What’s All the Fuss about Same Sex Wedding Planning?
By Chanda Eddens – Daniels, A Monique Affair Wedding Planning+ Design & Coordination www.amoniqueaffair.com
When I chose to start my event planning business A Monique Affair, I knew I wanted to cater to the LBGT community. Back then in 1999, marriages between same sex couples were called “commitment ceremonies.” Marriage celebrations in the same sex community existed regardless of who recognized them.
It was part of the beauty of living in the Bay Area with such progressive cities like San Francisco, known to have a larger Gay/Trans community, or Oakland which has always been known for its thriving lesbian community. At least it’s what I thought until I began trying to set up partnerships with other vendors and was stunned at how many of them refused to work with same sex couples. It was the moment that I knew I was on the right path to focus on the community.
Fast forward to 2015 and I’m sure most event professionals in the Bay Area have worked with at least one same sex couple in their career. It brings us to ask, what’s all the fuss with planning a same sex wedding? To which I’d like to share some basic information as a planner that can help all event pros work within the market with confidence. In short, my advice: be prepared to educate, listen closely and have your resources ready!
When I say, be prepared to educate, I say it because I really feel the same sex community has been thrown into the wedding pool without a life jacket. Be prepared to explain the basics to them. Where most “brides” have been dreaming about their wedding day since birth, most LGBT couples have not. One of the biggest areas of misconception for same sex couples tends to be with budget expectations; I also find they know less about planning logistics.
In my practice, I explain how some of the typical activities are done and again some couples are aware of some things, but it takes a little bit of patience. Just remember we are the experts and our couples rely on us for our knowledge. Though my couples have always wanted to skip all the typical reception activities and get right to the dancing!
Next, listen closely! It’s simple as that. Try not to make any assumptions about roles or the gender identity of your couple. Gender identity is defined as: A person's private sense, and subjective experience of their own gender. This is generally described as one's private sense of being a man or a woman, consisting primarily of the acceptance of membership into a category of people: male or female.
I know most of us ask the question: How do you envision your day, when the couple answers, notice who takes the lead. As with a bride and groom couple, one person is most likely a bit more invested in the planning of the wedding. If you listen closely, all of your questions will be answered.
If there are still questions, be mindful of how you ask them. For example, have you given thought to your wedding day attire, is more polite then asking, who is wearing the dress? Another key thing to listen out for is whether parents are coming to the wedding. It may be a very touchy subject, so listen out for that as well. My couples always want a wedding that focuses on showing their love, and making sure their guests have a fun experience, nothing “traditional.”
Finally, have your resources ready. As I stated earlier, there are still people today who refuse to work with same sex couples. We hear about it in the news more often then we hear about the 36 states that recognize same sex marriages. Do your best to find out which of your vendors support marriage equality before you have your first client. Planning a wedding is supposed to be an exciting journey and you want your clients to feel comfortable. Coming out is a very sensitive matter. It sets a couple up for judgment and you wouldn’t want your couple to experience that stress each time they meet a new vendor.
Below is a list of same sex wedding websites and blogs that have vendors listed in each state who love working within the community. This list is a good place to start looking for your resources.
- Equally Wed
- H and H Weddings
- Gay Bride Guide
- Equal and Forever
- 4 Real Equality Weddings
- On A Bicycle Built for Two
I’m proud to say that I’ve been serving the LGBT market as a wedding planner since 1999 and not just because I am also a member of the community, but because I want the chance to offer them the flawless wedding experience they deserve.
What I’ve learned since then is that with every new wedding comes a unique couple, a personalized wedding and the chance to tell someone’s love story the best way we can as wedding professionals…so, what is all the fuss about planning a same sex wedding?
*All images used are from actually A Monique Affair, same sex weddings.