A well overdue episode of the Bridechilla podcast celebrating marriage equality and diversity of our community. I’m joined by Kirsten Palladino from Equallywed.com, a fantastic hub for modern LGBTQ weddings and equality-minded wedding pros.
There has been a lot of progress in the industry especially recently with marriage equality passing in Australia (!). In this episode, we share the advantages of working with vendors who are pro-marriage equality and how that can progress the industry. We talk about being progressive with the terminology we use and working with the LGBTQ community to keep things moving in a more positive and open direction.
Listen to the episode
I had such a lovely time chatting with Aleisha on the Bridechilla podcast! It felt like we covered everything under the sun—er, I mean the rainbow. It’s always thrilling to speak to a true ally of the wedding equality movement. I’ve been in the trenches, so to speak, for the past 10 years, eight of which my spouse and I’ve been publishing equallywed.com, a blog devoted to LGBTQ+ weddings, marriage equality news around the world and an exclusive directory of equality-minded wedding vendors and venues.
Equally Wed launched in 2010 as a safe modern and inspirational haven for LGBTQ+ nearlyweds to enjoy their wedding planning process by being celebrated for who they are while enjoying browsing hundreds of real LGBTQ+ weddings, proposal stories, gay-friendly wedding vendors, and expert advice. Since we launched, we’ve really been amazed to see how the media embraced us for being pioneers in the LGBTQ+ wedding space. We’ve been fortunate enough to have been the subject of a full print feature in The New York Times, invited to chat on camera several times in the CNN studio, spoken on NPR, contributed to articles in The Knot, Glamour, Brides, and so much more. Now here we are lucky enough to talk to you! We are intentionally disrupting the wedding industry by insisting that there is space for us. We’re now focusing on intense education: instructing vendors on how to intentionally respect our community for our differences by teaching them to be champions of love, getting to know the LGBTQ+ market, and of course the ever-important what not to say. We’re rolling out a certification program next month, and if anyone’s interested, please drop me a line to sign up: Kirsten (at) equallywed (dot) com. Or just write to say hi!
Finding Supportive Wedding Professionals
One of the biggest challenges LGBTQ+ couples face when they’re getting married is finding wedding professionals who not only are willing to work with them but are also enthusiastic about doing so. You wouldn’t think this would be such an issue, perhaps. Unless you’re in our community. Then you’ve likely already discovered this tough predicament.
And though this is quite a personal undertaking—planning your wedding—it’s also a business transaction. Vendors need to surpass all of your standards in order to win your business. You are paying them a nice sum of money to make your wedding day as perfect as possible. Hopefully all of your potential vendors, venues and creatives are going to be phenomenally welcoming, but if you’re not sure, you can ask some pointed questions and give them space to fully answer.
Ask all vendors: Have you worked with LGBTQ+ couples before?
Ask them incognito through research: Are they members of an equality organization such as the Human Rights Campaign, your country’s version of such, or the Wedding Equality Alliance? Are there badges on their website from Equally Wed as an equality-minded wedding vendor? Do they feature real LGBTQ+ couples on their website? (Stock photos don’t count.) These helpful breadcrumbs can lead you to believe that this vendor is LGBTQ+-friendly.
DJs & Entertainment
Are you open to creating a gender-neutral playlist? i.e. Not playing “When a Man Loves a Woman.” (You should be allowed to provide a “do not play list,” but also, they need to be on the lookout for obvious hetero love songs that you might want to be cleared by you first. Have an open dialogue with your DJ and bandleader.)
Tell me about your diversity training for your staff. (Having a gay-friendly chef means nothing if the banquet captain is going to scoff at your queer friends or the bartender snub a transgender woman who’s asking for a glass of Champagne. Everyone on staff needs to be on board with your wedding guests being treated equally well.)
We want to be treated equally—there’s not one person in this couple that is more important. We might have two groups of wedding attendants, two mother-son dances or two father-daughter dances or another variation, or two getting-ready suites (wedding suites is a nice gender-neutral term). Will you be able to keep that in mind when shooting?
Whether it’s your first call or your email or you’ve been in touch for a month, it’s never a bad time to ask, “Have you ever worked with an LGBTQ+ wedding before?” If they have, ask, “How’d that go?” If they have not, ask them “What are your thoughts on marriage equality?” or “What are your thoughts on working with an LGBTQ+ couple?” Let them answer. Be absolutely silent. The longer you wait to respond, the more they’ll share. Most people want to fill that silence as well as give you more information until it’s absolutely clear that you’re satisfied with the answer. During this time of their answering, be on the lookout for red-alert phrases (read: anything that makes you cringe). Offensive comments from seemingly kind people can irk you longer than you might imagine, and it’ll leave you wondering if they value your relationship as much as a heterosexual couple’s relationship.
Ask for recommendations!
Don’t forget to ask vendors you’re already comfortable with for their recommendations for wedding pros in the areas you still need to hire. Chances are, you’ll get some mighty fine people who you love because vendors tend to only recommend creatives they enjoy working with and who’ll make them look good, too.
Lastly, visit https://equallywed.com/wedding-directory/ to find equality-minded vendors in your part of the country. And of course, browse the vendor lists at the ends of articles.
Please consider following us on all the social channels and use #equallywed so we can see what you’re up to!
Photo by Søren Astrup Jørgensen