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.
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).