Rules for Being the Gay in the Wedding Party

As Vanessa pointed out in her column Blush and Bashful, it feels like everyone around me is getting married. I cannot get on any social media platform without seeing an engagement, wedding, or baby. I would say “well, that’s how it is in your 30s!” but I’m only 28, so what’s the deal here? I absolutely loved Vanessa’s wedding writing because, unlike her, I’m one of those girls that’s always dreamed of having a wedding and currently have at least three Pinterest boards dedicated to that phase of my life (if that ever actually happens). However, I am not engaged, nor am I even close to being in a place to do that. So why am I here bringing you all more wedding content? Because I’m the not-so-rich queer not-auntie of all my (straight) friends’ weddings, which obviously makes me an expert on all things queer in a straight wedding world.

Unfortunately for me (and really for them), a lot of my ride-or-die pals are very straight. Because of this, I’ve been that one single, queer friend in the bridal party countless times. From moderating tea-filled bridal party chats to coordinating with moody parents to literally writing ceremony scripts, I’ve truly done it all. Part of it is that I’m naturally a very calm, even-tempered person who is great in high-stress situations, but I attribute a lot of my skills to simply being queer in heterosexual spaces. Instead of having a spouse and/or children to attend to (like all the other guests our age), I can give you my full attention in setting up the flowers, talking to the caterer, and steaming your dress. Instead of flying in just for the night because I have other traditional family duties, I can come a week in advance to help you make those DIY pinecone place settings. The best part is that I don’t have to spend any money on anyone else but myself and my friend getting married! What I’m really saying is that I’m the queer version of that lady from the film 27 Dresses and, therefore, have credentials in giving you advice on how to be queer in a straight wedding.

1. It’s about the bride.

Yeah, I know you read that and said “well, obviously,” but let me tell you, this rule becomes a lot more difficult when its 3 a.m. and the girls want to do another round of shots at the strip club and your bedtime is 10 p.m. and you also wanted to finish that book you’ve been reading.

2. Get on good terms with the parents.

We (the gays) are automatically programmed to navigate weird tension between parents, so why not put that to good use! You know that mom gets a little critical and judgy when she hasn’t had breakfast, so why not offer her some toast in the morning straight away?

3. Listen — and I mean truly listen — to the bride from the first day they get engaged.

Talk to the her one-on-one throughout the process about everything from her worries about the groom forgetting his vows to how the flowers should tilt. That way when things inevitably go haywire you won’t have to offer to help; you’ll just know what to do.

4. Call out the trolls in the group chat.

There’s always one.

5. Mediate between trolls in the group chat.

There’s always drama, and you’re usually the one having to moderate it.

6. Start a new group chat if you have to.

Without the bride. So you can execute numbers 4 and 5.

7. Bring that sex toy to the bachelorette party.

Because her straight friends in her early 20s certainly don’t know what your girl really needs. AND have no shame! I bought my BFF a vibtrating couples cock ring and brought it to her bacheloretty party. Sure, some of her other friends might’ve been scarred, but please, that ring is being used 10x more than whatever uncomfortable red lacey thing your straight friends got you.

8. Stay hydrated.

Someone tell me why this feels like a gay thing to say? You’ll need to have enough water for you and the bride throughout the weekend, because she won’t have her phones, keys, purse, or emotional support water bottle like we will.

9. Be the first person out on the dance floor.

You must sacrifice yourself to the awkwardness of starting the party. Then, 10 songs later when there’s a slow dance, strategically go to the bar so that her one friend from high school isn’t trying to set you up with a random dude at your table.

10. Keep your phone on you at all times.

For whatever reason, no one else will have their phones on them, so you’ll be the point person. Having your phone out for pictures is a great excuse to not be part of the bouquet throwing for anniversary dance: “oh, sorry the bride made it my job to take photos for her.”

11. Offer to bring food for everyone at all times throughout the day.

Everyone is always so hungry all the time at these traditional straight weddings. You are the queer! You like snacks! You know good sparkling water! So bring all of it for all the people who didn’t have the time to think through the collective needs of the group.

When the day is done and you feel a little sad about being the only queer, single person there, remember that you carried that whole wedding party on your back. You ARE the Disney faiytale magic making it happen. Cheers to all the emotionally gay rich aunties!

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Em Win

Originally from Toledo, Ohio, Em now lives in Los Angeles where she does many odd jobs in addition to writing. When she's not sending 7-minute voice messages to friends and family, she enjoys swimming, yoga, candle-making, tarot, drag, and talking about the Enneagram.

