The wedding industry is evolving and becoming more diverse and inclusive. Ever since gay marriage became legal in all 50 states four years ago the LGBTQ+ community no longer is invisible. Over time, it became more common to see non-straight narratives in advertisements and more industries have shown their support, but unfortunately we still have a long way to go. This dawned on me one day as I experienced what it is like to feel uncomfortable while looking for a wedding vendor. Still, there’s a lot of positive things that have happened over the years so here’s a little of my experience. I also included advice for those of you who are in the industry on how to become a better LGBTQ+ Ally.
Mr. & Mrs.
One thing I always thought was tacky were the Mr. and Mrs. signs – at least until I walked into a store and saw Mr. and Mr. gift bags. I had never seen them casually displayed anywhere before. It’s nice to see how inclusive the market has become. Now, you see cards for same-sex couples, cake toppers, all types of merchandise that never existed before. But as great as it is to see more inclusive items, sometimes they can still make people uncomfortable. A venue I visited had a Mr. & Mrs. sign hammered to their wall. As a same-sex couple (speaking for Jeremy and myself) it’s not a problem to see something like this, but when it’s permanently attached to the wall it shows my partner and I that you never thought to cater to same sex couples. So if you yourself own a business, keep in mind if you have novelty bridal items such as Mr. & Mrs. and no same-sex selection it looks as though you are not an ally or comfortable working with same-sex couples. Just something to keep in mind – a little effort goes a long way.
Say yes to the dress
One scary experience for same-sex couples is showing up to a vendor meeting with your partner and having the vendor look at you in shock. I had an experience like this that I want to forget, but it happened to Jeremy and me. I made the mistake of not mentioning my fiancé was a man. Luckily, we have mostly had vendors greet us with open arms, and so have other same-sex couples we know. Jeremy’s cousin was afraid of poor treatment when calling to reserve slots for her and her fiancé Nicole’s wedding dress fitting. She wanted to mention that they were a same-sex couple on the phone to one bridal shop but before she could say it, the associate asked if they were and made them feel totally comfortable. This made them feel good, because there is always a fear someone might make you feel unwanted. No one wants to made feel different or ashamed for who they love.
Some people get so excited when they hear about gay weddings. Their curiosity gets the better of them. They ask things like: Who is the bride? The groom? Is it the same as a heterosexual wedding? The answer is none of that matters. All weddings are the same, it’s two people are taking a vow to be together forever. It’s not a gay wedding – it’s a wedding. Most traditions are the same but same sex couples tend to be a little less traditional. In the LGBTQ+ community we try and be inclusive with everyone. We try not to label everything and everyone in masculine/feminine terms. So let’s shy away from assuming it’s always bride/groom. Instead ask: Are you the bride? And your what’s your fiancé’s name? Do this instead of handing over a form to fill out with the words bride and groom printed on it.
The key to being an ally is simply showing a bit of support. Treat the LGBTQ+ community with the same respect as one would for any other couple. We are all human and I am a firm believer that we are here to love. Let’s break away from our old school thoughts of only man/ woman weddings. Not everyone is the same, and together we can make the world more inclusive and an overall better place.