» 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

» 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

» It’s Official: WeddingWire Acquires GayWeddings.com

WeddingWire and GayWeddings.comWe’re ecstatic to announce the acquisition of GayWeddings.com, the pioneering wedding planning resource for same-sex couples!

From the day both companies opened our respective doors, WeddingWire and GayWeddings.com have shared a commitment to providing needed resources to all couples. Since January 2011, we’ve partnered with GayWeddings.com to develop a rapidly-expanding online database of over 120,000 wedding professionals who serve same-sex couples. Now, we’re happy to transition from partnership to acquisition to seamlessly extend the mission of both brands.

GayWeddings.com will continue to empower engaged couples and LGBTQ-friendly wedding professionals as part of the growing WeddingWire family of brands in the weddings and events category. Kathryn Hamm, President of GayWeddings.com, will continue on as Publisher to help guide the tools and resources provided for both Pros and engaged couples. And with Pride Month officially underway, there’s no better time to celebrate our union and raise a glass to an LGBTQ-inclusive wedding market!

Wedding and event professionals on WeddingWire can opt into the GayWeddings.com directory to show that they are ready, willing, and able to serve LGBTQ couples. Pros can also get up-to-date information, education, and resources to help them serve same-sex couples and understand the latest updates in marriage equality.

Same-sex weddings have been transforming the way wedding professionals think about their businesses and how engaged couples think about executing their wedding vision. We look forward to continued growth in creating a positive and helpful wedding planning experience for all couples and their wedding professionals as they plan the biggest day of their lives!

For additional information, please visit our Press Release.

» 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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» Promote Your GayWeddings Listing with a Custom Button

We’re excited to announce new GayWeddings.com custom buttons you can add to your website or blog to showcase your service to same-sex couples! Get started promoting your GayWeddings listing and boost your Storefront traffic by adding your button today.

Get your button by following our step-by-step instructions!

  1. Choose your button design from our four badge options
  2. Enter your GayWeddings Storefront URL, which you can easily grab from your WeddingWire account under the Networking tab
  3. Paste your GayWeddings Storefront URL into the form to get your custom code
  4. Add the code to your business website or blog, and your button will appear!

GayWeddings listing badgesLooking for more? You can also add a Wed We Can badge on your website or social media accounts, and show your support of all couples by joining in the #WedWeCan social media campaign.

Have additional questions? Learn more about our partnership with GayWeddings.com, get instructions on how to opt-in to the directory (open to all WeddingWire professionals), and learn how to customize your GayWeddings.com profile image. Plus, you can always contact support@weddingwire.com with any of your account needs!

» Support Marriage Equality with #WedWeCan!

Support Marriage Equality with #WedWeCan!

On, April 28th, 2015, the United States Supreme Court will begin to hear cases on the matter of marriage equality from four states: Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan and Tennessee. The cases have been consolidated under the name of the Ohio case, Obergefell v Hodges, and will test two questions: whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage and whether states have to recognize the same-sex marriages of other states.

Currently, same-sex marriages are legal in thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia, and the status of marriage equality is on stay pending appeal in seven additional states where the constitutional bans were overturned.

We’ll be watching and waiting for a decision from the Court into May or June, but in the meantime we would like to invite our community of wedding and event professionals to show your support for marriage equality and join our Wed We Can movement!

Wed We Can was developed from the partnership between WeddingWire and GayWeddings.com, the leading niche-based wedding planning resource and boutique, dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. The campaign represents our shared investment in and commitment to the unions of all loving couples, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Today, we’re unveiling a new logo for same-sex marriage supporters to share across their favorite social networks. We invite you to share images of what love means to you with the hashtag #WedWeCan, and help us make history as one movement that stands for marriage equality and a commitment to be inclusive of all couples!

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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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