Marriage equality in the United States and around the world is accelerating rapidly.Massachusetts was the first state, in 2004, but up until 2013, only 5 other states (plus D.C.) offered marriage equality. That number continues to grow, and is now (at time of print), 18 states. And as of June 26, 2013, the federal government recognizes same-sex marriages as legal.
As you start to reach out to this market, there are some very important things to keep in mind that define some of the differences between the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) world and the straight world.After all, there is a gay culture (and a lesbian culture) just as there’s a Jewish culture, an Indian culture and so on.
Regardless of the laws in your state, you can prepare your business now for LGBT weddings.Start by putting together a list of gay-friendly wedding professionals in your own area.This could be vendors you already know and trust or some new ones. Above all, make sure you specifically ask each vendor directly what their comfort level is with same-sex weddings.
As you start to get inquiries about LGBT weddings and meet with these couples, remember that a same-sex wedding may be free from the gender roles upon which straight weddings are based. And gay couples are just not very traditional. Ask open ended questions, like “Are you planning to follow any wedding traditions such as a first dance, dancing with your parents or cutting a cake?”Ask if they are getting ready separately instead of assuming they are.Ask if they are having a wedding party instead of assuming that they are – and don’t call it a bridal party!
In fact don’t assume at all.Start with a blank piece of paper and let them tell you what they want to do (and what they don’t).If they end up with a wedding completely lacking in tradition with no structure throughout the evening, then suggest some alternatives. Maybe they want some kind of performance like drag or something else to add flow to the evening - encourage their creativity.
Now that this is changing, it’s time to freshen up your materials.
Instead of saying “the bride” throughout your website and marketing materials, substitute “couple” or “brides and grooms”.Instead of saying “bride” and “groom” on your contract, say “name.”Simple changes like that make your business an inclusive one. When you are working with an LGBT couple, please be sure they never see a contract or form that says “Bride” and “Groom.”It shows a lack of diligence and laziness on your part if you don’t first get that form changed.
It’s really embarrassing when a couple catches this type of mistake before you do – and it can be a very costly error if the couple takes their business elsewhere because your website is so “bride”-focused.
LGBT weddings have the ability to invigorate your wedding business and change the way you think about weddings. I’ve talked to a number of professionals who have said that the joy same-sex weddings bring has saved them from “wedding burnout”. That’s just good for everyone.
For more information or to take the Gay Wedding Institute Certification Course, please visit www.gayweddinginstitute.com