Can We Encourage Straight Men Not To Come To Our Lesbian Wedding?


All girl magic?

by Kate Levy, Marketing Manager

Women sitting on the ground in a circle

Q:I’m a lady marrying a lady, and to cut to the chase, neither of us likes men all that much. We have a few close male friends, but we’re talking like three.

Before planning our wedding, it never occurred to us that our wedding would have so many straight dudes present, but now that we look at how many partnered hetero lady friends we have on our guest list, we’re facing the reality that our queer wedding is going to be a nearly 50/50 gender split. Most of these guys I’d put in the “tolerable” bucket, some I find annoying, and there’s a handful I actively enjoy. Still, if I could employ some gay sparkle dust to poof away all wedding etiquette, none of them would be there.

Do you have any advice on how to feel more upbeat about being surrounded by straight men we don’t particularly like on our wedding day? With no groom to foist the men on, how can we squeeze in more quality time with our actual friends while not being rude to their dates? Or is there any way we can subtly encourage flying solo in a polite way? Most of our friends know or have at least met each other, and we’ll be entertaining everyone all weekend at a resort, so no one should feel lonely sans man.

Thanks for your help,
Dreading Accidentally Man-filled Nuptials

 

A: Dear DAMN,

Here’s the thing (and I think you both know this in your hearts already), while you could choose not invite the straight guys, chances are your lady friends who love those straight guys would probably be a little hurt. I totally feel you, as a gay femme myself, I prefer the company of women. Working in an entirely female environment is pretty much my fave thing ever, and almost all of my friends are female. We all know that guy who ruins the vibe and can’t take the moment seriously. It’s the worst. And I totally see how you don’t want that energy around your wedding in any way, shape, or form. But overall, it’s sounding like you don’t have too many super douches on your hands, with the worst of them falling into the annoying category. So that’s a good start.

But let’s break it down further here a minute, because this really isn’t a gendered issue. This is a human issue. We ALL know someone with a terrible, annoying partner. Being queer does not in any way eliminate the terrible, annoying partner possibility. It feels a little harsh to say that the queer lady friends’ partners could come purely based on the fact they’re a female, but not the partners of your hetero lady friends. And to top it off, the hinting at flying solo option seems destined to backfire. Because we all know the super chill awesome considerate guys (that you actually kinda like) will understand and stay home, while the ones falling into annoying bro category are going to see this as a “Why would I NOT come?” situation. And that, my friends, sounds freaking awful.

Let’s have some adult reality for a sec. It sounds like your wedding weekend is a resort destination, which means some amount of time off from work and vacation dollars spent. And most people who have limited vacation time (and vacation budget) probably don’t want to use up that time and money without their partners. Like yes, we all want a girls’ weekend. And even though you’ve pointed out that most of your friends know each other, or have met at some point, we all know that trips that involve an entire weekend in a beautiful location are usually more fun with your S.O. in tow.

So how do we make this potential semisausage fest into the sapphic wedding weekend of your dreams?

Throw yourselves the most epic, girls-only party. It’s totally acceptable to have a bachelor or bachelorette party the same weekend as a destination wedding, to save your friends from having to make multiple trips. But you could make this SO MUCH MORE than just a standard bachelorette party. It could even include a ceremony if you want (shhhhh). If you really are wanting a very intimate moment with just your gal pals surrounding you, make that happen. Bachelorette parties don’t have to be all about penis decorations (MY ACTUAL NIGHTMARE) and getting trashed. All the guys, or even other partners, you’re not super close with wouldn’t have to come and could fend for themselves (although, giving them some suggestions of other activities would be very nice of you).

Another option, and one I think you should probably try to do anyway, is get to know some of these guys a little better before the wedding. Have a casual get together a month or so before the wedding with as many folks as you can gather up so that not only YOU can get to know them, but if they’re not close friends already, they can get to know each other. Think of it like a grownup playdate. Make some sangria, have tacos, hang out, and try to give them the benefit of the doubt.

My point is, while yes it might not be ideal, I’m pretty sure most of those guys will be on their best behavior, and will sincerely be happy to be at your wedding. And the best thing is you’re setting an example of what being inclusive is all about. It sometimes means letting in people we feel a little uncomfortable around into our sacred places. Not to get all sappy here, but I feel like this is a really great opportunity for you to welcome them into your queer community, and show them how beautiful your love is.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTION, PLEASE DON’T BE SHY!

Kate Levy

Kate is APW’s Marketing Manager. This Bay Area native built her own business as a wedding hair and makeup artist, before shifting gears to work in marketing. She’s an avid iPhone photographer, loves all forms of social media (especially Instagram, #katesskylog), and makes a really mean chocolate chip cookie. Kate is a collector of spoons, enamel pins, and reusable bags she never actually brings to the store. When not getting sucked into the ASOS app or an Instagram hashtag blackhole, Kate can be found hanging on the Peninsula with her wife, 2 cats and 2 dogs.

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  • huh

    A solid rule of thumb is ‘don’t expect others to come celebrate your partnership if you don’t acknowledge theirs’. Have your girls night or whatever beforehand, but trying to tell people they can only bring partners if they’re gay is a [ironically] dick move.

    • A single Sarah

      Thumbs up on this rule.

  • Ashlah

    Not really the point of the letter, but I do want to toss out a reminder that not all men married to women are straight.

