Equally Wed

The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your LGBTQ+ Wedding


By Kirsten Palladino

Formats and Prices




$24.99 CAD



  1. Trade Paperback $19.99 $24.99 CAD
  2. ebook $11.99 $15.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around May 30, 2017. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

By and large, most wedding books in the market are still centered around one bride and one groom. And yet, the advent of full marriage equality in the United States has made a new, polished wedding planning book dedicated to guiding LGBTQ couples both timely and essential. Kirsten Palladino will fill that need with this definitive book to inspire couples everywhere who are seeking a meaningful, personal ceremony and a momentous beginning to legally married life.

Equally Wed brings author Palladino’s expertise as the founder and editorial director of the world’s leading online resource for LGBTQ wedding planning to the page. Palladino walks readers through every step of the notoriously costly and arduous planning process with wisdom and accessibility. From how to incorporate hot trends among LGBTQ couples to advice on how to incorporate children into a ceremony to more serious hurdles like dealing with homophobia among family members, Equally Wed has it all. The author importantly includes an accurate picture of wedding budgets for couples from all backgrounds, and shares her invaluable insider tips for making the most of each vendor; she also addresses fashion advice specific for LGBTQ readers, such as suiting up as a nonbinary nearlywed or attending fittings as a butch lesbian or a transgender woman. And best of all, she does it with the celebratory, joyful approach that all couples deserve.

With a beautiful 2-color package, a total absence of heteronormative terms and assumptions, and a wealth of advice on every wedding-related topic imaginable, Equally Wed is set to be the go-to LGBTQ wedding guide just as every couple is finally free to wed.





In the summer of 2015, the United States made a monumental leap forward when the Supreme Court finally ruled in favor of marriage equality for the LGBTQ+ community. What was once a distant hope for millions of gay and lesbian couples was now a fully realized right for all. For the first time, all LGBTQ+ couples could begin the exciting yet daunting task of planning legally recognized weddings, and as we began to plan our very own wedding, we were faced with a whole new set of questions and challenges.

When we immersed ourselves in the planning process, it quickly became apparent that there was a significant lack of resources available to us as a gay couple. We sought advice from our straight friends and families who had gone through the process themselves, but we soon realized that so many of the established traditions presented to us simply didn't make sense in our situation.

Do we get the same rings? What do we wear? Do we have a traditional ceremony? Where should we register? Which traditions should we keep and which should we create for ourselves? The list of questions we had seemed endless, and it only added unnecessary stress to what should have been one of the happiest days of our life together. As a result, we had to change our mind-sets, stop trying to fit our situation into the cookie-cutter notion of "traditional" marriage, and ultimately establish our own new traditions as a modern gay couple.

In an instant, frustration quickly transformed into excitement, and from that moment our creativity began to run wild! Instead of traditional young flower girls, we made a splash by using three of our gorgeous girlfriends who just happened to be supermodels. With no bride in the equation, why not?! Furthermore, we had a friend design three jaw-dropping gowns for our flower girls, reminiscent of couture wedding dresses. The end result was nothing short of amazing, and our guests are still talking about it to this day.

On another note, we made a point to use vendors and brands that had a record of supporting LGBTQ+ equality. From our flowers and food to our venue and tuxedos, we chose vendors who were truly excited to be a part of our union because without them and our other allies, it's a real possibility that we wouldn't be husbands today.

Ultimately our ideas expanded our imaginations even further. We encouraged our guests to dress as lavishly as possible—without fear of overshadowing us! In our minds, this day was just as much for our close friends and family as it was for us. We wanted our guests to feel the most beautiful they'd ever felt, and if that meant showing up in a wedding dress and veil, then by all means we welcomed it.

Looking back, we often wonder how we managed to pull off such an incredible evening with the lack of resources we found pertaining to same-sex weddings. Everything came together beautifully in the end, but if more information had been readily available to help us in regards to the unique planning and execution of our special day, we could have spared ourselves hours if not days worth of stress and worry. That is why Equally Wed is such a game changer in the world of same-sex weddings.

