The wedding and engagement season is in full swing, and just this Valentine’s Day marked the first anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s historic ruling legalizing marriage equality in all 50 states. In recognition of this major milestone, The Hilton Worldwide is celebrating the new American love story with expert tips for all couples from the new Hilton Modern Manners Expert Steven Petrow. If you are not familiar with Petrow, he is a nationally known columnist and frequent expert commentator. He helps the Hilton offer the finest in service for couples, as well as their friends and family. Particularly, Petrow helps couples seeking trailblazing new traditions in regard to proposals, wedding ceremonies and honeymoons.
As the Hilton’s Modern Manner’s expert, Steven Petrow is the authority figure on modern manners, helping people navigate the ever-changing and evolving social landscape. Petrol has appeared as an expert guest on PBS’s ‘In the Life’ among other shows and he is the author of five books, including “The New Gay Wedding: A Practical Primer for Brides and Grooms, Their Families and Guests” and “Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners: The Definitive Guide to LGBT Life.” The National Weddings Examiner, Briana Booker had the opportunity to interview with Mr. Steven Petrow to gather insights on the changing traditions that are shaping marriage and weddings for couples such as etiquette around same-sex proposals and unique trends among same-sex couples. Read the exclusive Q & A below:
Briana Booker: How is marriage equality redefining the American love story and future of marriage?
Steven Petrow: In the months since the Obergefell decision, which legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states, all couples are now on equal footing when it comes to love. Is there anything more American than that kind of love story?
BB: What are some new traditions brides and grooms should consider this wedding and engagement season
SP: Same-sex couples that are getting engaged now, that is since last year’s court ruling, are much more likely to follow traditional marriage conventions than those gay and lesbian brides and grooms who married previously. That means longer engagements (a year or more), wedding showers, rehearsal dinners, and bigger weddings. In a way our ceremonies are kind of retro but with a twist. Largely gone are gender roles. The text of our vows, frequently with a quote from Justice Kennedy’s majority decision in Obergefell, still reflect the struggle for marriage equality.
For same-sex (and opposite-sex couples), my advice is to do it your way. Exchange watches instead of engagement rings (because of their timeless nature). Come to the altar together or with your kids; no need for any one to be given away. It’s still a time where tradition has not fully re-formed; help set it for those couples to come in your path.
BB: What’s common etiquette for same-sex proposals – who proposes? Are engagement rings used?
SP: Without gender roles, there’s no default when it comes to who in a same-sex couple proposes, which can be frustrating to some gay and lesbian couples and liberating to others. (Despite decades of changing roles among opposite-sex couples, straight guys still are likely to be the ones to get on bended knee.) Many same-sex couples agree to marry together; I know other couples where one has bought a ring and makes an elaborate proposal. There’s still so much excitement about the right to get married. As for rings, there’s greater flexibility here, too. Most guys opt for one ring, the engagement ring then becomes the wedding band.
BB: Are there noticeable differences at same-sex wedding ceremonies in comparison to heterosexual wedding ceremonies?
SP: Other than two brides or two grooms? Not really. A wedding is a wedding. I know some parents and other relatives think they’re in for a pride festival or some other wild and crazy scene. That really doesn’t happen; in fact, to suggest that is to lessen the sanctity of these ceremonies.
BB: What kind of language should be used on wedding invitations for same-sex weddings?
SP: Follow the rules for any couple but pay attention to honorifics, or titles. When addressing them to two men, use the “Mr.” and “Mr.” convention. For two women, the default is “Ms.” and “Ms.” although some married women prefer “Mrs.”
BB: What should wedding attendees who have never been to a same-sex wedding ceremony know prior to attending the ceremony?
SP: Be on time. Do not bring a gift to the ceremony. Sit with friends or family (unless told otherwise). Clap when the couple kisses. Do not throw rice (no one does anymore). Did I mention, be on time?
BB: Can you tell me about the new technologies being used at wedding ceremonies? Do you have any favorites?
SP: I’m on the fence about all these new technologies. Some couples are using drones to get photos from above, while women may hide a Go Pro camera in their bouquets to get a first hand recording.
What’s been most disruptive are guests trying to take photos with phones and tablets, sometimes blocking other guests, sometimes even getting in the way of the couple itself. For any couple planning to marry I suggest they notify guests ahead of time whether phones and cameras are welcome and whether they want them to tweet (with a special hash tag) — or not.
Thank you so much for the insight Steve. For couples in need of help planning Weddings and engagements, visit Stay Hilton. Go Out site from Hilton, it’s a helpful resource and check out the Hilton’s new same-sex honeymoon registry today.