    • toomanybooks

      Also not really the point of the letter but I want to toss out a reminder that not all penises belong to men and some lesbians have them!

  • Katelyn

    If all the penis decorations factories went up in an epic conflagration (with employees absent), I would not shed a single tear.

    • Jessica

      I went to my cousin’s bachelorette activity–a schmancy cooking class–and we had to explain to my aunt the phenomenon of penis-themed bachelorette parties. She was joyously shocked.

      ETA: she wasn’t approving, but just thought it was hilarious. No penis items were present (though we made a few jokes about some tubers)

      • quiet000001

        If that was my aunt I’d be so tempted to send her a bag of penis pasta shapes with a note “see, it would even have worked for the cooking class :D”

  • Amy March

    Wow. No. You cannot do this. It’s just shockingly unacceptable to write off an entire gender and it’s so disrespectful to your friends.

    It’s not acceptable to treat an entire gender like this. It’s wrong when women write off the possibility of female friends, and rightly called out as sexist https://apracticalwedding.com/how-to-find-bridesmaids/ and it’s wrong here.

  • ManderGimlet

    I really can’t imagine a scenario in which you don’t invite any straight men to your wedding and your friends who are the partners to these men do not feel EXTREMELY judged.
    Obviously, culturally/politically/historically it is not the same as LGBTQ+ people being forbidden from bringing partners to weddings or being told to dress in a way that does not conform to their gender identity among other myriad offenses. But on a personal level you are telling every one of your straight female friends that you do not value their relationships and do not respect their decisions in regards to their partners. That’s really not the vibe you want to create when you are asking people to come celebrate your wedding.

    • idkmybffjill

      Oh man, your articulation of the weekend alone made me weepy. #pregmotional

      • Amy March

        Awww if it helps the tears dry the last time I spent a lonely wedding weekend away I also hooked up with a groomsman which was fun?

        • idkmybffjill

          That IS fun. I think it would be not fun if you were by yourself and in a relationship, so no possibility of a hook up. OR by yourself and straight among only gay women… That might just be really slutty of me though. lol

          • Amy March

            I mean, I fully fully agree the scenario is not generally fun, but wanted to share a bright spark in the darkness :)

          • idkmybffjill

            Lol! Thank you :)

        • CMT

          Get it, Amy March!!

        • ManderGimlet

          Totally! Personally, I am VERY outgoing and would have no problem spending a weekend at a resort with only my druthers and my bar tab deciding my day. But even then, a wedding can be very emotionally laden and being asked to leave your SO behind can still make one feel a little wistful (even if it were not a situation where half the guests were allowed to bring their partners due to their gender)

        • BSM

          Thank you for this! I need a “real-world” example to share with my single BFF who thinks there is no way that this will happen at the wedding she’s attending this summer in ITALY.

          • idkmybffjill

            OMG single international travel… I legit miss that maybe the most about being single. I LOVED having the opportunity to flirt abroad while single.

    • Katharine Parker

      I would add, as an outgoing person who makes friends at events like weddings fairly easily (I can make a friend while waiting in line), I still don’t want to attend a wedding weekend without my fiancé.

    • I assumed when LW said they were entertaining everyone all weekend they’d booked out a villa or similar for the event, so no bar, or restaurant, or organised activities outside of the wedding itself. It’s much harder to have separate events if all your guests’ partners have to spend the night in their rooms so the girls only pool party can happen.

      • ManderGimlet

        Yeah, I wasn’t sure because “resort” means so many different things. That set up you mention, to me, seems even more intense for a guest without a partner. Like, you have to participate in these activities at this space we are sharing or you are just on your own in the town you are staying in (as opposed to a large resort where there are bars, restaurants, activities, etc. for guests that you don’t have to arrange yourself).

        • It would certainly be intense whether you brought a partner or not (and especially so for the partner who only knew you). It would also amplify the awkwardness for the couple too, because if you’ve arrange an intimate and intense weekend of nearest and dearest all cooking and swimming and hiking and sunbathing together, you are going to be a lot more conscious of the people you don’t know so well – though by the end of the weekend you’ll definitely know them a lot better.

  • Katharine Parker

    I would be questioning our friendship if someone suggested I not bring my husband to their wedding. There are plenty of times when he isn’t invited–I love hanging out with just female friends! But telling me he’s not welcome to your wedding because he’s a straight man would read as a really personal insult.

    If your friends have male partners who are homophobic or misogynistic, it’s a different question (one that may be, why be friends with a person who chooses him as a partner). But just because the partner in question is male is wrong.

  • Laura C

    I would definitely second the suggestion that if it’s a full-weekend destination wedding there should be opportunities for some women-only events. I want to add that I’d just leave men to their own devices then, not try to offer any kind of stereotypically masculine counter-programming.

    • Lawyerette510

      Yep, we had some women-only events in conjunction with our weekend of events, and it was great.

    • Amanda

      Yes to the no stereotypically masculine counter-programming! My boyfriend often has complaints like, “I understand why I can’t go to that all-female event because of safe spaces and power structures and stuff; but I wish I could go because I don’t like all that stereotypical guy stuff, don’t fit in there, and fit in better at your thing.”