Equally Wed covers everything an engaged couple planning their wedding should consider from "I will" to "I do" with a modern approach tailored specifically to the needs of the LGBTQ+ community. From traveling to safe countries on the honeymoon to dealing with homophobic relatives when making the guest list to breaking out of society's so-called norms, Equally Wed leaves no stone unturned when it comes to successfully planning and executing that truly special day.

Lastly, we would be remiss if we didn't acknowledge the amazing woman who worked tirelessly making Equally Wed into a reality. Kirsten Palladino is an award-winning writer and editor, and one of the world's most notable experts on LGBTQ+ weddings. We first learned of Kirsten back in 2012, when she established National Marriage Equality Day in response to Mike Huckabee's National Chick-Fil-A Day, which applauded the restaurant chain's homophobic policies and funding of gay conversion therapy. Our paths then crossed again in 2014 when we hosted the "Toast to Marriage," an attempt to break the world record for the largest arms-linked toast (in support of marriage equality). We wholly respect the way that she believes in visibility, acceptance, and equality as we do, but also how she is relentless in fighting for it. Ultimately Kirsten isn't afraid to stand strong and use her voice, and now with Equally Wed, her voice and unique expertise are readily available to ensure that every LGBTQ+ person has the resources to plan the wedding of their dreams.



I always wanted to get married. As a little girl, I dreamed of marriage, of being swept off my feet and finding that one person, my soul mate. I was often lost in some book, whether it was a sweet romance or some daring detective novel, romanticizing much of my future, including meeting my mate. By the time I entered my twenties, I knew a few things for certain: I was going to be an editor and a writer, and someday I would meet my life partner. Sure enough, my work as an editorial intern at a metropolitan newspaper and editor in chief of my college newspaper helped me land my first job as an editor at a national art magazine, where I was working when I began dating my future wife.

Maria proposed four years later on February 29, 2008, one day shy of my thirtieth birthday, in Central Park. Elated, I accepted immediately. Upon our return to Atlanta, I went to the bookstore, one of my favorite places, and began opening books about wedding planning. What I discovered was all "bride and groom": none of the descriptions even applied to Maria and me. Sure, we could imagine our place in that book, but the language excluded us. Some wedding guides even had cheerful paragraphs devoted to same-sex "commitment ceremonies" and "civil unions"—phrases that I loathe. "Look, you too can have a ceremony," these authors implied. "Just take all of what I have written here, do the mental gymnastics in your own head about how it applies to you, and go forth with absolutely no confusion or feelings of exclusion. Now let's get back to what happens when a groom makes the toast and his bride may or may not speak…" Wedding magazines provided much of the same. I hoped that I would find even one or two mentions of gay or lesbian weddings, but save for the incredibly rare same-sex celebrity wedding, Maria and I were alone in planning our wedding.

Even when we took our search online, we found only a few outdated and rarely updated websites and more obscure gay- or lesbian-specific books, but they didn't speak to us. These well-meaning resources also didn't reflect the understanding that nonheterosexuals include many people who are neither a gay cisgender man nor a lesbian cisgender woman. The LGBTQ+ community is multifaceted, and we didn't yet have full representation in the wedding world. Maria and I were a young, vibrant, and modern couple who needed a wedding resource that simply wasn't available. We wanted something tailored, something true, something made just for us—and it didn't exist.

My heart broke into pieces over this. I felt crushed, forgotten, and unimportant. It felt like my wedding wasn't as good as those of my straight friends. To me, just because same-sex marriages hadn't yet been legally recognized across the country didn't mean that we couldn't have a wedding and be ceremonially married. We weren't going to take second or third rank as citizens by walking up to a separate water fountain and using different terms such as "commitment ceremony." That simply wasn't an option for someone who'd grown up dreaming of her wedding.

I soon found out that the wedding industry could be equally homophobic. I called and emailed wedding vendors with the hope that they could deliver the exquisite services described on their websites or in their magazine ads, only to be hurt and confused when they emailed me back saying they didn't do gay weddings but with Jesus's blessing they might be able to, or when they went silent during a phone call, or, perhaps worse, when they never returned my calls and emails. This experience bothered Maria and me so much that we decided to do something about it to ensure that other couples like us could avoid feeling excluded.

