lgbt wedding planning hints

If you're LGBT, planning a wedding may be fraught in ways that straight weddings are not. We're your allies in both the wedding process and the larger world; we're members of PFLAG, frequent contributors to AFER, and stalwart advocates for marriage and LGBT equality worldwide. Let us know how we can best serve you.


Many LGBT people are concerned about the status of their marriages and marriage rights, and we'd like to help put those concerns in perspective. Though it's tough to overturn a Supreme Court ruling on fundamental rights, already "religious freedom restoration" laws on the state level are rolling back the protections of marriage for LGBT families around the country. Your federal marriage rights are safe for the moment, but awareness and activism are needed now to help prevent LGBT people from losing the ability to legally protect themselves, their children, and their equal access to spousal benefits. Here's a worst-case scenario redux from Matt Baume.

Please read this post-election update from Lambda Legal about the actions you can take now to make your family more secure. You can track many of the lawsuits concerning RFRA laws and LGBT rights at Equality Case Files on Facebook.

Should you get married now? If you're unsure, a consultation with a family law attorney, accountant, and your state LGBT support organizations can help you decide.

We're allies with you in this fight. We support you and your rights, and we've got your back. Let us know how we can help.


Congratulations on your impending nuptials! Here are some tips on how to approach your wedding planning:

On June 26th, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that marriage equality was the law of the land. All states must issue marriage licenses to LGBT couples, and they must recognize any same-sex marriage from out of state. There are now lots of resources for planning your same-sex wedding, but here's our handy guide to making wise and happy decisions as you start the marriage process:

1. Breathe.

Taking some time up front and thinking through your plans carefully will save you energy, money, and frustration. Unless you have an urgent legal need--e.g. immigration, insurance, health crisis--you shouldn't rush. No one can take away your marriage.

Hint: Start a list of questions and gather some basic information about marriage licensing and ceremony options.

Another hint: Please don't assume you know less about marriage stuff than straight people, or feel you need to apologize for asking questions. As a longtime wedding provider, let me assure you that most people get their notions about weddings by osmosis from popular culture, and LGBT folks usually have a far greater understanding about the legal ramifications of marriage than straight couples. That said, there are a lot of moving parts when planning even a simple wedding, and to wed well you need to pay attention to all of them. Please know there are no stupid questions; I'm here to help you figure it out.

2. Do we have all our legal ducks in a row?

If you have legal concerns about debt, assets, previous marriages, SRDPs, or prenuptial agreements, consult with a family and/or estate law attorney before you get married.

Also, If you don't have a valid ID or dissolution papers for a recent divorce or annulment, you'll need to obtain them before you can apply for a marriage license.

3. Take another deep breath and have "The Talk."

You need to make some basic determinations about what kind of wedding experience you want. Some questions to consider:
Do we need to get married right away, or can we take some time to plan?
Do I want to elope or have a big wedding? Maybe one of each?
What can we afford?
Who do we want there (or do we want to be alone)?
What three items do each of us hold as essential for us to feel married? **These could be things like a nice dinner, flower leis, having a favorite friend or relative present; or intangible things, like stresslessness or a moment to dance alone.

Hint: If you qualify for a confidential marriage license, you only need three things to be legally married: a marriage license, an officiant, and a place to stand. If you use a public license, the only other thing you'll need is a single witness (confidential licenses don't require a witness).

Another hint: Many couples opt to have a small civil elopement first so they can lock in marriage status quickly (and have a romantic day to themselves) then plan a big community ceremony or reception later; many just do one or the other. You choose.

A VERY IMPORTANT HINT: Smart couples never go into debt for the Big Day.

4. What about the marriage license?
To obtain a public or a confidential marriage license in the State of California, you must 1) be over 18, 2) have a valid unexpired government-issued ID like a drivers license or passport, 3) present proof of any marriage or SRDP dissolutions that became final in the last two years, and 4) show proof of any legal name changes that did not occur through marriage.

To qualify for confidential marriage license issuance through MarriageToGo, you must currently be cohabiting. Please see our "How It Works" page for confidential marriage license requirements. If you don't cohabit and therefore need a public marriage license, those can only be purchased at the County Clerk's office--they cannot be privately issued.

5. Discuss: what sort of wedding would make us feel truly married?
We can help you figure this out! We're happy to speak with you and brainstorm the perfect way for you to get married. We have a wide range of experience--from minimal make-it-legal elopements (if you've already had your Big Fat Commitment Ceremony) to grand soirees. Call or email if you'd like to know more.

Hint: If you're an introvert, would rather spend the money on something else, or really can't stand your relatives, you're under no obligation to have a big wedding, no matter what anyone says. If you love being in the spotlight, have a large and loving community to party with, and lots of money to spare, maybe an over-the-top wedding is right for you. You decide what's best for your personality types and budget.

Funness hint: Include your favorite things in your wedding day! Hate wedding cake but love pie? Can't stand dancing but adore surfing? Prefer sushi to chicken with white sauce? Do it! You'll love those things even more as the years go by if you add them to your wedding day, and they'll be wonderful touchstones for your anniversaries.

6. Make some arrangements.
Pick up the phone, surf the bottomless wedding-internet ocean, or make your mom do it, but start booking the people who'll help you make your wedding vision a reality. Location is probably the most important basic agenda item to lock in.

Hint: Give us a call at 310.288.6658 or shoot us an email to get it all sorted. We're happy to answer your questions and help you find out what you need, no obligation.

FWIW: We're usually around for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, and Valentine's Day weddings. Yeah, holidays cost extra but are super fun because ghosts/pie/sparkles/roses. Birthday weddings are good too!

If you're flexible about the date, want to ask about rates, or have absolutely no clue what you're doing, please feel free to give us a call at 310.288.6658 or email us. We can offer expert advice to help you start down the road to matrimony.

7. Lastly: go be happy forever, please.
Let us know if we can help you along in your quest for married bliss, and we wish you a wonderful wedding.