We said yes! Now what? LGBTQ+ engagement advice
Congratulations, you’re betrothed! Being engaged and planning your wedding is as exhilarating as dancing on clouds. Your heart is literally singing as you burst with love and anticipation of marrying your sweetheart.
Before you send our your engagement news on every social media channel available, first take some time to savor this exceptional information with your partner. Even just an hour of dancing on your happy clouds just the two of you before you launch the publicity campaign.
Once it’s time to share the news, whom should you tell first? If your parents are involved in your relationship, call them first. It’s historically an honored tradition to reach out to the parents first to reveal that they’ll be getting an official new family member before they catch wind of the news second-hand, which can cause unwanted grumbles and hurt feelings. Next, your children, if you have them—as is the case for a significant amount of LGBTQ+ couples who often have children before marrying—or did before federal marriage equality (those stats might start dropping off now. Get the little ones in on the celebration early, especially if you’re blending families. This will help them feel at ease in the new transition in their lives such as new siblings, a new stepparent and possibly a new home.
Close friends also should be contacted before your status update or relationship status changes. However, heed this warning: In the height of your happiness, be careful not to promise anything to anyone. This isn’t a good time to ask people to be involved or even to come to your wedding. Simply bask in the glow of being engaged. The rest will come soon enough, but you’ll want to make those decisions carefully. Promises should never be made when you’re floating on cloud nine. Once you come back down to the world of reason, you may be full of regret and wondering how to back out of commitments.
Modern vs. Classic
With the first sphere of announcements out of the way, it’s time to consider how you’ll tell everyone else. If you’re like most people, you’re itching to jump on social media and share ring photos and tell the world you’re engaged.
The Social Blitz
Do it! Post status updates and photos galore about your giddiness. You can be ever so clever with this step, so have fun! The most basic but sneaky way to do it is to only change your Facebook relationship status to “engaged.” And make sure you allow that status to go into your newsfeed. Simple, yes. Significant, absolutely. And get ready for the excitement to ensue for those who notice.
Want to up your social media cred while sharing the incredibly happy news? Take a cue from your own personalities to see what works best. Get creative with these ideas:
- If you’re on social media 24/7, make a meme of a selfie with your cute face and your ring-decorated hand. Use a font-based app to type over it with a message such as “I said yes!” or “I’m getting hitched!”
- Have young kids? Photograph them holding up a sign about the upcoming nuptials, a la “My parents are tying the knot!” Or, if you each have children from previous relationships, photograph them together holding up a sign that reads “Our families are becoming one.”
- Irresistible cuteness overload abounds with pet photos. If you’re planning on including your furry friend in your wedding ceremony, it will be even more meaningful to have them share the news for you in an imaginative photograph of them with a note about the engagement. Try “Bow to the wow: My humans are engaged!”
Classic News Spreading
If you’re the type who prefers handwritten letters and might even still have a landline instead of communicating solely through texts, tweets and status updates, consider staying true to yourself by continuing this in your engagement announcement.
Put it in writing: The tradition of the printed engagement announcement is an oft-overlooked element but one that will be relished and appreciated. Printed announcements are especially nice if you’re not having a wedding for more than two years. If you decide to have engagement announcements printed and mailed, keep the message simple and to the point. For example, Erin Johnson and Emily Reynolds are pleased to announce their engagement. (Include your date of engagement.) Don’t hint at a wedding date, location, colors or a season. All of your ideas about the wedding are subject to open schedules from your venue and vendors.
Throw yourself a surprise party: Invite your loved ones to a gathering at your home or restaurant. Announce your engagement in person. Allow yourself to be loved on in person by your loved ones rather than likes and shares, which can feel a little less genuine.
Important Note: Proper wedding etiquette insists that you mustn’t send engagement announcements to or invite anyone to the engagement party who isn’t going to be an invited wedding guest.
News you can use: Couples still put their engagement announcements in the newspaper, and now that same-sex marriage is federally recognized, most media outlets are happy to include the news. But they aren’t all so inclusive. Call ahead to see what your city rag’s policies are. Better yet, have a friend make the call for you so your heart isn’t broken in two from the devastating discrimination. If you do make the cut, buy copies for yourself, your aging grandparents and a copy to save in a frame or a scrapbook. It’s a priceless heirloom for future generations, and even more significant for the LGBTQ+ community as there was a time not too long ago when a newspaper announcement of an LGBTQ+ wedding wasn’t allowed at all.
Inquiring Minds Don’t Need to Know
People are naturally going to pummel you with questions about when the wedding will be or will they be getting an invitation. This can feel invasive and surprising. Nothing other than your engagement needs to be shared at this time. Try to be diplomatic about it while carving out breathing room for you and your fiancé to revel solely in your engagement. An appropriate response is, “We haven’t started planning yet. We’re enjoying our new engagement.”
