» Serving Same-Sex Couples: The Real Story

Serving-Same-Sex-CouplesWebinar recap!

Being accurately informed and understanding the real story around what goes into planning a same-sex wedding is key for pros who want to be prepared to proudly serve all couples in the increasingly competitive modern market.

As we approach the one year anniversary of marriage equality in June, this month’s educational webinar hosted by Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com, and Andy Whittaker, Director of Market Insights at WeddingWire, discussed the latest LGBTQ wedding trends, how LGBTQ weddings differ and are the same as opposite-sex weddings, and how the landscape for same-sex weddings has evolved.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the interesting insights shared during the webinar:

  • Gay-friendliness and customer service often outranks industry experience in importance to same-sex couples when it comes time to select their wedding team
  • Self-identified same-sex couples who married in 2014 & 2015 remain much more comfortable breaking with traditionally-defined gender roles than previously-wed couples
  • Same-sex couples are more likely to have blended wedding parties than opposite-sex couples 
  • As marriage equality has become the law of the land, legal elopements and out-of-state ceremonies are on the decline for same-sex couples
  • Non-LGBTQ couples who value inclusion continue to rise as more couples look to work with wedding professionals who serve all loving couples

For more information, watch the full webinar, available within all Premium member accounts. And stay tuned for more in depth information on the latest wedding trends for today’s same-sex couples, coming soon!

Plus, don’t forget to opt-in to the GayWeddings vendor directory and update your main image just for GayWeddings.com to attract more engaged same-sex couples – learn how with our step by step guide.

Already listed on GayWeddings.com? Grab your GayWeddings listing badge to add to your website or blog and get added traffic to your listing!

» Celebrate Marriage Equality With #WeDoLove

Celebrate Marriage Equality With #WeDoLoveOn June 26, 2016, WeddingWire and our sister site, GayWeddings, will celebrate the one year anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling, a decision that paved the way for marriage equality nationwide. It was an important victory for love that impacted all of us.

We know the support of wedding professionals like you means the world to engaged couples and newlyweds. So we’re teaming up with GayWeddings to create a fun, celebratory video including your #WeDoLove moments in support of marriage equality.

#WeDoLove celebrates weddings for all couples, and the outpouring of love and support, teamwork and togetherness for everyone who helps bring two people together. We salute the village it takes to plan a wedding from family and friends to LGBTQ-friendly wedding pros.

Want to submit? Simply upload a short video telling us why you “do love” in support of marriage for all! We’re looking for self-filmed videos between 15 and 30 seconds that discuss some of the following themes:

  • What word(s) comes to mind when you think about “marriage equality?”
  • How has marriage equality changed your life?
  • What does the one-year anniversary of the ruling mean to you?
  • Why is marriage equality important?

By adding your unique perspective to #WeDoLove, you’ll help us create an inspiring video to commemorate the one-year anniversary of marriage equality, and to stand behind love. Upload your video now, and tell us why you do love!

Submit your video now >>

» Breakthroughs & Backlash in Marriage Equality: The 2016 Legal Landscape

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.

One of the hardest aspects of our long walk to marriage equality was, for me, hearing nationally broadcast comments from those who have never met me declaring my life and relationship to be “immoral” or “wrong” or “not right with God.”

How would they know me, my spirituality, and my life? Those who do know me would say the exact opposite.

My values have, after all, been crafted in the careful curation of a family and community that embraces compassion, commitment, service, and integrity. And these values are the hallmark of my 23+ year relationship with my spouse.

I had hoped that the marriage equality breakthrough granted to us by the Supreme Court on June 26, 2015 would mean that my marriage (spiritually-bound for so many years, until we received this long-overdue, important civil right) would no longer be subject to the abject pronouncements by a small vocal group, and fueled by the members of their community who remained silent in fear of the repercussions for speaking up or revealing a change of heart.

But, here we are, even with marriage equality settled in all 50 states and over 85% of wedding professionals nationwide saying that they are ready, willing and able to serve same-sex couples, and the backlash is well underway. The conversation, though, is now being tried actively as one of religious freedom in both the court of public opinion and the court of law.