As soon as our plane landed back on American soil, delivering us from our blissful Caribbean honeymoon on the equality-minded island of Saint Martin, Maria and I got to work—she as the graphic designer and web developer, and me as the writer and editor. We created Equally Wed, an online wedding magazine for the modern LGBTQ+ couple. We launched equallywed.com in March 2010, and the world went wild for it. Okay, that's not quite true, but we quickly had a lengthy print feature in the New York Times, spots on CNN, and plenty of other media coverage that I'm forever grateful for.

And the LGBTQ+ community reacted with love and gratitude that warmed my heart. Our main purposes were to visually represent modern LGBTQ+ couples getting married, to validate those marriages, to support marriage equality by showcasing the normalcy of these weddings, and to promote the love and equal protection under the law that LGBTQ+ couples deserve. We also wanted to connect LGBTQ+ nearlyweds with equality-minded wedding professionals, a term I coined after working with thousands of vendors who really care about the LGBTQ+ community.

After marriage equality became a federal reality with the 5–4 Supreme Court decision striking down same-sex marriage bans, on June 26, 2015—five years after Equally Wed was born—our readership grew significantly. But challenges remain and acceptance in society is far from universal. Much of the wedding industry, which includes media, vendors, and venues, is still learning what it means to be truly equality-minded and only slowly understanding that it has been locked into a heteronormative worldview that isn't everyone's worldview. We all have the right to marriage and to be treated as first-class citizens while we plan our weddings.

The idea for a wedding book for LGBTQ+ couples has been running through my brain for quite some time, but I didn't summon the courage to find a publisher until after the 2015 Supreme Court decision. I knew deep down that everyone deserves a gender-neutral wedding book with which to plan their wedding, whether they're transgender, nonbinary, genderqueer, gender nonconforming, gender fluid, intersex, agender, intergender, lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, queer, or simply label-free. Though the LGBTQ+ community has existed since the beginning of time, we are still fighting for visibility. Equally Wed won't allow for our erasure in the wedding world. We're here, we're queer, and we want to get married too.




Wedding planning can be an arduous task that leaves you stressed out over what feels like the need to make a million decisions simultaneously. But if you go at your own pace and give yourself enough lead time, you can actually enjoy the process. This comprehensive wedding planning book is here to guide you through all your tasks as well as lift you up with moral support. We are in this together!

To help you on your path to the altar, I've laid out the tasks to consider in the timeline that works best for most people planning their wedding. While you're reading, feel free to skip ahead, write in the margins, use page stickers to identify what means the most to you, highlight passages for your spouse-to-be, or read it straight through. I also think it would be helpful for your vendors and even key family members to have their own copy of Equally Wed, as it's a rich trove of information and perspectives that they may not be familiar with. The more informed everyone involved in your wedding is, the better an experience you will have planning one of the most important days of your life.

Throughout the book, you'll discover what some equallywed.com readers have learned in their own wedding planning process, hear questions we had from other nearlyweds before we published this book, receive advice from some of my favorite equality-minded wedding professionals, and see a few love notes scattered throughout from yours truly.


As the author of Equally Wed and the cofounder of the Equally Wed website, I recognize perhaps more than some how important words, names, labels, and boxes are—whether it's a matter of usage or avoidance. Gender is a complex and fluid continuum. One of the reasons there was a need for a book like Equally Wed was to finally break the mold of the heteronormative terms "bride" and "groom" used in wedding books.

Even other books that mention same-sex weddings often call two female-bodied people getting married two "brides," even though that term isn't universally appropriate in the LGBTQ+ wedding community. By the same token, not all male-bodied people want to be referred to as a "groom." Social constructs are just that: a worldview built by society. People are complex, no matter what our gender identity is or who we fall in love with. More appropriate labels, terms, and words to describe people in our community are certain to be as varied as the community itself. The goal of Equally Wed has always been to provide a safe, informative, and inspirational place in which to plan your wedding where your identity is not only validated but valued.

In my experience, most LGBTQ+ people have a certain vocabulary they use to define themselves. Here I've outlined some of the more frequently used terms you'll find in this guide. You might not have seen them before, or be only vaguely familiar with them. Keep in mind that the words you feel most comfortable with do not dictate what you wear or the rituals you practice on your wedding day. For example, a desire to call yourself a groom does not exclude you from being able to carry a bouquet if that's your wish.


