A Gay Marriage Etiquette Guide

Gay New Yorkers can now get married. That's great news, of course, but let's not forget that there is no bigger logistical or etiquette nightmare on this planet than planning a wedding. Since the traditional roles for a male-female wedding go out the window for gay nuptials, here are some ground rules an suggestions to get you started.

For those who don't want to go through all the fuss, there's going to be a free pop-up chapel in Central Park on July 30th that will be giving out the quickie weddings that heterosexual couples who visit Vegas have been rubbing in our faces for decades. But for the rest of you who want to figure out how to have your own elaborate affair, it's going to take more than just planning, but problem solving as well.

If you're a heterosexual man or woman, what you're supposed to do and when has been determined by centuries of social norms. While many gay people will want to maintain many of the traditions they're used to seeing at straight weddings, it's often hard to translate things that are designed for opposite-sex couples to two people of the same sex. Here are some suggestions on what to keep and what to ditch.

The Proposal

The man is supposed to get down on one knee and offer the woman a ring, right? At least that's the way it happens on The Bachelor. What to do if you're on an episode of The Confirmed Bachelor? I think it's fine for either partner to ask. You can't say that the butch or the top should do the proposing, because we know it's the femme or the bottom who wears the pants in the relationship—most of the time anyway. So whoever gets to it first gets to do the proposing. Expect to see "Sheila, Will You Marry Me? Love Debbie" on the Jumbotron at every Giants home game next season.

Engagement Rings

For men, you're entering very dangerous territory here. A diamond encrusted band on top of a wedding ring is going to make you look like Liberace. But I could see something tasteful and masculine working out nicely. (Tom Ford needs to tackle this problem, stat!) I think the ladies should go for it, but skipping it wouldn't be awful (especially if it means sticking it to the idea of ownership fostered by the patriarchy). In either case, the partners should buy the ring for their better half. The fun is wearing something your spouse-to-be picked out for you. Oh, and nothing with a rainbow theme. Never!

Bachelor Parties

Just because you and your betrothed want to see the same gender strippers doesn't mean you should be having your hen night celebrations together. Each bride or groom should have his/her own night out with his/her own friends and have that last night to behave scandalously. How can you get just a little too frisky during a lap dance with your boyfriend or girlfriend looking on?

Who Pays?

It's supposed to be the bride's family right? Well, what if there's no bride? And having family involved in a gay ceremony can be very dicey proposition anyway. The best idea is to have the wedding financed by the brides and grooms themselves. Unless one of them has rich parents, that is. Then it's time for a destination wedding in Greece on daddy's dime.

Seating Arrangements

I've always hated "bride's side" and "groom's side"-style weddings. This should be an occasion for bringing families together, not keeping them apart. Also, with gay weddings, there is sometimes a (foolish) family that doesn't support the union and won't show up. Nothing looks worse than one bride with lots of support and one with none. Let everyone sit where they want. Just don't sit anyone near your gross Uncle Eddie. That's just mean.

Walking Down the Aisle

There can't be a wedding without a procession, right? Since both spouses just taking the altar on their own would be a big bore, both parties should walk down the aisle. You can do it together or separate. You can do it with your fathers or you can do it alone. But both of you have to march. Decide who goes first in an arbitrary way, like alphabetical order, height, or whoever cried first at that Google "It Gets Better" commercial. Better yet, just let the one who likes to make an entrance go last. That's all they really want.

Flower Girl/Ring Bearer

These should be replaced by a drag queen and king. Seriously.

Tossing the Flowers

Can we just do away with this? It's a stupid tradition anyway, and this would get even worse at a gay wedding. You know Carol from the softball league would get all competitive and jump up and snag it like it's a fly ball about to go over the fence. Or there would be a gaggle of florist gays shouting, "Don't muss the flowers!" Let's just all agree that this is stupid and leave it for the straights. Now that we can get married too, they're going to need something to differentiate themselves anyway.

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