Melbourne’s most popular gay marriage celebrant Bronte Price, shares two top tips on how a wedding photographer can get the best out of an LGBTI wedding
Tip 1: Throw away those roles
Most wedding photographers are accustomed to shooting weddings in which the roles are highly gendered, from the decision to get married to the proposal to all the rituals and traditions around the couple’s special day. Straight couples typically run their lives along gendered lines: he mows the lawns, she does the washing, he fixes things, she cooks meals and so on. That’s why they’re content to continue to take on those gendered roles on what’s arguably the most important day of their lives, their wedding day.
Stop press: LGBTI couples don’t live their lives in gendered roles. That is the most important thing to remember about LGBTI weddings. If our LGBTI weddings are to reflect how we live our lives, just like straight couples’ weddings typically do, then out the window go many of the traditions and rituals associated with straight weddings. The photographer at an LGBTI wedding needs to understand this fundamental difference – or they will make mistakes that could affect the amount of business they get from other LGBTI couples.
- the couple will spend the night before the wedding apart from each other
- they will not see each other on their wedding day until they are standing out the front of the ceremony space together
- there are blood family members present
- there will be an aisle, let alone that one party will walk down the aisle to be presented to the other party
- there will be formal photos
- there will be a cutting of the cake
- there will be a throwing of a bouquet
- there will be a garter retrieved by the groom’s front teeth from the bride’s upper thigh
- there will be ‘blood family’ photos.
Tip 2: Watch your language!
It’s easy assume all sorts of things about a wedding – particularly an LGBTI wedding. You may assume that both parties are of the same sex.
That’s a term conveniently introduced by the Turnbull government during the postal vote period, to derail the much more inclusive term of advocacy, “marriage equality”. “Same sex” takes us back to when sex was considered binary – you were either a boy or a girl. And whilst that’s the case for most of us, it’s not the case for all of us.
So – you may be shooting a couple, one or both of whom are bisexual but not necessarily of the “same sex”. And yet they are the B in the acronym LGBTI.
If in doubt, ask the couple or ask the celebrant, who should know.
- assume either party sees themselves as a bride or a groom. They may not use those hetero-normative terms at all. Ask them.
- call them the bride or groom unless they have agreed with that – and please don’t ask them which one is the bride and which one is the groom
- raise your eyebrow when both walk in wearing dresses or trousers and shirt
- assume they want to walk down an aisle – check with the celebrant who should be able to offer some alternatives for the couple in this regard
- assume there’s such a thing in their lives as “family”. Blood family members are often not even present. LGBTI members talk about “family” as other people who are LGBTI – eg “I think that caterer is family”
- assume that there are no politics going down and that everyone there is a supporter or ally. Whilst most LGBTI couples invite only people who are allies and supporters to their weddings, there can often be undercurrents in friendship or other groups
- assume there will be a kiss after they have been declared “married” by the celebrant. Lots of LGBTI couples are not accustomed to PDAs – especially in front of older straight people. We’re used to changing our behaviour to make straight people feel comfortable. It’s part of our internalised homophobia. So, don’t urge them to kiss. It may not be a happening thing on their wedding day.
Thanks to Bronte Price for this excellent advice – it’s certainly made more more aware of my own personal assumptions and lack of consideration around these issues. Visit Bronte’s website for plenty more good LGBTI wedding advice at https://gaycelebrant.melbourne