Is Australia REALLY ready for same sex weddings?

The most not to be overlooked things to ask your wedding professionals

Just when I thought Australian politics would slide into the abyss of anti-gay wedding mediocrity, I’m pleasantly gob-smacked by the swift and decisive nature the “yes” vote took to manifest late last year. What a triumph! Love is love! Finally!!!! Now the party is over, its down to business. Wedding business. Australia voted and it came to pass, but what does that mean for the wedding industry? Like the statistics reflected by the general populous, the vast majority of wedding vendors are all for marriage equality – at least from a fiscal perspective – but is the Australian wedding industry really ready for same sex weddings?

I spoke with newly engaged couple Sarah and Bec about their experiences planning their upcoming June wedding and negotiating the potential minefield that is the wedding planning journey. They’ve shared the story of their journey and I’ve included a few of my top tips for same sex couples.

Planning a wedding is exciting and terrifying at the same time! For the LGBTI community, it carries even more significance. Many couples have waited, fought and pleaded for their own day in the sun. And now that its here, its real…what the??? Where do you start?!?!?! Just like every couple planning their wedding before them, its impossible not to get caught up in all the excitement and swept along the rapids of other peoples opinions, experiences and hang-ups. You don’t know what you don’t know…right? Right! So asking the RIGHT questions is key when selecting your wedding vendor dream team—not only does it give you an opportunity to negotiate pricing and learn about their process and skills, but it allows them to get to know you better as a couple. I love it when couples come to our initial consultation armed with a list of questions. Mostly they’re the obvious kind of things “how long to I allow for photography?”, “what time is the best light for photos?”…but same sex couples have all these things to consider, PLUS a few more…

Are you OK with same sex weddings?
Hello captain obvious! After having gone through years of justifying your relationship before the “yes” vote, it seems ridiculous to now have to ask if your vendor is OK with same sex weddings. The wedding industry is only just waking up to this brand new day, so you’ll find there’s experts like myself who are “morning people” and are all over the same sex wedding thing, then there will be some vendors who are a bit slow on the uptake. Professional wedding vendors who are experts in their field and who have many years experience in the wedding industry understand that love is love. But, realistically, you can’t ignore the possibility that even though it’s illegal to do so, some wedding vendors may not have the most welcoming attitude towards working on an LGBTI wedding. It’s a shame, but remember, that sometimes this reluctance may come simply from a lack of experience servicing a gay wedding, so you may find a little guidance is just what the situation requires. Just be up front from the get-go so that there are no surprises for anyone. If your dream vendor doesn’t want to work with you, more fool them. But it’s still their choice. Its better to find that out before any money is exchanged rather than have a conservative vendor turn up on your wedding day to a rather nasty (for them) surprise, then you’re stuck with them all day – awkward!

Traditions of all kind go out the window with same sex weddings (hurrah!) so you’re pioneers in a whole new world! The traditional definitions of bride & groom will be re-written for your wedding. So its 100% up to you what you want to call each other – bride and bride, wife and wife, groom and groom, husband and husband? What will we be called before we’re married vs. after? Forget the “partner” thing. You’ve got a fiance now! Dance a little with it. Who’s name will you take? Will you change your name at all? I never bothered when I married my husband Wayne in 2001 and I copped a HEAP of flack for it. But I just didn’t see the point. I have never been one to jump on a bandwagon just because an antiquated tradition and societal expectations told me I should, so I wasn’t about to start. No one was high-jacking my wedding. This is YOUR wedding. Never forget that. You only have one shot at it, so make it whatever YOU want it to be. Don’t make the mistake of generations of heterosexual couples before you and let your wedding day be rail-roaded to suit the agenda of others.


Chat to your celebrant about what are the legal bits of your ceremony and what are the things you have full control over. An industry expert like my good friend Lillian Lyon of Lyonheart Celebrations will guide you through the process and keep you fully informed of your rights and all the details you need to be on top of.

A very important but un-publicised detail that affects you and your ceremony is that from March 9th 2018 all celebrants without exception must declare whether they are a “Marriage Celebrant” or “Religious Marriage Celebrant”. If a celebrant defines themselves as a “marriage celebrant” they by law cannot refuse your booking based on gender preference. Only a religious marriage celebrant can refuse a same sex couple based on their religious beliefs. All celebrants MUST by law display exactly the words “marriage celebrant” or “religious marriage celebrant” on all business material including business cards, advertising, online and social, letterheads and all correspondence. The terms “celebrant” or “civil celebrant” alone are no longer legally accepted. Same sex couples will be able to identify whether a celebrant supports marriage equality or not based on these definitions.

Two dresses? Two suits? One of each? There’s no rules here. If you decide to go with two of something, you could potentially negotiate a better price. But be aware of lead times. Making one gown to a deadline is one thing, preparing two is something else. Work with your dressmaker to set a realistic fitting and delivery schedule.

Floral Artist
Having two bouquets? Two button-holes? Many floral packages come with one bouquet and one boutonniere so make sure to ask if their floral packages are flexible and priced accordingly before signing on the dotted line.

Hair and Makeup
Particularly if you identify as female, hairstylists and makeup artists may assume you want a traditional bridal “natural beauty” look. Communicate exactly the style you’re going for (photos help) and ask if they can provide images of similar looks they’ve created in the past, so you can feel assured you’re both on the same page.

DJ or Band
Entertainment pros are terrific resources for day-of music recommendations, but clarify if you’re seeking tunes that aren’t boy-meets-girl ballads.

For me, shooting a same sex wedding is almost identical in format as a hetero wedding. Sometimes both want photos beforehand, some don’t. EVERY wedding is different from the next so its important to find a shooter that has enough experience to be able to be flexible and deal with changes on the fly. If you’re both getting ready in the same place, do you want photos of you getting ready together? Or separately in different rooms? Are you going to go for something more traditional and not see each other for the 24hrs beforehand? For day-of photography, many photographers either jump back and forth between the couple’s rooms if they’re getting ready separately or have a second shooter capture one while they capture the other. If like me, they mostly shoot solo, talk to them about the getting-ready timeline so they can capture key shots with both of you separately (example: make sure you’re not slipping into your outfits at the same time so the photographer is able to photograph both). If you’re having two photographers, make sure that both shooters are well versed in taking bridal detail photos if you’re two brides. “Second shooters” are usually the ones that get sent to shoot the grooms all the time, so you don’t want to be the first bride they shoot.

By Samantha Halpern
B. Visual Communications (Photography & Digital Imaging)
Dip. Fine Arts (Photography)
Fully Accredited Member of the AIPP since 2008

Owner and Principle Photographer at JettyBlue Photography

Email me for a copy of my wedding mag “Forevermore” with loads of wedding day tips and an article with the delightful Lillian Lyon. There’s a very special offer on the back too 😉 0414 412 069.