Loose lips sink ships — especially at a gay wedding. And we don’t mean to sound like Captain Obvious, but there are a few jokes and conversation starters that can easily put a damper on someone’s big day. In order to avoid a Titanic-like disaster at a same-sex wedding, we’ve enlisted the help of Lizzie Post, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post and the co-author of “Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition.” Think of it as us throwing you a lifesaver.
Here are ten things you should never say at a gay wedding:
1. Who is who?
Cast off the shackles of traditional gender roles! You’re at a wedding for crying out loud — just enjoy two people expressing their eternal love for one another.
“Don’t try to fit them into the bride-groom modes,” warns Post.
Think of the situation as simply as possible. If it’s a same-sex wedding, you will see two grooms or two brides. If you are at a heterosexual wedding, you will see one bride and one groom. End of story. There’s even a high possibility that the couple getting married may nix the terminology “bride” and “groom” from their vocabulary altogether.
Much like many straight couples, gay couples create ceremonies and receptions that reflect who they are and are less interested in conventions. Yet, do not make any snide comments if a couple does decide to embrace a gender-specific tradition like throwing the bouquet, wearing white, or being walked down the aisle.
And, if you are chosen to make a toast, avoid off-color jokes about exes. This gender-specific tradition of making grooms look like reformed dogs now tamed by love can easily go awry at a same-sex wedding because many gay and lesbian individuals remain close friends with former partners — who may be in attendance.
“Keep your toast respectful and kindhearted,” Post advises.
2. Why isn’t your father here?
Don’t speculate which guests wrote what on their RSVP cards.
“Saying things like ‘Oh right, Uncle Tim wouldn’t come!’’ or ‘Wow, Granny sure is quiet tonight’ is really inappropriate,” says Post.
Most likely, if you’re at a gay wedding, at least one of the brides or grooms has experienced some kind of adversity in their life. They don’t need gossip or mean-spirited comments whispered at their wedding. It’s best to ignore any kind of negativity and just be supportive.
3. I think this is the most important thing I’ve ever been a part of!
Calm down, drama queen!
“Don’t be that person going, ‘Oh my gosh, isn’t this the most amazing thing?’ You don’t want to get on your little soapbox and talk about civil rights,” says Post.
A gay wedding is not about you, your passion for gay rights, or how open-minded and modern you are. It’s about two men or two women in love.
4. Is there going to be a drag performance at the reception?
Maybe. But try to ignore stereotypes when you’re at a gay wedding. Like most people, there is a lot more to a gay person than just being gay.
5. Is your gay wedding next?
Don’t spend the reception asking other gay couples in attendance when they plan to tie the knot. Just because same-sex marriage is now legal, it doesn’t mean that the time has come to ask the same rude questions of gay and lesbian couples that straight couples have had to endure for decades. Gay or straight, nobody likes fielding questions about the future of their relationship.
6. How are you going to have kids?
If a gay couple wants to kids, there are plenty of ways to start a family. But articulating that question in general is just poor taste.
“That is a top ten conversation stopper,” Post says. “Gay or straight.”
Before you start putting the happy couple in the suburbs with a white picket fence and 2.5 children, why don’t you let them enjoy their wedding day first?
7. Are you taking his name?
You may want to know what name the happy couple intends to use as newlyweds so you can give them personalized monogramed hand towels, but most likely, you’re just being nosy.
“Some guests might have never thought of it before,” Posts says. “And it’s at the wedding itself where, for the first time they’re like, ‘Oh, are they Mr. and Mr. Smith, Jones, or Jones-Smith?’ And it’s fine to be curious, but don’t ask that at the wedding!”
8. Will you get gay divorced, too?
Part of the fight for gay rights is the ability to have a same-sex divorce. But why are you mentioning a divorce at a wedding? Rude!
9. Now you can visit him in the hospital on his deathbed!
These are indeed new and exciting benefits, but, much like the divorce statement, a wedding is not an appropriate venue to discuss mortality. Rude x 2!
10. Good thing you live in New York, or else your marriage wouldn’t count!
There are so many more complications involved with gay marriage than straight — even with Section 3 of DOMA overturned. To allude that a couple is “lucky” to live in a state where same-sex marriage is legal just emphasizes how unfair it is that it is not legal all over the country.
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