A couple of weeks ago we ran a competition on our Instagram and we were struck by one comment, in particular, that said: "As a gay man planning a wedding, I often feel excluded from the community but your page really tries to include and I love that". That was written by Will Farmer and he's here today to talk to you about planning his wedding to Fiancé Tom during lockdown.
"We actually got engaged during lockdown on my birthday – the 8th of April. It was a very low-key engagement; after fried chicken Deliveroo, in front of the TV and quickly followed by an episode of Drag Race (can you get any more gay?!). Instead of an engagement ring, Tom opted for a rope and rose gold bracelet that was engraved with ‘Will You Marry Me’." - Will
Will: Sadly coronavirus meant the bracelet didn’t arrive in time so he actually proposed with a screenshot of the receipt on his iPhone which somehow felt terribly romantic at the moment. We have always said that we wanted a short engagement (largely because I am vastly impatient) so, after a lot of back and forth with our families, we settled on the 9th of October 2020. October is a very special month and both our parents, and my grandparents were married in that month. Unfortunately, that short engagement is looking a little foolhardy... but we shall see!
What has been the best part of the planning process for you so far?
The one thing we knew from the beginning was where we wanted to get married. There really was only one venue for us which is the beautiful Hurlingham Club in Fulham. We have so many happy memories as a couple there; almost every single one of our guests have previously done something with us there, and Tom celebrated his 21st there so it’s a very special place. The wonderful Ania and her team there managed to confirm our date so quickly and getting that confirmed so effortlessly really made us feel like it was real, and we were doing something that was meant to be. Planning a wedding during lockdown has also given me the luxury of time to explore my creative side in the planning. I’ve done a number of little things that I never thought I would have the time or the patience to do. I have illustrated the main points on all the guest information cards which has added a real personal touch and I also invested in an embroidery machine and (after a serious amount of trial and error) have monogrammed 120 napkins with each guest’s initials – I am so proud of them and hoping that it’s something people will ‘steal’ on the day! Another part of the process that Tom and I were most touched by in planning our wedding, was that many of our more elderly, and perhaps conservative, relatives have found the event to be a time where they are able to reach out and really make it known that our lifestyle is one that they absolutely embrace and love us for. Both my 80-year-old grandparents and my great aunts and uncles will be there and that is something that is so special to us both.
Wedding traditions - Are you following any and how are you adapting these to make them your own?
The beauty of planning a gay wedding is that you can entirely pick and choose most of the traditions that you want to follow. As I mentioned earlier, we chose not to go down the engagement ring route and instead chose beautiful rope bracelets. Rather than doing traditional speeches Tom and I are both just going to say a few words and then everyone can get stuck into the more important eating and drinking. One thing that you can’t get away from though, is deciding how to walk down the aisle. We have literally been through every possibility; from Tom’s rather dubious suggestion of hiding behind the desk for 30 mins while everyone arrives and then just appearing, to walking down with our mothers, to two diagonal aisles (which was one of my better ideas) and then just mingling down the aisle to no fanfare hugging everyone along the way. That was one of my worst. In the end, we have decided that we are going to walk down the aisle together. We have no hierarchy in our relationship and we are both absolute equals so, in the end, it’s the perfect way for us. We will be entering into our marriage together on an equal footing which is what our relationship is built on.
Have there been any particularly difficult parts of planning your wedding?
Of course, the biggest difficulty that we have come across whilst planning our wedding is Coronavirus! As I answer these questions we still have no idea if we will be getting married in 11 weeks or 9 months’ time. I am actually surprised about the mental strain that this has caused me personally. I think it’s a day that so many people tell you is yours and has so much weight to it that not being able to control possibly the biggest aspect (the date) can be overwhelming. In terms of planning a wedding as a gay couple, I do think that this also provides a unique set of challenges that I am not used to facing in my day-to-day life. I have never had to come out so many times as when I have been planning a wedding. Each and every supplier that you call will assume that you are planning a ‘normal’ wedding. I even spoke to one venue dressing supplier who consistently told me that I should be asking my ‘Mrs’ before making aesthetic decisions and that us men were just here to pay the bill. Needless to say, they didn’t get hired. We are having a very traditional wedding that reflects both of our upbringings and I think that it can be challenging to try and adjust many views in the wedding industry that Gay weddings are niche and that therefore we should be making decisions for the wedding that are perhaps more quirky or non-traditional. I can assure you that we will be having many white flowers and not a single rainbow at our wedding.
How do you think the wedding industry can better support gay couples who are planning a wedding?
I think that the vast majority of wedding websites, planning tools, blogs and forums are heavily skewed towards ‘normal’ weddings. I do think that there are easy fixes that the industry can do to be more inclusive. In 2020 there is no need to address entire articles only to brides (unless it’s about the wedding dress). It’s important to acknowledge that grooms may very well be the one’s organising the wedding (that doesn’t just apply to gay weddings) and they should be addressed too.
The very best thing that Rock My Wedding can do is give gay weddings more visibility on their platform, featuring more LGBT couples throughout the year.
I think that Rock My Wedding already does a great job in supporting the LGBT community during Pride Month but I don’t think that this should be just one month a year. Doing articles specifically aimed towards LGBT couples should be a year-round operation, they may not always get the same hits on social as you other content but they are important to a community that needs it. On top of that, it’s very easy to make articles gender-neutral when advising on planning a wedding and I think that this is a very important standard to follow moving forward.
Becky: We're really grateful to Will for taking the time to write this piece for us and share an insight into planning a wedding as a gay couple. It's really important to us that everyone should see themselves represented on our pages. If you are planning a gay wedding or have had a gay wedding, we'd love to hear your story so please ask your photographers to submit your engagement photos or weddings to us on our submissions platform. You can read more about our pledge to increase diversity on Rock My Wedding here. We have some great LGBTQI+ wedding content coming over the coming months and beyond and we hope you'll enjoy it as much as we've been enjoying sourcing weddings to share with you. Be sure to check in next Sunday when it is UK Black Pride for super gorgeous couple shots and a shout out for more incredible content.
Will asked us to donate his fee for this article to AKT, a charity that supports LGBTQ+ young people in the UK who are facing or experiencing homelessness or who are living in a hostile environment. You can learn more about the charity here.
Check out the following articles that can help you as a gay couple planning a wedding: RELATED: Let's Hear It For The Boys - A Gay Wedding Round Up RELATED: Same Sex Wedding Advice From Rock My Wedding Real Couples