Gay Marriage ~ Wedding Etiquette

Here is an arti­cle from Sunday’s New York Times sent to us by Michele Ondre.

If you find an arti­cle that you think should be posted, send us a link to   If we use your sub­mis­sion, we will send you a dig­i­tal copy of the book we co-authored, “The Power of Civil­ity.”

 Gifts for Every Occasion

Sev­eral years ago, I attended a les­bian friend’s com­mit­ment
cer­e­mony, and I gave the cou­ple a gift to mark the occa­sion. Now, she
and her part­ner are mar­ry­ing. Should I give them another gift?

Anony­mous, Vermont

Is it about the gift or about express­ing your hap­pi­ness for your friend,
now that she and her part­ner may marry? This isn’t a case of a
second-time around wed­ding, where one isn’t oblig­ated to give a gift,
espe­cially if a wed­ding gift was given for a first mar­riage. Even so, a
good friend often does give a gift out of affec­tion for a remar­ry­ing
friend and in honor of the occa­sion. To answer your ques­tion about your
friend’s com­ing wed­ding, I say, yes, do give a gift. It needn’t be
elab­o­rate or even expen­sive. And if they already have an estab­lished
house­hold, con­sider some­thing fun (tick­ets to an event), friv­o­lous
(Cham­pagne for after the wed­ding) or seri­ous (a dona­tion to a cause).
This is a very spe­cial cel­e­bra­tion for your friend, so join in the
spirit of the occasion.

Find­ing the Right Words

My part­ner and I plan to marry next spring, and we’re won­der­ing how
to word the invi­ta­tions. Do we use the same for­mat and lan­guage as for
straight couples?


Some cou­ples may wish to style their invi­ta­tion on the tried and true
tra­di­tional wed­ding invi­ta­tion, while oth­ers may take a dif­fer­ent tack.
There’s no rea­son you can’t be cre­ative with yours, as long as the
word­ing is respect­ful and reflec­tive of the occa­sion and con­veys the
infor­ma­tion a guest needs to know: who is doing the invit­ing, what is
the occa­sion, when and where will it take place, and how to respond.
Gay and les­bian cou­ples make many of the same choices as straight
cou­ples in word­ing their invi­ta­tions, with a few twists. Because there
are two brides or two bride­grooms, the ride’s fam­ily first con­ven­tion
doesn’t apply when list­ing the wed­ding hosts. The cou­ple, and their
par­ents if they are the hosts, will have to decide which names to list
first, with the sim­plest choices being alpha­bet­i­cal order or a coin
toss. The same is true if par­ents have divorced and per­haps remar­ried;
decide what makes the most sense in the sit­u­a­tion. Cre­ate the
invi­ta­tion, for­mal or infor­mal, that feels right to you and your part­ner
and informs your invi­tees of the nec­es­sary details.

A Tan­gled Wedding Web

I am hav­ing some trou­ble nav­i­gat­ing what to do about two guests I
have invited to my wed­ding.  They are both good friends whom I have
known for many years.  These two were roman­ti­cally involved for a while
after I left the city where we all lived.  I had always planned to
invite the woman to my wed­ding, as she is the closer friend. But
recently I have renewed my friend­ship with the man, who actu­ally doesn’t
know that I know he and my other friend were involved. They tried to
keep their rela­tion­ship a secret for rea­sons I won’t go into.

Recently, I have been see­ing more of my male friend, and with­out
think­ing of my female friend, I ver­bally invited him to the wed­ding, and
then fol­lowed up with a save-the-date e-mail.  When I did this, I
wasn’t think­ing about their his­tory together and that she still takes
pains to avoid see­ing him. Now I real­ize that if I tell her I invited
him, she very likely won’t come to my wed­ding because see­ing him is so
hard for her. Should I unin­vite him?  I would feel awful doing this. But
she is the closer friend, and it’s really impor­tant to me that she
attend my wed­ding. She and I live in the same city where the wed­ding
will hap­pen, and she has been help­ing me plan; he would be trav­el­ing
from a city sev­eral hours away. I have thought about approach­ing her
with the prob­lem, but then she might insist on not com­ing so that, in
the process of uninvit­ing him, I don’t reveal to him that I know about
their past.  Please help!

