It’s 2022. It’s time to make sure our language and actions reflect the inclusivity that we owe all marginalized communities. There are many ways we can be inclusive, and I will cover all of them in a series of posts on the topic. This post in particular is going to focus on how to be inclusive to the LGBTQIA+ community as a wedding vendor. Bride & Groom. Husband & Wife. Most of us know couples who wouldn’t feel like these terms describe them accurately, so why are we still using these terms in our communication, our package descriptions, our contracts?
If you’re looking to be more mindful with your wording and how you conduct your business, here are a few places you can start.
- Start with language. Bride and groom, or any iteration of this, should be replaced. You can choose the replacement based on your couples and your brand to find something that feels right for all of you, but a few options would be: Partner & Partner, Spouse & Spouse, Client & Client, Marrier & Marrier, Celebrant & Celebrant, Partier & Partier, Superhuman & Superhuman….the possibilities are endless. Most importantly, check with your couple before assigning any labels to them. If they identify as Bride & Groom, that’s fine to use going forward. But don’t send communication with that language before you know they are comfortable with that. Bridal party? Wedding party. Groom’s quarters? Wedding suite. Bridesmaid/Groomsman? Attendant. And if you get to know your couples, you can use the terminology they identify with on things like contracts as a way to connect with them further by showing you care about knowing them and their personalities.
- Don’t rely on ‘same-sex’ language. While that might apply to some LGBTQIA+ couples, it doesn’t apply to all. Don’t assume that an LGBTQIA+ wedding means same sex. Keep in mind each person might have different gender identities, different sexual orientations, different ways they personally identify. Get to know your couples and use language that reflects how they identify.
- Have a running list of other inclusive wedding vendors that you can refer your couples to so they don’t have to stress about searching for them on their own and vetting whether or not they are going to be accepting and inclusive. Unfortunately, there are couples who inquire about florals or catering or cakes, only to be turned down once the vendor learns the service is for an LGBTQIA+ wedding. Help your client avoid this.
- Are you showcasing your work with LGBTQIA+ couples? It should be easy to see on your website and social media that you not only work with clients who don’t identify as cis-het, but that you’re proud of that work with those clients and want to feature it prominently. And if you’re newer in the industry and don’t have work to show in your portfolio but you want to demonstrate your inclusivity, look into styled shoots or model calls so that you have that content to show. Imagine being a couple looking for wedding vendors and finding someone they love, and then they look at the vendor’s portfolio and see no work that reflects their identities.
- Don’t make assumptions. In communication with a couple, don’t assume anything. Don’t assume a name equals a gender identity. Don’t assume a gender identity means you know the gender of who they’re marrying. Don’t assume someone carrying a bouquet is a bride. And even beyond LGBTQIA+ assumptions, don’t assume a woman is taking a man’s name. Don’t assume invitees want the Mr. and Mrs. Fred Jones format on their invitation. Again. It’s 2022. Every couple can make their own decisions for their engagement, their wedding day, their marriage, and it only has to make sense to them.
For those wedding vendors wanting to be fully inclusive (which should be ALL wedding vendors….and all people), this is just a starting place, not a comprehensive list. As you continue to work with LGBTQIA+ couples, you will learn more and more about how you can be inclusive and demonstrate that inclusivity. The most important thing is to LISTEN to your couples. Every person will let you know what they are comfortable with, what they prefer, and who they are, if you just listen. Don’t make assumptions, let your clients guide you in terms of their preferences, and then be demonstrative in your support of those feelings.