We are Sam + Bryt, wife and wife elopement photographers, business educators, and LGBTQ+ activitists! We are so freaking excited that you are here!
If you are ready to go on an adventure, feel empowered, or learn how to level up your business, we are your girls! So.. what are you waiting for? Let's do this thing!
Let’s be real- Planning a wedding can be HARD. But planning an LGBTQ wedding can be just as hard (if not harder). The fact of the matter is it shouldn’t be any harder than it really is. But sometimes our mindset makes it harder. Or our fears that we face. When we first got engaged I was so excited to start planning. Cue the Pinterest board creations and Instagram saves. But when I started ACTUALLY emailing vendors, I got so nervous. Would they turn us down? Would they not respond? I literally had no idea how it was going to go. Below is our story and a few tips that we learned along the way!
When we first started planning our wedding we thought about where we wanted to have it. We both knew we wanted to have a destination wedding but we were unsure how the heck to even start. Truthfully I started by looking for a photographer first (I mean, duh). But realistically we had to decide on a location. So we settled on St. Thomas, USVI. When we were choosing our destination, we had to make sure we could legally get married there. Yes, we actually had to do some research and find this out. So we headed to our best friend, Google. Lucky for us in 2016 same-sex marriage was legalized in the USVI.
To find out if same-sex marriage is legal where you are getting married, click HERE. This list was updated in 2017 and has a pretty good detailed list of locations all across the world.
So you have a location picked out, but now it’s time to decide on a venue. This is where things got a little tricky for us. We knew we wanted to have a small, intimate ceremony so we started googling venues. Honestly, every venue that we looked at had ZERO same sex wedding photos. So we had to make sure in our email that we were clear. We eventually settled on renting a villa on the water to have our ceremony. When we were emailing venues, we wanted to make sure that we were even allowed to host a wedding ceremony there. Our email sounded something like this.
We are so in love with your villa! We love that it is right on the water. And we were wondering if your house allows for small wedding ceremonies. We think we will have about 30-40 guests max. Our wedding will be an LGBTQ marriage. If this is something your villa can accommodate we would love a quote. We hope to hear back from you soon!
Sam & Bryt
Then… You wait.
Until you finally hear back. Well, maybe. We can admit that we didn’t hear back from some places. Which was okay with us. I did make sure to email one more time, but when we didn’t hear back, we figured it wasn’t “THE ONE” for us.
But then, we did hear back! The Villa owners were happy to accommodate us. Once we agreed that this was the place, we booked via VRBO.com. Phew- glad we found a place!
Honestly, this could probably be #2. But there is totally a reason. Sometimes I’d even put the photographer down as first. Because for us, choosing the right photographer was that important. Photographers can be SO helpful. They can help you find all kinds of lgbtq vendors. They know ALL the good photo places and they work with so many different people that they can truly HOOK. YOU. UP.
We did a quick google search again and found some photographers that we really liked in the islands. None of the photographers we emailed had any same-sex weddings in their gallery. So, here we went again. I pretty much felt like we were cold emailing, HA. Our email was very similar to the one above, except we made sure to ask if they had ever worked with a same-sex couple. We emailed away and heard back from several. One photographer made sure to include that love is love and she’d be happy to capture our story. We felt super connected and ended up going with her! All of the photographers that emailed us back hadn’t worked with a same-sex couple. But I feel like now it is becoming MUCH more common. To think that only 2 years ago this was a different story!
This was kind of a no-brainer for us. Because we were not local to our destination, we felt like we had to have someone who was there. Someone who could help organize all the vendors and make sure everyone was on the same page. We Facebook messaged several, then called, then set up calls. And literally, two never called us. But finally, we heard back from one and she was SUPER nice. She even said that we could send her packages (decor and such) and she would store them in a climate-safe location. This was a huge help as we sent over probably 4 boxes. She arranged the whole day for us and helped make sure the ceremony ran smoothly. She set us up with a DJ, caterers, and a same-sex friendly officiant. We had zero clue on officiants for us so this was a huge weight off of our shoulders. If you have learned anything from this post, BOOK A PLANNER. Our planner had actually worked with another same-sex couple so this was super helpful!
This pretty much leads all the up to the wedding. (Of course there are a lot of other little things but this was the hard stuff!) We felt pretty great about our vendors and felt comfortable that they were all LGBTQ-friendly. If I can leave you with one last piece of advice other than making sure your marriage is legal in your destination…. Make sure YOU are comfortable with your vendors. Make sure you are confident that they will be on your side. We felt 100% confident that ours were the right fit for us and this helped alleviate any stress that might have come from planning an LGBTQ wedding.
So there you have it! We will continue all of the logistics (like who walks down the aisle first, how to choose your attire, etc) for another day!
Do you have any tips to add to our above post? We’d love to hear them!
*Our wedding photo credit to the amazing Lindsay Vann Photography*