I learned Gay Wedding Etiquette for consulting with Gay Couples while I was in Cancun. I was a guest speaker at a conference recently for Wedding & Event Proactive Professionals (WEPP) in Cancun, Mexico, 9/24-9/26/14. Another speaker was Roberto Ramirez. Roberto gave a presentation in Spanish. There were onsite translators who would listen to what each speaker was saying, and convert from Spanish to English and English to Spanish…we wore an earpiece where we could hear the translation.
I took a photo of the summary screen Roberto showed, see photo below. I would like to attempt to translate what it said, because it was good information…better than I have heard anyone else speaking on the subject present…most speakers talk about how to take advantage of this new market. I don’t mean take advantage in a mean way, but most speakers I have heard are sharing insights to help you market to this audience. Although some of Roberto’s message could be interpreted as “how to market to this audience” I felt it was so much more heartfelt and genuine than what I have heard from others.
1) Don’t make assumptions.
2) Avoid looking for perceptions of roles.
3) Be flexible in your perception of sub-cultures.
4) Avoid asking inappropriate questions of character.
5) It’s ridiculous to think a gay wedding is a typical wedding.
6) Use photos in your advertising depicting gay and lesbian couples; and make sure your
contracts contain language that is inclusive of all types, not just the “bride and groom” normal terminology.
7) Be flexible about traditions, gay tastes may differ substantially from heterosexual couples. Never refer to a normal wedding to a gay couple.
8) Make sure that all vendors know they will be working on a gay wedding. Roberto shared examples of vendors who were hired thinking they were shooting a traditional man/woman wedding and when they realized it was a gay wedding simply left saying they could not support a gay wedding…not everyone in this world is on board with gay and lesbian weddings, if they were, gay and lesbian weddings would be legal all over the world.
9) Don’t assume that gay/lesbian couples have the support of their families.
10) Ask instead of assuming, it is a gay wedding and many things may be done differently.
So to further explain some of the ideas listed above, don’t assume that two men will dress like grooms. Don’t assume there is a husband and a wife. Don’t assume two lesbians want to wear wedding gowns and carry bouquets. It is better to ask, who will wear or carry flowers? Roberto is an event planner, so much of his advise stems from event planning as opposed to flower choices, which is where I would come in.
As an event planner you’d think if you hired a photographer to shoot a wedding that they would show up and shoot the wedding, but Roberto shared that he hired a photographer who arrived and said he could not shoot a photo of two men kissing and left the job. I guess I can see both sides, you can’t force anyone to accept anything and thus, Roberto’s advise to make sure the vendors you hire know they are being hired for a gay wedding. He also shared that a bakery refused to make a wedding cake for a gay wedding…so the point he drove home was always tell your vendors up front they are being hired for a gay wedding.
Many gay couples don’t have the financial or emotional support of their families…some do, but some don’t. Again, don’t assume anything. Actually, these days, it seems like the “custom” of the parents of the bride paying for the wedding is anything but typical. Most couples and both their families pay for weddings these days.
A first dance may or may not be incorporated into the wedding. If it is, who dances? Who stands at the alter and who walks down the aisle? Maybe neither, perhaps both walk down the aisle together…again, you really need to ask these questions and not make assumptions.
Who will perform the ceremony? Make sure they know it is a gay wedding. Roberto shared that an officiate showed up for a gay wedding and hadn’t been told it was a gay wedding…when he arrived and found out it was a gay wedding, he left. He didn’t believe in gay marriage. Again, very important that your vendors know it is a gay wedding.
In his list of things to consider when planning a gay wedding, Roberto repeated over and over again not to ASSUME anything. It is important to ask questions. Ask open, non offensive questions. Don’t assume what they will wear, whether they will wear a boutonniere or carry a bouquet or have no flowers at all. Don’t assume how they will walk down the aisle, who will be invited, what type of ceremony they want, what type of food they will offer to their guests, what they will drink, what types of photos they want, what type of music they want, etc, etc, etc. NO ASSUMPTIONS!
I just wanted to share this with you because I thought it was helpful and respectful.
I’m sharing the photos below because I thought they were so touching…the first photo of two women shows so much emotion and excitement, love and happiness. The second photo I found on the internet and is attributed to sodahead.com.