» 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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» Twist In Alabama’s Effort To Delay 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.

In perhaps one of the most surprising twists along the road to marriage equality, Alabama’s state officials have outpaced even South Carolina officials on the resistance to accept marriage equality scale.

A federal judge in Alabama recently overturned its marriage ban, paving the way for same-sex couples to marry. The decision was stayed, pending appeal, but the Supreme Court of the United States refused to uphold the stay, thus allowing couples to marry.

Even so, Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, an established controversial figure in the conservative moment, refused to budge. He introduced confusion into the state asking probate judges not to marry same-sex couples. The result was that some counties did; some didn’t; and some didn’t issue any licenses to any couples.

But, Alabamans who do not support marriage equality weren’t done yet. On Tuesday, two anti-LGBT groups filed a complaint in hopes of putting a stop to marriage. The response of Justice Roy Moore and his benchmates?

According to Freedom to Marry, “the Alabama Supreme Court issued a ruling in an ‘emergency petition for writ of mandamus,’ brought by two private groups who oppose the freedom to marry in Alabama. In the ruling, the Court ordered a temporary halt to probate judges in Alabama from issuing marriage licenses, aside from probate judge Davis in Mobile, who was specifically ordered to stop enforcing Alabama’s harmful ban on marriage between same-sex couples.”

The ruling, from which Justice Moore has recused himself, left folks scrambling today to understand whether or not same-sex couples could apply for licenses.

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» Majority of Wedding Pros Support 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.

The latest headlines surrounding gay marriage of late have centered upon the notion of religious liberty and freedom of speech. In sum, there are a minority of wedding professionals who say that they should not be compelled to accept same-sex couples as clients because of their personal (and/or religious) beliefs.  And that opposition, as expressed by a handful of wedding professionals who are turning down same-sex couples and facing media and/or a legal backlash), is occupying most of our news feeds.

Majority of Wedding Pros Support Same-Sex Marriage. Period.Interestingly, a recent survey by the AP-GfK reported by US News & World Report found that more Americans favor marriage equality than oppose it, but “roughly half” of their respondents felt that “wedding professionals should be allowed to deny service to same-sex couples for religious reasons.” It’s an attitude that, quite frankly, is not surprising in light of the spirit of the founding of our country around the notion of religious liberty. The question I wished that the poll had as follow up is: “Even though you think that a business should be allowed to deny service based on your religious beliefs, would you prefer that those professionals would “do the right thing” and not discriminate?”

I think it’s also worth pointing out another survey that has gotten less play, but offers an intriguing context and perspective. In the fall of 2014, the Pew Research Center released it’s finding that 42% of African-Americans surveyed reported that they support same-sex marriage; a lower number than Caucasians surveyed (53%). But, when asked if “wedding-related businesses should be required to serve same-sex couples,” a majority of African Americans (61%) said that wedding-related businesses should be required to serve same-sex couples (only 45% of Caucasians surveyed said similarly).

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» The 2015 Same-Sex Marriage Outlook

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 2015 forecast for same-sex couples who wish to marry is sunny and warm, with a chance of clouds and the occasional burst of hot air.

While I think the chances of an unwelcome rogue thunderstorm surprising us are slim, one should never underestimate the impact of turbulent temperatures during seasonal shifts.

Metaphors aside, let’s break down the marriage equality legal landscape in 2015 beginning with this week’s action.

The 2015 Same-Sex Marriage OutlookThis Week

On January 5, a judge in Miami-Dade, Florida happily jumped the gun and allowed the first same-sex couples to marry. Effective January 6, same-sex marriages began in earnest in Florida; welcome news for the many LGBTQ couples and wedding professionals in this vibrant and strong market. Insider’s tip: though one shouldn’t expect an unprecendented market explosion since so much pent up demand for marriage has abated, it is reasonable to expect a healthy expansion of the market and an influx of new wedding dollars to excite this strong local and destination wedding base.

With the addition of Florida, thirty-six (36) states and the District of Columbia now recognize same-sex marriage. And, according to the Human Rights Campaign, with Florida, seventy (70) percent of Americans live in states that recognize marriage equality. Wow.