Anony­mous, Pennsylvania

Sounds like you need a GPS to nav­i­gate this tricky tri­an­gle. The short
answer: Do not unin­vite your male friend. It would be hurt­ful to retract
the invi­ta­tion, and there is no pos­si­ble way to give him an expla­na­tion
with­out reveal­ing what was told to you in con­fi­dence by your female

But per­haps you are antic­i­pat­ing trou­ble where there might not be any.
Plenty of wed­dings have occurred against the back­drop of dicey
under­cur­rents of exes. Think about divorced par­ents who attend their
children’s wed­dings. Poten­tial mine­fields often lurk right below the
sur­face, but some­how actu­ally on account of fore­sight  they get
through the big day. Since you are such good friends with both, it would
be nat­ural for you to invite both of them. So go ahead and do just
that. Give them each a heads up: Matt, I’m look­ing for­ward to see­ing
both you and Saman­tha at my wed­ding! Encour­age your female friend to
attend, and assure her you will do what you can to ease the awk­ward
inter­ac­tions. For exam­ple, if you have assigned seat­ing at the
recep­tion, seat them far from each other at sep­a­rate tables, just as you
would a divorced couple.

With care­ful plan­ning and a dose of civil behav­ior among those involved,
I’m sure you can help these two friends avoid any uncom­fort­able moments
or soap-opera drama while being with you at your wed­ding. One would
hope that they will join you and rec­og­nize that this occa­sion isn’t
about them, but about you, their good friend. Surely, they will be able
to share your joy while putting their secret past behind them.

Learn­ing to Love a Heartfelt Gift

My son and his wife recently mar­ried. My sis­ter and her fam­ily sent
them a wed­ding gift of a clock that plays music. My sis­ter indi­cated
that it was a costly gift (one I know they could ill afford). When my
son received it, he called me to say that he and his wife did not care
for it at all. They can­not return it as it was pur­chased at a store out
of town. I know they will write a gra­cious thank-you note. I have
offered for my son to send it to me, and I would take care of the
return. Unfor­tu­nately, it was bought at a store that sells only
time­pieces, and I’m not sure if they will find any­thing else to pur­chase
at that estab­lish­ment. Here is my ques­tion: Should I just return the
gift, get a store credit and not say any­thing to my sis­ter? Should I
tact­fully explain to my sis­ter that my son and his wife had no use for
the gift and ask her if she would want her account cred­ited? I don’t
want there to be any hard feel­ings.

Anony­mous, Maryland

The gra­cious thank-you note for the gift is a great start and a must.
There’s always some­thing pos­i­tive to say about a gift, even one that
doesn’t suit the recip­i­ent. Dear Aunt Sarah, Uncle Char­lie and Leah,
We’ve just opened your thought­ful gift. Every home needs a good clock,
but we never expected one so ele­gant or tune­ful. We both appre­ci­ate your
gen­eros­ity and the care you took to find some­thing spe­cial for us. Joe
joins me in send­ing our thanks. We’re glad you could join us at our
wed­ding. It meant so much to both of us to have our fam­i­lies with us.
Love, Jessica.

O.K., now what to do with the clock? Your son and his new wife should
keep this unique gift, even though it’s not some­thing they wish to use.
While it is gen­er­ally totally O.K. to exchange gifts when they are
dupli­cates or wrong sizes, or when the giver says, Please exchange it
if, that’s not the case here. It isn’t about the tan­gi­ble item itself,
but all about the effort and, as it seems in this case, the sac­ri­fice
made to show affec­tion to the new­ly­weds. Exchang­ing the clock for
another isn’t worth the chance of caus­ing hurt feel­ings or upset­ting
fam­ily rela­tion­ships. The cou­ple can keep the clock in a closet, or in a
room that is infre­quently used. They could make sure it’s in view and
in full chime when Aunt Sarah and Uncle Charlie visit.

Can I exchange it? lit­mus test says: Keep the gift when it is
one-of-a-kind (an heir­loom or a unique clock like this one), when it is
hand­made or if an exchange would cause hurt feelings.

Writ­ten by: Peggy Post
New York Times