Em has written 72 articles for us.


  1. I was hoping this article might dive into some of the complexities and challenges of being the queer in the hetero wedding activities. I’ve found it tricky navigating the gendered expectations around clothing especially, I.e. asking the bride if I can wear a suit rather than a dress as a bachelorette and trying to get the color of my suit to match exactly since I can’t order from the one website everyone else is… working with hired hair and makeup people and still feeling like my soft butch self, expectations around shaving, very femme matching outfits for bachelorette parties… it’s hard! I love my friends who are getting married and don’t want to add extra stress when they have one thousand things on their plate come wedding day. But I also want to advocate for what feels best for me and helps me be true to myself. And like, do I feel safe as a visibly queer person around my friends entire extended family? Or with all the groomsmen? In my experience there’s always one groomsman giving off misogynistic/homophobic vibes… Thanks for giving the space to bring up these things. Sometimes it can just feel lonely as the one queer in the wedding party.

    • My one small piece of advice is from when I had to get hair and makeup done for a wedding: I told the makeup person that I didn’t want to look like I was wearing makeup. All my overly made up friends were jealous.

      There are definitely lots of awkward things to navigate though – I hope you find ways to stay true to your soft butch self!

    • This is great advice! I wish I had gotten it 10 years ago! My first time as a Bridesmaid I fainted during the vows.

      I hated the experience so much, the clothes, the $$$$, the gender segregation… pretty much everything. Then I fainted during the vows because it was a million degrees and I couldn’t breathe in the dress, and I hadn’t drank enough water. Definitely felt like I was stealing the spotlight on my friends big moment.

      After that I have concisely crafted a positive attitude for weddings whether I’m in the bridal party or not. It’s my friend’s day, I’m there to support them, and drink water!

    • “Groom’s touch up” is what I learned to ask the makeup people. I did still have to answer “do you want more bronzer?” with “um, less please!” But it worked otherwise. And they have clear mascara which can define or shape or whatever without looking like make up. It should also be way cheaper than the regular make up.

      No advice on hair—I just did my own, but it’s super short. The hair person did coat it generously in hair spray for me after though.

      For suit, maybe ask about a complementary and low key suit color instead of matching. And try to match the tie/pocket square/vest or whatever to the dresses instead of the whole suit?

    • I completely relate with this, and to add on, I use she/they pronouns and cringe at being called a bridesmaid even though I deeply love my lil straight girlies in my friend group.

      Speaking of…anybody know where to buy good sage-green suits for smaller bodies that don’t cost a million dollars? Kirrin Finch was recommended to me but I really don’t want to pay more than a couple hundred (preferably even less!)

      • I’d check ASOS! Their colors often depend on trends but they usually have a pretty wide range. That’s where I got my last colored suit and it just took some experimenting with sizes with sending back returns.

    • Too bad Wildfang doesn’t have any sage green suit stuff (though they do have nice button ups) right now, I would have recommended them. They’re high-end but not crazy pricey. Keep an eye on them, maybe?

  2. Wanted to thank you for this comment because having been in the bridal party many times, I have felt alllll these things! Expectations around shaving, expectations to wear heels with the outfit, navigating conversations with makeup artists…appreciating all these suggestions for what phrases to use for the makeup!

  3. This is traditional gay uncle territory, watch the old US Queer as Folk for more tips, like what Emmet did for the straights in season 5, and becoming a wedding planner and service queer.
    What I’m missing from this article a bit, and what I’m missing from content like this in general, is even a shred of critical distance to the straight system. Queer as Folk back then had that in spades. Today, not so much.
    Feels weird.

    • “What I’m missing from this article a bit, and what I’m missing from content like this in general, is even a shred of critical distance to the straight system.”

      Yes, I felt this too! This felt like an article that could have been in any mainstream women’s magazine. From the title, I was expecting something that had more substance, critical distance or insight, not “How to work as hard as you can to make your straight friends as comfortable as possible.”

  4. Thanks for this article, but I was kind of surprised that it’s all about how to be the “group parent” and take care of everyone else while expecting nothing in return? It seems like this is just a general article about how to be a people pleasing, type A, self sacrificer at a wedding. What about that should be the one queer person in the bridal party’s responsibility? It almost feels like you’re saying “we’re lucky to be invited/included at all, so we better earn our keep by going way above and beyond.”

    I would love an article that’s more about: how to be yourself, while still respecting the marrying couples’ wishes; how to spot the other gays at the wedding to hangout/hookup; how to handle the extreme compulsive heterosexuality of many weddings; how to handle the mysoginistic/homophobic/transphobic comments from the bride and grooms great uncle, etc.

