We already know what we should not — under any circumstances — say at a gay wedding. But that begs the question: if we can’t say any of those things, what can we say? Is it okay to even make a joke?
Of course you can!
Everyone — gay or straight — enjoys a good joke or a light-hearted conversational icebreaker, especially at a joyous occasion like a wedding. Yet how do you walk to the fine line between fun and offensive?
Here are ten things you can absolutely say at a gay wedding that will engage rather than enrage people. Utilize these tactics and the only person who will be stepping on toes at your next gay wedding is old Aunt Loretta after one too many margaritas:
1. A wedding dress made entirely out of flannel is so unique!
You always want to compliment the couple, regardless of their personal taste — even if they’re wearing matching loincloths at a Tarzan-themed wedding. It’s their day and flattering hosts who have financially invested in your presence is just plain manners. So say something nice, even if it’s along the lines of: “Doing the Tarzan yell after reciting your vows was really sweet!”
2. Using your cat as ring barer was a great way to personalize your wedding.
Or dog. Dogs are cool too! In fact, any nontraditional decisions the happy couple makes about who or what they use in their wedding — whether it’s mixed-gender bridesmaids or groomsmen (or bridesmen or groomsmaids), or using a trained monkey as a flower girl (see above-mentioned Tarzan-themed wedding) — deserves a high-five! It takes a lot of courage to break from convention, and the ballsy couple should be commended.
3. That reading of Walt Whitman’s ‘We Two – How Long We Were Fool’d’ was gorgeous.
You might not hear a religious text read at a same-sex wedding, and that’s okay. Many couples (both gay and straight) are choosing to break away from traditional ceremony content as well. So take a minute to acknowledge the couple’s creative choice, whether it’s a Sappho fragment or an excerpt from “Rent.” You might also want to break out a pen and paper to jot down the work of art they chose to recite — if your friends picked it to symbolize their love, it’s probably a great read or listen.
4. After-party at Stonewall!
In 1969, LGBTQ-folk couldn’t even gather at a gay bar without being harassed or arrested. Stonewall helped change that. So why not suggest some post-wedding goodness at an iconic gay landmark that’s known for spurring some pretty epic parties?
5. All hail Saint Edie Windsor!
Follow a nod to our past (see #4) with a nod to our present, by giving props to the courageous (and insanely cute) Edie Windsor. Because she boldly took a stand, Section 3 of DOMA Section 3 of DOMA was overturned and an unjust act was turned on its head. So, give Ms. Windsor a quick shout-out before a celebratory shot and move on. Don’t let it morph into a serious discussion about civil rights — you’re at a wedding, not a protest, after all.
6. Recite funny movie quotes that reflect gay culture.
A quote like “My root is that my mother got married in pants,” from “But I’m a Cheerleader,” will win affection and validate the brides’ decisions to wear a kick-butt ivory pantsuits. If you haven’t seen “But I’m a Cheerleader,” other options for quotable material include: anything Mitch and Cam say on “Modern Family,” “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” and “Imagine Me and You.” In fact, you can reserve a few special quotes from the Saturday Night Live sketch “New Xanax for Gay Summer Weddings” It’s basically one big comedic compliment that includes lines like: “Because your gay friends have everything figured out,” “I’m getting invited to so many gay weddings and they’re all going to be so perfect,” or even “At gay weddings, everyone knows a choreographed dance to a Beyoncé song that hasn’t even been released yet.” And, really, who doesn’t want to feel like they have planned and executed the perfect wedding?
7. Hi, how are you? Beautiful day! What’s your name? What do you do? Oh wow, that’s super interesting …
You may be thrilled to a part of this wonderful celebration, but you can’t monopolize the newlyweds’ time! Like any other social situation, don’t be afraid to mingle with other guests. And if you feel out of your element, just remember that, like you, your friends enjoy all the people they have invited to their wedding. So, there’s probably plenty of people you can enjoy having a conversation with — even if they have a completely different lifestyle than you. Plus, the couple will love seeing people from different facets of their lives interact – that’s part of the fun of throwing a wedding.
8. “Hey DJ, can you play ‘It’s Raining Men?’ ”
Okay, so the reception could have been completely free of a drag Judy Garland singing “Over the Rainbow.” In fact, the DJ could have played nothing but Slip Knot and Snoop Dog all night. But it doesn’t mean you can’t queen it up a bit by requesting “Dancing Queen,” “Macho Man,” or “I’m Coming Out.” Gay-specific or not, those classics get feet on the dance floor like nothing else.
9. The couple is so in love. It makes me so happy.
Have you ever been to a wedding where stating this sentiment wasn’t appreciated? Just reading it releases endorphins.
10. Anything else you would normally say at any other wedding in the history of ever.
Because when you get right down to it, a gay wedding isn’t that much different than any other wedding you’ve ever been to — aside from the loincloths.
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