From The Headlines

Breakthroughs & Backlash in Marriage Equality: The 2016 Legal LandscapeKim Davis, a clerk in Kentucky, was the first high profile example of protest when she refused to sign the marriage license of a gay male couple that appeared in her office to apply. After a few short days in jail for refusing to do her civic duty and her ongoing resistance to fulfill the duties of her elected office, Gov. Matt Bevin altered the licenses allowing Davis and other dissenters not to sign. Kentucky then went on to attempt to pass a “separate-but-not-equal bill” that was ultimately rejected (and notably, not even supported by Davis).

More recently, after Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a bill to shield marriage equality opponents, the governors of North Carolina and Mississippi waded into these controversial waters. North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill into a law that banned “anti-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and requiring transgender people in government buildings and public schools to use bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates.” And, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed a broadly-worded bill into law allowing individuals and institutions to deny services to the LGBT community based on their religious beliefs.

The result in North Carolina? Bruce Springsteen cancelled a concert in protest. PayPal withdrew its plan for a $3.6M expansion in Charlotte, NC, an economic repercussion not unlike that faced by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence after his push for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that would have allowed for denial of services to LGBTQ couples. An additional 120 companies also signed an open letter for repeal of that law. In Mississippi, singer Bryan Adams cancelled a concert and eight companies, including Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Choice Hotels Corp, Inc., have signed an open letter to Gov. Bryant to repeal the bill, HB 1523. With such vocal and consistent support for the past few years, it remains clear that Fortune 500 companies recognize that supporting LGBTQ couples and families is good for business.

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» 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.”

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» Gay Wedding Trends: A 2015 Year-in-Review Snapshot

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.

Though the spiritual implementation of wedding rituals for same-sex couples has remained steady since GayWeddings.com was founded in 1999, the practical implementation and legal opportunities have changed dramatically.

Gay Wedding Trends: A 2015 Year-in-Review Snapshot

Besides the most dramatic change–same-sex couples having legal access to marriage rights in all 50 states–gay and lesbian wedding trends now look overwhelmingly different than they did 20, or even 10, years ago.

Where once we were having small, private ceremonies that might or might not have included our family members, we are now celebrating our unions with many more guests in attendance (100 on average according to a recent WeddingWire survey), with more family members than ever celebrating with us and, it’s worth noting, often pressuring us to hurry up and get engaged already.

I’ll be speaking at WeddingWire World in greater depth on the latest LGBTQ wedding trends, data insights, and how same-sex couples continue to impact the larger modern market, but I hope you’ll enjoy this brief sneak preview of the themes ahead.

LGBTQ wedding trends look an awful lot like those for non-LGBTQ couples

Yes, wedding ritual assimilation is well underway. Thankfully, that street goes both ways, which means that straight couples are gaining a few fun twists just as LGBTQ couples are lining up behind wedding trends shared by all couples in the mainstream market.

If you are looking for a crystal ball into 2016, GayWeddings.com’s lead writer, Whitney Teal, offered couples a fabulous summary of the 2016 style trends that are important for couples to keep in mind. Her summary includes 7 trends from mixed-gender wedding parties to drones (the camera carrying kind, not the dull guests!) to hashtags and retro menswear. It’s a great read so check it out to learn more about what’s ahead.

Pro Tip: Share the GayWeddings.com 2016 Style Trends post with your LGBTQ couples or prospective couples as a conversation starter.

Structurally speaking, we’re more alike than different…

Many of you are now familiar with the tradition and trend statistics the WeddingWire team released summarizing the behavior of same-sex couples in 2014. You might not be surprised to know that we continue to find a similar pattern for all couples in 2015, including:

  • LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ couples who use WeddingWire report similar levels of use of planning apps, announcing an engagement on social media and using a wedding hashtag.
  • LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ couples who use WeddingWire report a similar number of months for their engagement period.
  • LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ couples who use WeddingWire report a similar number of dollars spent in wedding costs.

