Love is Love Wedding Expo reaches out to LGBT couples tomorrow

Ready to get ‘Equally Wed’?

Kirsten and Maria Palladino remember their Decatur wedding as a dream come true. The process of planning it, however, wasn’t so smooth.

“We had vendors not return our calls or e-mails because we were two women getting married. I had no idea how to find gay-friendly vendors of the caliber we wanted for our wedding. It was heartbreaking,” Kirsten Palladino recalled.

Mainstream wedding shows weren’t particularly helpful, either. Kirsten Palladino found herself constantly having to correct vendors who asked about her husband-to-be by explaining that she was marrying a woman.

“Reactions were as varied as the Pride rainbow colors, but none as pretty,” she said. “‘Oh, is that legal in Georgia?’ was the most popular. My answer? ‘It’s not illegal to have a wedding — gay or otherwise — in the United States.'”

“In short, it was just tough and worrisome, not knowing who was going to be friendly or not,” she explained.

In response, Kirsten and Maria Palladino launched Equally Wed, an online magazine aimed at helping same-sex couples share ideas, advice and stories about their big day.

Now, the couple is taking the next step, hosting the Equally Wed “Love is Love” Wedding Show on Sunday. The event is free and the first 50 attendees will received gift bags. It’s set for 1-4 p.m. at the Altitude room of the W Atlanta – Midtown, located at 188 14th St. in Atlanta.

“Just as our wedding-planning difficulties spawned the idea for our magazine, it also was the seed for our Love is Love Wedding Show, which we plan to take to other cities in 2012, as well as make it an annual event for Atlanta,” Kirsten Palladino says.

The name of the wedding show comes from a simple but profound belief: “There’s no difference between gay love and straight love. Love is love!”

About two dozen vendors will be on hand to help couples plan every aspect of their ceremony, whether formal, casual or somewhere in between.

“We want it to be an intimate soiree where conversation between guests and vendors flows easily, not an enormous expo that people can easily get lost in,” Palladino said. ” We’ve got it all: florists, photographers, wedding planners, travel agencies, restaurants, hairstylists, spas, salons, makeup artists, fashion, caterers, cocktails, mixologists, cake artists, venues, hotels and jewelry designers.”

Those planning weddings can also get more advice in the next quarterly issue of Equally Wed magazine, which goes online in early October, as well in the new content added to the website almost every day.

And having married her wife now twice — the couple recently got legally married in New York, to complement their Decatur wedding — Palladino also has some sage advice for other couples.

“The most important thing to remember is that you are doing this for yourselves, no one else. Not your parents, your friends who threw that lavish wedding last year, that boss you want to impress or what you think you’re supposed to be doing,” she said.

“There are a few golden rules of etiquette to follow as far as when to send invitations out, what not to put on there and other niceties that we cover on Equally Wed, but truly, you can do whatever you want,” she added. “It’s your day.”