February 07, 2020

Engagement Etiquette for Gay Couples

By Bailey Lehrer

Ringcrush is dedicated in helping couples find the alternative engagement ring that represents their unique love. 


You've been happily dating for a while now, and you are pretty sure that they’re the one… Now what? If you were born heterosexual, the etiquette on what to do next is pretty straightforward.  Boy meets girl, Boy and Girl fall in love, Boy proposes. What about when Boy meets Boy? Girl meets Girl? 

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We are engaged, now what? Relax, enjoy the engagement. Wedding planning is STRESSFUL, celebrate your love and take your time. If you try to plan everything all at once, you will literally implode. Once you are ready, take it one step at a time. Start with deciding on whether you want the wedding to be big or small. Then decide on where, and who. Begin working on a budget early on, as this may dictate the wedding location and size. The details will fill in as you go.

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Who pays for what in a gay wedding? Even in heterosexual marriages the traditional paradigm of the Bride’s family paying for the wedding has shifted. According to The Knot, the Couple-to-be-Wed are contributing up to 43% of the wedding costs, with their families splitting the remaining cost. Only 12% of couples pay for the wedding themselves, but this number is steadily growing year-to-year.

Depending on your relationships with your respective families, it is best to develop an open dialogue and gently ask for help if necessary. Unfortunately, our parents come from a generation where wedding etiquette was clearly defined, and that definition rarely, if ever, included information on gay marriages.  Most likely, your parents are just as confused as you, and will appreciate an open conversation moving forward. Be sure to be professional about budgets, and have all parties agree on whom pays for what upfront, to prevent any hurt feelings or awkward situations down the line.

Furthermore, paying for it yourselves will give you more freedom to make the day how you want it, without restrictions.


Do gay men wear diamond engagement rings? If the ring fits, wear it! Gay couples are rule breakers at heart, so there is nothing wrong with a man wearing a diamond ring. With this said, you do not have to stick to traditional engagement ring designs just because they are a cultural norm. Alternative engagement ring styles are growing in popularity, and perhaps something symbolic or fashionable is a better fit for your love. If you want it to be more masculine, don't worry, there are plenty of options in the luxury jewelry market. More and more couples are looking to the fashion luxury market for alternative engagement rings, and frankly, the selection is much more diverse and exciting.



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Do I even need a ring to propose? The gay community is creative and innovative and there are infinite ways to propose without a ring. The key is making the proposal an intimate and memorable experience. Do what works for you, and the rings can fall into place later. Many couples prefer choosing their own ring anyways.


If you have been proposed to, do you need to buy a ring and surprise propose back? You don’t HAVE to, marriage is more important than the ring or the act of proposal, and your partner just checked that off the list. You are welcome to return the favor for fun, and believe me, buying a ring is a LOT of fun, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a surprise.


Who gets on one knee? Whoever kneels first! It really doesn’t matter, unless you know your partner is the type to prefer doing the kneeling themselves. It may be helpful to have an open conversation about marriage to make sure that you are both ready before surprising your partner with a ring.


Uh, how do we do a gay bachelor/bachelorette party?  Depends, if you both really want to share the party, go right ahead. There is something fun about doing the parties separate, but you may wish to do it on the same night. You’ll have a blast sharing stories the next day! Besides, we always restrict ourselves in front of our partner; you’ll have more fun with the leash off. If you share the same friends, draw straws and split up, and meet up later in the night when y’all are all liquored up, will be a blast!

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Do I have to invite family members who don’t agree with gay marriage? No, it’s your day and you can invite whoever you want. Although, inviting them would be a polite gesture, and perhaps an opportunity to build your relationship with this person. You or your parents can explain that although gay marriage isn’t something everyone agrees with, it would still mean a lot if you showed up.  If they truly can’t handle it, they just won’t RSVP, and you probably don’t want that negativity on your day anyways.

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How do we handle seating arrangements in a gay wedding? If you want to have a Bride “A” side and a Bride “B” Side, great. I advise making cute signs or advising guests beforehand, because there is no way your guests will be able to figure that out themselves. Many couples are simplifying the whole Bride Side/Groom Side by directing guests to sit wherever they want, and frankly most of Gen Y wouldn’t know where to sit even in a heterosexual wedding.

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Who walks down the aisle, and who stands at the altar in a gay wedding? It would be horribly boring for the guests if you were both standing at the altar, so at least one of you needs to walk down the aisle. There are several ways to do this:

  • Tradition says one of you will walk with your father down the aisle. Both of you may opt to walk with your fathers, one after the other.
  • In the event of a father being unavailable, perhaps you may walk with your mother or another father figure in your life such as an uncle, mentor, or older brother.
  • Alternatively, perhaps you both walk down the aisle together, arm-in-arm.



We are both religious, and we really want to get married in a (Church, Synagogue, etc.), How do I find one that is accepting of gay unions? You may have to get creative and do a bit of research. Your house-of-worship may not be ready for this yet, but talk to your head of church to be sure. I wouldn’t want you to compromise, you may be happier looking elsewhere, but perhaps if the head of your church is against a gay ceremony IN the church, they may be OK with you doing it in the Church garden, library, etc. My in-laws were a heterosexual Jewish-Christian union, and in the 70’s this was very taboo. The Synagogue compromised and allowed them to wed in the library. Sadly, you may have to be particularly creative or even consider a destination wedding. For what it’s worth, the Episcopal Church has voted to allow gay marriages (July 2015). So even if you aren’t of the Episcopal faith, you may wish to find an Episcopal house of worship. This way, you can wed in the eyes of God, which is the most important reason couples choose to wed in a religious house.

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The most important thing to remember, is this is YOUR day. Don't worry too much about etiquette. However, if you have any further questions, feel free to message me by clicking the link at the bottom of the page. 



All blog posts written by Elizabeth Bailey Christenbury. She welcomes you to connect with her through Facebook, or Instagram by clicking the icons below. 

Please visit our other blog posts for more tips, tricks, and Ring Crushes:


How To Secretly Find Your Partner's Ring Size

What Color Metal Should I Select For An Engagement Ring?

Home Proposal Tips and Ideas: How to Get Your S.O. to Say ‘Yes!’