Seeking the expertise and guidance of wedding professionals is always recommended but finding the perfect wedding vendor can be a long and difficult process for any couple, especially the that identify as LGBT. Many wedding vendors are stuck in the cookie cutter, gender specific wedding practices and tradition that they are accustomed to. LGBT couples don’t always fit the traditional mold of bride and groom and need someone who understand and accommodates this. Here are a few suggestions on what to do and how to interact with potential wedding vendors.
- Communication: As much as professional wedding vendors need to be knowledgable, open, and understanding to your identity, couples need to be open and clear about who they are and what they envision. Be frank and open with your vendors. “We are a gay couple.”, “My fiancee is transgender”, “ I identify as female.” This will clear the air, make everyone feel at ease, and open the lines of communication while omitting awkward moments. Although the goal for any modern wedding vendor is to be inclusive and non gender specific, everyone identifies differently and this needs to be stated clearly. Also, be clear about what you envision, specific service needs and budget. Don’t waste their time or yours.
- Reciprocate: Just as you expect vendors to be understanding of you, you need to keep an open mind and be understanding of them. Maybe their website is still gender specific and non inclusive, maybe they have never done a same sex wedding before. Do not write them off just yet! Same sex weddings have been legal for less than a year in the United States. Let their work and personalities speak for themselves.
- Prepare questions: When meeting with potential vendors it is a good idea to be prepared with a list of questions. The most important question might be: “have you ever worked with a same-sex couple before?” and “have you worked with non-traditional couples wanting to have a wedding that’s different to most?” Chances are they might have already dealt with non-traditional situations or they might be excited to be presented with the opportunity.
- Establish comfort with your vendors: Your vendor should make you feel like he/she are excited to be part of your big day! If you don’t feel that they are a good fit for you both in personality and their willingness to understand what you’re after, they may not be the best fit for you.
Bad fit example 1: The photographer you’re looking at hiring shoots very posed and structured images, but you’re after a more candid approach. Don’t hire them expecting them to deliver candid images when this is simply not their style.
Bad fit example 2: Your videographer isn’t interested in meeting you before you book to show you more of their work, understand how they shoot and what to expect from them and their crew on the day.
5. Work as a team: Yes, you are paying your vendor to get the job done but be sure to put the time into sharing ideas/concerns. Sharing ideas will not only get you what you are looking for but could also present a new direction that you haven’t yet thought of. The key here is not to mold them into something they are not.
Example: Your florist asks you if you need any boutonnieres for the groomsmen. Since you may not have a “groom”, together you come up with a list of what you could call these male participants of your wedding: men of honor, brothers of honor, bridesmen, etc.
These five tips and tactics are sure to help your experience when working with traditional vendors. Though, it is likely, after being hired by you, they won’t be so “traditional” any longer.