Bach party: A bach (pronounced "batch") party is the gender-neutral term for a bachelor or bachelorette party.

Bridal: The word "bridal" refers to anything related to the marriage and the festive celebrations around it, and its roots are actually gender-neutral. My usage of the word in these pages is always in the gender-neutral sense.

Bride: Anyone can be a bride, no matter their gender identity or orientation. This word is one that you choose for yourself.

Bridegroom: Historically, this term has been used for a man getting married. For modern weddings, anyone can claim this title for themselves.

Broom: "Broom" was coined in 2008 by Maria Palladino, cofounder and publisher of Equally Wed and my wife, when we were planning our own wedding. A broom typically presents themself as masculine but prefers this combination of the words "bride" and "groom" rather than "groom."

Celebrant: A gender-neutral term for both a person getting married and the person who performs the marriage ceremony.

Cisgender: The term for someone who identifies as the gender of the body they were born in.

Equality-minded wedding professionals: A trademarked term I created for people and businesses that are cognizant and respectful of varying worldviews and aren't restricted by homogeny. Within the wedding industry, this includes being mindful and respectful of the LGBTQ+ community's specific needs.

Gender nonconforming: The term for someone who does not adhere to stereotypes or other people's views about how they should look or act based on the female or male gender they were assigned at birth.

Genderqueer: The term for someone who identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.

Gender variant: Someone whose gender is varied, either in a fluid or a static way.

Gride: A combination of the words "groom" and "bride."

Groom: Anyone can be a groom, no matter their gender identity or orientation. This word is one that you choose for yourself. Grooms can wear anything.

Group marriage: Group marriage is a term applied when more than two people enter into a marriage. While polyamory isn't directly addressed in Equally Wed, polyamorous members of the LGBTQ+ community who are planning weddings to multiple partners are welcome here and encouraged to apply any or all of the ideas and guidelines suggested in these pages.

Intergender: This is the term for a person whose gender identity is between genders or a combination of genders.

Marrier: A gender-neutral term for a person getting married or the person who performs the marriage ceremony.

Nearlywed: A gender-neutral term for a person engaged to be married.

Nonbinary: A term for someone who identifies as any gender outside of the male/female binary.

They: This book uses "they" as a singular pronoun, which covers men, women, gender fluid, transgender, and gender-nonconforming individuals. "They" instead of "he or she" has been used in news outlets such as the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, and in fact, it's usage is nothing new. "They" has been used as a singular pronoun for at least seven centuries, appearing in the work of writers from Chaucer to Shakespeare to Jane Austen.

Wedding: A wedding is a wedding is a wedding is a wedding. Regardless of legal standing in your hometown or abroad, your marriage ceremony is about coming together and committing your hearts and lives to one another. I hope marriage equality is one day a global reality. But your wedding isn't any less valid just because a government or society doesn't yet recognize you as equal citizens. You are equal to every other human on this planet, and your love matters.

Wedding party: The terms for your wedding attendants and helpers are endless. I explore name possibilities more here, but there are no rules for how you affectionately name the beloved attendants who stand up for you on your wedding day. Besides, rules are meant to be broken.

Part One




Congratulations, you're betrothed! Being engaged to your beloved is a thrilling feeling, and it's natural to want to jump straight into the details that interest you most.

In the next chapter, we'll dive into an overview of the timeline, the five most critical decisions to make first, and where to begin in the planning. But if you're like most newly engaged people, you'll want to share the happy news before you start planning.

Before you broadcast the news of your engagement on every social media channel, first take some time to savor this exceptional information with your partner, even if it's only an hour of just the two of you dancing on your happy clouds before you launch the publicity campaign.


