5 Actionable steps to becoming an effective LGBTQ+ ally and Wedding Pro!
*cover photo courtesey of Julie Shuford Photography
These days, you see the words and phrases, ‘inclusion’, ‘ally’, and LGBTQ+ welcoming’ plastered about. It can sometimes feel like the best of intentions fall flat and remain only words and not actions. At times, the idea of being inclusive seems to be seen more “on- trend” than something that is long over-due and a much need overhaul in our wedding industry.
I say our wedding industry, because it is our responsibility as the wedding professionals that make it up, to step up, listen, learn, and grow our business to be effectively welcoming to all!
The concept of hospitality and a sincere welcoming presence should be ingrained in everything we do, especially as wedding professionals. After all, we literally are IN the business of love. Giving of our time, resources, expertise, and experience plus sincere kindness and thoughtful treatment is what it is all about. Sadly, there are still HUGE gaps in how we are approaching the LGBTQ+ community when it comes to special events and weddings. Gay couples are not ‘hard to reach’ but they are still ‘hardly reached’ by the mainstream wedding industry as a whole and it’s got to change!
News flash! Gay people get married every single day and they want to be served with the same respect and care by the wedding industry that has been given straight couples for decades.
Since 2014, the year before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same sex marriages, the number of married same-sex households has increased by almost 70%, rising to 568,110 couples in 2019, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
If you are losing out on working with LGBTQ+ couples, here are my 5, straight-forward, no-nonsense, actionable, steps to take in being an effective LGBTQ+ ally and Wedding Pro.
- Put your $$$ where your mouth is.
Talk is cheap, right? Take action as a wedding pro and progressive industry leader by advertising with LGBTQ+ owned, operated, and inclusive organizations like The National Gay Wedding Association. Take the additional steps of showing a greater community support with contributions to non-profit organizations like GLAAD, which releases high-profile annual reports on LGBTQ+ inclusion in film and television, GLSEN, which supports LGBTQ+ students and works to end bullying in grades K-12, and The Trevor Project, which helps support suicide prevention in the LGBTQ+ community.
- Words do Matter.
Take the time to analyze the verbiage on your website, social media, and portfolios. Limiting and heteronormative language like ‘bride and groom’ or ‘Mr. and Mrs.’ should be replaced with more inclusive terms like ‘couple’ or ‘partners’. Phrases like ‘Bridal Suite’ and ‘Bridal Party’ should be replaced with ‘Wedding Suite’ and ‘Wedding Party’. On your website inquiry form, share and introduction and your pronouns with your audience. Add a line to request pronouns from your potential clients as well. You would be amazed at how this small but important piece of information significantly show LGBTQ+ clients (and frankly ANY socially conscious and woke clients) that you have taken the time to get to know who they are as people as a whole and how to best address them in a welcoming and inclusive way. This is a no-cost, big-impact way to show your allyship to the LGBTQ+ community as a wedding pro!
- If you built it, she/her/him/he/they/them will come.
If LGBTQ+ clients aren’t seeing images that reflect the gay weddings and people that look like them and showcase their love on your website, social media, and portfolio why would they feel comfortable hiring you? If you are finding your work is less than robust when it comes to LGBTQ+ weddings, consider participating in a styled shoot that features a (real-life) LGBTQ+ couple and highlights LGBTQ+ vendors in your area. The more you show your work as an inclusive vendor the more you will find LGBTQ+ couples that are interested in working with you!
- Raise Your Voice.
Make it crystal clear where you stand on inclusivity and being an LGBTQ+ advocate. This is not the time to be passive or assume other know where you stand. Nope, it’s the time to step up and use your voice for good! Cheer on, support and advocate for LGBTQ+ groups, vendors, and organizations in your area. Be loud, proud, and stand by your loving convictions. Let the world know you are a safe place that is welcoming to all loving couples. Yes, this might turn off some, but frankly, good riddance to those that aren’t welcoming to all. You can never show your sincere allyship too much or too often.
- Don’t stop!
In the words of RBG, “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Take the steps to make long lasting change in your business. Not just for a day, a week, or a month, but for the lifetime of your business. Being an effective LGBTQ+ ally and Wedding Pro is not a flash in the pan or a passing trend. It’s a dedicated pursuit of being a person and professional who stands up for others, advocates for all love, and isn’t afraid to stick their neck out for what is right, regardless. Being an active advocate takes time, persistence, continuing education, a big heart, a listening ear, and an open mind. It’s a lifelong journey that should never stop, because after all, love doesn’t stop so why should we?
If you are looking for more actionable steps and education, I highly recommend taking the Equally Wed LGBTQ+ Inclusive Certification Course. It’s filled with invaluable information and is worth purchasing for yourself as a business owner as well as for your team. I look this course myself and it’s a game-changer for anyone looking to be more inclusive and welcoming in their business.
I hope you use all of these 5 steps to further be an effective LGBTQ+ ally and Wedding Pro! I look forward to connecting with you more at The National Gay Wedding Association Inclusive Awareness Conference in January!