…But some differences are essential to remember and integrate into your toolbox

In 2014, we found that LGBTQ couples broke from “tradition” and expressed themselves a bit differently when it came to wedding rituals. For individual LGBTQ couples, this was largely determined by fit with or rejection of heteronormative gender roles (eg. what a bride “does” and what a groom “does”). But, that was yesterday.

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» Challenging Bridal Brand Bias in 2016

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.

Having celebrated two major milestones in 2015 – full marriage equality recognition and the acquisition of GayWeddings.com by WeddingWire – I found myself in the position of asking if my work toward LBGT inclusion in the wedding market was complete.

Photo by Rhinehart Photography

Photo by Rhinehart Photography

One might make that argument. It’s easy to say that there have been many advances. We have:

  • Full marriage equality for same-sex couples in all 50 states and at the federal level, thanks to the June 26, 2015 US Supreme Court decision.
  • Representation of some level of training and education embracing LGBT couples at all of the major conferences for wedding professionals.
  • Attained a participation milestone of more than 120,000 wedding professionals in the GayWeddings.com LGBTQ-friendly directory of wedding professionals.
  • Realized an absolutely breathtaking, near-perfect count of 90% of wedding pros stating that they are ready, willing, and able to serve same-sex couples.
  • Enjoyed recognition by all mainstream wedding sites and a majority of vendor websites that prominent inclusive language and images matter.
  • Seen notable shifts in the inclusion of “grooms” in the media. According to Andy Whittaker, Director of Market Insights at WeddingWire, 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.

For as much ground as we’ve gained since 1999 when my straight mom opened the doors to her online boutiques and began our work, however, there remain some important blind spots in the wedding industry. Thus, there is some remaining work around ‘bridal bias’ to be done.

For some, there is a feeling that the LGBT market is one to be avoided due to its smaller size (4-7% of the U.S. population is estimated to identify as LGBT) or a conflict of belief systems. For others, especially where legal marriage equality is only months old, it’s a matter of ongoing education and exposure. There are also those who merely wish to stand on tradition and habit, and, of course, those who face a very real dilemma about updating a company brand identity that is recognized, has a strong URL and SEO presence, and seems to be working for the many brides seeking resources.

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» Preparing Your Business for Same-Sex Couples in 2016

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.

According to data from the WeddingWire WedInsights series, 40% of all engagements happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. And this trend also holds true for same-sex couples as a niche segment represented in the larger market statistics. Because 41% begin planning within the first month, it’s incredibly important that wedding pros fine-tune their ‘first impression’ touches now.

Preparing Your Business for Same-Sex Couples in 2016This means that photographers should place a priority on making sure that their marketing materials, contracts and portfolios are inclusive of same-sex couples as soon as possible. More than ever, same-sex couples are choosing to book engagement portrait sessions for their save-the-date cards, engagement announcements in local media outlets, and to celebrate their commitments. These sessions offer photographers a wonderful way to showcase their thoughtful ability to pose same-sex couples authentically (learn more via The New Art of Capturing Love), and offer sessions that become a great testing ground for choosing a photographer for the Big Day.

It also means that venues should also be ready to receive same-sex couples – for both on-site visits and online vetting. Though 88% of all couples want to see pricing before reaching out, pros must understand that same-sex couples are also more likely to reach out to wedding professionals who have an inclusive approach in their images and language. The market is more competitive than ever and LGBTQ couples have a choice when signing a contract with a wedding professional. They’ll want to work not only with the service provider who can match their budget, style and planning needs, but is also prepared to serve them and serve them well as a same-sex couple.

How to to Prepare for Serving More Gay & Lesbian Couples

For pros in all service categories, I encourage you to:

  1. Ask your previous LGBTQ-identified couples for reviews (87% of couples report reading reviews when researching a wedding pro) and feature these testimonials on your blogs, brochures, and online listings.
  2. Speak with photographers in your network to see if they can offer any images (with permission, of course!) from any same-sex weddings for which you have also been a member of the team. Feature these images on your websites, in your print materials, and on your social media accounts.
  3. Contact all of the wedding pros in your network and let them know that you are ready, willing and able to serve same-sex couples; while you’re at it, ask them if they are ready, willing and able to serve same-sex couples and strike them from any referral list you might use with a same-sex couple!
  4. Review all of your contracts, online forms and paper forms to make sure that your language is fully inclusive of two brides, two grooms, and one of each.
  5. Review your WeddingWire listing, your GayWeddings.com listing and any other ad or promotion you might have placed – especially online. Are your images and language inclusive of all couples? This is particularly important on sites like GayWeddings.com where a profile image featuring a straight couple might be eliminating you from consideration on first glance (Review your GayWeddings.com listing now to ensure that this doesn’t apply to you!). 

