This post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, the leading online resource dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. Kathryn is also co-author of the groundbreaking book, The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. Follow her on Twitter @madebykathryn.
Be sure to check out Kathryn’s full, original post on GayWeddings.com!
Fifteen years ago, when GayWeddings.com founder Gretchen Hamm set off to find suppliers for our groundbreaking online boutique, she encountered lots of blank stares and bemused looks, with a sprinkling of big grins and open hearts. At the time, few realized that there were same-sex couples looking for wedding products and services. Her job was attempting to convince them to join her in her effort to help LGBT couples plan their weddings and find gay-friendly services.
These days, wedding professionals have finally gotten the message. As marriage equality makes its way across the United States, more wedding professionals than ever not only want to work with same-sex couples, they also want to figure out how to better serve them.
The starting place when I speak with them about best practices? A conversation about language.
The most important message I can offer to the wedding industry as a whole: it’s time to ditch the language of speaking to the bride as the only wedding client there is to be found. At conferences and in collegial conversations, the professionals talk about the bride, the bride, the bride. The habit is so deeply engrained that I’ve even encountered professionals who have spoken at length with me about the emerging same-sex wedding market and the LGBTQ community, and I’ve addressed this bad habit directly and still, they talk to me about brides.
Old habits die hard, but the reality is that it takes two people to exchange vows and make a life-long commitment to one another, so begin by recognizing the role that the engaged couple plays in planning a wedding and making decisions as the client. Not only will the couple appreciate it, but any groom — straight or gay — who has felt neglected and ignored will appreciate it, too.
Second, it’s important for professionals to expand their thinking to be inclusive of all couples. That means that it’s time to think about the prospective client as a bride-groom pairing, a bride-bride pairing and a groom-groom pairing. When talking about modern weddings and modern couples, we are generally talking about all three of these pairings. From there, wedding professionals need to scour their marketing materials and websites looking for published examples of the old bad habit and ditch “bride” for more inclusive language and terms.
A Cheat Sheet For Best Practices
One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is: “What exactly are those terms we should use?” Generally speaking, I advise that one substitute the words “brides and grooms” or “engaged couples” for “bride,” and to replace the word “bridal” with “wedding.”
Below, reprinted by permission from The New Art of Capturing Love from Amphoto Books (2014), is an example of recommended terms. Feel free to play with those terms to make them your own and, even better yet, when you are working with a couple, find out what language they are using when talking about themselves and their weddings.
Updating the language of the wedding industry is long overdue, and it will continue to require a conscientious practice by everyone — all professionals, professional organizations, workshop leaders, wedding websites, journalists and more — to break those old habits.
The upside? A more inclusive industry for all brides and grooms. As it should be.
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