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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 11, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 2
Ensuring a good time for all - How to plan a truly inclusive LGBT wedding day
Arts & Entertainment
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Ensuring a good time for all - How to plan a truly inclusive LGBT wedding day

by Marley Blonsky - Special to the SGN

Washington legalized same-sex marriages in November's election and the first weddings took place Sunday, December 9. My wife and I were the 27th couple in line for our wedding license in King County and we exchanged our vows as part of a group ceremony at a lovely venue, which frankly did just about everything right when it comes to working with LGBT couples. We had a much larger ceremony in September, and during the planning process for that wedding, we vetted numerous vendors. From that experience, we'd like to offer our advice, both to vendors and to other LGBT/allied couples, for ways to be inclusive to all.

USE GENDER-NEUTRAL LANGUAGE EXCLUSIVELY
This means removing the terms "Bride" and "Groom" from everything - yes, everything, including marketing materials, contractual language, and even rooms at your venue. Do you really need a Bridal Suite? Why not a Wedding Day Lounge or something like that? Try replacing "bride" and "groom" with "spouse" or "party" or "fabulous person" - be creative! We went to one venue where we were told that "the bride will change here, and the groom will change here." Hello?! Do you see a groom anywhere? I don't!

But in reality, you'll open yourself up all sorts of new opportunities by removing gender-specific language. It might also heighten your appeal to people looking to use your services for other types of events. And in a similar vein &

DON'T BRING UP GENDER ROLES
Asking who is the "man" and who is the "woman" in an LGBT relationship is like asking a set of chopsticks which one is the fork and which is the spoon. Just don't do it. We all take different roles in our relationships and simply because people behave differently in certain situations, this does not give you the freedom to assume what their roles are. Please do not ask our family members or friends the same question - it will get back to us in one way or another!

IF YOU'RE LGBT-FRIENDLY, LET US KNOW!
We like to support businesses that are supportive of our community, and give back to those who donate to our causes. If you're a member of a business organization, note this on your website! Or if you're a photographer and have shot an LGBT couple, include them in your portfolio or blog.

One of the deciding factors for the venue we booked was a banner on its home page stating, loud and clear, "LGBT couples welcome!" Nothing is more awkward than having to ask, "Oh, hey, by the way, we're Gay. Is that OK?"

STAY INFORMED ABOUT OUR ISSUES
Is same-sex marriage legal in your state? On the ballot? Totally illegal? Keep current with what's going on so that when a client contacts you, or you go to your friend's/cousin's/guncle's (that's Gay uncle, duh) ceremony, you'll know exactly what political and social climate they live in. Our wedding was held two months before the election, and while we tried our best to make it as apolitical as possible, we were bombarded with questions our entire wedding day: "So, is this legal?" "Is this even a real marriage?" "Wait, can you really be doing this?" etc.

Until same-sex marriage is legalized across the entire U.S.A., it will be a political issue. You can help make whomever's special day it is easier and bring the focus back to their love and not on the political statement by being informed and helping educate others. After all, we want it to be "Just Marriage," not "Gay Marriage."

LET EACH COUPLE DEFINE THEIR CELEBRATION
For my wife and me, it was a wedding, plain and simple. Not a commitment ceremony or civil union. Other couples, however, may choose different terms. It is important that each couple and family have the freedom and choice to shape their ceremony and celebration how they choose to. As a vendor, you need to ensure that your marketing materials, contractual language, and employees don't inadvertently limit such choices and are accepting of all.

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