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.
This 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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!).
How to Learn More About Gay & Lesbian Couples Themselves
For those of you who have followed GayWeddings.com over the years, you know that it has been a source for education via inspirational weddings and expert articles. Thanks to an increase in same-sex weddings and submissions over the past five years, the editorial team at GayWeddings.com has more inspirational weddings than ever to feature. After all, one of the best ways to learn more about what trends same-sex couples are embracing and/or introducing is by keeping tabs on the latest Real Wedding features.
Perhaps more importantly to the GayWeddings.com content offerings, however, is the addition of an incredibly talented writer and trend-spotter, Whitney Teal. Whitney adds outstanding content at a much faster pace than I produced in prior years, and she regularly shares inspiration and expert tips on social media via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Finally, if you are too busy to reach out for info, you can sign up to have it sent directly to you and your couples. You can sign up for the GayWeddings.com newsletter to receive regular reminders of the hottest trends in same-sex weddings, but you can also offer a valuable service to your same-sex couples by directing them to sign up. Whitney will be updating couples on the latest releases in LGBTQ wedding planning tools, expert tips and inspiration.