Planning a wedding isn’t easy. As wedding vendors, we know that more than anyone. One of the hardest parts of planning a wedding is the uncertainty of where to start. For queer couples, this can be even more daunting. Not only do they have to find the perfect wedding vendors, but they need to find someone they can trust with their love. We know that the majority of wedding vendors just want to see their couples happy and help celebrate their joy, so how do you show your LGBTQ+ couples that you’re here for them? We’ve put together some quick and super easy tips for wedding vendors to be a stronger allies for their couples.
1. Ask for Pronouns
This one is important, so it’s our top tip and it’s also easy to follow this one!
It’s easy to slip into the assumption that the person booking an appointment to try on wedding dresses uses she/her pronouns and to assume gender roles. It’s also seemingly easy to glance at a person and figure out their gender, but rather than guess or misgender someone, remember that gender is on a spectrum, nor is gender obvious.
One of the worst things you can do to someone who isn’t cisgender (someone whose sense of identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex) is to refer to them by the wrong pronouns. It’s best to ask up front, “what are your pronouns?” It’s also best to ask for the pronouns of their partner before assuming their gender too. Then, stick to that individual’s pronouns!
If you make a mistake, just apologize and correct yourself. It’s also best to not show off about how hard you’re working to try to get things right, because this isn’t about you. It’s about the person you’re helping and how they feel. When you get it wrong, you could be doing harm and sending signals to that person that you aren’t someone they can trust, so apologize and correct yourself then get it right every time after.
2. Fiancé is technically a gendered word.
I know this is related to point one, but bears pointing out! Try to avoid terms like “bride,” “groom,” “future Mrs.” and “fiancé” when referring to couples. While the pronunciation may be the same, fiancé and/or fiancée are technically gendered. Again, until you ask for someone’s pronouns, avoid the risk of misgendering someone. While it may not seem like a big deal to you, to the person you’re speaking to, it may mean a lot. Swap saying something like, “how did you meet your fiance?” for “tell me about your partner!” Partner is a much more inclusive term to use!
3. Don’t make them explain themselves
It’s not your couple’s job to explain their love and their relationship, so don’t make every couple come out to you. Ultimately, you should be asking everyone the same questions you’d ask anyone else, such as: how did they meet, what their engagement story is, what they’re looking for and their wedding vision. Be aware of your own internalized biases too. Sometimes, even if you don’t feel that way, you may have internalized biases or stereotypes! Watch your language and how you present yourself and make sure you are careful in the words you choose.
4. Show that you are LGBTQ+ friendly
Don’t just say it, show it. Show couples that you’re the one that they can trust with the most important day of their lives. Write on your website and social media that you are an LGBTQ+-friendly and safe environment. Show photos of couples that you’ve helped in the past. Then, the most important part is to live up to that expectation. It’s not enough to just say you’re LGBTQ+ friendly if you don’t act on it when the time comes. Be accepting, welcoming and loving of your couples when they contact you! Treat them as you’d treat any other couple and give them the respect they deserve.
5. Understand sensitivities
Remember that planning a wedding is stressful. It is an emotional time for any couple taking a big step, plus it’s a large-scale event that doesn’t have a reputation for being affordable. So for any couple, this is a stressful time that can bring out high emotions. Now, take normal wedding stress and tack on the fears and frustrations LGBTQ+ couples have, plus not knowing who they can trust and who will treat them fairly. Be patient with your couples and open to their questions. Know that being sensitive and understanding may be just as important as anything else.