    • I felt this comment really strongly! I was expecting something with a little more substance or critical examination of hetero wedding culture and what it’s like to be queer within an overwhelmingly heteronormative and hyper-gendered world (amped up so much in the wedding context), not all this content about how to make your straight friends more comfortable

    • Thanks for pointing this out. After the first few paragraphs, I found myself skimming rather than reading in depth because it felt a little fluffy as an article.

      I’ve just finished my fourth gig as a bridesmaid two days ago and though I was happy for my friend, some of it was hard. My POV is from a Black, African and Evangelical background. Two days ago I was internally shouting at myself for forgetting how much casual homophobia can be present at straight weddings. The dog whistle politics when the preacher/speaker inevitably brings up the bible and talks about the world being so ‘lost’ and ‘redifining’ marriage when YOU are part of the bridal party and the cameras are so close; the weight of still keeping that calm even when those words bite at the skin. I’m a femme which means that while I LOVE the makeup and the dressing up, it’s one more space for me to feel trapped in the heteronorm; to actively stand against it or drown in it. I find myself stuck between…

      a) being the person who brings up their sexuality all the time (to stop advances and awkward questions about boyfriends, husbands and which groomsman I’m attracted to or who is attracted to me)…

      b) not wanting to always come out and just have fun…

      c) accepting that choosing b means dealing with the advances and suggestions that come with how I present and it feels like slight erasure…

      d) feeling slightly relieved that my femmeness is also a form of passing/safety specially in spaces highly charged in potential homophobia when you just want to dance and celebrate

      e) this is more to do with my positionality and lived experience but straight weddings can be a little hard to witness if you’re from an immigrant and religious background, knowing that this het pairing is something your family want from you but you cannot deliver it. And if weddings and celebrations have a cultural aspect to them (for example, some African weddings will have a certain cloth or practice) knowing that you may not be able to have this with the people you grew up with can be hard. I know I can still blend those practices on my own if I wanted to and I could do that with supportive friends and the family members who are okay with me but I know some key people will be missing and some smiles will be strained if the idea of a wedding ever applied to me. As a lesbian bridesmaid with that cultural background (and I’m sure I’m not the only one), I still accept myself and will love any moment I have if I ever get married but there’s still that soft pang of knowing some of the things I am apart of at straight weddings will not be easily available to me. I can’t even marry in my own country because it’s illegal to be me.

      I wish this article had attempted to consider the multiple realities and experiences that can exist in the same body. Because yeah, I wanna make sure people are hydrated too and I’d be so happy to get people toast and use my camera but it can also be exhausting and kinda hard. My most recent wedding was a friend’s wedding where I mostly knew the bridal party. I was so happy when I saw one other queer person I vaguely knew and walked over to them. It felt nice talking about that bit where the pastor was definitely attacking us and to be introduced to the other queer people around them – they were frustrated too and some of them were Christians. I wish the article had given more space for complexity BUT I’m glad it has given us space to talk about our experiences. I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone else’s take☺️.

  5. I liked this article (which could have been titled “how to service top a cishet wedding”) and I’m loving this comment section (interesting and critical without being a bad faith pile on?? When was the last time that happened?)

    Since we’re talking about cishet wedding things, honestly the most complicated dynamic I’ve noticed at the past couple straight weddings I’ve been to as a single femme lesbian is bisexual women in long term partnerships with men really looking to me to validate their queerness in the midst of this intensely hetero activity. Like on the one hand, I’m extremely sympathetic to how it must feel for them to be in this position but on the other hand it feels pretty icky for that expectation of emotional handholding to be put on me? Idk – I always relate more to the single straight women at weddings who are similarly “failing” under hetero patriarchy.

    • Oh my god I feel that so much! Like, please don’t corner me and talk about how you and your bf like checking out girls or how he’s the last man you’d ever date or how being a lesbian would be so totally easier. We aren’t your validation vending machines! We’re at this event for a totally different purpose lol. I relate to finding the other single women easier to talk to, especially when they aren’t expecting you to soothe all their insecurities.

  6. Of course you sound like an excellent friend and any bride would be very lucky to have you around. But I must echo others in saying that it should not be the “queer” friend’s sole job to take care of all the straight people at their straight pride parade. I’d like to read a piece about what a straight bride and groom could do to make queer people less alienated at their event, or how queer people can prepare themselves better for the occasion.

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