By STEVEN PETROW
I’m hearing more and more frequently from gay couples who are at odds over how to dress for their wedding or commitment ceremony. After agreeing on everything from the budget to the venue—even the choice of rings and the seating arrangements—things fall apart at the last moment over wedding attire. One bride-to-be wrote: “We agree on almost all the details, except the all-important one of what we should wear. She really wants the full princess treatment—a classic silk or organza gown—and even something in her hair that might actually resemble a tiara. The problem is, that’s just not who I am!”
Of course, one of the challenges here is that there’s not a long history of same-sex weddings to draw upon. (At the same time, that lack of history can also be very liberating). Still, there certainly have been some high-profile couples in recent years (Sir Elton and David Furnish, George Takei and Brad Altman, not to mention Ellen and Portia) who’ve partnered with style, and they can serve as your guides down the aisle.
Role models aside, there are some basic principles that should help couples reach a solution that will make two grooms or brides happy.
First, know that there is a wide range of options for what same-sex partners can wear to their wedding. Many LGBT couples create their own styles that suit their personalities and the nature of their ceremony. For instance, a couple registering a domestic partnership at City Hall may wear business attire (men: suit and tie; women: daytime dress or coordinated top and slacks), or they could choose a more festive outfit. At a more formal ceremony, you may find two grooms in tuxes, two brides in tuxes, or one bride in a traditional gown and the other in a tailored pants suit. But don’t be bound and gagged by tradition: Same-sex couples may opt for military uniforms, western garb, or even the latest in beach wear—or you could mix gender roles or combine fashions in other unique ways.
No matter what you do, it’s crucial to consider the formality or informality of your ceremony. Both members of a couple will want to dress as though they’re going to the same wedding. If it’s formal, yes, dress to the nines; but that doesn’t mean you must copy each other. The outfits Ellen and Portia wore to their wedding are great examples. Portia’s pink and white halter-top dress was different from Ellen’s white vest and trousers, but the brides complemented each other perfectly. What you don’t want is for one of you to be formal and the other noticeably more casual. (The same advice would go for two gents, of course; you wouldn’t want to wear a top hat and tails if your husband-to-be is planning to show up in his silk PJs.)
Also, don’t forget to think about the wedding photos that you’ll display on the mantel and that you’ll look back on for decades (with any luck). Again, it’s not important that you be dressed as twins in matching dinner jackets (or matching Steelers jerseys, for that matter), but you do want to look as though you were a couple at the same event, with the same level of formality, rather than two strangers who happened to stop in front of the camera at the same time.
Once you get your own attire worked out, it’s time to start thinking about what your respective mothers will wear. Two mothers-in-law can really double the fun!