How to Plan an LGBTQIA+ Wedding

While planning a same-sex wedding can be an exciting and joyful experience, the wedding planning industry is generally heteronormative. Not finding LGBT-friendly vendors or struggling to create a gender-neutral program can only lead to stress and unexpected costs.

As a wedding planning expert since 2000, I've helped queer couples create the most special day in their lives. I'm here to help guide you through how to plan an LGBTQIA+ wedding and offer my top tips for creating an unforgettable day that truly represents you and your partner.

How to Plan an LGBTQIA+ Wedding

To plan an LGBTQIA+ wedding, you must first establish your wedding vision, especially your style and the atmosphere you'd like to create in the ceremony and reception. From there, you can set a realistic budget, choose the perfect venue, decide on the guest list, and find queer-friendly vendors.

Incorporating elements from LGBTQIA+ wedding traditions can provide a personal touch and add meaning to the celebration. Careful planning is needed to find an inclusive venue and build a team of supportive vendors for a successful day.

Understanding LGBTQIA+ Wedding Basics

Before anything else, I'm going over the basics of planning an LGBTQIA+ wedding. Firstly, it's important to understand that LGBTQIA+ weddings are no different from any other wedding ceremony. They are a celebration of love and commitment between two people. 

However, there are some unique considerations that you should keep in mind when planning an LGBTQIA+ wedding. For instance, while marriage equality has been legalized in many places, there are still some areas where it is not recognized.

LGBTQIA couple embracing each other happily as they dance at the empty dance floor

You can consider having a commitment ceremony or a symbolic wedding if legal marriage is not an option. Here are some other crucial considerations to keep in mind when planning an LGBTQIA+ wedding:

Simple Steps in Planning Your LGBTQIA+ Wedding

When planning an LGBTQIA+ wedding, the first step is recognizing that every couple's journey is unique. You can follow these steps here to create the perfect day to celebrate your love story.

Establish Your Wedding Date and Vision

It starts with establishing your wedding vision. Consider your preferences and specific elements, including floral palettes or wedding favors. Finally, remember to think about the overall aesthetic and ambiance of the venue. 

You'll want to choose a space that reflects your personal style and vision for your wedding day, whether a rustic barn, an elegant ballroom, or a trendy rooftop venue. Be sure to tour several venues and take plenty of photos and notes to compare and contrast your options later.

You should also select the perfect date and venue. The date you choose should resonate with you and your partner. Consider factors like weather conditions, guest availability, and seasonal factors that may affect the 

Set a Wedding Budget

On average, American couples budget around $20,000 for their wedding planning. Some couples use their savings, while others use loans or sell investments. I guide couples in creating a clear financial plan to avoid stress and ensure a smooth planning process. 

LGBTQIA couple embracing each other after their wedding ceremony

Build a Team of Inclusive Vendors

As an LGBTQIA+ wedding planner, I believe building a team of inclusive wedding vendors is essential to planning an LGBTQIA+ wedding. It's one of the responsibilities of a planner. Look for vendors who showcase diversity in their portfolios and explicitly mention their inclusivity. For instance, book an officiant who understands your vision and respects your individuality and relationship.

When hiring a photographer, look for someone with experience shooting LGBTQIA+ weddings. Ask to see their portfolio to ensure that they have captured diverse couples in a respectful and inclusive way. 

It's also essential to find a photographer who is comfortable with using gender-neutral language and who understands the importance of capturing the unique aspects of LGBTQIA+ weddings, such as non-traditional attire and same-sex dances.

Choose the Perfect Venue

The perfect venue can set the mood for your ceremony, allowing you to personalize the theme.

Organize the Wedding Party

When planning an LGBTQIA+ wedding, it's vital to consider who will be at your wedding party. Traditionally, weddings have groomsmen and bridesmaids. 

However, I remind couples that there are no gender-based restrictions in same-sex weddings. You can have a mix of groomsmen and bridesmaids, or you can choose to have a wedding party made up of all bridesmaids or all groomsmen. Here's how I guide couples in planning a wedding party.

LGBTQIA couple posing together with their groomsmen

Remember, your wedding party supports you and makes your special day even more memorable. Choose people who will be there for you through thick and thin and help make your wedding day everything you've ever dreamed of.

Plan the Guest List

I've found that inviting allies and supporters is essential for a prosperous, inclusive, and joyous LGBTQIA+ wedding. 

Be thoughtful when selecting the guest list, and prioritize those who have shown love and support for you and your partner. Surrounding yourselves with positivity on your special day will create an unforgettable atmosphere for everyone involved.

Select a Wedding Attire

Choosing outfits that reflect your individuality can make a big difference in how you feel on your special day. 

Create a Wedding Day Timeline

As a wedding planning expert, I know creating a wedding day timeline is crucial to ensure everything runs smoothly. This is one of the most complex parts of wedding parts, and here you'll see why hiring a wedding planner is worth it

Still, I'm giving you insider tips for creating a wedding day timeline that works for LGBT couples.

Incorporate LGBTQIA+ Wedding Traditions

I want to share some critical aspects of LGBTQIA+ wedding traditions that can help you create a memorable and meaningful celebration.

LGBTQIA couple holding hands while listening to their wedding preacher

How to Handle Potential Challenges in Planning a Same-Sex Wedding

Planning a wedding takes so long and can be challenging, and planning an LGBTQIA+ wedding may present some unique challenges. Here are some potential challenges you may face and how I handle these situations to ensure our couples have a stress-free wedding planning experience.

Navigate Family Dynamics

Family dynamics can be tricky, especially when it comes to LGBTQIA+ weddings. Some family members may not be supportive of your wedding or your relationship. To navigate family dynamics:

Deal With Legal Issues

Depending on where you live, there may be legal issues surrounding your LGBTQIA+ wedding. Researching the laws in your area and understanding your rights is vital. Here are some legal issues where I guide couples when planning a wedding.

By being proactive and informed, you can navigate these potential challenges and plan the LGBTQIA+ wedding of your dreams. These aspects can be tricky, especially for areas with varying rules and regulations. Consider hiring a wedding planner to relieve the stress of handling these matters.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Have a Gender-Neutral Wedding?

To plan a gender-neutral wedding, I recommend focusing on inclusivity and love rather than traditional gender roles. Start by creating a welcoming atmosphere that makes everyone comfortable without pressure to conform to expectations. For example, opt for mixed seating rather than separating guests based on gender.

How Can I Find LGBTQIA+ Inclusive Wedding Vendors?

To find LGBTQIA+ inclusive wedding vendors, start by looking for businesses that explicitly mention their LGBTQIA+ inclusivity on their websites or in their marketing materials. Searching for queer-inclusive wedding vendors is essential for ensuring a comfortable and supportive wedding planning experience. 

What Are the Best LGBTQ-Friendly Wedding Venues?

The best LGBT-friendly wedding venues make you and your guests feel welcome and comfortable. Consider inclusivity policies, staff training, and positive reviews from other same-sex couples when searching for your perfect wedding venue. For example, we have a list of unforgettably unique San Francisco wedding venues


Don't be afraid to break from tradition and personalize your ceremony. Wedding planning specialists at Thomas Bui Lifestyle strongly encourage embracing the uniqueness of the queer community on your special day. Start by setting a budget, selecting LGBT-friendly vendors, and creating a fun yet safe environment.