» Marketing To Today’s Couples, Not Yesterday’s Brides

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.

Here’s a question I’m often asking myself: I’m a married lesbian who is a same-sex wedding expert and educator; so why am I spending so much of time talking about straight grooms?

Marketing To Today’s Couples, Not Yesterday’s BridesI knew that the wedding industry was not inclusive of same-sex couples when my straight mom founded our business in 1999 to support same-sex couples, but I had no idea that most of the industry language and habits chugged along so relentlessly exclusive of grooms.

Say yes to the dress. Sell the bride. Bridal shows. Bridal showers. High-end brides. Book more brides. The list goes on. But, thankfully, it’s improving.

A quick scan of the top conferences offered in 2015 revealed that the majority of wedding industry conference offerings referenced ‘clients’ and ‘couples.’ A welcome change, in large part brought about by the push for the industry to be more inclusive of lesbian brides and gay grooms who can now legally marry legally nationwide. And, of course, the introduction of resources like TheManRegistry.com in 2007 and the book, In His Moment, by Ross Oscar Knight, which focuses the groom’s oft-overlooked narrative of his wedding day, help professionals and couples remember that there is at least one groom in the mix at the majority of weddings that take place.

Further, Andy Whittaker, the Director of Market Insights at WeddingWire, ran a quick meta analysis for me and found that there have been notable shifts in the inclusion of “grooms” in the media. In six of the largest national and urban papers (both online and in print), there has been a general increase of usage of the term “groom” in articles since 2007, and a decline in the ratio of usage of “brides” to “grooms” in articles since 2011.

Old “bridal bias” habits die hard, however, and the home stretch will require that wedding professionals, writers, editors and publishers update their language – spoken and printed – to be inclusive of “brides and grooms” rather than just “brides.”

In 2014, I spent an entire afternoon talking with a photographer and straight ally, educating him about LGBT market trends and same-sex couples and the importance of inclusive language, only to notice that, over dinner, he had not yet broken the habit about talking about “the bride” as the universal client. Our table laughed it off as I chased each of his references of “the bride” by interrupting him by saying “hashtag-and-groom” for the rest of the evening. But, still I wonder: when he talks about industry trends today, does he still only reference a bride?

Are you interested in learning more about how to troubleshoot ‘bridal bias’ in branding? Keep tabs on our #BridalRebrand series.

Updating our language is an important change and one which benefits all couples and the practice of marriage itself. The last time I checked, marriage is a contract entered into by two people. So why shouldn’t both be considered as integral players in their wedding day and its planning process? To be successful, their life-long commitment will certainly require this of them.

While we’re talking change, I invite you to stretch yourself by thinking of diversity as something other than whether or not the Caucasian bride is a blonde or brunette. Token representation of people of color on wedding blogs and in its major newsstand publications is a bit more common as an antidote these days, but the industry has a long way to go.

Jacqueline Nwobu has answered a market need by launching MunaLuchi Bridal Magazine and promoting “positive images of women of color.” OffBeat Bride launched in 2007 with the “aim to be the web’s most inclusive and diverse wedding blog… where it’s normal to see couples who are plus-size, couples with disabilities, couples who are older, couples who aren’t white, couples who aren’t straight, couples who are trans* or non-gender-binary, couples who aren’t rich, couples who aren’t American, and couples who are MORE than couples.” And WeddingWire, which recently scored a 100% on HRC’s prestigious Corporate Equality Index, offers a platform that serves equally couples of all races and orientations, but is also committed to educating professionals about inclusive practices and offering fully customizable tools as part of their suite of tools for pros.

It’s easy to imagine the rainbow-hued call for inclusivity in the wedding industry as one belonging primarily to same-sex couples. But, it’s so much more than that. Lesbian and gay couples may have opened the door, but diverse representation and cultural competence in the wedding industry is needed for all brides… and grooms.

Want more? Listen to Kathryn’s take on ways we need to re-imagine weddings via her appearance on a recent podcast episode of Put A Ring On It.