» 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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» Understanding How SCOTUS Will Rule on Same-Sex Marriage

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.

From the early, isolated efforts of same-sex couples to attain a marriage license in the late 20th century to the coordinated efforts of engaged couples and advocacy groups over the past 10 years, we now await what may be a monumental ruling on same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

In mid-April, the Supreme Court justices heard four cases which ultimately set the stage for two primary questions regarding legal marriage. Those are: 1. Does the US Constitution require states to perform marriages; and 2. Does the US Constitution require states to recognize marriages performed in other states.

Lambda Legal infographic

Click through for full Infographic by Lambda Legal

Lambda Legal, an organization representing the LGBTQ community, put forth this fabulous infographic outlining what we might expect with a Yes or a No on either or both questions.

Experts suggest that we are likely to have the decision handed down on June 29th or 30th, just prior to the Justices departure for the summer break. The end of the term is typically when the most controversial decisions are announced and this year, with the decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act also expected, will be no exception. It is, of course, possible that the decision could be handed down sooner and as early as Monday, June 22nd. In either case, you’ll hear from us as soon as there is news.

How the court will rule is anyone’s guess, but some believe that Chief Justice Roberts will side with the majority opinion, resulting in a 6-3 decision. And many feel optimistic that, based on the hearing as well as the cases, consequences and favorable public opinion, that the majority will find in favor of marriage equality. The question will be whether same-sex couples have the right to marry in any state or the opportunity to have their marriages recognized in any state (leaving some wiggle room for individual states to work out their own policies – for now).

The WeddingWire and GayWeddings.com team will continue to watch for the decision and will explain in short order what the ruling means so that we might help the engaged couples, yet-to-be engaged couples, and wedding professionals understand what their options and responsibilities are.

Meanwhile, we’ll remain steadfast in our support of marriage equality via our long-standing #WedWeCan campaign and invite you to show your support for marriage equality by sharing your images of love with the hashtag #WedWeCan.

» Same-Sex Weddings: Tips to Be Gay Wedding Competent

In celebration of Pride month, check out our latest infographic to learn what you need to know to take your skill set beyond “gay-friendly” to “gay wedding competent!” Be ready to better serve your couples and be prepared for your same-sex weddings with these five tips from WeddingWire Education Expert Kathryn Hamm.

For additional education and resouces, visit WedWeCan.com. Plus, show your support of serving all loving couples by joining the #WedWeCan campaign and posting your favorite photos of couples, past events, or our custom equality image on Instagram!

May_Webinar_Infographic_The-Same-Sex-Marriage-Evolution-From-Niche-to-Modern-Market-final

» Points of Pride: Happenings and Happiness

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.

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I had ‘come out’ and attended my first Pride celebration in Philadelphia. It also doesn’t seem that long ago that my wife and I exchanged vows for the first time, because doing so felt right for our relationship even though we had no access to legal rights at the time. Ultimately, though, it’s been almost a quarter century of celebrating Pride months and I’m thrilled to celebrate once again with the help of WeddingWire.

Wed We Can Vow Renewal

Celebrate with us at Capital Pride DC to kick off Pride Month

On Saturday, June 13, WeddingWire and GayWeddings.com will kick off the celebration of Pride month at Capital Pride in Washington, D.C. We are starting the day with an exciting Vow Renewal Celebration at The Embassy Row Hotel from 10am-12pm. We’re thrilled to celebrate a re-commitment to love at the event and have some wonderful sponsors on board to help! Then, at 3pm we are meeting at the Capital Pride staging area to march together in the parade (and rock a free t-shirt!). Would you like to join us at the Vow Renewal celebration and march with us afterwards in the annual Pride parade? Register today to save your spot!

New Badges We’ve Made For You

I often receive the question: how can I show that my business welcomes same-sex couples? Listen to one of our WeddingWireEDU webinars for more specific tips, like updating your GayWeddings.com profile image or consider adding this new badge to your website or blog. In addition to being able to show that you are a member of the GayWeddings.com family, you’ll also be able to showcase your listing via the badge link. Learn more about our new badge program and embed yours today!

