think that the money you may get as a gift for getting married will help pay for the wedding or honeymoon. In debt but in love is not the best way to start a marriage.
If the location for your wedding is pricier than you hoped, expect to replace those elaborate flower centerpieces with candles or LED lighting. You can cut costs on invitations by e-mailing “Save the Date” notices and skipping the tissue paper inserts on the printed invitations. Also, discuss the importance of a videographer. That’s one area where you may be able to save some dough if neither party is particularly keen on video.
But the key to keeping a budget is communication. You and your partner should talk honestly and openly about what you want, what you are willing to pay for and what you are willing to concede. They may not be the same things—and this can cause friction. He might want an expensive band over a reasonable DJ, while you may want gourmet food. It’s important to discuss the details and agree on what is reasonable. It is also critical to talk with your parents and in-laws about your plans and encourage them to understand and respect your decisions. And keep in mind: even the most supportive family members may have trouble with how to attend to same-sex weddings. (They probably haven’t been to too many). Be prepared to discuss with them on what traditional elements of the ceremony you will uphold, which will differ and how you want them to participate.
It’s also wise not to beg friends or family members for favors to save money. This is a grown-up day. Be a grown up. Unless your best friend or aunt is a wedding photographer, caterer or calligrapher, hire professionals for the important things like photos, food and invitations. The potential damage of having someone you love ruin an element of your wedding is disastrous. Besides, if the person really is your good friend or relative, wouldn’t you want them to enjoy attending your celebration, not working it?
When working with vendors, ask questions that speak not only to their thoughts about same-sex ceremonies, such as how can they help you create something distinctive—but also how they troubleshoot problems and work within your budget. Negotiating with merchants for wedding services can be intense and tricky. Be sure to have the contracts for goods and services being agreed upon and provided in writing, and protections in place should anything go haywire. Also, make sure to have all current contact information (such as names and phone numbers) on the wedding day so your Best Man has someone to call when the flowers don’t arrive on time or the officiant is late. The point of hiring professionals is that you are paying for the service they promised to provide.
When it comes to dress, let the venue indicate the style. Getting married on the beach? Make it shoes optional. Most grooms, however, will want to wear tuxedos. While guys may lean to renting “penguin suits” from a formalwear shop, the trouble with them is that they often look rented. It’s best to get a proper fitting tuxedo, especially if you are spending $10,000 on your wedding. (And you’ll have that tux handy for when all your friends and family members get married). This is your special occasion—look special.
Grooms can dress a tux up with a bold cummerbund/tie set, suspenders, vests or fancy cufflinks and studs. If you get a bespoke tuxedo made, don’t get too flash with a striped tuxedo jacket. Less is more: a laid down collar, French cuff shirt, real knot tie, nice studs and cuffs, a flat front pant and a single or double vented jacket. Look classy and elegant; don’t “peacock” to compensate for a lack of style, and don’t over style. You should be getting the attention, not your clothes. You should be the best-dressed man in the room, other than your groom, of course.
And here are some dressing tips: Take an extra shirt—you might sweat or spill something. Get a shirt with a high collar; it emphasizes your face. Pin in a pocket square or boutonnière in place (so there won’t be continuity errors in photographs). Wear a custom bowtie. If you can’t or don’t tie it perfectly, it adds “character.”
With all this activity and anxiety, take time to breathe and trust your instincts. Make sure to remember why you are getting married, and what your partner means to you. There are going to be stressful moments and you will likely make some hard decisions, but there is something to celebrate here—and you should do it in style.