Who Gives Away Whom? A Guide to Gay Wedding Etiquette

A same-sex wedding is going to come with some situations unique to the format. You’ll find yourself facing questions like: who gives away the bride when there is no bride? Does one of you stand and wait for the other at the altar, or do you both procene down it at similar times? How and when should family get involved? It is important to note that there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers here, and that every couple should create a ceremony that’s suited to them. That being said, here are some guidelines to navigating the harder-to-solve conundrums that’ll come your way in the planning process.

Q. How do we arrange the processional?

A. As with every answer here, you’re going to have options. While one of the most observed wedding traditions involves the groom walking first, and then waiting for the bride to appear and (eventually) do the same, you can:


  • Follow this format, and just choose who will walk and who will wait
    If you’re trying to go for a traditional style this is a reasonable choice, though make sure that both parties are absolutely happy with their role – this is a decision to be made carefully, and together.
  • Walk arm-in-arm down the aisle, accompanying each other
    This is a good choice for equality, as it stops you having to choose roles. However, you don’t get the ‘reveal’ moment, or get to involve family in the same way.
  • Create a seating arrangement with two aisles, that meet at the altar
    While you’ll have to make sure things are arranged correctly so that this works out on the day, this method lets you both walk in unison with loved ones down respective aisles and meet in the middle.


  1. How do we select a bridal party?

    A. You can get really free-wheeling with this one, and don’t feel any pressure to follow traditional patterns. You can throw gender straight out the window. Two grooms can have two best men, two maids of honour, or, of course, one of each. You can call the collective party ‘honour attendants’ if you’re after a gender neutral name, or you can skip on the idea of attendants altogether. You can still have ‘bridesmaids’ without being a bride. If they’re close enough to you to be a part of your party, they’ll surely be pleased with whatever position you put them in.

    Q. How can we customise a ceremony while still having it resemble a traditional one?

    A. The wording can get a little tricky when it becomes time for your officiant to make the pronouncement. If you don’t like the sound of ‘I now pronounce you husband and husband’, you can take a cue from civil partnership ceremony scripts and have your officiant pronounce you ‘partners for life’. Conveniently, this rhymes nicely with ‘husband and wife’, so the usual flow won’t even be disrupted. If that doesn’t sound like it’s personal enough for you, there’s no reason not to write your own vows. Regardless of gender, many couples nowadays are choosing to create their own, and this flourish embellishes the uniqueness of your service.

    Q. Who pays?

    A. In the traditional bride-groom dynamic, there are some long-standing guidelines as to how to split the bill, but even these are considered a starting point rather than steadfast rules. The best way to get to the bottom of this is to answer the following:


  • Are you two paying the entire amount yourselves?
    If so, then this will come down to respective incomes and how much you’re both willing to spend. Be candid and open here – there’s no point springing for a flashy wedding financed solely by one of you, as this could lead to problems  further down the line. If you’re not needing to pay entirely yourselves…


  • How much are your parents or relatives willing to contribute?
    This will give you an idea of the wiggle room you have in your budget. If you can combine finances from multiple sources, you’ll probably be able to spring for those fancier ideas, but don’t fret if not. The point is that you love each other, not that you managed to fly in on a diamond helicopter while Beyoncé attempted to sing over it.

Once you’ve got an idea of your overall budget, the fun begins. Decide on the big things, the ‘must-haves’ (two designer suits? An eight-piece bagpipe orchestra?) and then map out the rest around those larger items. If you can stretch to Beyoncé, then more power to you (and also can we come?).

Q. Should I change my name?

A. Why not? Of course, it’s entirely up to you and should be discussed with your partner, but there’s several ways for you to show off your new union to the world:

  • Choose one of your last names for the pair of you
    Essentially the ‘traditional’ choice, and works well if you really like their name and aren’t so keen on your own, or vice versa.
  • Hyphenate, and both take a new name
    You can choose to both become A-B, or to stick the new name on to the end of your existing one. The latter has become a popular choice in all kinds of weddings recently, and is a nice way to acknowledge the marriage without ‘losing’ your previous identity.

Come up with an entirely new name, and both change
A bold choice, but also a fun and creative one. If you have any family-related negativity this is a good way to leave it behind, and a fantastic way to start a fresh life with your loved one.