  • BSM

    While it’s not often discussed and sometimes looked down upon in a lot of wedding-planning spaces (WIC and non-WIC), I think it’s incredibly common to have a number of people you don’t particularly like attend your wedding. I’d probably put close to 50% of our guests in the tolerable/not enough data to know either way bucket.

    So, at least you’re not alone/this isn’t a unique issue for queer couples getting married? ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    • Violet

      Yes, so this. I feel like APW does an awesome job emphasizing how your wedding day cannot be aesthetically “perfect,” so it’s not really a goal to aim for. Yet somehow it seems like there’s still a strong urge to have it be emotionally perfect. Only the exact people I want, supporting me in the exact way I want, and feeling only the things I want them/me to feel. Why is this not just as irrational as wanting to look like a model, have the perfect, most expensive flowers, and obsess over uplighting and napkin monograms? We’ve said here a million times that people won’t change just because you’re getting married. Many of your guests are not perfect, but guess what? No one is.

      • idkmybffjill

        If anything… I’d actually say it’s easier to achieve an aesthetically perfect wedding than an emotionally perfect one. I genuinely think my wedding looked exactly the way I wanted it to look… but I really wish I could have changed my mom’s behavior that day. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

        • BSM

          YUP.

        • Violet

          Flowers are less complicated than people, yo!!!

          • Stephanie B.

            Seriously! I made my own bouquet (thanks to an APW tutorial!), but I couldn’t make my mom do a damn thing she didn’t want to.

          • Jane

            Or get my FMIL to stop doing things . . .

      • Jane

        True, but I think APW also does a good job of reminding people that the people in your life don’t change just because it’s your wedding, that you should be giving married people plus ones, that you should care about guests’ comfort, etc.

        • Violet

          Like I said in my comment, we say that over and over again on this site, that people won’t change. It’s obviously really hard to make that message stick.

          • Jane

            I literally missed that you said that in your comment. I’d like to blame my phone because it was jumping as other comments poured in, but I probably just read too fast. And yes, it’s very hard to get that to stick.

          • Vanessa

            No, always blame disqus

          • Jane

            Thanks!

          • Lisa

            Seriously. Disqus eats comments for breakfast.

          • Violet

            Haha, those damn phones!

        • BSM

          @Violet8315:disqus mentions the people won’t change thing, but I still think everything you mention is different than plainly saying, “There will probably be people you don’t like at your wedding, and that’s normal and fine.”

          • idkmybffjill

            Yes, I agree. I think sometimes the messaging can be more like, “the people you love won’t magically become different people.” rather than… “the people who are connected to the people you love won’t cease to exist on your wedding day, even if you don’t like them.” lol

          • BSM

            Lol, yes!

            “the people who are connected to the people you love won’t cease to exist on your wedding day, even if you don’t like them” + “it probably won’t be a big deal unless you’re having a 20-person dinner party wedding because otherwise you won’t really notice them” would have been helpful for me.

          • idkmybffjill

            That is CLUTCH advice. I was a ball of BLISS on my wedding day. My mother was poorly behaved and I gave 0 fucks. Ha!

          • BSM

            Literal SAME. The one thing my mom said to me at my wedding was incredibly negative and hurtful, and I sincerely DIDN’T CARE AT ALL. Just continued floating above all her (and other people’s) BS and being blissfully wed…

          • zana

            … Or unless it’s one of your bridesmaid’s dates. And then you’ll see them intensively at many pre and post wedding events.

          • BSM

            Meh, still stands for me, although the only pre/post-wedding event we had was our rehearsal dinner. I think there were about 20 people there, one of whom was my bridesmaid’s BF, who I’m not a huge fan of, and I barely noticed him. I’d also only met two of my husband’s groomsmen once before the rehearsal dinner, and I don’t think their presence affected the event, really.

            YMMV, though.

          • zana

            YMMV indeed. Completely different experience.

          • Jane

            True – I was just responding to the idea that APW hasn’t rejected the goal of an “emotionally perfect” day, not the specific advice about guests you don’t like. But I do think I see the “the people you love may bring people you don’t like, and that is ok and won’t affect you much on the day” advice constantly in the comments.

  • danie

    I’ve been to a bunch of weddings of close female friends, and the entire day of the wedding, the partners/spouses are expected to fend for themselves as the women spend the day together “getting ready” (whatever that means to you… for my friends, it’s usually Beyonce sing along + eating lots of cheese). So, that could be a good way to spend much of one of the days with just the girl friends, without the male partners.

    (Though, last time we did this, the dudes spent all day drinking and going down the waterslide at the resort, and they were drunk and sunburned by the time the ceremony started…)

  • idkmybffjill

    I can’t believe I’m gonna say this – but I actually think that if this were NOT a resort destination situation where people have to travel, and rather….. a wedding where all your guests are local (rare…), I’d say you could say no boys allowed. But you’d also not be allowed to invite those 3 boy friends you mentioned………. Also, I would think transmen would also not be allowed. And that’s where things go off the rails cause gender identity is complicated.

    • Amy March

      No. Like. No. Why would this be okay? You cannot not invite your friends’ partners to a wedding. You want no men? Invite only lesbians.

      • idkmybffjill

        Yeah, you’re def right. I think in my head I’d be offended in every other circumstance unless it was, “GIRLS ONLY LADY WEDDING IN THE PLACE WHERE I LIVE”, in which case I’m not immediately offended?

