How LGBTQ+ weddings have changed since marriage equality's nationwide legalization 5 years ago

hobo_018/Getty ImagesLGBTQ+ couples are leading the charge when it comes to inclusive, personalised wedding days.

Five years ago, on June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court announced that the fundamental right to marry would be guaranteed to same-sex couples, effectively passing marriage equality in all 50 states.

Although Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex marriage in 2003, and many other states followed in the 10-plus years after, this date marked the first time couples all across America would be able to legally marry.

In the five years since marriage equality has passed, much has changed – wedding traditions have evolved, governmental leadership has changed, and the Supreme Court just announced that workplace anti-discrimination policies would now extend to LGBTQ+ workers.

WeddingWire recently released its report analysing trends among LGBTQ+ couples and their wedding plans between 2015 and 2019, and the results share a lot about how LGBTQ+ weddings have evolved over the years since marriage equality was passed nationwide.

Here are 8 ways LGBTQ+ weddings have changed since same-sex marriage was legalised.

LGBTQ+ newlyweds are, on average, slightly older than they were five years ago.

Hinterhaus Productions/Getty ImagesA newly married couple toasting at their wedding.

According to data collected by WeddingWire, the average age of LGBTQ+ couples getting married in 2015 was 35 years old. Now the average age is 36.

An overwhelming majority of engaged couples opt to live together before tying the knot.

Klaus Vedfelt/Getty ImagesA couple sitting on their couch at home.

According to WeddingWire’s report, an overwhelming 93% of couples live together before getting married.

LGBTQ+ couples today are also engaged for a longer period of time.

Stony Krissanto/EyeEm/Getty ImagesA couple wearing engagement rings.

In 2015, the average engagement length was 16 months. However, couples in 2019 reported that they were engaged for an average of 20 months.

This year, couples may end up being engaged even longer as a result of pushed-back wedding dates due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Couples today are also looking to have bigger, more personal weddings with a larger number of wedding party members.

Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty ImagesStuart Gaffney and John Lewis celebrate while travelling along Market Street during the annual Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco, California on June 28, 2015.

In 2015, it was more common for LGBTQ+ couples to have smaller events, according to WeddingWire. The average number of guests was 100, compared to 115 in 2019, and wedding parties were also considerably smaller.

However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, some couples are now turning towards a courthouse wedding as an alternative to their large celebration.

Insider also spoke to Kristi Boggs and Chris Tomek, an LGBTQ+ couple celebrating their five-year wedding anniversary this week after they waited until marriage equality was passed in all 50 states to marry each other. They’re also living proof that having a small wedding can be even more intimate, special, and meaningful.

“We’ve been together for 23 years,” Boggs told Insider. “We’re not even sure about engagement, because it was really activated on June 26, 2015, when the ruling came out.”

“We wanted to wait until our marriage was recognised and validated in every state, not just in Illinois,” Tomek said. “Illinois passed marriage equality in 2013 and activated it in 2014, but we wanted to wait until it was legal in every state.

“Kristi was going to work and I was drinking my morning coffee watching Rachel Maddow when the news broke. I instantly called Kristi and said, ‘It happened. Turn the car around.’ She did, we got dressed, and we immediately went to the courthouse in Chicago.”

LGBTQ+ couples today are also much more willing to share their news on social media versus five years ago.

Emilija Manevska/Getty ImagesA newly engaged couple taking a selfie on a rooftop.

One of the biggest changes among LGBTQ+ couples when it comes to prepping for their wedding is sharing the big news on social media.

In 2015, only 37% of couples took to social media to share their engagement. However, in 2019, more than 70% of couples chose to do so.

This coincides with an overall increase in support for the LGBTQ+ community in the US. According to Pew Research, 61% of Americans now support same-sex marriage.

LGBTQ+ couples are leading the charge when it comes to inclusive, personalised wedding days.

Tempura/Getty ImagesA married couple holding hands.

In 2019, 94% of couples held their weddings in a non-religious venue and 75% of couples walked down to the aisle to non-classical music.

More LGBTQ+ couples are writing their own vows as well – 70% of queer couples wrote their own vows in 2019, compared to just 44% of non-LGBTQ couples.

Some of the most popular wedding venues among LGBTQ+ couples are backyards and private gardens (15%) or barns or ranches (14%).

Parental involvement is up for LGBTQ+ couples getting married, from walking down the aisle to mother-son and father-daughter dances.

