My partner and I are about ten months away from getting married, so the hardcore budgeting process is underway. I tend to be the hater of spreadsheets and anything formal in our relationship, so this whole process is new to me; I’ve never planned such a big event before. Complicating things, is that I’ve never been to a gay wedding, and thus have no friends to ask questions to about expenses. Still, my partner and I have no choice but to move forward with the process, which has revealed somepro’s and con’s to me about being a same-sex couple planning our special day.

We’ll start with the con’s since I’m sure readers will want a happy ending: this is about a wedding, after all. The first big bummer for me was to find out from my parents that they weren’t necessarily going to help out, since this isn’t a “traditional” wedding. After a couple of conversations and just giving it some time, they came around. But still, there was no assumption on their part that their gay son taking another man’s hand in marriage requires their financial support. This wasn’t a question when my oldest sister got married. When that happened, my mother went into high gear, basically becoming thebridezilla that my sister didn’t have in her. So it has been a bit harder to get the parents involved in my celebration, even if it’s just to ask them suggestions on venues or guests to invite. Some people would consider this a blessing, and I’m not saying I want my parents planning my wedding, but there is definitely a more hand’s off approach when it comes to same-sex ceremonies.

Consistent with that hand’s off approach is that there are very few places in the U.S. for LGBT folks to get married, so often both sets of parents are hearing about weddings that aren’t necessarily near where they live. This has crimped our plan a bit, since we’re planning on a Boston ceremony even though most of my family is in Los Angeles. My partner’s family is all over the States too. Budget-wise, the result is that we’ve been tied to more urban settings for our celebration so that folks can have an easier time at getting to our party. More urban, though, means more expensive…unless we go to DesMoines , but I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon. That’s the thing about same-sex weddings: there are so few places for us to get married so we have less of an opportunity to shop around for lower costs.

Ultimately my partner and I understand that we’re not in the worst boat since we have family in Boston, where we’re getting hitched, that are doing some legwork for us on inexpensive photographers,DJ’s , caterers, etc. Still, if I could get married in New York, I would be doing all this myself and, in theory, finding a better deal because I could do my own price comparisons.

This brings me to my last point: there’s no such thing as a cookie-cutter gay wedding. So that means you have to walk through every part of the process and decide what you’re willing to spend and how much. Yes, I know, this is good to do when undertaking any big event, but for someone like me who abhors process, it’d be great to see a form, check off what I want and move on. Maybe I’d even get some money off for being an easy customer? Doubtful.

The one great thing though about the above is that since there is no standard my partner and I have to follow, we can eliminate anything we want. Here start thepro’s . Since there are no traditions, we can axe the more expensive parts of ceremonies that people find so “important”, like buckets of flowers and, well, a wedding dress! Now I plan to look stylish when walking down the aisle, but there’s no need for a nice dress, unless my partner has something he has yet to tell me.

What we’ve done so far is heavily involve our friends in our planning to cut down on costs. We’ll likely have a friend be our officiant – a trend the straight folks are following as well. We also want friends to do everything from make our invitations to help out with day-of plans so that neither I nor my partner freak out when someone tells us the food is cold.

Another great saving we’ll get by being in a same-sex wedding is that we’re looking at this event more as a celebration of friends than a family gathering – in other words, we get the right to invite fewer people! Off our list already are those cousins we never see, parents’ friends that they’re obligated to invite, and crazy aunts and uncles. our goal is to max out at 100 people and we’re really close to getting there.

I wish I could end this column with a list of ten Web sites that are great resources for same-sex wedding planning. Unfortunately, they’re not out there. Trust me, if they were my partner would have already found them. There are a few sites but nothing as comprehensive as you’d expect five years after gay marriage became legal in Massachusetts. So you’ll have to do a lot of this yourself, but as LGBT folks, we’re used to trailblazing at this point.

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