    • zana

      Nope nope nope.
      No way to say no boys allowed without offending large portions of guests. Just don’t invite any heterosexual couples, if that’s your deal.

      • idkmybffjill

        yeah, you’re totally right….. I was thinking of it from the perspective of, “there’s lots of girls only things in my life!”, but I don’t think weddings get to be one of them.

        • toomanybooks

          Or like… maybe if they wanted to REEEEEAAALLLY lean into it and they were having some sort of like, midnight pagan ceremony with only 13 women as their guests on the night of a full moon or something LOL IDK you know what I mean.

          But TBH I mostly just don’t think they’re actually even asking to not invite men to their wedding and the title is misleading.

          • idkmybffjill

            Right yeah, I think that’s what I was imagining. Like….. it almost has to be the whole basis of the wedding. WOMEN ONLY SPACE, COME AND CHANT TO THE GODDESS. BREASTS.

            And yeah, I agree – I’m not sure that’s actually what they want. The question is kind of, “how do we deal with people we don’t like at our wedding”…which i think every person getting married has thought to themselves.

          • I feel like I probably know some people who’ve had second wave feminism type moon goddess weddings (hippy childhood) and I do think more people would be okay with the scenario if it was framed almost as a ‘theme’ wedding. Naked beating each other with birch twigs and leaping over fires together is different to a destination wedding (unless your destination is Summerisle).

          • idkmybffjill

            yessss exactly. Also my straight cis husband would have…. no interest in attending that so it wouldn’t be a hard conversation with hurt feelings.

          • NotMotherTheresa

            “Why am I not invited?”
            “Well dear, it’s all naked women chanting to a moon goddess and beating each other with twigs…”
            “So they won’t have the ‘Bama game playing at the bar? Yeah, I think I’ll stay here and grill something that weekend.”

          • Angela’s Back

            A+ Wicker Man reference there :D

  • toomanybooks

    ~this feels like a troll question and not a real question but look I don’t need to waste time questioning the reality of the question~

    For the love of Sappho, can the article title be changed to something less dramatic-clickbaity (and true to the question, because it seems to be asking more like “how do we get more comfortable with the men’s presence and are there ways for us to kind of do more lady centric entertaining for some of it”) before it gets picked up by some loudmouth on the internet who wants to complain about man hating lesbians and Men’s Rights???? Holy F, this seems like a nightmare waiting to happen.

    Will comment with actual thoughts on the question later.

    • H

      Yeah the title is completely off – nowhere does she ask if they can ban men.

    • Heather

      Exactly! I was really put off by the title as well and I’m glad they changed it, even though I still think it’s not entirely representative of the question. She clearly realizes (and says as much!) that she can’t not invite straight men even if that would be the most preferable option, jeez…

  • Sarah

    Can’t this answer have just been “No”?

    • Amy March

      I think the suggestions about how to have some lady time as part of the weekend were really useful actually. The question was broader than just “can we ban men.”

    • zana

      Yes, assuming LW was actually asking the question the editors invented as a title… Which LW isn’t really.

  • Kate

    Hetero-life partnered lady here delurking to say I would hands down ditch my dude to go to a lesbianweddingweekend and I would love it – without loving him any less.

    While annoying partners may be a universal, that is not the same as the vibe and all the baggage of straight dudes as a group. Confusing those two realities I think compromises the response here.

    • idkmybffjill

      So are gay men invited? Transmen? Are only the cis-het dudes not invited?

      • quiet000001

        And how sure are you about the orientations and identities of people? Many people are not out or not particularly out (in that it isn’t a big secret but also just isn’t something they discuss or mention most of the time) or are in a stage of the journey where they aren’t really sure. I think you have to be really really certain you know your people, here, and that can be difficult when you’re talking about guests you probably don’t know all that well like people’s partners.

        Maybe I just know an odd crowd of people, but I feel like I know a fair number who are bi/pan or asexual, or people who are somewhere on the gender spectrum where they are still trying to figure out how they identify and don’t make a big fuss about it because they don’t want to debate stuff with other people while they’re still turning ideas over in their heads. I’d feel very hesitant about assuming I knew someone else’s identity because they appear straight as a result. (The reason for people not being very out can vary a lot, too, which influences how upset they’d be to be excluded accidentally.)

    • Violet

      Presumably LW is not thinking of inviting “straight dudes as a group” (and their associated “baggage”?) but the loving partners of LW’s very good friends. Seeing people only as a mass based on their exterior qualities and not for who they are as individuals is like, sort of the definition of stereotyping, right?

      • Kate

        More than 1 = group. I read LW not referring to a specific lovely partner, but to the thought of them all collectively and their impact on the party they want.

        Too much for a comment definitely, but I think that when one had lived a life where power and privilege of a dominant group has been so intimately present (LGBTIA for example), it’s ok to acknowledge that cultivating space away from that feels important.

        • Violet

          I think you’re probably right that it’s too much for a comments section. It just reads as responding to exclusion with more exclusion. Of course there can be times/places for [blank]-only events, but holding a union between two people and excluding the unions of others feels like not the right place to me.

          (And LW didn’t specify a certain straight man or even a few specific ones; they want to consider excluding based on that characteristic alone, so yeah, stereotyping.)

        • BSM

          “I think that when one had lived a life where power and privilege of a dominant group has been so intimately present (LGBTIA for example), it’s ok to acknowledge that cultivating space away from that feels important.”

