» 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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» Celebrate the Holidays with a Company Video!

This blog post highlights some great ideas from our friends at Animoto, see the original post and some more great video examples on the Animoto blog!

The holidays are an ideal time for businesses to express genuine appreciation and connect with customers in a more personal way. And what better way to do that than with a year-end video?

Videos are more personal and generally less expensive to produce than traditional paper cards. And, if done right, they can have a positive impact and go a long way towards building good will for your brand. Just keep in mind that you’re not trying to sell anything with your holiday video; it should express sincere gratitude and holiday sentiments, while showcasing your company’s personality.

Did you know premium Pros have access to the Video Builder tool within your WeddingWire account, which means users can create unlimited, professional videos in minutes? Decide the focus of your video (or videos!) this holiday season, and get started today!

Get inspired with these four popular types of holiday videos:

1) Happy Holidays Greeting

The “Happy Holidays” greeting is the most common type of company holiday video card, wishing viewers good wishes from the team. The possibilities are truly endless here, from a simple slideshow of team members or a group photo of the entire company, to a more elaborate reveal of the holiday message.

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» Tips for Working with Wedding Planners and Getting on Their Preferred Vendors List

Laurie-HartwellThis article was written by Laurie Hartwell. Laurie is the owner of A Wedding To Remember. With offices in Orlando, New York City, Kansas City, Chicago, and Atlanta her firm strives to offer top notch, affordable wedding planning and coordination services. She is also the Founder and CEO of The Bridal Society, an organization that offers Wedding Planning Certification Courses in cities across the US. As the main instructor for the course, Laurie tries to share her 20 years of experience with her students to instill the importance of professionalism, character, morals and fairness in the wedding industry. www.TheBridalSociety.com. Check out their upcoming events here.

In addition to constant advertising and excellent reviews, your business can benefit greatly from having a healthy relationship with one or more wedding planners in your community and networking with other local professionals. Once you establish a relationship with a wedding planner and you have proven to him/her that you offer a great product at a reasonable price then they have the ability to send you business on a regular basis. Wedding planners are your repeat customer, so being on their preferred vendor list should be a top priority. Wedding planners often sell their clients on your services through recommendations well before your initial meeting so by the time they meet with you they are practically ready to sign.

Here are some key things wedding planners and wedding professionals you would like to network with (and their clients!) are looking for in a wedding vendor partnership:

Be on time. Make an effort to arrive at least 15 Bride With Wedding Planner In Marqueeminutes early for all meetings. There is nothing that turns a client (and her wedding planner) off more than you being late. Being on time tells the wedding planner and client that you value their time just as much as your own. Always be on time, but if traffic or another issue forces you to be late make sure you communicate with the wedding planner so they can make needed adjustments to the schedule. Many times a wedding planner will schedule meetings with several vendors throughout the day so make sure you communicate, so they can reschedule other appointments accordingly.

Have the right attitude. There is nothing more frustrating to a wedding planner than sitting down with a vendor and immediately having to endure all the gory details about everything that went wrong with your morning. Save those conversations for your friends or family members at another time. When you are meeting for business keep it professional. Having a professional demeanor will give you an edge on the competition!

Focus on a team approach.  Are you easy to work with on the wedding day? Are you sensitive to the needs of the other wedding vendors? Always be willing to cooperate and be flexible when unexpected circumstances come up. If you give the impression that you are not a team player it is unlikely you will make it on anyone’s preferred vendor list. Continue reading

» Are You Taking Advantage of Our GayWeddings.com Partnership?

WeddingWire.com and GayWeddings.com will celebrate 3 years of partnership in March of this year! The partnership celebrates the unions of all loving couples, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and provides LGBTQ-friendly wedding professionals with an opportunity to reach same-sex couples planning their wedding or union.

Are You Taking Advantage of Our GayWeddings.com Partnership?Together, WeddingWire and GayWeddings.com empower engaged couples and LGBTQ-friendly wedding professionals throughout the planning process. Wedding professionals listed on WeddingWire can easily opt-in to the GayWeddings.com directory, which features thousands of LGBTQ-friendly Pros across the country and abroad! Learn more about our partnership here.

Ready to share the love? Join the Wed We Can campaign designed to empower same-sex couples, their friends and family, and wedding professionals dedicated to serving the newly engaged couples with knowledge, tools and support. Download Wed We Can social media covers, access education for Wedding Pros to better serve same-sex couples and more.

All WeddingWire members have access to advertising your business on GayWeddings.com by selecting that you service LGBTQ ceremonies in the FAQ of your Storefront within your account. It’s important to remember that when you select that you service LGBTQ ceremonies you are now advertising your business to all kinds of couples, so you may want to re-examine your marketing and brand materials.

Below are three ways to maximize your exposure on GayWeddings.com and reach more same-sex couples!

Always Use Inclusive Language

No matter where you are advertising, it’s always important to practice using inclusive language – that is, don’t reference your couples as one “bride” and one “groom.” Try removing the word bride from your vocabulary and instead use the word couple. Small changes like this transform how you’re marketing yourself and who you’re marketing yourself to! Now none of your couples will feel as though they are not included in your business’ messaging.

Tweak your Advertisement on GayWeddings.com

Using inclusive language is a great start – but also keep in mind you can select a main image specifically for GayWeddings.com. If you have worked with same-sex couples in the past, use one of those photos to feature as your main image, or a more gender neutral image (not a heterosexual couple). In addition, be sure these photos are also a part of your albums on WeddingWire to alert searching couples that you are a LGBTQ-friendly Pro.