On Friday, January 9, the stakes for states awaiting news of marriage equality get even higher. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has received marriage equality cases for review from Louisiana, as well as from 6th Circuit Court of Appeals states: Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Michigan.

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» Marriage Equality Update: November 2014

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.

And, just like that, six weeks after the Supreme Court declined to review the 7 marriage cases submitted, the United States now recognizes marriage equality in 35 states and the District of Columbia.

The one surprise, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, was the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, which upheld the Constitutional bans on same-sex marriage in its jurisdiction (OH, KY, MI, TN). But, two cases from the 6th Circuit (MI & KY) have received attention for making the deadline for a request for Supreme Court review this term.

And, that timing couldn’t be better.

In the meantime, news of marriage equality should remain stable as all eyes are on the recent petitions submitted to the Supreme Court. We’ll be waiting for news of review toward the end of January.

Should the Supreme Court decide to hear the case(s), it’s reasonable to expect that we’ll have a decision on marriage by June 2015. This leads to me again ask: would your business be ready?

Stories of Note:

In South Carolina, the state attempted to reference the decision of the 6th Circuit Court to keep a stay on marriage in place, but the stay was lifted and all engaged couples are now able to apply for marriage licenses in South Carolina.

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» The Marriage Equality Streak Is Broken: What Does This Mean For Wedding Pros?

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.

Experts’s Note (11-12-2014): Since this post, marriage equality advanced in South Carolina. A federal judge overturned the ban on same-sex marriage, leading the way for marriage equality in the Palmetto state thanks to the binding pro-marriage equality ruling of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision is on stay until Nov. 20.

Experts’s Note (11-13-2014): On November 12, the Supreme Court lifted the stay on marriage in Kansas, making Kansas the 33rd state to allow marriage.

Four weeks ago, I was struggling to keep up with what states needed to be added – and in what expedited order – to the count of marriage equality states. Today, the marriage pace has changed.

Since my last post on the Supreme Court’s decision not to review the pending marriage equality cases, more states have moved toward joining the list of states that recognize marriage equality (including Missouri), but, more significantly, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals broke with the trend of favorable Circuit Court decisions and announced its decision to uphold the bans on same-sex marriage in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Michigan.

This mixed result – it’s the first Circuit Court of the four (the 4th, 6th, 7th & 10th) that have heard marriage-related legislation to uphold a marriage ban – is one that invites the Supreme Court back to the table to weigh in.

Marriage Equality by June, 2015?

For those of you interested in the details of legislative journey of challenges to the ban in the 6th Circuit Court (impacting OH, KY, TN & MI), keep an eye on the blogs of Freedom to Marry and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Otherwise, know that the legal teams from the four states in the 6th Circuit Court plan to appeal directly to the Supreme Court in hopes that the quick action will result in the Supreme Court choosing to hear the case during this term. And, yes, this action would set up a possible result of a federal ruling on marriage equality by June 2015.

There are many small legal twists and turns to expect along the way, and one can never predict exactly how the Supreme Court might react, but there is plenty of reason to be hopeful that the Justices will weigh in this term on the question of marriage equality as the law of the land. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had noted not long before the current term, there would be little reason for the Supreme Court to weigh in unless there was a conflict in rulings arising through the lower courts. The 6th Circuit Court, as the only court to uphold its states’ bans, has just introduced the need for some black-robed referees to help settle the question of marriage equality.

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» Inside WeddingWire: DC Capital Pride Parade

It’s officially Pride Month, and WeddingWire was happy to kick off the celebrations in the nation’s capital by walking in the 39th Annual Capital Pride Parade!

WeddingWire staff, along with LGBTQ-friendly couples and wedding professionals, showed support for same-sex couples and gay marriage supporters throughout the nation by walking in the Capital Pride Parade. Our team was also joined by Kathryn Hamm, President of GayWeddings.com. The parade was just one of a number of celebrations hosted by Capital Pride of DC, including poetry readings, a 5K, bike party, music festival and more!