          I think it’s more than OK to acknowledge! We all need to work to cultivate spaces for just marginalized people to inhabit.

          But what I think most people are saying is that if you decide to make that space your wedding, it will be incredibly hurtful to many of your loves ones (in this case, LW’s hetero female friends), and it sounds like LW recognizes that.

          As always, people can do whatever they want for their weddings (side note: I kind of hate how this has to be clarified with nearly every single letter), but given that it’s not unusual to have people you don’t know or actively like at your wedding, it’s generally looked down upon to not invite your loved ones’ spouses along witht hem, and the negative consequences of excluding your hetero female friends’ spouses on the basis of their gender and sexual orientation would be pretty severe imo, I think Kate’s advice to not go that route and instead look for other ways to have some women-only time during the weekend is A+.

        • Amy March

          Sure. But it’s not okay to cultivate that space by inviting people in partnerships with straight men to your wedding, and excluding their partners because they are straight men. Cultivate that space in many ways, but not this one.

      • Lawyerette510

        But creating a space that feels safe and is away from sources of historic or current oppression is not the same as stereotyping. It’s like certain events for the LGBTQIA community where they ask allies to the side, or for no allies.

        • Violet

          None of these guys have shown themselves to be “not safe” and therefore worthy of exclusion by their actions. They’re just straight and male.
          Those community events you’re referring to might ask allies to step aside to be sure the conversation is directed by the queer community. Which is totally fair. But this wedding is literally about the couple and directed by them. Assuming that a male guest is going to hijack it just because they are straight is a pretty big leap. So I don’t think they’re analogous situations, is all I’m saying.

          • Lawyerette510

            Fair enough point. I’m definitely in the minority view on this one, and it’s likely because I would not be offended by receiving such an invitation. To me it’s kind of like how the D- March in San Francisco asks for volunteers, including non-lesbian allies, but asks those allies not to actually participate in the march or the premarch events and keep the space as a lesbian-only space. If two women want to be married in a women’s only space, I’m ok if that means my husband (who is an intersectional feminist) is excluded because he has of all the privilege (white, blue eyed, blonde haired, cis, straight, with no physical or mental disabilities, and was raised upper class and lives middle class now). Similarly, if friends decided to hold a LGBTQIA only space for their wedding and I wasn’t invited, I wouldn’t take that personally or be offended. That said, absolutely other people would be and it’s probably a lot more emotional work to navigate all the other feelings than to just have some guys at the wedding.

          • BSM

            Some people certainly would be offended (and that’s something to consider; knowingly offending your loved ones is always something to think through), but I wouldn’t take offense to an invitation like what you’re describing. I’d probably be a little sad because I love my husband and think of him a great ally for marginalized people despite his inherent privilege, but for me it’s more a practical matter: given the constraints of vacation time and money, I’d likely decline an invitation to a semi-destination wedding weekend that he wasn’t also invited to.

    • Em

      But this is also one of those ‘know your people’ kind of things that rears its head every time we get to a discussion of whether it’s appropriate to exclude children from an event. Some people would love a weekend with just their lady friends (or without children!) Others would hate it – eg I for one am in the latter category – I love travelling with my husband, and the one wedding I’ve attended solo since we’ve been together (because he hadn’t met my friend who was getting married, we hadn’t been together that long, etc) I found quite sad to not be able to share the experience with him!

      • Kate

        #knowyourpeeps for sure

      • rg223

        Somewhat tangent to your post, but I think the reason it’s more socially acceptable to not invite children to weddings is because in a wedding, you are asking the guests to recognize you as a couple and celebrate your love, but not inviting their SOs are not recognizing them, whereas children aren’t central to the point of a wedding. The relationship of child to wedding (versus couple to wedding) is different – the comparable thing for kids would be like, “Come to my child’s birthday! Please leave YOUR kids at home!”

        • idkmybffjill

          Really A+ comparison. I feel like that’s why this is so different than any other women’s only acceptable event.

        • Em

          I personally agree with this 100%, although I can see how perhaps the LW would say that they don’t see straight men as central to the point of *their* wedding.

          • idkmybffjill

            But wouldn’t straight women be excluded then too? Like, following the logic trail a “queer only” wedding makes more sense to me than a “female only” wedding.

      • Amanda

        I’m with you. As Kate said, people have limited funds and vacation time. I’m not going to my friend’s bachelorette weekend for this same reason. I don’t want to be spending those things on a vacation without my guy. I would feel the same about a destination wedding.

    • Lawyerette510

      Agreed. I would also happily ditch my dude for such a celebration, and that is no reflection on my love for him, because the wedding of other people isn’t about me.

  • Transnonymous

    I’m a gay trans man and not a straight one, so this *might* not apply to me, but I wanted to point out how this could be incredibly hurtful to straight trans men. Many straight trans men run in lesbian circles before coming out and, unfortunately, often go through the process of losing their community afterwards. Attitudes like this reinforce the sting of losing a close-knit group.

    • femmeforfemme

      Okay, so this is hurtful to trans men for the same reasons it’s hurtful to cis men in that men have been excluded.

      To be honest, I’m getting kind of fired up about this comment because historically, in “lesbian, women’s spaces,” trans men are MUCH more welcome than trans women, despite the fact that the trans *women* are actual lesbian women, and the trans men are men.

