Deciding to share your life with your future spouse was likely an easy decision. Telling your family and friends? One of the most exciting moments. But selecting a date, a vendor, your theme, and your bridal party tends to be a bit more exhausting. And if you're part of the LGBT community, making phone calls and filling out online inquiry forms may make you feel slighted. Though all weddings should be considered equal and be accepted, there have been several shocking stories of discrimination from bakers, florists, photographers, and other essential vendors. Luckily, many couples have been in your same shoes and had no problem finding pros who support their love. Here, five recent brides and grooms share their best tips for finding open, accepting wedding vendors.
Ask where they stand as early as possible.
When Dee Filecia married her long-term partner, the couple decided to elope since her family was the United States and her wife's lived in Canada. They desired a simple gathering as a testament to their love, and wanted an officiant who would accept them for who they were. That's why Dee says being direct her best piece of advice for couples looking for open-minded vendors. "You want people at your wedding who are happy to be there and are bringing positive energy. If you can't find someone who fits the bill, I would suggest asking a friend or family member to officiate," she says.
Consult the LGBT Chamber of Commerce in your area.
Recent groom Jonathan Lovitz says that your local Chamber of Commerce might have an LGBT sector with an approved list of go-to bakers, florists, and rental companies who will support your upcoming ceremony. He notes that spending your money purposefully with those who are inclusive speaks volumes for the community at large. "One of the simplest and most profound ways to make a statement is with the money you spend. The LGBT community spends around $917 billion dollars every year, and vendors big and small are watching where and how we spend that," he says.
Give people the opportunity.
The fight for acceptance and tolerance continues for the LGBT community today, and while it may be tempting to turn your head in fear, Lorraine Hems, who married her wife in 2000, says to be bold and open. And more importantly, don't assume negativity from the beginning. "We would advise other couples to be upfront and not scared to share their relationship when making wedding plans. We discovered that people are often more accepting than we realize given the opportunity," she shares.
Use Pinterest to your advantage.
When Karla General and her wife were planning their wedding, the pair found a secret resource that helped navigate LGBT-friendly vendors: Pinterest! The couple was easily able to check out countless real weddings to see which photographers, florists, and venues were already open to the community. "During your special day, you want to be surrounded with as much love and positive energy as possible. There is absolutely no need to struggle with half-open-minded vendors," she shared.
Take note of websites.
When Brian Tran was planning his wedding, he become an expert at dissecting websites. From the get-go, he and his now-husband wanted to feel welcome from the moment they landed on the homepage for someone they were considering hiring. "We ruled out vendors who had restrictive 'Contact Us' forms on their website; for example, we came across many vendors that force you to enter a 'Bride's Name' and 'Groom's Name' into their website to contact them. Having to decide which of us was going to be the 'Bride' was not something we needed to waste our time on when there were plenty of inclusive allies in the wedding industry," he shared. "We wanted to focus on the joy of our event, not constantly reminded of our 'differences.'"