The wedding industry in general has a HUGE lack of diversity + inclusivity. There. I said it. How do we expect the wedding industry to change without educating? We can’t. Therefore, it is now our time to step up and educate! Things have to change. And it starts with us! As wedding vendors we must do our part to educate and change our industry as a whole. Wedding Vendors aren’t LGBTQ+ Friendly yet…Here’s 15 things that you need to change!
Before you can dive deep into many of the things you can begin doing to change, you must first start educating yourself! You do not have to look too hard to find information on inclusion and what being inclusive means. There are classes out there that you can take to better understand what being a true inclusive vendor means. Our favorites is a course offered by Equally Wed, called the Equally Wed Pro Certification. This is a course that helps you learn how to be more inclusive and better serve the LGBTQ+ community.
Website copy includes any of the words and type you use on your website and in your blogging. Examples could be, “Bride and Groom”, “Husband and Wife”, “Man and Wife”… that kind of thing! If you want to show the LGBTQ+ community that you stand with them and would happily play a part in their day – think about your vocab! All wedding vendors should be making sure that they are featuring inclusive language in their copy on their website. Instead of saying “Bride and Groom” say couple or partners, or my favorite LOVERS!
I can’t tell you how many times Bryt and I had to choose who was going to be a groom when filling out an inquiry form. SO! ANNOYING! It’s 2021 now people… there a lot more than just brides and grooms getting married! You can’t tell me I’m wrong…… so how do you go about being inclusive? Try this! Instead of saying “Bride and Groom” names, say “Partner 1 + Partner 2”. When you do this, you aren’t putting anyone into a confined box.
Showcase in your website copy that you are an inclusive photographer. Put that you service ALL couples no matter the difference. If I am a potential couple and I’m scrolling on your website I want to see that you are inclusive in some way. You could use words to describe this or it could be by using a photo of an LGBTQ+ couple/showcasing diversity. Either way, make sure this is on your homepage so we don’t have to “search” to find that you are inclusive.
One thing that can help you be more inclusive is by asking for pronouns. This can assure that you are speaking with them and being respectful by using their preferred pronouns. You can do this by adding a pronouns question to your inquiry form or even posting your pronouns somewhere. If you aren’t sure what pronouns are or why they matter, THIS is a great resource! Leave room for fluidity!
The wedding industry is so bride focused. But let’s get this straight, Grooms get married too. And even people who don’t want to refer to themselves as either get married. So when you are publishing content on your blogs or social media, start making sure that you are not focusing on just a “bride”. Change your content to reflect anyone who get’s married!
Make sure that all elements of your social media and website include a variety of inclusiveness. Showcase it by posting photos that display a variety of couples on your website, social media, You Tube, etc. We don’t want couples to have to “scroll” to find out if a vendor is inclusive. We want it to be apparent right away!
Venues… venues… venues… This one can be so simple if you let it! Stop naming your suites “bridal suite” and “groom suite”. Instead, maybe try something new! Something up with the times! Call them “wedding suites” or simply “suites.” So simple!!!! Make sure to have a place for both partners to get ready. You should consider how one partner may feel if they don’t have a space and their partner does… Do the right thing! If you want to be inclusive and stay relevant in 2021, change your suite names!
Anyone can hold bouquets! They’re flowers!!!! Flowers don’t have a gender, come on now… Adding to that, anyone can wear boutonnieres! Flowers in your wedding are a MUST and using a florist that is inclusive is just that much better. Instead of assuming that the couple wants a certain floral arrangement, just ask! This way you aren’t putting anyone into a specific category. I think one of the biggest things to remember is to never assume something about a couple. Always be listening to what they are saying. And if you are unsure, just ask!
This kind of refers back to the “bride” being the center of the wedding industry. Again, let’s get with the times people!!!! Grooms marry grooms, brides marry brides, PEOPLE MARRY PEOPLE! Love is love. Try referring to the group as a whole, you should try using the term “wedding party” – SO MUCH MORE INCLUSIVE! This refers to the attendants that are standing with or aiding the couple getting married. It removes the “gender” terms from referring to the group and makes the terminology waaaay more inclusive!
Contracts… where to start! These are pretty much the biggest part of planning a wedding – they lay the groundwork! But alas, for some reason contracts seem to always be the last thing on our minds when we are working on inclusivity! But there is so much language and copy in a contract that can be noninclusive. Scroll through your contracts and double check your pronouns, remove the terms bride/groom/bridal party and replace with the term wedding party or couple! Please double check with your lawyer when changing these terms as well!
There are so many publications and magazines out there that feature the, shall we say…”stereotypical” couple getting married. You can scroll on their feeds for hours and not see a single couple that looks like you and your partner. The lack of diversity in publications is actually really horrifying. But, WE as wedding vendors have to do our part in changing this. How can we change it? By submitting our work to these publications! Making our diverse work be seen by more publications so that they can share the inclusive content that we are producing! Some wedding publications even state that they have a HARD TIME finding diverse content. Which is why we as vendors need to step up and excuse my french, share the hell out of our amazing, diverse content! Some of my favorite publications that are diverse and inclusive are Equally Wed and Wandering Weddings!
So many vendors refer to their clients as their “brides.” When in fact we know that not all couples that get married have a “bride”. Instead, refer to your couples as your clients. Especially because the pairing of the two partners can be two non-binary people who don’t refer to themselves as either! Also keep in mind any email templates or communications you have with your couple! Check over these and make sure they are LGBTQ+ friendly + inclusive!
One thing that we need to become more aware of is that when we are referring other vendors to our clients, consider if they are inclusive. Are the vendors that you are referring LGBTQ+ friendly? Do they showcase diversity in their portfolios? Do your opinions and beliefs align with theirs? By sharing inclusive vendors, this will continue helping spread inclusion and diversity in the wedding industry.
We are humans. We all make mistakes! But it’s not about the mistakes, it is about how we grow and change from those mistakes that matters. You might make some mistakes along the way, but don’t worry! EDUCATION IS KEY. Continue to ask questions and get clarification if and when you may need it. Apologize if and when you need to as well and keep striving to make the wedding industry more inclusive! Your hard work will not go unnoticed to the wedding party 😉
When we asked a variety of wedding vendors what they thought about the wedding industry and inclusion, one quote in particular stood out to us. Valerie Lynn wrote this… “With outdoor/adventure elopements specifically, sure anyone *can* elope, but there are so many systemic barriers already keeping people of color, people with disabilities, and LGBT+ folx from recreating safely in the outdoors, so unless those underlying issues are addressed adventure elopements are going to inherently remain exclusive to some degree.” Let that sink in folks… We need to be the change here. It’s time to stand up and fix this. WE have the power.
Summing it up here, we hope you enjoyed reading about the things we feel need to change in the wedding industry. This is our call to action so to speak. It’s time for change, and the time is now!
Sam + Bryt
Sam + Bryt are elopement and intimate wedding photographers and LGBTQ+ activists. They also help other wedding vendors become LGBTQ+ Friendly businesses. If you’d like to read more about inclusive education, check out the other articles in their blog HERE!
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