Straight marriage has existed for centuries and over time has generated a myriad of traditions. The man buys the woman an engagement ring; the man asks the woman’s father if he can propose; the man goes down on his knee; on the day of the wedding, the man is barred from seeing the bride until she is walking down the aisle, accompanied by her father, who is ceremoniously “giving her away”.
Tradition doesn’t end there either! There’s the cutting of the cake, the first dance and the man carrying his wife over the threshold.
Today, do these rites of passage apply to gay couples – and are there any new traditions cropping up?
Weddings of whoever are celebrations of the couples’ love for each other, not of their genders, and same-sex couples have a similar formal framework around which to base their wedding ceremony as their straight counterparts.
Prior to this change, though there was no requirement for formal exchanging of vows or public declarations, what same-sex couples did was of their own choosing. And it needs to be recognized that there are traditions same-sex couples are not able to follow, so it’s understandable that many couples have started establishing their own conventions.
There does not seem too much evidence that same-sex couples ask their partner's father's permission to marry them. However, the signs are that they are eschewing the wearing of engagement rings.
One survey has revealed that 81% of gay men are no longer bothering with engagement rings. Instead, they are opting to give each other engagement gifts.
The traditional bachelor and bachelorette parties are also on the way out in LGBTQ communities, with couples deciding they would prefer to share a night out with each other and their friends.
The old idea that couples keep apart on the day and night before the wedding also appears to have gone out of fashion with same-sex couples, as they are spending the night before their wedding in each other’s company rather than apart. As one commentator believes, because the couple has chosen their outfits together so that they complement each other, there's no need to hide anything away for a 'big reveal'.
Waiting for the bride has also become surplus to requirements, with couples walking down the aisle together with either their mothers or fathers. Some even dispense with the aisle and just start the ceremony in a room.
One notable change in same-sex marriages is how gender is no longer a factor, especially when choosing a best man or maid of honor. Now, all kinds of people can be chosen to fill these special roles. Female friends, relatives or even ex-wives have been known to take on these roles in some male weddings.
Traditional marriage vows are gender-specific, so many LGBTQ couples have taken to writing their own vows. It’s to be noted that this practice is also becoming more of a trend where heterosexual marriages are concerned.