How to Find LGBTQ Friendly Wedding Vendors
Planning a wedding is always such an exciting experience for a couple, filled with joy, love, and sometimes heated (but always friendly) debate between the mauve or the burgundy! Many couples have great fun thinking about how they want to decorate (I was just meeting with a couple last night that is thinking about how to incorporate dinosaurs), what food will be served, and how many guests they'd like. One of the best parts is getting to meet with and hire a vendor team filled with amazing people who support you and will work hard to bring your dream wedding to life!
But for LGBTQ+ couples, the search for the ideal vendor team can also come with a flurry of complex emotions as they introduce themselves and are essentially forced to come out to dozens of perfect strangers.
The good news? In 2020, almost every wedding vendor on the market will work with LGBTQ+ couples. In fact, all vendors with listings on The Knot and WeddingWire must agree to a non-discrimination policy that states they will not deny services to anyone because of who they are, what they look like, or whom they love.
But the sad truth is that while most vendors will work with LGBTQ+ couples and may even claim to be "LGBT Friendly," many just see LGBTQ+ couples as another market they can sell to, rather than as people who are part of a community they can and should actively support. These businesses don't speak up against discrimination, they don't refer their clients to other inclusive businesses, and they don't do everything in their power to reflect on and ensure their business practices and marketing efforts are inclusive.
For our last pride month post of 2020, we're telling you how and where to find truly inclusive LGBTQ+ friendly wedding vendors. While it certainly requires a little extra research, it will be well worth it for LGBTQ+ couples and allies to have a vendor team they know supports them fully.
Look at Their Galleries
Perhaps the easiest way to tell if a business is LGBTQ+ friendly is to look at their photos. If their website galleries, Instagram feeds, and regular marketing materials are full of photos of real-life same-sex couples (styled shoots with models hired to act like a couple don't count), it's a pretty good bet that they are fairly inclusive.
Note: You want to be sure vendors are posting these photos in their regular marketing materials. Be careful of sneaky business tactics where you email a vendor letting them know you're an LGBTQ+ couple, giving them an opportunity to send materials specifically created for same-sex couples.
Read Everything They Write
Take the time to carefully read the content on each vendor's website, social media posts (and comments), marketing materials, emails with you, and even their contracts. Do they use gender-neutral language? Do they make any assumptions about the wedding having a bride and a groom or about the gender roles in your relationship?
The wedding industry is incredibly (and exhaustingly) heteronormative. Finding vendors who break away from heteronormative language and assumptions almost guarantees that they are inclusive of LGBTQ+ couples.
Ask Them Directly
Don't be afraid to be blunt and ask a potential vendor something like, "How do you feel about working with an LGBTQ+ couple?" Try to ask this at an in-person meeting or at least in a video call. They may say all the right things on their website and social media, but when you're making eye contact with them and expecting them to give you an answer on the spot, their words and their body language will reveal how they truly feel.
If what they say makes you cringe, they are probably not the right vendor for you.
Is the Business LGBTQ+ Owned And/or Does it Have LGBTQ+ Employees?
One excellent indicator that a wedding business is truly inclusive is that it is owned, operated, or staffed by LGBTQ+ people. While many vendor websites don't have this information posted publicly, it is absolutely acceptable to ask something like, "Do any LGBTQ+ people work in your business?"
Of course, there are many businesses owned by straight allies who are incredible to work with, so don't feel like you can only hire someone if they're queer.
Know Who You'll Be Working with Before You Book
Just because a business is LGBTQ+ friendly doesn't necessarily mean everybody who works there is. If you are hiring a photography vendor with 15+ photographers on staff, be sure to ask who your specific wedding photographer will be and try to get to know a little about them before you sign a contract. You aren't above Facebook or Instagram stalking, are you?
Search LGBTQ+ Wedding Planning Directories
There are many websites specifically created as resources for LGBTQ+ couples, and many of these sites have directories of inclusive wedding vendors. I've included some examples (with links) below:
Like most of the things in this post, don't judge your vendor exclusively for whether they're included in these directories. Some of them can be pretty expensive to get on and might not be popular enough in a certain market to justify paying for a listing. Further, since most of these websites just require a business to give them money and not actually prove their LGBTQ+ friendliness, they're not always entirely trustworthy.
Get Referrals From the LGBTQ+ Friendly Vendors You've Already Hired
Inclusive vendors love working with other inclusive vendors. Once you've hired your planner or photographer, they can probably give you a list of other businesses that are just as inclusive as they are. However, once you get this list, I still recommend doing your homework to ensure these vendors are really a great fit for you.
Don't Stress About It
The last thing I want is for you to walk away from this blog post feeling overwhelmed about how you'll find inclusive vendors for your wedding. Trust the referrals of your existing vendors, do the research that you can do (don't worry about the stuff you can't do), and trust your instincts. Remember that at the end of the day, you're gonna get married, and that is what it's all about!
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