Once you're ready to share the news, who should you tell first? If you have a good relationship with your parents, start with them. It's historically an honored tradition to reach out to the parents first to reveal that they'll be getting an official new family member before they catch wind of the news secondhand, which can cause unwanted grumbles and hurt feelings. Next, tell your children if you have them, as is the case for a significant number of LGBTQ+ couples—or it was before federal marriage equality. (That stat might start dropping off now that family formation is more likely to happen after legal marriage.) Get the little ones in on the celebration early, especially if you're blending families. Being involved will help them feel more at ease with the coming transition in their lives, such as new siblings, a new stepparent, and possibly a new home.

Love Note

Many LGBTQ+ couples propose to one another, often on different days—even different months or years. Should you wait to announce your engagement until you've both said "yes"? The short answer is: not necessarily. If partner A proposes in March, partner B might not want to alert partner A that they also have a proposal planned. If this is the case, go ahead and announce and celebrate your engagement in whatever fashion you'd like. Then, when partner B does propose, announce it again. Just be prepared for a calmer celebration this time around, especially from the cisgender heterosexual crowd, who may not understand this LGBTQ+ tradition.

Close friends should also be contacted before you post a status update or change your relationship status. However, heed this warning: now, at the height of your happiness, be careful not to promise anything to anyone. This isn't a good time to ask people to be involved in—or even to come to—your wedding. Now is the time to simply bask in the glow of being engaged. The rest will come soon enough, and later you'll want to make those decisions carefully. If you make promises while you're floating on cloud nine, you may be full of regret and wondering how to back out of those commitments once you come back down to the world of reason.

With the first announcements to family and close friends out of the way, it's time to consider how you'll tell everyone else. If you're like a lot of people, you're itching to jump on social media and share ring photos and tell the world you're engaged. Or maybe you're more inclined to share your news in the traditional way. What follows are some things to keep in mind, whichever approach you take.

THE SOCIAL MEDIA BLITZ • Do it! Post status updates and photos galore about your giddiness. You can be ever so clever with this step, so have fun! The most basic way to do it—and the sneakiest—is to do nothing but change your Facebook relationship status to "engaged," making sure you allow that status to go into your newsfeed. Simple, yes. Significant, absolutely. Get ready for the ensuing excitement of those who notice!

Want to up your social media cred while sharing the incredibly happy news? Take a cue from your own personality, and your partner's, and get creative with some of these ideas:

1. If you're on social media 24/7: Make a meme of a selfie with your cute face(s) and your ring-decorated hand(s). Use a font-based app to type over it with a message such as "I said yes!" or "We're getting hitched!" Post away! On Instagram and Tumblr, gain more visibility and community support with hashtags commonly used in the LGBTQ+ wedding community, such as #LGBTQweddings, #hesaidyes, #twobrides, #twogrooms, #equallywed, #gaywedding, #loveislove, #lovewins, and #howsheasked.

2. Have young kids? Photograph them holding up a sign about the upcoming nuptials, à la "My parents are tying the knot!" Or, if you each have children from previous relationships, photograph them together holding up a sign that reads "Our families are becoming one."

3. Use pet photos for irresistible cuteness overload. If you're planning on including your furry friend in your wedding ceremony, it will be even more meaningful if you post an imaginative photo of your pet sharing the news of the engagement for you. Try "Bow to the wow: My humans are engaged!"

THE TRADITIONAL APPROACH • If you're the type who prefers handwritten letters and might even still make landline calls instead of communicating solely through texts, tweets, and status updates, consider staying true to yourself by announcing your engagement in a similar fashion.

1. Putting it in writing:


  • "Ever since you were small, you've dreamed of getting married but, if you don't have a model to follow, it can be hard to know where to start and where to get what you want. Equally Wed shows prospective 'grides' and 'brooms' the path."
    Dallas Vocie

On Sale
May 30, 2017
Page Count
272 pages
Seal Press

Kirsten Palladino

About the Author

Kirsten Palladino is an award-winning editor and writer. She’s the cofounder and editorial director of equallywed.com, the world’s leading digital LGBTQ wedding magazine. She blogs about trauma recovery at foragedwellness.com.

Palladino has been profiled on CNN and in the New York Times. Her work has appeared in Entrepreneur, ARTNews magazine, Art & Antiques, The Knot, Executive Traveler, the Huffington Post, and more. She was recognized as one of Glamour magazine’s Hometown Heroes for 2015.

Learn more about this author