      At its most dramatic, this involves the cis lesbians who make up the majority of the space enthusiastically welcoming trans men with open arms because they fetishistically regard them as “not REAL men” or super butches (and because masculinity is still very prized in queer communities, even of women), while trans women are outright banned because of their presumed genitalia, or given dirty looks or words because they don’t look enough like cis women.

      I was once a speaker at a queer women’s conference and attended another panel that was called Dating in the Lesbian Community While Trans. I was excited about it because it seemed like it would be personally relevant to me – I assumed it was about trans women’s experiences dating lesbians.

      The panel was made up of a bunch of trans men (and one trans woman, who was ONLY there because one of the guys knew her and invited her), complaining how hard it was to date lesbians who didn’t completely respect that they were not women, and how they didn’t feel as welcome in lesbian spaces anymore. Um, yeah, because you are a MAN and a *lesbian bar for women to find other women to hook up with or date* is not FOR you! That doesn’t mean men aren’t allowed in lesbian bars, of course lesbians have male friends that they will go to bars with sometimes! But it does mean it isn’t YOUR space, and it particularly stings when trans women who are women looking to date women are strongly made to feel like they shouldn’t be there. My friends will either go to lesbian bars and have hurtful encounters with people looking askance or telling them to get out, OR just completely avoid them because they know how it is and they don’t feel safe.

      • Transnonymous

        I’m sorry about your experiences with the panel – that sounds incredibly misguided. Of course trans men shouldn’t be on a panel about dating in the lesbian community, as they are men.

        I’m speaking to experiences of trans men I have known, who have not been welcomed in lesbian spaces after coming out. And yes, they are not lesbians and aren’t always necessarily welcomed in those spaces, but it is still difficult to go through losing a close community. I didn’t mean to offend and I’m sorry if I did.

      • Ella

        :(
        Why are people jerks, and is it unfair of me to expect people who are likely to have suffered discrimination for their gender and/or sexual identity to be less shitty to others about the same thing?

        • There is so much transphobia in the gay and lesbian communities, it’s just grim. It’s only a few years back London Pride tried to insist trans people use the bathrooms of their birth certificate gender (they are not covering themselves in glory this year, either, but for different reasons). Part of the problem is the historical conflation of sexuality and gender, including forcing gay people to live as the opposite gender, which leads to a spectrum of “oh, I’m gay but make an effort to pass for straight – I don’t pass for straight but I’m not butch/femme – I’m butch/femme but I’m not trans”. Like people try and push the -phobia further down the line by aligning themselves as closely as possible with what they perceive to be mainstream, and the further they push the -phobia the more concentrated and hateful it gets.

          • quiet000001

            Ace-phobia, also. And of course bi/panphobia still pops up. It’s totally “more mainstream than you, you’re just WEIRD” crap. :( And if you don’t fit neatly into a box (genderqueer, for example) then woe unto you for making it harder for people to know HOW to discriminate against you. :(

        • Loran

          It’s actually rampant in human history. We humans love to “other” (Catholic vs. Protestant, Shia vs Sunni, Anglophone vs Francophone (or pretty much any other language), Men vs. Women, Cis vs. Trans, White vs. POC, Indigenous vs. Immigrant, My country vs. Your country, My sports team vs. Your sports team, PR vs. Marketing). It both helps us create and maintain a sense of community, and create and maintain a sense of superiority. And sadly, a byproduct of this is an “at least it’s not me this time” attitude when it comes to discrimination. It’s how some LGBT people can also be racist/sexist, or how some Christians can look aside when ISIS beheads Muslims, or how some POC can ignore the state of Indigenous Water resources. It’s ugly and gross, and should be battled, but it has existed throughout history. It’s also used by those in power to divide and conquer us; by keeping us fighting each other for the scraps and distracting us from coming together in united action against the power structures.

  • Lisa

    The thing I keep coming back to is: do these women have no close male relations they’d want to invite to a wedding (fathers, grandfathers, brothers, cousins, etc.)? If they allow some straight men into the wedding, it seems harder to justify banning their friends’ hetero male partners. This comes down to not wanting to invite people because you’re not close to them, but you can’t invite half of a married couple to a destination wedding and then expect them to be OK with it.

    Most weddings end up including some obligatory invites whether that’s your mom’s accountant or your friend’s husband who you tolerate for her sake. On the day of the wedding, you won’t notice these extra people, but the guests to whom they’re close will feel their absence.

  • Christy

    You, letter-writer, are describing the dream. But unfortunately, the dream isn’t possible.

    (For context for commenters, I had 22 people at my (lesbian) wedding. We had immediate family, she had her two female best friends and their husbands, and I had my five closest friends and one guy’s boyfriend. My guests were actually a lesbian (now engaged to our officiant, actually), a straight woman, a gay man, and a married straight couple where the husband is like a brother to me and the wife has become a close friend as well. It was queer and wonderful.)

    But I don’t see how you can exclude a huge swath of people at a destination wedding. Local, you could wrangle it. But destination feels almost impossible.

    And that’s the trade off for a destination wedding. We wanted a tiny wedding, so we didn’t have aunts or uncles. It was an acceptable cost for us. It would appear that men attending is an acceptable cost for you to have a large destination wedding.

    But wow, would an all-female wedding be delightful.

