Planning an LGBTQ+ Wedding in Sydney: A Guide for Couples Ready to Tie the Knot
Are you and your partner planning an LGBTQ+ wedding in Sydney? Yes? Woohoo! You are in the right place to start the planning journey. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and having worked in the wedding industry for 10+ years, I know exactly how CisHet-normative weddings can be. Luckily, there’s been a big shift towards inclusion in Sydney and across Australia thanks to the introduction of Marriage Equality in 2017.
Since late 2017, couples of any sex or gender have legally been allowed to marry. We had to survive a huge pile of BS in the form of a postal vote to get here, but hey, we’re a resilient bunch. And no doubt, if you’re reading this, you’re probably planning your own wedding right now. So I’m going to guess that it’s been worth it for you.
There are so many opportunities to make your wedding a meaningful celebration of your love, values and your kickass Queerness! This brief guide will provide advice on several parts of the planning process, from finding an LGBTQ+ friendly celebrant to integrating your unique personality, to help you turn this special day into something spectacular. So let’s jump straight into the very first step you need to plan a successful (and stress-free) LGBTQ+ wedding…
Setting your wedding values:
First and foremost, your wedding should align with your values as a couple. When you determine your top 3 wedding values, they become an anchor for all of the following decisions that you are going to make during the planning process. Values, by nature, are subjective and need to be agreed upon by the two people planning the wedding.
What are your personal values? Do you value being inclusive of everyone? Do you value intimate, quality time with your closest loved ones?
Some examples of wedding values could include:
- Music and creativity
Once you have locked in your top 3 values, you’ll begin to see a clearer picture of how the rest of the wedding will come together. For example, if you have chosen creativity and music as a value, you might then choose to assign a significant portion of funds to secure a top-quality live band to entertain you and your guests at the reception.
Further, if you have determined that “community” is one of your top wedding values, you might choose to support the community by hiring your favourite Queer band or Drag performer.
When making these kinds of choices for your wedding, I suggest making things as personal and meaningful to you and your partner. This will ensure that the wedding feels vibrant and unique, rather than stale and “copied and pasted”. Take your time and be sure to discuss the top 3 values with your partner on a regular basis.
Finding your Wedding Venue:
When it comes to planning your wedding, finding the right place to host your ceremony and reception should be at the top of your list. But for LGBTQ+ couples, finding a venue that is welcoming and inclusive is especially important. I’ve conducted some internal research that uncovered that only 17% of wedding venues across Sydney and Australia identified as LGBTQ+ friendly. This is a pretty sobering statistic considering we’ve had Marriage Equality for several years now. But rest assured, there are many amazing venues in Sydney that enthusiastically cater to LGBTQ+ weddings, and each one has its own unique charm and atmosphere.
So how do you go about finding the perfect venue for your special day? Start by thinking about what type of atmosphere you want. Do you want a traditional church setting, or something more contemporary and relaxed? Sydney has everything from grand old cathedrals to trendy loft spaces, so there is definitely something to suit everyone’s taste.
Another thing to consider is your budget. Venues can vary in price depending on their size and location, but there are plenty of options available no matter what your budget is. And don’t forget about extras like catering, flowers, and decorations; these can add up quickly so it’s important to factor them in when planning your budget.
Two fantastic resources, which you can use for *every* wedding vendor you hire, is Theodore Magazine and Dancing With Her. Both of these Australian publications provide an extensive directory of wedding vendors who are either part of the LGBTQ+ community or strongly support it. You can head to their websites and narrow the search to just venues to find which venues are vocal about their LGBTQ+ allyship.
Using these directories, as well as sites like WedShed and Google, you can start to narrow down some options and start planning some visits to your top picks. Shoot some emails to lock in your venue tours. This is also a great time to ask about other things that may be important to you and your other LGBTQ+ guests, such as asking the venues for their anti-discrimination policies, and whether they provide the option for gender-neutral bathrooms. Take your time and make sure you ask lots of questions; this is your special day and you want to be sure that everything is perfect. With so many wonderful venues in Sydney, there’s no need to compromise on anything!
Connecting with the perfect Celebrant
When it comes to finding a celebrant for your wedding, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. First, vendors like your celebrant, photographer and band can only realistically book one wedding per day, so availability can be limited if you don’t plan ahead. You may also choose to ask a friend or loved one to be your “unofficial celebrant” (this is a popular choice in 2023) but there will still need to be someone licensed to perform the marriage if you want it to be legally binding.
I’ve worked with dozens of celebrants in my time as a wedding photographer, and trust me when I say that there is a stark difference between a good celebrant and a mediocre one. Don’t underestimate how effective they are in setting the tone of the day and communicating to your guests how rowdy/classy/noisy you want the day to be. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential celebrants, I’d recommend meeting with them in person or over Zoom to get a sense of their personalities and whether or not they’ll be a good fit for you and your wedding. You’ll quickly discover whether you prefer someone who is more traditional or someone who is more relaxed and informal.
It’s also important to discuss what you’d like your ceremony to include. Will it be spiritual or secular? Will there be any special readings or rituals? Be sure to ask the officiant any questions you have about the ceremony, and don’t be afraid to get creative!
Ultimately, the decision of who will officiate your wedding is up to you. By meeting with a few different candidates and discussing what you want your ceremony to include, you’ll be able to find the perfect person to marry you and your spouse-to-be.
Incorporating Rituals and Traditions:
When it comes to LGBTQ+ weddings, there are no set rules or expectations. Unlike our hetero counterparts, we have the luxury of not having hundreds of years of wedding traditions to adhere to. This means that LGBTQ+ couples can create their own unique wedding that reflects their relationship and their connection to the community. That said, people often enjoy the symbolism and meaning that comes with certain traditions and rituals, and weddings are a great opportunity to explore them.
One of the most popular wedding rituals is the exchange of rings. Rings have long been seen as symbols of love and commitment, and they can be a beautiful way to mark your wedding day. There are no set rules for exchanging rings, so you can do whatever feels right for you. Some couples might exchange rings during the ceremony, while others might give them to each other as gifts. It’s up to you!
There are many other rituals and traditions that could be appropriate for LGBTQ+ weddings, so talk to your officiant and wedding planner about what might be right for you. Be sure to plan out all the details ahead of time, so that your ceremony goes smoothly.
Choosing the right Wedding Photographer:
When it comes to choosing the right wedding photographer, it is crucial to find someone who not only understands your vision for the big day but is also comfortable and experienced working with LGBTQ+ couples. The last thing you want is a photographer who just treats you as a hetero couple, and puts you in awkward “man and woman” poses that don’t reflect the natural state of your relationship. The more comfortable and confident you feel in front of the camera, the better your photos will look. That is the power of picking the right photographer!
Thankfully, there are plenty of talented photographers who identify as LGBTQ+ or who are allies of the community, and who will be more than happy to help capture your wedding day memories. So whether you are looking for a traditional wedding photographer or one with a more creative approach, be sure to ask about their LGBTQ+ experience and policies before booking.
By choosing an LGBTQ+ friendly photographer, you can rest assured that your photos will capture the beauty of your wedding day and the memories that come with it.
Congratulations on taking the first steps in planning your LGBTQ+ wedding ceremony! With a little bit of careful planning, you are sure to have a beautiful and memorable day. Be sure to set your values, find an officiant who you click with, choose a venue that feels like home, incorporate rituals that are significant to you as a couple, and don’t forget to hire a Queer-friendly photographer. As Sydney’s premier inclusive wedding photographer, I would be honoured to capture your special day. Head to my contact page to learn more about my wedding services.