Capital Pride is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the needs of the LGBTQ community and its partners through educational events, entertainment, community outreach, and celebrations of diversity. The Capital Pride celebration as we know it now traces its history back to the first LGBT festival in Washington, DC in 1975. The tradition has continued, and only gotten stronger.

We are thrilled to have been involved in DC’s Pride Month celebrations. The WeddingWire team was at Capital Pride in both 2012 and 2013 to help festival-goers learn about and join the Wed We Can campaign, but walking in the parade was a new and humbling experience for all of us.

Thank you so much to all the WeddingWire couples and Pros who walked with us in the parade! Check out some of our photo highlights below.

Capital Pride Parada

Photo by Terri and Angela of DJ Angie D Entertainment

Capital Pride Parade

Photo by Terri and Angela of DJ Angie D Entertainment

Capital Pride Parade

Photo by Terri and Angela of DJ Angie D Entertainment

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» Join the Wed We Can Movement!

WeddingWire is excited to continue celebrating Pride Month with the release of the new and improved Wed We Can website!

Wed We Can was developed as part of our partnership between WeddingWire and GayWeddings.com, the leading wedding place resource and boutique, dedicated to serving same-sex couples since 1999. The Wed We Can campaign represents our shared investment in and commitment to offering tools, ideas, resources and information to support a fully inclusive market of wedding professionals, and engaged couples and their friends and families.

The new site has updated resources for both LGBTQ-friendly wedding professionals and same-sex couples planning their big day. For Wedding Pros, the site offers educational articles about serving same-sex couples as well as tips for marketing their business to all couples. For same-sex couples, the site offers planning tools and links to the GayWeddings.com directory, powered by WeddingWire, where couples can find the same-sex friendly vendors.

The refreshed Wed We Can website also provides new resources, including images to help showcase your support on your GayWeddings.com Storefront and social networks as well as recent tweets and photos from the Wed We Can community.

To join the Wed We Can campaign, check out our quick guide below to learn more about seting an inclusive profile image specifically for your listing on GayWeddings.com!

Join the Wed We Can Movement!

As a featured presenter along the WeddingWire World Tour, Kathryn Hamm will be sharing new details and more information about the Wed We Can campaign in her presentations.  The next stop is WeddingWire World DC on Monday June 16, 2014, so be on the lookout if you’ll be attending! If not, get your tickets here.

» Wed We Can: How to Stand Out to Same-Sex Couples

Webinar  Recap!Wed We Can: How to Stand Out to Same-Sex Couples

To kick off Pride month this coming June, our webinar this month focused on how to stand out to same-sex couples for wedding pros who are serving all types of loving couples. This month’s webinar taught our listeners important updates on the changing legal landscape of gay marriage, the do’s and don’ts of presenting your business to same-sex couples, and how to maximize both your WeddingWire and GayWeddings.com accounts.

As usual we invited our premium members to listen to our webinar, but we also invited our lite members who have opted in to being listed on GayWedding.com. Kathryn Hamm, President of GayWeddings.com, and Sonny Ganguly, Chief Marketing Officer at WeddingWire, hosted the webinar on how to better serve and reach same-sex couples for LGBTQ-friendly Pros.

What you should do:

Understand the couple and their needs. The LGBTQ community is a powerful community and you want to make sure you understand their culture and politics. Know the difference between the evolving labels and be familiar with the evolving legal landscape in your home state.

Maximize your WeddingWire and GayWeddings account. For starters, make sure that you have opted in to be listed on GayWeddings’ vendor inventory. Next, make sure you customize your GayWeddings account photo with an inclusive profile image. This should be an image of same-sex couples, an image that showcases your services like a venue or favorite cake, or a marriage equality image such as the Wed We Can badge.

Use inclusive language. Be mindful on your website and marketing materials to address all types of couples. As mentioned before, WedingWire uses the word couple rather than bride or groom to be inclusive.

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» Updating Your GayWeddings.com Listing

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’m feeling awfully reflective these days.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve just started the book tour for the release my new book (co-authored with photographer Thea Dodds), The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography, and that’s got me into a storytelling mood.

