For Pride Month, we sat down with Chanda Daniels, recognized as one of the nation's leading LGBTQIA+ Wedding Experts. As Owner and Creative Director of Chanda Daniels Planning + Design and founder of A Monique Affair, she has worked with some of the most prestigious venues and creatives in the industry. As an industry educator and WIPA San Francisco D+I Director, Chanda loves to educate her peers and new creatives entering the wedding industry on LGBTQIA+ Weddings and Diversity and Inclusion.
How have LGBTQIA+ weddings evolved since marriage equality was recognized in 2011?
I’ve noticed that weddings are starting to be open to being bigger investments. Clients are investing more overall. They are putting more into their budget, into detail, and into the design. Couples now have the confidence to customize their celebration, even taking out things that don't particularly resonate with them. So their choices aren’t performative actions when they're putting together their wedding story.
In your opinion, what is the very best way that we can make sure that our LGBTQIA+ couples feel supported during their wedding planning?
It really comes down to creating a safe space so folks can feel comfortable with being themselves, with who they love, and with having the ability to tell their love story. It's about being inclusive.
With that, you need to demonstrate inclusivity in your brand and showcase you are welcoming. Be mindful of the imagery and wording on your website, as well as your social media.
Also, just listen. That's such a basic thing, but it’s impactful. Listen and try not to put people into a particular box that you think they may go into. Honestly, I think this should be done for all couples.
Also, make sure that you're not forcing couples into a cookie-cutter mold of what a wedding should be or having a cookie-cutter mold of planning. Everyone’s planning journey should be completely different and customized to who they are.
In a similar vein, how can the industry best support our fellow vendors who are a member of the LGBTQIA+ community?
I feel that the best answer is the same: be open and listen to diverse voices. I feel like there are a lot of times that we have this picture of what an LGBTQIA+ person should look like. And traditionally, it falls into the category of white male or female being the voice of LGBTQIA+ people.
Be open to knowing that there's diversity within the community, and we should give everyone platforms. Because my story could be completely different from someone else's story. It’s about listening to those diverse members in the community.
What advice do you have for the pros who would like to be a better ally to the LGBTQIA+ community?
First, be intentional about creating your diverse vendor teams. Make sure that you do the work to ensure that all the creatives that you work with are inclusive and that they all have the same message and the same beliefs that you do. So when the time comes that you have an LGBTQIA+ couple ready to book, you'll be ahead of the game, and you'll know the creatives who will give them amazing service.
Looking ahead, what would you say is the future for LGBTQIA+ weddings?
I feel like the future of LGBTQIA+ weddings is just like any other wedding - they're going to evolve with the changing times. Be prepared to see an evolution of style and how love stories are told. They will move forward with the times that they are in.
My key goal is this–I would love to see LGBTQIA+ not be a separate category. That's where I want it to move towards for us as an industry. It’s our role to tell love stories–period. We shouldn’t break them up into categories or make sure we have to do certain things because those things should become a part of the fabric of our industry. We should treat everyone with love and respect. We as wedding creatives have to realize the power in the imagery we put out. We have to make sure that we submit amazing LGBTQIA+ weddings and, in turn, publish those weddings so that the community can see themselves represented and celebrated.