Whether you’re planning your wedding in the Dirty South or a destination where same-sex marriage is legally recognized, you’ll want to be armed with the tools to hire the right businesses for your wedding. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
• First, strengthen your resolve to the fact that you have the right to have the wedding of your dreams. Nowhere in the United States is a gay wedding illegal. You might not get a marriage certificate from City Hall, but publicly saying “I do” in a wedding ceremony is not a crime.
• Start your search in Local Resources on EquallyWed.com, where you’ll find thousands of wedding vendors around the country and abroad who’ve personally vowed to treat you and your partner with respect.
• Ask your gay and straight married friends for recommendations, but be mindful that well-meaning straight friends often assume gay-friendliness of businesses simply because there’s money to be made. It’s sadly not that simple.
• Many businesses aren’t just focused on weddings. With this in mind, pick up your favorite gay-oriented publication in town, such as the GA Voice, and peruse the advertisers vying for the LGBT community’s business. Look for restaurants that might double as caterers, event spaces where you could hold your wedding ceremony and/or reception, and bakeries that might make the most magnificent wedding cakes.
• When visiting a potential vendor’s website, look for gender-neutral wording, such as “the happy couple” or “you and your partner” instead of “bride and groom.” Bonus: A photo of a same-sex couple on their wedding day. While it’s still a rare find, you’ll know you’ve struck gold.
• When you call or email a potential vendor, make sure to clearly state that this is a same-sex wedding. Ask if they’ve ever done one before, if it’s important to you. While still painful, it’s easier to get the cold shoulder this way than when you meet in person — or worse, at your wedding.
• If anyone at any time tells you that this is “just a commitment ceremony” or “not legal,” don’t waste any more of your time, money or energy. Move on immediately.
Kirsten Ott Palladino is the co-founder and editor in chief of Equally Wed Magazine. For more extensive advice on every aspect of planning your wedding, visit www.equallywed.com.