How to build an LGBTQ+ inclusive vendor team, and why it matters
This post about how to build an LGBTQ+ inclusive vendor team has been a long time in the making. In case you’re new here, I am a huge advocate for representation, inclusion, and equity in the wedding industry.
Choosing a vendor team to execute your dream wedding can be daunting. Going into your selection process with a set of criteria can help narrow down your search. First and foremost, I recommend that couples select vendors whose personality meshes well with theirs. Secondly, it’s crucial (in my opinion) that your vendor team shares your values, and I’ll tell you why.
Why Choosing an LGBTQ+ Inclusive Vendor Team Matters . . . even when the couple isn’t LGBTQ+
Think about your wedding day. Think about all the people you want there. I bet you can name at least one person on that guest list who identifies as LGBTQ+. I bet you could name more than one, but one is enough to make my point. Think about that person enjoying your wedding day. Then imagine (just for a second) that one of the people on your vendor team isn’t supportive of his/her/their identity, and decides to make it known. Imagine how that guest would feel. Imagine having that hateful energy brought into your wedding day. It would completely put a damper on the joy you were feeling.
Even though about 60% of my couples do not identify as LGBTQ+, almost all of them mention that they chose me because of my inclusivity. Sometimes their decision is based solely on them wanting a team of likeminded vendors, but often it is because they have someone in their wedding party, family, or on their guest list who they care about enough to take the extra measure to ensure that that person will be not only accepted, but affirmed and celebrated equally alongside them.
How to Determine if a vendor is LGBTQ+ Inclusive . . . or not
There are several subtle signals that every vendor sends with the verbiage they use across their website and social media platforms, and I’m going to teach you how to detect them.
#1 Use of Pronouns
Instagram has a feature that allows its users (business accounts included) to display pronouns on their profile. If I see someone utilizing this feature, it automatically sends a signal that they are LGBTQ+ inclusive and affirming. In addition, if pronouns are shown, it is a subtle (but powerful) acknowledgement by that vendor that pronouns exist, and you’d be surprised (actually, you probably wouldn’t if you’re reading this) by how many non-inclusive people refuse to acknowledge that everyone has pronouns.
#2 Use of Gendered Terminology
If the first phrase you see on a wedding vendors website is “hey brides” (or something to that effect)…move along. Not only does that phrase signal that they don’t foresee themselves working with a couple that doesn’t include a bride (aka two grooms), but it also sends a strong signal that they still operate under the assumption that a wedding is all about the bride. Other places to look for gendered language is on their contact form. If the contact form has a space for “bride’s name” and/or “grooms name”, instead of using a gender-neutral term like “partner”, they likely do not accept LGBTQ+ clients.
If you are a vendor looking to make your brand more inclusive, consider making these changes:
Bride & Groom — Couple Bride — Partner, Spouse, or Fiancé Groom — Partner, Spouse, or Fiancé Bridal Party — Wedding Party
#3 Use of Religion as Part of their Brand Identity
I know I probably just lost a few people, but what I’m about to say needs to be said. Being a Christian and being LGBTQ+ Inclusive are not mutually exclusive. However, if a vendor chooses to express their religious beliefs as part of their brand, doesn’t have any inclusivity in their portfolio, AND has no mention of their support for LGBTQ+ couples, it is safe to assume that they are not inclusive.
There is a long history of people within the LGBTQ+ community being shunned from the church or being sent to conversion therapy to “pray the gay away”. For those people, seeing Christian phrases can be triggering, especially since those phrases have often been used as weapons against them.
Now, there are several LGBTQ+ people who practice Christianity, but that doesn’t erase the trauma that many LGBTQ+ people feel at the sheer thought of religion. If you are a vendor reading this who feels a strong conviction to utilize religious terminology on your website, but you also love and support the LGBTQ+ community, I highly recommend you find a way to express your support so that the wrong assumptions aren’t made.
#4 Statement of Support or the work to back it up
In my opinion, an inclusive vendors website needs at least one of the following — either a LGBTQ+ inclusion statement OR the portfolio work to show that they are inclusive. Without either of those things, assumptions – whether right or wrong – will be made. It can be daunting for an inquiring LGBTQ+ couple to feel comfortable reaching out without first feeling safe to do so.
The Statement of Support on My Website reads:
REPRESENTATION IS ESSENTIAL
SARA BOYD IS A BOLD ADVOCATE FOR THE LGBTQ+, BIPOC, AND OTHER COMMUNITIES HISTORICALLY UNDERREPRESENTED IN THE WEDDING INDUSTRY.
THIS IS A SAFE SPACE FOR EVERYONE.
HERE, YOU WILL BE SEEN, HEARD, AND CELEBRATED.
#5 Look at their tagged photos on Instagram
This tip is super helpful for venues! If you are looking at a venue’s website and don’t see the inclusive portfolio you’re seeking, check out their tagged photos on instagram. Oftentimes, vendors don’t share images from every wedding they’ve ever done, but their clients will definitely share their own and tag the vendors! If you scroll for long enough on a vendor’s tagged instagram photos, you’ll get a good idea of whether or not they are inclusive.
Now that I’ve given you the tools to determine if a vendor is LGBTQ+ inclusive, I’d love to introduce you to some inclusive vendors who I LOVE!
Starting with, my top choices for inclusive wedding planners in Austin:
My top choices for inclusive wedding florists in Austin:
My top choices for inclusive wedding videographers in Austin:
My top choices for inclusive wedding hair and makeup artists in Austin:
My top choices for inclusive cake artists and bakers in Austin:
And finally, a shout out to some fellow wedding photographers who also kick ass at inclusivity and representation!
Are you on the hunt for an inclusive wedding photographer?
YOU FOUND YOUR GAL!