LumiNola/Getty ImagesA father walking his daughter down the aisle at her wedding.

Parental involvement in LGBTQ+ weddings is up since marriage equality was legalised in all 50 states.

According to WeddingWire’s report, parents being approached to give their blessing is up 22% since 2015, and more than half of LGBTQIA+ couples are being escorted down the aisle by their father.

Parent-child dances are also now being done by over 60% of newlyweds.

However, a majority of LGBTQ+ couples are still paying for their weddings themselves.

tomtom022/Getty ImagesA barn wedding venue.

Insider spoke to Alayna Sye and Taryn Christian, a queer-identifying couple who live in DC, who got engaged on a trip to Thailand just before coronavirus-related travel restrictions were put in place.

“Once we got back, we figured we would dive right into wedding planning. We were stuck at home and had nothing else to do, we’re in lockdown and might as well,” Alayna Sye told Insider. “Then we switched gears because we really wanted to buy a house this year. So, we put the wedding planning on pause and put in a contract on a new house.”

Wedding planning today looks very different as engaged couples are planning their big day amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Rawpixel/Getty ImagesA married couple holding hands.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused most 2020 weddings to be changed, postponed, or even cancelled altogether.

“A lot of people who had a wedding planned for 2020 are now moving their dates to 2021, which means there’s less available for us next year,” Alayna Sye told Insider. “We’re thinking it’s going to be a little bit different from what we were planning. We’re probably going to have a tiny, little ceremony next year to get married and then maybe in 2022 we’ll have a big celebration. It’s all very tentative at the moment.”

Taryn Christian added, “Because everyone is being pushed back, COVID-19 put us in a position where we would have had to pull the trigger on a venue right away.”

Insider also asked LGBTQ+ couples how the Black Lives Matter movement has affected their wedding planning and what it means to celebrate love during this time.

Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesPeople walk by the Stonewall Inn, an iconic bar for the LGBTQ community around the world, on June 25, 2020, in New York City.

Alayna Sye and Taryn Christian, who both identify as queer Black women, spoke about how they have decided to let their identity as part of the LGBTQ+ community take a back-seat of sorts during this time, despite their wedding day approaching next year.

“Intersectionality has really been the name of the game for us and learning how to balance those elements that meet our intersectionality,” Christian said. “We’re both very much focused on our Black identity as opposed to our sexuality right now.”

“And that’s not even just right now,” Sye added. “Generally because we are Black women, that’s how we are perceived first and foremost. Above everything, we are Black women. Then, we bring in the fact that we are also queer. Yes, I identify as a Black queer woman but first and foremost, I am a Black woman and I have been completely immersed in that identity my whole life.”

“It’s been tough to celebrate Pride, and it’s been tough to insert distractions when I’m not sure we should be doing that,” Christian said. “It’s a delicate balance.”

Kristi Boggs and Chris Tomek also talked about finding the balance between celebrating Pride and their wedding anniversary while issues of equality are still so contested.

“Equality for us goes so far beyond the community of LGBTQ+,” Boggs said. “There are so many things that rise to the top for us right now. There is inequality in all pockets of humanity that needs to be addressed.”

Despite progress and positive changes, LGBTQ+ couples remain fearful that marriage equality could be overturned.

Kosamtu/Getty ImagesA newly-married couple celebrating.

“There are so many hateful people out there, and the fact that marriage equality is still here, that means it’s untouchable,” Sye said. “That gives us hope. The fact that so many queer couples have been able to marry and have these big, beautiful ceremonies and that we have been validated and legitimized makes us wonder why it took so long to get here.”

“I can’t believe this is just the five-year anniversary,” Christian said. “It’s absurd it’s taken this long, and as much as it should be celebrated since it’s a win for our community, it’s also the bare minimum. It blows my mind that it’s only been five years… Seriously, guys?”

Boggs said, “Getting married for us was about honouring the people who fought really hard to get us to this place.”

“I didn’t realise how good it would feel to call Kristi my wife,” Tomek said. “Before then, I would call her my partner or my life partner. Now, for five years I’ve been able to say, ‘Kristi, my wife,’ and I didn’t know how good it would feel to say that.”

Boggs added, “Asking for equal dignity in the eyes of the law, and how that’s affected us, needs to affect other folks as we keep charging forward in this country towards equality.”

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