Emily Keenan didn’t fit into the typical “bride and groom” box when she was planning her wedding two years ago. She belonged in the “bride and bride” category. So, when she was looking for wedding vendors, she wanted to find professionals who didn’t have a problem with her lifestyle.
“It was important that the vendors we worked with thought that we were important enough clients that they wanted to make us feel comfortable and accepted,” says Keenan, editor of 4 Real Equality Weddings, an LGBTQ wedding blog. “We didn’t realize how much we were going to be working one-on-one with some of these people, and as we got deeper into the process, we really began to realize how important it would be to have a positive relationship with them.”
Because she was getting married in a state where same-sex marriage is legal, Massachusetts, Keenan crossed her fingers and rightly assumed vendors would be cool working with two brides.
But not every couple is so lucky — cases of vendors refusing to work with same-sex couples routinely make national headlines.
In order to help you find vendors that will make you feel like any other bride or groom, here are a few pointers:
Talk to your friends
Word of mouth is the tried-and-true method of finding anything from a dentist to a mechanic, and the same goes for wedding vendors. If you have friends, or friends of friends, who are recently married gay couples, feel free to ask them which vendors they liked — or didn’t like.
Talk to your venue
If you’ve found a venue for your wedding, you can ask them for suggestions. Not only can you find vendors that are gay-friendly, you will also likely find ones who are familiar with the venue. This worked well for Keenan:
“Once we found our venue, we were given a list of recommended vendors who knew how to work with the rustic space we had chosen and we started there,” says Keenan.
Keep in mind that once you find vendors for some of your needs, such as a photographer, you can also ask her who she recommends for the other services that you need.
Google, Google, Google!
Beyond word of mouth, Keenan also took to the Internet to conduct research on potential vendors. You can look for reviews of vendors on websites like Yelp, as well as check out the vendors’ websites and see if they’ve worked with same-sex couples in the past.
Use gay-friendly vendor directories
There are an increasing amount of resources at your disposal, especially as more states legalize gay marriage. Several gay-friendly wedding websites also feature vendor and venue directories that you can search by type of vendor or location.
Wedding Pride, for instance, has a great directory of same-sex friendly vendors in New York.
Best part is once you find one great, gay-friendly vendor through our website, such as a florist or bakery, they can lead you in the direction of another friendly and accepting vendor.
Look for gender-neutral language
Language used on a business’s website can help tip you off on whether they are gay-friendly or not. If a vendor uses words like “partner” or “client,” as opposed to strictly “bride and groom,” that can show a consideration for same-sex couples.
“It is so important that vendors realize how much the wording on their website and contracts affects potential clients,” saysKeenan. “Couples want to see themselves accepted and recognized for who they are — whether it’s bride and bride, groom and groom, client 1 and client 2, or bride and groom.”
It’s also important to see if the vendor has same-sex samples in on their site. For instance if you are looking at a potential photographer’s samples, look to see if they have shot any gay weddings.
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