Others won’t ask questions; they’re the type of person who will begin making suggestions when you aren’t asking for advice. They’ll bring up their coworker’s best friend who had a destination wedding and how they thought it was the most selfish thing in the world. Or they’ll start telling you about what they learned from their own wedding. All of this can be interesting—and maybe helpful. But likely it’s plainly overwhelming at this time. Politely nod, and say you’ve got it covered. Most people will get the hint that you’re not jumping to get into the wedding details just yet.
It’s Not All Roses and Champagne
You’re engaged and ready to celebrate. And why wouldn’t everyone want to join in? You know why. Unfortunately, our community doesn’t always get the jubilant response from family, coworkers and circle of associates who are in our lives for one mandatory reason or another. The rampant homophobia and transphobia runs through communities around the world, and affects millions of households. You may get questions about why you need to go public with your relationship: families who acquiesced to your relationship might not want the rest of the family to know about your sexuality and a wedding would put a glaring spotlight on your relationship. You might not even be able to tell your family you’re engaged for fear of complete abandonment.
Families are complicated and there’s no magic pill or therapy session to get everybody over to your side, the “love is love” side. But your relationship matters and you deserve the ultimate love and happiness. You deserve warmth and excitement. If there are friends who are more like family to you, lean on them more during this stage. Ask for hugs if you want some. Tell them how much their presence matters to you. Let them love on you and celebrate this exciting time in your lives.
Dealing with homophobia and transphobia is an arduous task. Some couples don’t have any contact with their families of origin for this reason. But if you do and wish to let them know of your engagement, here’s some encouragement and advice to help ease you through this rite of passage:
You matter. Your partner matters. Your relationship is stronger than any thing or person trying to pull it down.
You don’t have to suffer for the sake of a bloodline. If your family members are acting aggressively with verbal assassinations, take care of yourself and step away. The time period is up to you.
Standing up for yourself is important. Being out and proud is admirable. But taking care of your mental health is everything. So back to that taking a break thing. If you need it, do it.
If it’s not your family, but it’s your partner’s family who’s being hurtful either by making cruel comments or icing you out completely, support your spouse-to-be how you always have, but step it up a notch. Bring your sweetheart flowers and a note detailing how they’ll always have you as their family. The feelings of abandonment are real, but knowing that they have you by their side will likely provide some safety to share.
If your family’s attitude is questionable, but not heinous, give them some time. They may need a period of adjustment to get used to the idea of you marrying someone of the same gender, a trans person or someone with no gender identification at all. Let them know you’re looking forward to talking with them more when they’re comfortable, and then step back a little. But not so far away that they feel like they can’t reach out when they’re feeling more stable in their support for you and your beloved.
Let your family know that your plans to marry are not going to change. Make sure you tell them how important it feels to have their support for your wedding.
Take the high road. Speak respectfully and with a kind tone. Talk in “I feel” statements. For example, rather than saying “You’re not happy for me,” instead, say, “I feel like you’re not happy for me.” It automatically switches the tone from accusatory into an emotional one, explaining what’s really happening, and open discussions—and solutions—are more likely.
Terminology for LGBTQ+ Couples
Marriage is defined by two (or more) adults committing their lives to one another. In countries where same-sex marriage is legally recognized, the sweethearts may or may not enjoy the governmental privileges of marriage.
Though marriage is about partnership and commitment, society has a long history of placing gender stereotypes on marriage and weddings. To plan your wedding, you needn’t play along unless you enjoy these terms.
LGBTQ+ couples are as varied as snowflakes, and the old-fashioned terms brides and grooms don’t encompass all couples. But they might, and if so, feel free to embrace these words as your own while planning your wedding. If you feel strongly about using alternative language, share your preferred terms with your family, friends and vendors.
Designated wedding titles
Don’t identify as a bride or a groom? Consider calling yourself one of the following terms:
Broom: a combination of bride and groom or a shortened version of bridegroom
Bridegroom: defined as a man to be married, but can be redefined for masculine-leaning women, genderqueer and nonbinary individuals
Gride: a combination of groom and bride
Marrier: a person engaged to be married
Partner a/b: For contracts with your vendors, the word partner demonstrates equality in every way.
Your own name: Simple, right? You don’t belong in a box.
Ready to submit your engagement story and photos to Equally Wed? Click here!
Newly Engaged Checklist
- Take time to savor your engagement just the two of you.
- Plan out how you’ll announce your engagement.
- Tell the people who you love the most first.
- Insure your engagement ring(s).
- If you receive engagement presents, send prompt thank you notes.
- Take a deep breath. It’s wedding-planning time!
This article on LGBTQ+ engagement advice is excerpted from Equally Wed: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your LGBTQ+ Wedding by Kirsten Palladino (Seal Press). Order your copy from anywhere books are sold. We’re partial to Bookshop, which supports indie bookstores.
Kirsten Ott Palladino
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