Planner Offers Wedding Planning Tips For Gay Men

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NEW YORK — Who pays for a wedding when two grooms are involved? Who walks whom down the aisle? While same-sex weddings are more prevalent than ever, two grooms navigating the wedding planning process might need some extra help.

Jason Mitchell, a professional wedding planner in the New York area, said the industry is most definitely focused on females. That's why he wrote "Getting Groomed: The Ultimate Wedding Planner for Gay Grooms," offering tips for two guys trying to figure it all out.

"I think sometimes they're overwhelmed about what they have to include," said Mitchell, who married his boyfriend and now spends about half his time on the job organizing same-sex weddings. There's no one size fits all, he said, but he offers these ways to navigate trouble spots:

PAYING FOR THE WEDDING: Mitchell suggests talking openly to both sets of parents about kicking in some bucks.

Joel Bauer, a Brooklyn actor who wed his lawyer-boyfriend in October, said they took a no-pressure approach, asking their parents to decide on sums the elders felt comfortable with. The grooms made up the difference.

"It worked out great. It was split three ways," he said.

WALKING DOWN THE AISLE: The processional can be a challenge, Mitchell said. Try one of these options:

• Have parents walk first and grooms walk in together.

• Create a floor plan that allows for two aisles.

• Skip the aisle by having an officiant gather everyone around both grooms after cocktails and appetizers but before dinner.

"This was one of the biggest things that we dealt with," said Bauer, who had a rustic wedding outdoors in the country in a barn refurbished as a party venue in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. "We wanted to make sure that one of us wasn't the bride. We wanted to make sure it was two equals, but we didn't want to walk down the aisle at the same time."

Bauer's husband, Mike Robotti, walked with his mom. Bauer's mother is dead, so he walked with his father. Who went first "didn't hold any meaning for us," he said, so Robotti went first.

THE WEDDING PARTY: Bauer and Robotti wound up with near-equal numbers of male and female loved ones to stand up at their wedding. Both genders were represented on both sides, including their two sisters.

"We called them the groomsmen and the groomsmaids," he said.

It worked out where Robotti had a best man and Bauer had two co-maids of honor.

Mitchell and his husband, Michael Zahler, didn't want to divide people on sides since many were mutual friends who are like family, so they asked them all to be their "best boys" and "groomsgirls."

FLOWERS AND COLOR THEMES: Bauer wanted to establish an autumn color palette while avoiding the seasonal trap of browns and burnt orange. The couple put the ladies in burgundy dresses and the gents in navy suits with different types of burgundy ties, while the two grooms wore gray, but not matching suits.

Bauer wore a bow tie and suspenders in a darker shade and Robotti wore three pieces. The women held yellow sunflowers and the grooms had smaller yellow flowers in their boutonnieres.

"That actually was kind of a difficult point," he said. "What do you wear as two grooms to set you apart from everyone else but still go with the color theme?"

THE RINGS: Bauer's beloved bought engagement rings. They used them when they tied the knot. The rings were complementary but not matchy matchy. Bauer's ring has two rows of black diamonds and Robotti's insets of the same stone.

"We wanted matching stones and gold but different designs," Bauer said. "I was, like, 'I've got one ring. I don't necessarily need another.'?"

MAKING A STATEMENT: Mitchell encourages couples to do what feels most comfortable.

"The worst feeling is when any couple, gay or straight, going into a wedding feels the pressure to do something that they don't feel a connection to."

For Bauer and Robotti, that meant honoring same-sex marriage as an institution. With a federal judge as their officiant, Bauer said one of their readings was a majority U.S. Supreme Court opinion that struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.

"We also took a moment of silence to recognize all of the work that people have done who came before us to make our wedding day possible," Bauer said.


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