Planning a Wedding as a Queer couple



When Katie proposed, it felt like a million fireworks went off in my heart and I basically blacked out for 5-minutes because I couldn’t comprehend the level of joy I was feeling. I know - intense. That moment was the beginning of our planning process, because in true ‘me’ fashion I proceeded to set a date for the wedding within the first 12 hours of our engagement. I’m pretty sure I didn’t sleep that night because I was mulling over the pros and cons of matching bridesmaids dresses. So, from exactly 9:30pm December 7th, 2017 to our wedding on September 2nd, 2018, I was ready to get down to the business of planning the wedding of our dreams.

We were able to choose our date so early because we decided to host our wedding in my future father-in-law’s backyard. This big decision felt like a weight off of my shoulders and I thought, ‘this won’t be so bad!’ Brian knew us and has always supported our queer relationship - and our type-A personalities, stubborn attitudes, and need for perfection, so, really, he deserves a medal for acting as our wedding venue owner.

TIP: sticking close with people you trust makes for an easier planning process. But no matter how fortunate you are to have people you trust around you, the reality is the moment we began reaching outside of our immediate circle (beyond the folks we knew accepted us as we are) Katie & I found ourselves in a perpetual process of what I refer to as “continuously coming out” to strangers.

I’m an eternal optimist who surrounds myself with people who are nothing but supportive of my LGBTQ+ community membership. Reaching out to wedding vendors who were strangers in hopes of an exchange of goods & services was the first time I felt a risk of being who I am and facing possible pushback that I would have no control over, and felt ill prepared to face.

With that cake lady making national headlines in the U.S, among many public displays of disapproval across the globe, I don’t think it was unfair of me to assume that we could hear a ’no we don’t those kinds of weddings’ based on who we love.

The thought of being in a position to defend myself made me feel a little woozy. Luckily, Katie & I faced no outright discrimination or denial. There were no evangelical protestors at our doorstop - big phew. I recognize the privileges we brought with us into this experience, as it is not always the case. However, we did have moments of “really?” that made us realize discrimination can be delivered with a smile and no ill-will attached. It’s a product of our larger society normalizing only one idea of what a marriage ought to be - predominately, opposite-sex, same-racialized identity, cis-gender. These marriages are, no doubt, loving and beautiful, but they don’t represent all 6 billion + people on the planet who may not fit within that structure of partnership or how they define their family.

Once I began our communication with potential vendors, I was surprised at the folks who would reply to my inquiry e-mail’s with “and what is your husband-to-be’s name?” or allude to me marrying a man. Of course, I recognize that people still assume heterosexuality to be the norm, but that didn’t make it any less intimidating when I had to write my response back:“…well her name is Katie!” and hold my breath ’til I received the ‘I’m so sorry! We’ll add Tori and Katie Jacobs to the contract *smiley face emoji*’ reply. I learned quickly to reach out to vendors using both of our names. We were asked if we were sisters when we were building our gift registry. We were holding hands. (Honestly, this one happens all the time - nothing like a romantic Valentine's Day dinner with your very best sister!)

I know of a friend of a friend, who during her dress fitting was asked about what her husband would think. Let me say this, dress fittings are incredibly vulnerable, with several people poking you and asking questions like, ‘are you a swimmer? because you’re so broad’ But to have to stand in gown shop and announce that you’re not sure what your husband will think, but you know your wife will love it, can feel embarrassing and othering to say the least. You now might be thinking , ‘can’t you let it roll off your back?’ But the truth is, shame and embarrassment can feel heavier than anger and outrage, and this is supposed to be a joyous occasion of honouring your relationship, not judging whether or not this is yet another moment to ‘come out’.

The subtleties can drum up emotion just as much as the overt discrimination that is also a reality of this experience. Further subtleties included simply not being able to find what makes you feel the most you to wear when walking down the aisle - in writing this, I did a quick Google search for ‘female wedding suits Canada’ and the first result was for mother of the bride pantsuits. Not necessarily the fierce, structured suits women & non-binary folk should be able to access as easily as it is to find a wedding gown (there are 3 on one street here in London - i.e. it’s not too hard). For reference, here are some awesome links I found once I dove a little deeper (check out Kipper Clothiers & Wildfang). These are just a few instances of the lack of representation available to those who may be on the margins of the gender binary. Legally, all unions are recognized in Canada - but socially, we have some distance to go before all unions and people are fully represented in the wedding planning ecosphere.

While we can’t predict every interaction we have with the folks we incorporate into our wedding day, there are steps that can be taken to ensure the LGBTQ+ community is welcome from the beginning of the transaction. VENDOR TIP: Advertising that you are an LGBTQ+ friendly vendor is a simple step to take that erases the fear of approaching you, even something as simple as including a ‘rainbow’ sends a visually que you’re an ally. Like all good people, it is easy to assume everyone knows this about your business already but clearly stating it makes everyone involved comfortable to reach out to you. This little thing can be one person’s really big thing, based on their history (more to come in our upcoming post where we cover “Ten Tips for Vendors to show your Pride” in our next blog post in this series)

Katie & I also aimed to support LGBTQ+ owned businesses as best we could (shout-out to Jodi here at Something New & Bobby at Floral Theory). These are choices that ultimately benefit the almost-newlywed’s and inevitably will open your business pool to a more diverse audience.

From the start of planning, I didn’t overlook the fact that planning a wedding to a woman, as a woman, was a monumental milestone that not all folks have been lucky enough to experience before me. However, I didn’t have another homosexual couple to reach out to, to chat about these feelings with. In the spirit of Pride, my hope with this piece is that if you and your partner experience any of the above or more, to any degree, you know you are not alone and there is a community standing with you with the common goal to make this process better for the next generations to come. We are committed to supporting you when thing’s feel a little uneasy, and will be throwing all the confetti in your honour during your celebrations.

Do you have any similar experiences? Different experiences? We would love for you to share them with us so we can continue this conversation!