If you’re making New Year’s business resolutions, consider making a commitment this year to evolving your brand to one that is fully inclusive.
But becoming an inclusive business isn’t a surface-level branding change. Being equality-minded is a mindset.
It is something that is genuinely built into your business and your way of thinking. It can take some practice at first, but it’s important to consistently keep it at the top of your mind—but rest assured, it will become natural with time.
As the founder of Love Inc., an equality-minded wedding blog, I help wedding industry professionals become a safe haven for same-sex couples that typically face obstacles when planning a wedding.
In the wedding industry, inclusivity also impacts your bottom line—both same-sex and opposite-sex couples are looking to see if your company is LGBTQ-friendly. Many couples look for equality-mindedness in their wedding vendors, regardless of identity or orientation. But the wedding industry is incredibly heteronormative, so there’s a lot of work to do when it comes to overcoming apprehensions from LGBTQ couples.
And while this post is specifically about how to be more inclusive in the wedding industry, the tips in this blog can apply equally to any business that’s looking to be more inclusive to all potential customers. Especially as consumers continue to be more and more conscious of the businesses they support.
Here are a few strategies to extending your openness to all couples this year.
Educate yourself and your staff
There is nothing more valuable than knowledge. The more you know about working with people of different races or orientations, like same-sex couples, the better you will be able to offer them a fully inclusive experience.
Teach your staff to avoid making assumptions, as every couple has their own ideas and preferences. Learn about the words and/or phrases that can be offensive, and how you can best communicate your openness. Weddings in particular are filled with assumptions about gender roles, so be sure that you’re not reinforcing these stereotypes with any of your business activities.
It can be helpful to get feedback from someone you know and trust, so don’t be afraid to ask a friend, whether it is a member of the LGBTQ community or a partner who has exemplified inclusivity in their business.
That said, don’t put the burden on minority groups to educate you about the challenges they face. To be an effective ally, do as much research and work as you can on your own.
Work with inclusive partners
When you work with same-sex couples, you become a trusted resource for navigating the sometimes-insensitive corners of the wedding industry. It is up to you to help create the day of their dreams and shut out any unnecessary negativity in the process.
When you are providing referrals to an LGBTQ couple, remember that the vendors you recommend will speak to your own values. On Love Inc., for example, we provide a list of
Evaluate your industry peers’ online presence and, if necessary, don’t hesitate to ask them if they are LGBTQ-friendly.
This knowledge will arm you for smarter referrals to ensure that couples feel fully comfortable and welcomed throughout the planning process.
Be conscious of supporting diverse businesses and business owners as well. For example, do you work with black-owned businesses? How about LGBTQ-owned businesses? Supporting minority-owned businesses is a great way to walk the walk.
Evaluate your website and social media presence
Many prospects look at your website and social media profiles to determine whether to reach out to you. That is why your language, images, and content need to convey your openness and acceptance of all couples.
Start by forgetting the word “bride”—instead, use inclusive terms like “wedding party”, “wedding suite”, and “to-be-weds” (as opposed to “bride and groom”).
Incorporate LGBTQ-friendly photos of same-sex weddings, or photos of couples with diverse body types, so that all couples can picture themselves working with you.
Be genuine and trustworthy
Being inclusive means being accepting of all individuals and lifestyles. In order for people to trust you, that means creating a genuine connection with your audience.
Share the personal stories of the people you’ve worked with, but don’t be afraid to share your own story too. Include behind-the-scenes looks at how you create an inclusive environment through your business.
Donate to LGBTQ causes. Participate in the movements that matter to the LGBTQ+ community.
Your personal dedication to inclusivity will shine through in these moments.
Stay dedicated to inclusivity
Making your business feel inviting to all couples can take some work at first, but it is certainly worth the effort to ensure that your company is fully inclusive.
Being inclusive is ongoing, not a one-off activity, so keep up your dedication to incorporating inclusivity into your business.
Every single couple that walks through our doors (or any customer that walks into your business) deserves to be treated with respect and kindness, and as wedding professionals, it is up to us to create an industry where every couple feels welcomed as they plan the biggest day of their lives.