Educate Yourself

Follow headlines and be sure you are aware of the legal status of partnership recognition for same-sex couples in the states where you offer your services. We provide top education resources just for wedding professionals to better serve same-sex couples, knowledgeable expert advice about same-sex weddings and an etiquette guide, the latest news and updates on marriage equality direct from the Human Rights Campaign, and regular Education Expert posts from President of GayWeddings.com, Kathryn Hamm!

Pros who are LGBTQ-friendly can increase their business by expanding their network and making it known that their services are inclusive!

Not listed yet? Here’s how to opt in!

» The Value of Education for Wedding Pros

As a busy wedding and event professional, we know that it may be difficult to find the time to invest in yourself and your continued education. However, educational events like top industry and category-specific conferences, as well as joining top national associations and attending local chapter and networking events for other Wedding Pros are incredibly valuable.

Three keys to growing your business and expanding your reputation through education include:

  1. Attending the best educational industry conferences for your business (see our list below for some ideas!)
  2. Reviewing top Associations and groups in your service category and local location and considering a membership for added education, networking opportunities, special member benefits and more
  3. Networking with other local Pros You Know and attending events to make new connections – they could lead to your next big referral (and don’t forget to return the favor!)

Show your commitment to your business and personal growth by exploring these valuable education events and opportunities. Here is a list of a few of the education and association conferences WeddingWire and our Education Experts will be at this year – we would love to see you there! Check them out for more information and to see if they are a fit for your business.

  • WeddingWire World: Learn with WeddingWire! Attend our own dedicated user’s conference full of top educational sessions created to grow your business from the industry’s leaders, one-on-one customer support sessions to maximize your account, as well as great networking  opportunities with industry peers and more. There is exciting news coming your way about WeddingWire World 2014 – stay tuned for details coming soon!
  • WPPI: The Wedding & Portrait Photography Conference and Expo is taking place in Las Vegas, NV on March 3-5, 2014. Attendees learn tips, strategies, news and more through classes, seminars and expo booths dedicated for professional wedding photographers.  Continue reading

» Another Marriage Equality Milestone

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.

Let’s review the many amazing marriage equality milestones that have occurred thus far in 2013, shall we?

Earlier in the year, the latest states to recognize marriage equality—Maryland, Maine, and Washington (which passed marriage equality legislation in 2012)—officially welcomed same-sex couples as marriage license applicants. And, more recently Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota, expanded their definitions of the wedding market to be inclusive of same-sex couples as well. Colorado made news this year in its own way by passing civil unions legislation. And, last, but certainly not least, California enjoyed a return to the spotlight when the Supreme Court overturned Proposition 8, allowing same-sex marriages to resume in California.

Bottom line: In what seemed like the blink of an eye, we went from counting marriage equality states on six fingers to needing to put all of our fingers and most of our toes to work to keep count.

But, truly, the biggest news of the year thus far has been the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down as unconstitutional section three of DOMA (the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act”), which denied federal benefits to same-sex couples who were legally married. There were several possible scenarios on how the Supreme Court justices might have ruled on Prop 8 and DOMA; the outcome, however, was a best case scenario. In overturning DOMA, same-sex couples who were (and are!) legally married and residing in a marriage equality state are finally eligible for federal marriage recognition and its many benefits.

At the time, however, a giant question mark remained for same-sex couples who are legally married, but are living in states that do not recognize marriage equality. That question mark has now been converted into an exclamation point.

Yesterday, the US Treasury provided some clarity with a broad-sweeping announcement, indicating that any legally married couple, residing in *any* state, is required to file as a married couple and will now have equal recognition and access to all tax programs. This includes income tax, gift and estate taxes, deductions, exemptions, retirement accounts, and child tax credit.

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said in a statement yesterday that the ruling provides “certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance” nationwide. “It provides,” he said, “access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve. This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”

What does all of this mean for wedding professionals?

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» DJs: Don’t Miss The Las Vegas DJ Show!

Last month, WeddingWire was thrilled to announce our new partnership with the American Disc Jockey Association (ADJA), the nation’s largest trade association for professional disc jockeys. We’re now excited to support ADJA at The Las Vegas DJ Show, which will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, September 8-11, 2013.

The Las Vegas DJ Show is the biggest conference in the DJ industry, and is a great opportunity to learn from leaders in the industry and network with hundreds of other DJs from across the country and abroad. The theme this year is “Boost Your Spirits, Boost Your Business” communicated through three different education tracks that will run simultaneously, and focus on areas such as performance, business, technology, multi-op systems, and our favorite, ‘Turntablism!’

Don’t miss out on the chance to attend this highly-anticipated conference! Register now for your VIP Pass before the sale ends on July 8th, and don’t forget to book a room at LVH  located conveniently next door to The Las Vegas Convention Center!

» Announcing Our Partnership with ADJA!

We are excited to announce a new partnership with the American Disc Jockey Association (ADJA), the nation’s largest trade association for professional disc jockeys!  ADJA members have access to a special discount on select WeddingWire memberships to power your business.

ADJA members can save up to $150 off select premium WeddingWire memberships to boost your online exposure on the #1 Wedding Network, with over 40 million visits each month across the leading wedding sites, including WeddingWire.com, Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides.com, Weddingbee and Project Wedding. Additionally, premium members receive access to industry leading business management tools and educational articles, webinars and more!

ADJA also produces the annual industry event, The Las Vegas DJ Show. The event’s goal is for DJ’s to “boost your spirit, and boost your business,” and this year’s event will be September 8-11 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Learn more today!