Tailored for Two: Inspired Wedding Ideas For Same-Sex Couples

Whether opting for a small, intimate ceremony or a huge shindig, same-sex couples are finding a host of creative vendors to help plan a wedding
From: Spring/Summer 2014 edition

When same-sex marriage became legal under Referendum 74 in December, 2012, gay and lesbian couples who had been together for years—decades even—flocked to city hall in a heady rush of excitement to tie the knot. While the significance of this momentous occasion remains fresh, as time goes by, many couples are planning bigger weddings and receptions, rather than saying their vows in front of a judge. And with inspired ideas from local wedding vendors, couples are now creating traditions all their own.

Making It Official
Writing your own vows is nothing new in the world of modern weddings, but that act takes on new meaning for same-sex couples defining what traditional marriage means to them. The Reverend Mary Calhoun has found this to be true. Her book, The Distinctive Wedding Ceremony ($16, available at amazon.com), acts as a guide for all newly engaged couples navigating this world. “Because of this new right to be married legally, my same-sex couples are being quite intentional with their words, their covenants. This privilege of marriage is such a precious gift to them that each word is selected, weighed and discussed…I would never say I don’t see it in my heterosexual couples. I just see a kind of heightened enthusiasm with my same-sex couples that I would like to bottle and sell!”   

Petal Power
Florist Samantha Crowley, owner of West Seattle’s Fleurt, sees a lot of thought going into the floral choices for the big day with many couples opting for bouquets or boutonnieres that are complementary, rather than carbon copies of each other. “We never do the same boutonnieres for two guys, and have never created the same two bouquets for the gals,” says Crowley. “They are always different for each partner,” she continues. Many of the bouquets that Crowley creates are filled with flowers that evoke sentimental value. “I just made some for a couple getting married later today, and every component represented a family member close to the couple,” she says. “Eucalyptus for an Australian grandma; succulents in memory of a father who grew them in Arizona. The boutonnieres and bouquets are very important to the couples we have been working with, more so than their rings, outfit for the day, where they get married, and where the reception is.”

The Bling Ring
While she is known for her gorgeous gemstone rings, South Seattle–based jewelry designer Jamie Joseph also handcrafts men’s and women’s bands with signature textures. Whether a sand or wood grain, Joseph’s unique textures can be applied to either side of the ring, offering couples the option to have bands that relate, rather than match. It’s about “sharing something…with a partner,” says Joseph, “yet honoring the uniqueness in all of us and allowing each partner to choose what suits them and their union.” 

A Package Deal
Many hotels and resorts have wedding packages to make the planning process easier for nearly-weds, but a few venues have created options specifically with same-sex couples in mind—especially those who are planning on a small, intimate ceremony. The W Seattle, a longtime supporter of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, offers its “Marry Marry” package (starting at $235), for which couples can choose between either a one- or two-night stay, welcome cocktails, and a sweet or savory amenity delivered to the room after the wedding, which W Seattle’s onsite event planner can help plan down to the last detail. “Equality and human rights are at the core of the brand, and we communicate this in everything we do,” says Greg Campbell, director of sales and marketing. “Award-winning cuisine and beautiful spaces throughout the hotel easily lure even the most discerning of couples…same sex or otherwise.” The Edgewater, Seattle’s unique waterfront venue, has a “Plunge with Pride” package (starting at $3,869), which includes the couple’s choice of one of the hotel’s gorgeous event spaces; a celebratory bottle of Champagne; professional photography; a romantic room; and a cozy “Mr. & Mr.” or “Mrs. & Mrs.” embroidered throw to commemorate the occasion.

And Doggie Makes Three
Unlike most hetero couples tying the knot, many gay couples have been together for years and if they don’t have human children, they often have four-legged ones. “I’ve found that my guys and gals most often have a dog or two that joins them at their ceremony,” says wedding officiant Annemarie Juhlian, who has performed more than 50 same-sex unions since Referendum 74 passed. “I love to find a creative way for a dog to be a fun and memorable part of a ceremony.” She gives the example of grooms Obed and Ian, whose golden retriever escorted them down the aisle during their wedding at EMP this fall. “Addison was at their side for the entire ceremony and she also presented the rings,” says Juhlian. 

Say My Name
In the end, marriage comes with the major perk of being able to call one another husband or wife, something photographer Dani Weiss considers one of the most emotional moments for same-sex couples. “People are excited by that,” says Weiss, who captured the joyful scene at Seattle City Hall on the state’s first day of marriage equality on December 9. “Finally, something other than ‘partner.’”