    • Christy

      Oh, and even with only 22 guests, we still each had people there we disliked. I don’t like my wife’s best friend from childhood, and she can’t stand my brother-like best friend. That’s life! There’s no perfect wedding guest list.

    • Christy

      Oh, and I’m going to my lesbian friends’ destination-for-me wedding sans my wife and I will ecstatically be hanging out with said best friend/brother the entire time (his wife is MOH) and I. Can’t. Wait.

    • Lawyerette510

      I would love to go to an all-female wedding. If two women were marrying and wanted to do so in a women-only space, I would not take it personally that my husband wasn’t invited.

      Like you pointed out, with a destination invitation it seems impossible if you’re inviting people who are partnered with men, but locally, I think it could work. And what better way of separating the celebration from the patriarchal and misogynist traditions of the institution, than to have it be an all women’s space?

      • ladyjanegreysanatomy

        Oof, I’m glad to see at least a few people get the draw of this. I mean it wouldn’t be right for me and my partner but I can imagine it being right for some people. However i think it’s something that the couple would need to decide *early* and clearly communicate their reasoning and hopes in a thoughtful way, probably with a select group of people who would understand their motivations. Like, less no dudes! and more, we know it’s unusual but we really want to make this event about relationships between women, romantic or otherwise, so we’re making it a women only thing. I mean I’m not that into separatism and whatnot, but I could support that (if done in a non-transphobic way*).

        *while I am sympathetic to the trans man’s comment above, I am also very sympathetic to the response. Unfortunately becoming a straight man means you’re not a lesbian anymore. Assuming that transition is not being used as an excuse to start acting like a douchey straight dude and shut down anyone who calls you on it (don’t be that guy!), I don’t think it should mean losing your friends and it’s shitty when that happens. Friendship really shouldn’t be dependent on shared sexuality! But you do lose access to some spaces (and gain access to others). That it feels like a loss does not mean that you are entitled to keep it, just like the feeling of loss that some friends and family may experience when you transition does not entitle them to misgender you.

  • JenC

    I think it’s only fair that the partners (of anyone – gay, straight, cis, trans, colosal ass-hat) be invited to a wedding. You want people to celebrate your love, you can’t judge or put conditions on another’s.

    However, let’s assume that these dudes aren’t socially inept and could possibly just survive without being surgically attached to their partner. Maybe. These guys are adults. They might have social anxiety and that’s a different topic but as a functioning adult they can survive and make small talk if their partner is away somewhere.

    I hate my bridesmaid’s partner. He’s a piece of shit. He’s vile to my friend, he wants to know where she is constantly, only says he loves her when she’s showing someone else (her friends, her son) attention. He sucks the fun out of everything and drags my poor, sweet friend down. He didn’t know anyone at our wedding. My friend still turned up and had girl time getting ready in the morning. Ass-hat turned up for the ceremony, managed to sit in a church by himself, get himself to the reception. He then managed to prop up the bar while friend, other friend and I danced and had a ball. There’s a lot of opportunities to still get one on one time with your girl friends and pay literally zero attention to their partners. However, at some point in that evening when they are riding on the highs of your love, they should be able to find their partner and dance with them, kiss them or whatever to celebrate their own love.

    • Ella

      Tangental, but is an ass-hat a hat for an ass, a hat that is an ass, or someone who wears an ass for a hat? Just wondering. :P

      • Alli

        I’m inclined to say the last one? Like “he’s clearly such an ass, he might as well wear an ass on his head”

        That’s a complete guess though!

      • Lisa

        I always understood it as someone who has his head so far up his ass that he’s wearing it as a hat.

  • Mary

    This is so wrong on so many levels.
    When in doubt imagine how you would feel if someone did the same to you: lesbians are not allowed. Imagine everyone else was invited ( straight men, straight women and gay me) but you were not because you happen to be a woman who loves another woman.

    If you’re fighting for inclusion and equality that means you have to be the first to settle the example.

    • Christy

      It is different when a member of a minority group chooses to exclude a member of a privileged majority. Queer-only spaces are fine. Black-only spaces are fine. Women-only spaces are fine. It is not the same as men excluding women or straight people excluding LGBT people.

      • Kate

        AMEN. Women-only viewings of Wonder Woman for eeeeeternity!

    • Lawyerette510

      Men is not analogous to lesbians in terms of history of oppression, exclusion, violence, power, etc. Also, marginalized populations are not who have to set the example and include those with more power. It’s on the people with power to undermine that power and “set the example.”

  • NotMotherTheresa

    Ah, and herein lies the joy of weddings. All weddings–be they gay, straight, big, small, ultra traditional, or featuring naked unicorn rides–involve some guests who a person feels pretty ‘meh’ about. That’s just part of having a wedding.
    I’m straight. I had a groom. But I STILL didn’t have a groom to hoist the ‘meh’ dudes upon, because as it turns out, simply having penises doesn’t mean a bunch of random guys will want to hang out together. Some of the boring ‘meh’ dudes found other boring obligatory guests to hang out with. Some hung out with their significant others the entire time. And some were actually surprisingly fun and wonderful. If I had magic sparkle dust to poof away things like wedding etiquette and family obligations, my guest list would have looked a bit different, but that’s life, and it was an absolutely wonderful day, regardless.

    • Henri

      This.

