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How to be authentically LGBTQIA+ inclusive in your wedding business

authentically LGBTQ+ inclusive

While running my LGBTQIA+ wedding magazine, Equally Wed for the past decade, I’ve found that inclusivity and acceptance are happening on multiple levels, from “willing to take money from gay people” all the way to celebrating the full spectrum of the LGBTQIA+ community. Being LGBTQIA+ inclusive doesn’t just mean being kind to everyone. It requires more work on your part to intentionally be welcoming with your words and actions.

For a wedding business to be authentically LGBTQIA+ inclusive means that you have taken at least these measures to embrace all couples:

  1. Use gender-neutral language throughout your website and social media posts, i.e., couples or marriers instead of bride and groom. Keep in mind that not all LGBTQIA+ marriers identify as a bride or a groom. So keep the gendered language out of the conversation until you know how your client(s) identifies. Use gender-neutral language in your contracts, i.e., couples instead of bride and groom. Other terms to consider include client, lovebird, partner, or something specific to your brand.
  2. Share your pronouns whenever possible, and ask others to tell you theirs. Put them in your signature, on your nametags, and in your bios. And though you might have been told that it’s “preferred pronouns,” that’s not accurate. The word “preferred” implies choice, and we don’t choose our gender identity. The best verbiage for your question is, “What pronouns do you use?” or “What are your pronouns?”
  3. Demonstrate inclusivity in communicating about the wedding day, such as calling the attendants the wedding party instead of the bridal party and referring to the getting-ready area as the “couple’s suite” or the “wedding suite” instead of the “bridal suite.”
  4. Show a variety of couples in your business’ imagery, not just cishet couples. (Cishet means cisgender and heterosexual. Cisgender is the opposite of transgender. Cisgender people identify with the gender they were assigned at birth.) I highly recommend incorporating diversity in more ways than just sexual orientation and gender identity. Show people of all races, ethnicities, body shapes and sizes, and physical abilities.
  5. Celebrate LGBTQIA+ couples and marriage equality with efforts that go beyond language by ensuring all other vendors you recommend are also LGBTQ+ inclusive, and work with vendors new to LGBTQIA+ weddings to make sure the couple is treated with respect.
  6. Train your entire staff to treat LGBTQIA+ couples and event guests with dignity. Full stop. From the front of the house to the back of the house to second shooters to your valet team, no matter who is interacting with your clients and their guests, they all represent you, your company, and your morals. So discuss your inclusivity mission with everyone working for you.
  7. Don’t tokenize LGBTQIA+ people. If you’re going to do a styled shoot, use actual LGBTQIA+ people. If you’re going to educate on LGBTQIA+ inclusivity, bring in an actual LGBTQIA+ person to do the educating. It’s inauthentic and insulting to our community to pretend to be something that you’re not or to elevate straight voices and faces over LGBTQIA+ voices and faces.
  8. Speak up for LGBTQIA+ equality in private conversations. If someone makes a joke about LGBTQ+ people or says something incorrect, say something. 
  9. Do not do business with anti-LGBTQIA+ businesses. Educate yourself on how companies like Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A give hundreds of thousands of dollars to organizations actively fighting against LGBTQIA+ rights.
  10. Understand that there are differences between LGBTQIA+ weddings and straight weddings, such as double proposals and inherent challenges that LGBTQ+ couples face in society and their families. Yes, love is love. We all deserve to marry the person we love. But it’s also OK to recognize that there are inherent differences and celebrate those differences.

It takes sincere effort to be fully and authentically LGBTQIA+ inclusive, and I encourage everyone to do the work. In an effort to help our community have more LGBTQIA+ inclusive wedding pros to choose from when planning their own weddings and to help the wedding industry lead with love, my wife and I built an immersive digital course that trains wedding pros and venue owners to be LGBTQIA+ inclusive on every level of their business.

Everyone who graduates from the Equally Wed Pro online course receives their CIP (certified inclusive professional) credential as well as a complimentary listing in our directory of LGBTQIA+ inclusive wedding professionals on the leading LGBTQIA+ wedding website, Equally Wed.

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