Two brides or two groom – whose name goes first?
When preparing wedding invitations or announcements, there are a myriad of books available giving the correct protocol for which names appear, and in what order on an invitation. Fortunately modern social etiquette does recognize the times and provides “rules” and standards for situations including divorced/remarried parents, the couple hosting the wedding themselves, and other non-traditional situations. These old stand-bys are applicable to same sex-couples because part of the purpose of the invitation is to inform your guests who’s hosting (a.k.a. honoring your commitment or, paying for) the ceremony.
But what about two grooms or two brides? Which name should be listed first on the invitation? Do we list them alphabetically, eldest first, “fem” then “butch” or “butch” then “fem”? This is an area where the etiquette books haven’t caught up with the reality of the times – yet. So what are we to do today?
Let’s go back to the first rule of planning your wedding. That rule is; make it your wedding. In other words, decide what you’re going to do and just do it. While there isn’t a wrong way, there are a few things to consider when deciding upon your way.
I’m thinking, the Butch/Fem placement (e.g. the traditional female role is listed first and the traditionally male role is listed second) is a very poor choice. Why do I feel so strongly about nixing this option? I say so because it perpetuates archaic stereotypes. Since many of your guests may be attending their first (and perhaps only) same-sex wedding in their lives, why feed the myths? In today’s society none of us (including heterosexual couples) gets the ease of saying “housekeeping is women’s work”, or should be allowed to think the “man” should mow the lawn and take out the trash.
Relationships may be easier that way (well, at least assigning duties would be easier) but today, every couple has to create their own division of responsibilities. Notice I didn’t say “roles” because the thought process may linger on but this way of living died out after the fifties when two incomes were needed in order to make ends meet. It’s fine if one of you wants to do all of the housework and the other wants to do all of the yard work but, the two of you must share all of the responsibilities and decide how you want to do things. If one of you likes to do something the other hates to do – that’s pretty easy to decide who does it. What both of you like to do a task (or hate the task)? Then it should be shared (perhaps taking turns each week, doing it together every time, having the one who does it best do it, dividing the work by the amount of time it takes to complete, et cetera). This may seem to be off topic but what I’m trying to say is there isn’t a neat and tidy dividing line here. While social norms may not have caught up with the times, we should strive to move forward, rather than rest upon traditions that no longer fit the times nor our lives.
If “girl on the left and boy on the right” isn’t right then what about a rule that says the eldest is listed second (or first)? While this approach is very neat and tidy to apply, it discloses some personal information which may be considered to be private. Is it anyone’s business how old you are? If so, then tell them but to allow others to infer your fiancé’s age by reading a wedding invitation – isn’t the right way to share such information (even if you are willing to share the information).
Another neat and tidy way to decide whose name is listed first is the classic alphabetical order (by last name). This method is pretty straightforward – any observant individual can see the rank ordering of the names. Be aware though, that as easy as this is to see, some people are going to infer (either jokingly or unconsciously) this order denotes which role you two “play”. Until society can get past the stereotypical masculine and feminine roles in a relationship, we’ll have to acknowledge this may happen which leads us to the option I prefer for today’s same-sex weddings.
Remember the penultimate rule of your wedding planning – that is to make it your ceremony. In other words, just decide what you’re going to do and then just stick with it. At this time there isn’t a right or wrong way to list the names on a same-sex couple’s wedding invitation. Personally, I prefer the alphabetical order (by last name) method. My fiancé prefers alphabetical order – by first name. He truly feels this is the correct way. Perhaps it is because his name already appeared in the second position when he married a woman? It’s important to think what difference it makes to your wedding and your guests.
In short, until social practice dictates proper etiquette, the order of the names doesn’t matter much at all. And the way I see it, if I’m willing to compromise on the alphabetical order of our names, he’ll be more likely to compromise on something important to me. [But don’t tell him!]
Image Credits: OutVite.com