      But just a note: not all men have penises and not all penis-having folks are men :)

      • NotMotherTheresa

        Very true! Sorry that I wasn’t more careful with my words on that one.

  • Rose

    As far as feeling happier about having the men there–

    LW, I’m reading between the lines here, so I may be off, but it seems like one of the things you’re resenting is that it will start to feel like it’s less centered around queerness and women; that by including all of these straight men, it’s going to start to feel like more of a regular, heteronormative space. If so, I think that’s a totally understandable thing to resent! But I also think you can do something about it, to make it really feel that queerness and women are centered, regardless of the guest list. I’m sure there are a lot of ways to do this, but a few off the top of my head:

    Rainbows on everything
    Specifically queer readings or reflections in the ceremony. You could even only use readings that were written by queer women/nonbinary folks (we used an abridged version of “I Do” by Andrea Gibson, which I strongly recommend if you want everyone to cry).
    “Mrs and Mrs” or “Ms and Ms” signs, or a cake topper with two brides–take all of those incredibly annoyingly heteronormative wedding details and make them scream that you’re queer.
    Quotes by women about love on programs or decorative signs or paper fans for favors or wherever else you can imagine putting them.
    We made a rainbow glitter sign (from a tutorial on this site) that said “Love Wins” and hung it in the yard where we had our reception, surrounded by colorful lights.
    Probably a well-chosen playlist for the dancing could help (I am musically illiterate, so have no suggestions, but what would you hear in a gay club?)
    Active encouragement of people dancing in same-gender pairs.
    Maybe you could have a specific song for just the women to dance to? You’d get at least a little bit of the feeling of being out there celebrating with just your favorite friends.

    There have to be a lot more things you could do, too. I agree with others that you do kinda have to invite the men, but that doesn’t mean that everything has to be about them. Aside from just the guest list, what things/feelings would you associate with your ideal women-only wedding? Can you make at least those things happen?

    • Ashlah

      This is a fantastic response. Whether your specific examples resonate with the LW or not, suggesting she consider exactly what feelings or experiences she’s imagining when she thinks about her fantasy women-only wedding and then finding ways to incorporate them at some level is genius.

    • BSM

      Oooh, what about having little rainbow ribbons people can pin to their outfits or rainbow/glitter/”Love Wins”/all three++ flags that people can wave as you process, recess, and enter the reception as a married couple for the first time (if you’re doing any of those things)?

      “I agree with others that you do kinda have to invite the men, but that doesn’t mean that everything has to be about them.” Totally! I think aside from the guest list and, like, general guest comforts, nothing else needs to be about them at all.

    • I have mixed feelings about this approach, because there’s a danger of turning the wedding from a reflection of their relationship into a reflection of the mainstream signifiers of queerness. If you’ve been dreaming of a resort wedding with grecian gowns, minimal decor and lots of white drapery*, throwing a bunch of rainbows in there risks making the wedding even less about you than straight male semi-strangers. That said, I definitely think aspects that lean into their sapphic sisterhood vibe are worth taking on board, like encouraging same sex dance partners and using queer women writers for readings.

      *gonna be honest, I’m basically picturing this wedding taking place on Themyscira

      • Rose

        On, no, obviously they shouldn’t do all of these things, probably, definitely not if it doesn’t fit with their ideas of their wedding. These were just a few of my spur of the moment ideas about possibilities. Some weddings do want a ton of rainbows, though. Or maybe not a lot, but one rainbow sign stands out and makes the point (which is what we did; our wedding definitely felt like a reflection of us, which isn’t rainbows everywhere, but the one sign did have an impact). I just think it’s worth the couple thinking about what queerness and sisterhood mean in the context of their wedding, and ways that they might want to emphasize that. Which will of course vary widely between couples.

  • Sarah

    Literally the only time I would not be offended to be invited to a wedding without my husband is if it were my best friend, parent, or sibling getting married and they could only have 10 guests total or something (like a courthouse wedding). Otherwise I’m not coming to your wedding, and I’m probably going to reevaluate my friendship with you.

  • PeaceIsTheWay

    I think Kate’s advice is really thoughtful and sensitive and smart. Here’s an idea that may or may not be totally unrealistic for LW’s specific situation: a surprise wedding. It seems that for certain events it IS socially acceptable to make them girls-only (or whatever-only) parties. Bachelorette parties are one example, but I don’t see how you could pull off a bachelorette party without a wedding. But what if you hosted a big girls-only party and then had a surprise ceremony? Sort of like Kate’s idea of squeezing a girls-only event into a larger wedding weekend, but sneakier. Anyone who was happy attending your girls-only bash really can’t complain if you then surprise them with a wedding during the party.

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  • Abs

    In addition to everything that’s been said here, I just want to observe that not all women partnered with men are straight, and if a friend of mine made clear that she valued my partnership less because I had ended up with a man rather than a woman, that would go straight to the heart of all my issues of feeling like I don’t really belong in the queer community. And, to be honest, that would be a massive blow to the friendship.

    • Amanda

      True story. And conversely, not all men partnered with women are straight. I will one day probably have to have a conversation with my lesbian longtime friend (as in, gets to make jokes about my past love life and was there) that maybe her jokes about my gaydar don’t feel good to my slightly bisexual male partner.

  • Telling The Truth

    Well it must be a Lesbian free for all i guess. Well that leaves us straight men out unfortunately.