Updating Your GayWeddings.com ListingOr perhaps it’s because this month – May, 2014 – marks 10 years of marriage equality in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In some ways, it feels like May of 2004 happened a heartbeat ago; in other ways, it has felt like a long (once lonely, but increasingly crowded and joyous) journey.

It’s also been just over 10 years since we launched our ‘gay-friendly’ directory (which we now refer to as our LGBTQ-friendly directory and which is now powered by WeddingWire), where we showcase wedding professionals – straight and gay alike – who are ready, willing and able to serve same-sex couples. More importantly, what was once a catalog of several hundred professionals nationwide has grown in size to one of over 90,000 Pros. And yes, I still get chills every time I say that.

But, here’s the thing: wedding professionals nationwide have enthusiastically signed up to serve the LGBTQ community via our wedding directory, but the majority have not yet updated their settings to reveal their sensitivity to this market.

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» Join us at Capital Pride DC!

Join us at Capital Pride DC!WeddingWire is pleased to announce our participation in the 39th Annual Capital Pride Parade!

Each June, Capital Pride of DC celebrates the national LGBTQ community with their annual Capital Pride Parade and Pennsylvania Avenue Festival. This year, the big event will be kicking off with the Pride Parade on Saturday, June 7th! We’ll be in the Capital Pride Parade, marching alongside same-sex couples and gay marriage supporters from across the United States.

Capital Pride is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the needs of the LGBTQ community and its partners through educational events, entertainment, community outreach, and celebrations of diversity. The Capital Pride celebration as we know it now traces its history back to the first LGBT festival in Washington, DC in 1975. The tradition has continued, and only gotten stronger.

We invite you to join the Wed We Can movement by walking with us and other local professionals in the Capital Pride Parade which attracts over 150,000 spectators each year – this is a great opportunity to get involved and show your support. Register here, and you’ll get a free t-shirt!

The WeddingWire team was at Capital Pride in both 2012 and 2013 to help festival-goers learn about and join the Wed We Can campaign along with Kathryn Hamm, President of GayWeddings.com, in attendance to answer questions. Be sure to check out our 2012 and 2013 recaps for photos and other highlights!

We hope DC wedding professionals and couples alike will join us for the festivities! For more details on the Pride Parade and Pride Festival, please visit the Capital Pride website.

» Making a Good First Impression With Same-Sex 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.

What does your virtual coffee table say about you?

In social interactions, we all tend to size each other up quickly. Sometimes our snap judgments have merit and sometimes they don’t. But, either way we, as human beings, have a tendency to size each other up – to judge a book by its cover, if you will – and proceed accordingly.

Making a Good First Impression With Same-Sex CouplesThis is especially true for the LGBTQ community. Not long ago, we didn’t feel safe being ‘out’ (and some of us still don’t) and we spent a great deal of time looking for signals that the space or relationship was safe enough for us to be our true selves.

Today, old habits die hard and phone hang ups still happen so gay grooms, lesbian brides and queer couples continue to spend extra time looking for the ‘little things’ to let us know that we can be honest with you if we do pick up the phone and call to inquire about your services. This is especially true for couples in non-marriage equality states in the midwest and deep south, but it also happens everywhere.

Case in point: I was working with a client from California (a marriage equality state) a few weeks ago, and he mentioned that he and his fiancé had booked a limo for their wedding day. But, he said, in doing so, he had booked it using his name and a fake bride’s name in order to avoid a difficult conversation. Clearly, there were no clear signals of LGBT-friendliness on this vendor’s website so the groom took a low-risk approach to engage the vendor.

That limo company is lucky that they got the business of this gay couple, but one can imagine the trouble that can ensue as a result of mixed signals and false pretense in this situation. In a worst case scenario, it doesn’t bode well for the couple or the limo company and one’s wedding day is not the day to sort this out!

As a wedding pro, you work hard to make sure that you are presenting your business to prospective clients as professionally as possible — from your brochures to your business cards to your website. You want to — you have to! — make a good first impression in an incredibly competitive marketplace.

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