The Basics of Navigating Same Sex Weddings

I asked my friend David Cole Snook at Mx2 Event Design to guest blog about the differences between opposite-sex and same-sex weddings.  The article he produced provides a solid foundation to assist vendors in the ins and outs of working with these couples.  Here is his great advice on the topic:

Many wedding professionals across the state and the nation are booking and working with their first same sex wedding couples, and one of the most frequent questions or situations they find themselves faced with is: How do I address the couple?

The traditional gender roles within a wedding planning or wedding service delivery scenario aren’t a given anymore; the more nimble and sensitive a wedding professional is at navigating this changing dynamic, well; the more professional he or she is! Your business opportunities are greatly increased when you market to and serve couples from all walks of life, and here are a few tips to help pave that path going forward.

Pronouns and Titles: When working with a same sex couple, or marketing to everyone including same sex couples, it’s best to keep it simple. Dropping the words “Bride and Groom” from your website and marketing verbiage and replacing it with “Couple” is the best way to go. Brides and grooms are couples, too, and they won’t get lost in the process! If you are marketing to or working with same sex couples, “Bride and Groom” all over your website (or constantly catching yourself wanting to use those titles in conversation) sends the message that you are not open to their business. Some same sex couples may want to be referred to as “The brides” or “The grooms,” others may prefer simply “Couple.” If in doubt – ask! Your clients will understand and they will be happy to educate you.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All: When working with same sex couples, it is important to keep in mind that using a traditional wedding framework and simply applying it to this new client base isn’t going to work. Same sex couples will very likely not fit into traditional wedding planning “roles,” as in who-pays-for-what, who walks who down the aisle, who is the Father of the Bride when you have two brides, etc. The list goes on. Same sex couples may or may not tend to want to follow wedding traditions. Many of them have family members who are not accepting and may not even be present on the big day. The best to way to navigate this is, again – simply ask. Same sex couples understand that many wedding service providers are in an upward learning curve in the growth of their business as the family and civil rights dynamics change in America. The more open you are to being educated, the happier your clients will be.

Avoid the Phrase “Gay Wedding”: A wedding is a ritual, and as such it is grammatically awkward to refer to weddings with two grooms or two brides as “gay.” Many websites are named as such, but you will find that many LGBT couples actually find this concept silly. The wedding isn’t gay; THEY are! Simply call it what it is: A wedding. Period. The wedding doesn’t need to be labeled, nor do your clients. They have been labeled their entire lives. They will appreciate that you respect their coming union as equal, and dropping that unnecessary adjective whenever possible gives the wedding the dignity it deserves of not being singled out as something different. This is the new normal; treating it as such will benefit you, your business and your clients’ level of satisfaction.

These are just a few tips to get you started. Same sex couples will understand if you explain that you’re working on your first same-sex wedding, and as long as you’re open and honest with them and indicate that you’d like them to guide you through what might be uncharted waters on the service-provider side, most couples are thrilled to help. One of the biggest hurdles the LGBT community faces is misunderstanding; Most will jump at the chance to help you understand their struggles, their lives and their families in the process of putting their wedding together. It is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to bridge gaps toward making new families whole.

If you’d like further information or would like to inquire about LGBT Certification courses, contact David Cole Snook at Mx2 Event Design, in Harrisburg, PA. As a Certified Wedding Planner with the Association of Bridal Consultants, David is also an LGBT Certified Planner and can offer advice and guidance as your business grows and expands. www.mx2eventdesign.com (717)-254-5100.