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» Two Gay Wedding Experts, One Lively Conversation

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.

The last few years have been a whirlwind for those of us specializing in same-sex weddings and LGBTQ market trends. In the past 20 years, our once closeted community has quickly become one that is recognized, not only with full marriage equality, but also with feature motion picture releases (like Milk, Stonewall, and Freeheld) and nationally celebrated brand campaigns like Marriott’s #LoveTravels, Honeymaid’s “This Is Wholesome,” and Oreo’s Pride rainbow-themed cookie.

WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm chats with Bernadette Smith of 14Stories and the Gay Weddings InstituteNow, more than ever, we are your boring next door neighbor. So, as the majority of our community assimilates into mainstream culture and the wedding industry moves to serves “brides and grooms” rather than just “brides,” what should we expect next?

My like-minded colleague, Bernadette Smith of 14Stories and the Gay Wedding Institute, recently hosted a virtual summit, Over The Rainbow: How To Truly Understand The LGBT Wedding Market. I had the pleasure of helping her to kick off the first installment in the five-part series, which included other professionals like long-time LGBT community market expert, David Paisley of Community Marketing, Inc. and top-rated WeddingWire officiant, Bethel Nathan.

Our segment, which was the most popular interview of the series, can be enjoyed in its entirety below.


In many respects, this conversation is an extension of one that Bernadette and I started ten years ago. Bernadette had placed an order of cake tops with TwoBrides.com, one of the groundbreaking online boutiques my mom had started in 1999 and, in the process of my fulfilling that order for her, we decided to meet for coffee when I was in Boston, where she was based at the time. That conversation led to our joint effort to lead gay wedding planning seminars in Boston, Chicago and Washington, DC, and I worked with her to develop several destination wedding packages that we featured in the GayWeddings.com boutique.

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» Post-Marriage Equality Outlook For Gay and Lesbian Weddings

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.

In many respects, the wedding industry has already been doing the work it needs to do to embrace and better serve same-sex couples. In a recent poll by WeddingWire, for example, we found that 90% of wedding professionals are already serving or planning to serve same-sex couples. This doesn’t mean, however, that our work is a fait accompli, but it does mean that we are on the right path. Wedding pros must continue to evaluate the inclusivity of their marketing materials, consider how they interface with prospective clients, and understand the needs of the LGBTQ client.

For those of you wondering “What’s Next?”, here are a few broad brush strokes on the canvas that will eventually represent the outcomes of the post-marriage equality market and the themes that I’ll be keeping tabs on in the months ahead.

What does the post-marriage equality market look like for gay and lesbian couples?Couples can now marry in 50 states, but how level is the playing field?

The one thing that simplifies any educational efforts in the field is that we no longer need to lead with how the legal status of individual states impacts the choices a lesbian or gay couple might make in where to marry. With the Supreme Court ruling on June 26, 2015, same-sex couples may now marry legally in all 50 states, and all 50 states will also recognize out-of-state marriages.

Those couples who are located in or choose to marry in states where same-sex marriage has been recognized for several years are likely to have an easier time with their planning. In these areas the market has adjusted, Pros have had experience serving same-sex couples and, as a result, lesbian and gay couples are likely to have a deeper pool of seasoned Pros from which to choose.

In the thirteen states that have only recently come to recognize same-sex marriage (and in rural areas compared to urban areas), it’s possible that some couples will have difficulty finding experienced Pros and encounter vendors who are not yet ready, willing and able to serve them. It is also true, however, that same-sex couples will also encounter fabulous allies who are able to provide superior service in those states.

