When it comes to planning a same-sex wedding in Ireland, couples have a lot of creative freedom. After all, without traditional gender roles, you can shake up the rules and do away with stuffy conventions that don’t suit your personalities or beliefs. It’s all about creating a celebration of love that is completely your own. But which traditions should you drop completely and which can you re-imagine? Who walks down the aisle first, and who ‘gives them away’? Is there still a best man’s speech? Is there still a best man? As an Irish wedding planner, I’ve worked on some fantastic same-sex destination weddings. Each is as unique as the couple it celebrates, but over the years, I have found that there are some traditions that lend themselves especially to reinvention. Here are seven of them!
Bridesmaids and groomsmen. According to The Knot, less than half of same-sex couples choose to have a wedding party. But, while having no attendants is one option, you could also opt for a mixed wedding party that does away with traditional gender roles. It’s all about having the people you love and who love you by your side, whether that means bridesmaids, groomsmen, bridesmen, groomsmaids, or any other term you want to use. The same goes for attire. Dress everyone in matching suits or change it up and mix and match outfits in complementary colours, patterns, and styles. You make the rules!
Choosing your wedding attire. What to wear for your same-sex wedding in Ireland is completely up to you, whether that means two suits, two dresses, one of each, or none of the above. What’s most important is that each of you feels like the best version of themselves and wears an outfit that celebrates that individual style and shape. Beyond the classic dress or tux, there are so many creative options, from jumpsuits to traditional Irish kilts. And you don’t have to stick to white or black either! To keep the overall look cohesive, it’s probably a good idea to coordinate your ideas or hire a stylist to help you if you don’t want to shop together.
The bouquet(s). For a wedding with two brides, both brides may choose to carry a bouquet, but neither of you has to. And flowers aren’t just for women! Grooms can also choose to carry a beautiful bouquet for their wedding. Whether or not you throw the bouquet(s) is up to you, and this is one tradition many modern couples choose to discard altogether. A sweet alternative is to present each of your mothers with a bouquet instead.
Walking down the aisle. The processional is another area where many couples have questions. In a straight wedding, the bride typically walks down the aisle to the waiting groom, where she is ‘given away’ by her father or another family member. For a same-sex wedding, there are so many ways to make this work for you. Some couples walk down the aisle together as a sign of unity. Others enter from opposite sides and sometimes join up to walk the last steps together, or enter first and have their guests follow. Another option is a unique set-up, like a ceremony in the round or two aisles. It’s all about your personal preferences (and ceremony site). It’s also up to you if you want to be walked down the aisle (all or part-way). It can be a lovely moment to share with a family member or close friend and doesn’t have to represent the outdated ‘transfer’ of a daughter from father to husband, but rather a gesture of support and the joining of families. Talk through all the options and get creative!
Traditional vows. A same-sex wedding in Ireland may be a civil ceremony, a Humanist ceremony, or a symbolic ceremony. For all three, you can customise your vows, although a civil ceremony may still require certain phrases to be said to make it legal. Talk to your registrar or celebrant to discuss your options. Beyond that, it’s up to you! Write your vows together or individually, allowing it to be an emotional surprise on the day. Make them fun and lighthearted, or serious and poetic. It’s all about reflecting and celebrating the love you share. You could also include an Irish wedding tradition like handfasting as a tribute to your destination.
The pronouncement. Another element of the ceremony you may wish to discuss with your officiant is the pronouncement. Whether you opt for ‘husbands’. ‘wives’, ‘spouses’, or something else is up to you. Alternatively, they could just pronounce you ‘married’.
The speeches. Typically at a straight wedding, the father of the bride speaks, followed by the groom and then the best man. It’s up to you how you mix this up. Both your parents could speak or you could choose one of your attendants or a close friend. And the two of you could do a joint speech or each have a turn. You could even have songs instead of speeches or an open mic for whoever would like to give a short tribute.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to create a same-sex wedding in Ireland that truly celebrates the two of YOU. In doing so, you’ll be joining your lives in a way that feels totally authentic – and maybe even setting trends for others to follow!
Slán go Fóill,