Questions I’m Happy To Answer

On May 19, more than 2,600 of you enjoyed access to a webinar called “The Same-Sex Marriage Evolution: From Niche to Modern Market.” We reviewed some background on the legal landscape of the marriage equality movement and how considerations of the emerging LGBTQ wedding market has changed over the years. I also took questions from registrants leading up to the webinar so that I could share answers to the questions YOU are asking.

Even with 30 minutes of extended discussion time, we ran out of time to cover all of the questions asked and promised you some bonus content. The first includes the videos and links we referenced in the webinar and published earlier this month. The second bit of bonus content, found here, includes very brief answers to the following questions I didn’t have time to address.

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» Same-Sex Marriage Evolution: From Niche To Modern Market

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.

It was such a pleasure to have the opportunity on Tuesday, May 19 to talk about the evolution of same-sex marriage over the years and the key elements that wedding professionals need to keep in mind when marketing to and serving same-sex couples. I’m deeply grateful to WeddingWire for its incredible support over the past 5 years, but also to the more than 2,600 wedding professionals who registered for the webinar and the 120,000 wedidng professionals who are listed in the GayWeddings.com directory.

Same-Sex Marriage Evolution: From Niche To Modern MarketAs I mentioned in the webinar, there is no better indicator of how much things have changed than the fact that 86% of the wedding professionals that WeddingWire surveyed report that they are serving or plan to serve same-sex couples in 2015. It’s a majority that outpaces the approval ratings (reported by an April 2015 Washington Post/ABC poll) of Millennials (78%) and the general adult population (61%). I very much look forward to celebrating nationwide recognition of marriage equality — hopefully as early as this June!

On our webinar, I promised some bonus content. Please find it below. There are two videos and three links.

One video is a trailer from the film, Limited Partnership, which will air on PBS’ Independent Lens on June 15; the other is a clip from my own wedding shower a couple of friends hosted for me and my wife in 1999.

You can read:

I’ll be following up in my next post with more post-webinar content to answer those great questions which went unanswered. We’ve got a long list, but do feel free to tag @WeddingWireEDU and #AskKathryn if you’d like to add a few more into the mix.

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» Expanding Worldviews, Serving Modern Couples

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.

Expanding Worldviews, Serving Modern CouplesI didn’t plan on becoming a professional in the wedding industry, let alone a same-sex wedding expert. I had only wanted to marry my partner at a time when this was still uncommon; and, then, I had only wanted to help my straight mom with the business she had founded in 1999 in response to our wedding.

But I’m also an educator and a social worker with an entrepreneurial spirit at heart and, like my mom, I recognized the gap in the wedding industry. There were couples who wanted to affirm their life-long relationships and there were initially very few resources at all. Now, thankfully, there are more than ever and attitudes and service capabilities have improved, but my experiences within the wedding industry have also opened my eyes to its other glaring omissions: people of color, diverse representation of ethnicity and religion; grooms (whether straight or gay!), etc.

As a result, I’ve wanted to inspire more dialogue and introspection beyond the question of how wedding professionals are serving same-sex couples. And, because of the education needed for the emerging LGBTQ wedding market, I believe our industry and its professionals have an opportunity to re-examine everything we are doing and update the habits that no longer serve us, let alone the modern couples who need our services and support.

I have found an incredible partner in the WeddingWire team, who have engaged in these conversations in their business considerations has in the implementation of their industry leading tools and educational opportunities for wedding professionals and engaged couples. And our conversations led to the creation of a forward-thinking panel discussion at the recent WeddingWire World 2015 conference in Washington, DC.

We are pleased to present a recording of the full conversation I enjoyed with Ross Oscar Knight, international photographer and photoculturalist from Atlanta, GA; Bree Ryback, founder of Capitol Romance, LLC and editor of its popular Washington DC-based planning blog; Bethel Nathan, owner of the San Diego-based Ceremonies by Bethel; and Kyle Mihalcoe, Regional Manager of Customer Success at WeddingWire.

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