All of this to say that the playing field is not level as far as experience goes on a state-by-state basis, but we’ll get there now that marriage equality is the law of the land in 50 states.

What will same-sex weddings look like in the next two years?

In the past decade, we’ve seen a range of wedding options that have evolved based on each couple’s individual needs. This included legal elopements (traveling out-of-state for a marriage certificate or running down to City Hall for a quick marriage once the laws changed), non-legal wedding ceremonies, big weddings, small weddings, creative weddings, traditional weddings and so on. One of the biggest changes will be that the backlog of couples who have been together for years will abate and the majority of same-sex couples will begin to follow a more typical relationship trajectory (meet, date, get engaged, get married).

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» Pinch Me. Did Marriage Equality Just Happen?

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.

I still have days where I feel like I need to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

Is it really true, I ask myself, that the Supreme Court validated marriage equality? Is my union (sealed spiritually in 1999 and then legally in 2013) recognized in all 50 states? Was I really standing on the steps of the Supreme Court on June 26 with our company founder (my mom, Gretchen) and my colleagues from WeddingWire, watching the staffers run the Justices’ decision to their reporters and then celebrating the news as it spread through the crowd?

WeddingWire on the steps of the Supreme CourtAll of this is true. And it’s only one small part of what I can only describe as the best Pride month I’ve ever enjoyed.

Gretchen and I kicked off the month of June with the announcement that GayWeddings.com was acquired by WeddingWire. Our decision to make this move culminates 5 years of collaboration, 4 years of offering the most comprehensive LGBTQ-friendly directory of wedding professionals (which is now more than 120,000 strong), and an unbroken streak of same-sex wedding education on the main stage at WeddingWire World, beginning with its inaugural conference in 2012. We’ve worked hard to build a thoughtful and inclusive platform for all couples at WeddingWire, and now we have the opportunity to design a stronger online resource for same-sex couples who still desire a niche-oriented site for their planning.

Since we announced our acquisition, our site traffic has grown by 36% (compared to the same period last year), and, even more impressive, interest in our directory of LGBTQ-friendly professionals has already doubled. Same-sex couples are looking for your services and they know they can count on the professionals who have taken advantage of the wide-range of offerings in the WeddingWire Education Center and who have the reviews of real couples to endorse their services.

In addition to sharing the news of our acquisition, we also enjoyed a marriage equality vow renewal event at the Embassy Row hotel, with the help of Capitol Romance and Pop Wed Co, and, together, we walked in the annual Capital Pride parade. And, finally, we decided as a team that June 26 would be the day that the Supreme Court would announce its marriage equality decision and, donned our Wed We Can shirts and all headed down to the steps of the Supreme Court to await the decision. It was a joyous morning!

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» Pride Month Recap: Marriage Equality, GayWeddings.com News, and More

Each June, the LGBTQ community is celebrated at Pride festivals and parades in communities all over the country (and world!). With so many great things that happened this Pride Month, we wanted to provide a quick recap so none of these awesome events go unnoticed! Check out our highlights below.

Capital Pride Parade

WeddingWire staff, along with LGBTQ-friendly couples and wedding professionals, showed support for same-sex couples and allies throughout the nation by walking in the Capital Pride Parade. Our team was also joined by Kathryn Hamm, Publisher of GayWeddings.com.

2015 marks the third year WeddingWire has been involved in DC’s Pride Month celebrations. Our team was at Capital Pride in both 2012 and 2013 to help festival-goers learn about the Wed We Can campaign, and in 2014 when we joined the parade on its walk through the District.

Check out the following photos from the parade!

Capital Pride Parade 2015

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» Infographic: Same-Sex Wedding Insights

With the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality slated to be announced by the end of June 2015, now is the time to deepen your understanding of the top same-sex marriage trends. Straight couples and same-sex couples share many of the same wedding planning needs, but how do the traditions and rituals differ? Check out our infographic with same-sex wedding insights from the GayWeddings.com 2014 annual survey to find out how the LGBTQ wedding market is changing.

2015 same-sex wedding insights