Family & Relationships Gay Lesbian & Bisexual & Transgender

Budget Wedding Planning for Same-Sex Couples

Rita Lamar is the proud lesbian business owner of the Lamar Wedding Center, so she knows a thing or two about planning weddings--same-sex and straight. She understands how to create memorable events for every personality and save money while doing so. Rita Lamar specializes in events for couples who want their wedding day to be perfect, but not break the bank. She shared with us some tips for planning a great wedding, no matter what your budget.

Lesbian Life: Can someone plan a decent wedding on a budget? 

Rita Lamar: Yes. Obviously, if you insist on having a designer wedding gown and a sit down dinner reception with a full service bar and a 7-piece band, you are going to pay top dollar. But there are many simple ways to cut down on expenses. Buffet style costs less than a sit-down dinner, a DJ costs less than a band, and you can save several hundred dollars by having a cash bar or cutting out hard liquor. There are also many beautiful gowns available off-season on clearance that are almost identical to expensive designer brands for a fraction of the cost. 

Where can someone cut corners in wedding planning and where does it make sense to spend money? 

To put things in perspective, your wedding only lasts one day. If it were me, I’d be more frugal with the wedding cake, my flowers, the limos, my invitations and the tuxedos.  All of these things are used for 8 hours and then they’re gone. That’s important to consider when budgeting.

What are the things a couple is going to remember most? What is it worth investing in? 

Your wedding may only last one day, but your marriage will (hopefully) last a lifetime. What you should ask yourself is this: What will be left after my wedding day is just a fond memory? A good photographer and videographer can help you remember and relive your special day for many years to come. That’s an investment worth making.

What scams do same-sex couples need to look out for? 

Some people today just want to make a buck. If you’ll notice, some ads read:  “LGBT owned and operated” or “LGBT friendly” when all they want is the extra business. Be certain that your vendor is being truthful and has experience serving the gay community. Ask for proof by way of things like photos and sample invitations.

How do same-sex couples do wedding planning differently than straight couples?

As the owner of Lamar Wedding Center, I can say there are more similarities than differences between straight weddings and gay weddings. When a couple is planning a wedding, the "love in the air" is palpable. It doesn't matter if they are gay or straight.

As a wedding officiant, one difference that I have found is that the vows written by gay couples are often more heartfelt than with straight couples. Maybe it's because some of them have wanted to get married for most of their lives and were just waiting for the day it would finally become legal.

Other differences are those out-of-date rituals that have not been inclusive in the past, such as "giving the bride away" and "not seeing the bride before the wedding.” But things are changing. To begin with, most wedding vendors now have customized their databases to include more options than simply "bride" and "groom." They are respecting all unions as loving and unique. 

Where can we learn from straight couples? 

Straight couples have been getting married for a long, long time! Like any institution that has been around for a long time, there have been many successes and many failures. Having a fabulous wedding is easy. Having a fabulous marriage is not. Marriage is a sacred commitment that must be honored each and every day. If both parties are not committed to it, a marriage will not last. 

Who gets to be the bride? 

(See this question: ) BOTH! When two women marry each other, both of them are brides and both should be involved in planning the wedding, even if one bride wears a gown and the other wears a tux. In fact, although men have not been interested in planning their weddings historically, that's changing. Many men now have very definite ideas about what they want and are getting more involved in the planning process. This is a good thing: It makes the wedding more of a collaboration between two people, instead of one person doing all the planning and the other coming as an honored guest.

You’ve been in this business for a long time. What was it like to plan other people’s weddings when you, yourself, could not get married?

I am single and gay. I haven't found the right partner and look wistfully at the clients who seem so perfect together.  When I do get married, with my extensive experience, it'll be the wedding of the century! 

Do you remember your first same-sex marriage? What was that like?

The first time I ever performed a marriage of the same sex was between two very lovely women.  It was very endearing. They had written their own vows and I remember it gave me chills.  It was a bit embarrassing when a tear ran down my cheek when I pronounced them PARTNERS FOR LIFE!

Tell us a bit about your business and what you offer? 

At Lamar Wedding Center, we honor all of our clients as unique and believe that marriage is a union of hearts. Because we offer several services under one roof, including photography, video, flowers, centerpieces, limos, music, officiants and invitations, we can streamline the process and offer the highest quality at the best price.

The process begins with a consultation at Lamar, where we ask a number of questions in order to construct the atmosphere that best matches the vision of our clients.  At the same time, we can get to know the couple in order to glean some nice tidbits about their relationship. This is helpful as I have also served as an officiant at almost 60 weddings and performed 10 civil unions since I became a certified officiant in 2010.  While I would like to take credit for running a smart and happy place of business, I must admit that our clients have a very positive effect on the atmosphere at Lamar.

Anything else you want to add that I didn’t ask…

We have been facilitating unions for over 20 years and it is all the more rewarding now that our government is finally sanctioning marriage to the LGBT community.

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