Over the years I have been to countless traditional weddings where everything follows the set pattern of service, champagne, photos, food, speeches, dancing (in that order). Sometimes it seems that the bride and groom just have to turn up wearing the correct outfits – everything else is taken care of.
I will admit there is something quite tempting about this – everyone involved knows what’s expected and it essentially means your day arrives as a kit with a few pre-arranged personalisations here and there. Even most of the gay weddings I’ve been to follow this pattern. And they’ve been great – don’t get me wrong – but surely a gay wedding gives you an opportunity to break the pattern? After all, whereas hetero weddings have followed a similar format for a couple of hundred years, gay weddings are a new phenomenon. Can’t we create our own new traditions?
Our friends Simon and Nick had a great moment in their wedding service where everyone stood around them and reached out their hands towards them. It was a Christian symbol of blessing and support, but even Donny recognised there was something quite cool about having ones friends and family making such a visual show of support and affirmation. Alex and Dave did something similar – asking everyone to bring a stone with them, which were put into a glass jar during the service. Again, it was a symbol of their community of friends and family, and it provided a really great focus for the rest of the day.
It’s these moments of creativity and individuality which tend to stick in the memory long after the rest of the day has faded away. But how far can you push it before a day goes from ‘imaginative and individual’ to ‘just a bit weird’? One service I went to had everyone sitting around coffee tables eating take-away food during the reception – which was fine, I guess, in they wanted their wedding to feel like an informal evening together, but a lot of people didn’t quite get it (including me). Also, some of the more extreme Christian weddings I’ve been to have featured an altar call during the sermon – encouraging friends and family of the bride and groom to come and meet Jesus. Things like that can stick in the mind for the wrong reasons.
I guess the perfect balance is to have enough traditional elements so that people feel comfortable. After all, for many of our guests it will be crazy enough to have two guys tying the knot without us descending from the ceilings on abseil ropes (although that would be quite cool…) But equally we want enough new, creative content so that it feels like OUR day, and it couldn’t have been anyone else’s.
I’m sure we’ll figure it out.