In the short time since same-sex marriage became legal throughout the U.S., wedding trends among LGBT couples have changed dramatically. A survey conducted via collaboration between WeddingWire, Inc., GayWeddings, The Gay Wedding Institute and Community Marketing & Insights (CMI) found that 79 percent of same-sex couples are now celebrating their unions with a formal ceremony and reception with invited guests. That figure represents a 36 percent increase since a similar survey conducted in 2013.The average same-sex couple spends $11,000 on their wedding, according to the survey, an 88 percent increase since 2013. More than two-thirds of those weddings are held in the couple’s home state because they no longer need to travel to other states or countries to tie the knot.

Those weddings are increasingly family affairs with the participation of siblings and parents. In 2013 only 46 percent said their parents were supportive of their marriage, in the most recent survey, that number soared to 60 percent. Technology has also made a huge impact on weddings. Many couples are streaming their ceremony, allowing family and friends who might not have otherwise attend the wedding do so virtually. Some weddings have utilized drones to record the ceremony. Of course, there’s also social media, Facebook and Snapchat which allow for instantaneous posting of pictures. 

From the ceremony to the reception same-sex couples are re-writing the rule book on weddings, and along the way are creating new trends.

Invitations are less formal and rely upon bright, interesting fonts, rather than traditional formal script. Of course, that’s assuming you receive a traditional paper invitation at all. Although frowned upon by arbiters of etiquette, paper invitations are becoming increasingly rare, with many preferring to send invitations by email, or at least setting up a website instead of using response cards.

While formalwear is still the first choice for attire, many couples are putting their own spin on things by opting for retro versions, featuring dinner jackets from the ‘50s or ‘70s and vintage evening gowns in lieu of bridesmaid dresses. To complete the theme, many couples are renting vintage automobiles to transport them on the day of the wedding instead of the standard limo. Classic convertibles are the most popular vehicle.

Wedding cakes can be just as elaborate and formal as a mainstream wedding, but same-sex couples are willing to think outside the box and we’re seeing a wider use of pastry displays, particularly colorful macarons. Another popular option is the “naked” wedding cake; stuffed with plenty of filling, but left unfrosted. When cakes are covered with traditional frosting, it is often presented with an unusual texture or design, such as ombre. While same-sex cake toppers are now available almost everywhere, more and more couples are opting for edible flowers or fresh fruit to decorate their cakes.

Formal floral arrangements are also falling out of favor. More often than not, you’ll see rustic arrangements, potted plants, even cactus or herb gardens adorning the tables. Some couples are foregoing flowers altogether and opting for alternative table décor; covering a table with origami cranes (the birds mate for life) or frames containing wedding photos of family members, as a way to honor their ancestors.

According to Kim Forrest, editor of WeddingWire, one trend in same-sex weddings, mixed gender wedding parties, has now spilled over to the mainstream wedding industry. No more lines of bridesmaids and ushers lining up with the bride and groom. Wedding attendants can be of either gender, and a groom is likely to have a “Best Pal” and the bride a “Friend of Honor.” Non-humans are increasingly taking part, whether it’s a beloved dog or a parrot!


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