BUDGET

Before you decide if you’re honeymooning in the south of France or that all your wedding guests will drink Krug Champagne at your reception, you must create your budget. Don’t fret if you’re not a math whiz. This isn’t rocket science or anything close. The key to a good budget is being organized. Start a spreadsheet or let the free tools on EquallyWed.com do the work for you.

Next, open a separate joint checking account for your wedding. Put all contributions in here, including those from you and your partner. Pay for everything wedding-related out of this account, and you’ll be able to keep track of your wedding spending, as well as prevent you from using a credit card, a potential pitfall for wedding planning. You don’t want to go into debt for your wedding.

As far as who pays for what, don’t let yourself get caught up in customs that don’t interest you. Customs are merely that; there are no hard-and-fast rules. What’s most important is that people pay for what they’re comfortable with or interested in.

Many same-sex couples foot the bill for their own weddings, but there are those with supportive families who are both able and willing to shell out cash for the big day. If your parents or other family members are taking care of any or all of the bill, you need to speak with them about what they plan to contribute.

INVITATIONS

Wedding invitations do more than tell your guests where and when to show up for your big day. They indicate through paper texture and weight, wording, illustration, color palette and embellishments how formal your event is, what they can expect from your wedding and more about you as a couple.

Plus, wedding invitations tie your theme together — love birds, the perfect pair, classically elegant, a seaside wedding, two hearts beat as one — or at least just a consistent color palette.

Start researching your options early, requesting samples from invitation vendors and companies so you can get a feel for the texture and weight of the paper, but don’t order any until all your details are final. When placing your order, leave yourself enough time to check them for misprints and get a new set. Send them out eight to 12 weeks before the wedding.

Historically, weddings are a joining of two families. In the gay and lesbian community, most of us have struggled with our families about our sexual orientation at some point in our lives. Some are still struggling, either to keep it a secret or to encourage acceptance.

The situation is different in every family, but we commonly learn of brides and grooms who hear disheartening comments such as “How can you get married? You’re gay!” or “Why do you need to call it a wedding?” or “I think I’ve been pretty tolerant of your lifestyle, but this is taking it too far” or “Is that even legal?”

Georgia refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but that doesn’t have to be viewed as a road block to your path of love and commitment. And neither does your family’s acceptance. Remember, this is your big day that you’re planning. Surround yourself with positive people who love you and your fiancé(é), and support your love — whether that’s your family of origin or family of choice.

When speaking with your family about your engagement and wedding plans, remember these rules for conversation: Remain calm; stay focused on your love for each other; listen to any family member who wants to calmly voice their concerns; explain why this wedding is important to you; and take your time while understanding that your family might need some time to work through their feelings, as well.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Photography is one of the most important memory-saving methods for your wedding. Whatever your budget dictates for this portion of your wedding, it mustn’t be skipped.

Wedding photos aren’t what they used to be: a few dull snapshots of the ceremony and the grinning wedding party. The transformation in recent years is due, in part, to the peak in technological advances. Even a high-end camera wielded by a friend can bring you noteworthy photos for your walls and albums, but I recommend going with a professional, even for the simplest of weddings.

When hiring a wedding photographer, make sure that you like his or her style, whether it’s kitschy, artistic, straight-forward or just the basics. Cover yourself with a contract and ask plenty of questions, such as what’s your backup plan if you’re sick on my wedding day, what if your camera malfunctions and when will I get my photographs.

ATTIRE

Here’s the first rule of thumb when it comes to selecting the outfits you and your partner will wear on your wedding day: There are no rules. Throw them all out. View them as guidelines if you wish, but do not let society or your family or even your friends tell you, “Oh, you simply must wear X.”

Your wedding day is about you looking your absolute best (not someone else’s version of your best), and being relaxed and comfortable. Do consider dressing for the event, as in time of day or time of year.

Butch or genderqueer women, if you have been donning masculine attire since you were able to pick out your own outfits and you’re loathing the idea of putting on a dress, guess what? You don’t have to wear a dress. You don’t even have to wear a lady’s pantsuit if you don’t want to (although it’s perfectly fine if you do).

Men, if your skin itches at the idea at tightening a bow tie around your neck or sweating a summer’s day out in a three-piece suit, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear a linen or seersucker suit with a button-down cotton shirt.

And ladies (lipsticks, femme, lovers of tulle and organza), you know you get to do whatever you want, as always. Colors are trending — even Vera Wang just launched a line of wedding gowns in varying shades of blacks and nudes.

Once you’ve gotten a little more comfortable in what you’ll be wearing, it’s time to go try things on. In Atlanta, there are quite a few places for brides, grooms and brooms (a term for butch brides my wife coined when we were marrying, since she didn’t feel like either a bride or a groom) to comfortably shop without feeling like they can’t say they’re marrying someone of the same gender.

My No. 1 choice for Atlantans getting married is Brides by Lori and Black Tie by Lori in Sandy Springs. It’s a three-story building stocked with fine gowns, simple dresses, tuxes and suits, mirrors galore, expert associates and extremely gay-friendly. There’s a broad spectrum of prices, something for your attendants and parents (if you’re lucky enough to have them attend), and accessories galore.

Other known comfortable places to shop in Atlanta: J. Crew’s new wedding section, Express for Men (the suits fit butch women quite nicely), Brooks Brothers and some David’s Bridal locations. For more on gay-friendly wedding vendors in your area, visit our online magazine anytime.

Start shopping for your outfits at least six months in advance of your wedding. This allows for hunting down the right size or color if it’s not immediately available, alterations, the sewing of custom gowns or suits, portraits in you in your attire if you want them, and the peace of mind that it’s checked off your list, leaving you time to tend to the many other items waiting for your attention.

Kirsten Ott Palladino is the co-founder and editor in chief of Equally Wed Magazine. For more extensive advice on every aspect of planning your wedding, visit www.equallywed.com.

 

Top photo: There are as many styles of wedding photographers as there are weddings. When you find one you like, get a contract and make sure your photo pro has a backup plan in the case of ilness or camera malfunction. (by Olivia Peters)

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