On June 26th, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled, in Obergefell v. Hodges, that prohibiting same sex marriage was unconstitutional. However, three years later, it was made clear in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado that businesses can still refuse serving same sex couples. This can create an uncomfortable situation for LGBT couples planning their wedding and looking for vendors who support marriage equality. So how do queer couples navigate coming out to their wedding vendors? Is it even necessary?
If you ask people what weddings are about, most agree they’re a celebration of love. Wedding vendors should all there to support couples as they take their vows and begin a new life together.
Planning a wedding, isn’t supposed to be a time you are faced with the fear of rejection. Unfortunately, this is a reality for those planning LGBTQ weddings. Attitudes toward same sex marriage keep changing, but there are still people who feel that marriage shouldn’t be for everyone. If these people own and operate wedding services, they can refuse to participate in gay or lesbian weddings.
When you find the perfect venue, florist, or photographer, you should be able to tell if they are inclusive. Sometimes this can be a challenge, though. What happens then? Should you come out to vendors to sift out the bigoted ones? Should you hide your orientation or gender identity in the hopes it won’t be an issue? If you do come out to vendors, when and how should you do it? Here are a few tips to navigate these tricky waters, avoid stress, and plan the beautiful, special wedding day you deserve.
As a member of the LGBTQ community, it feels like you spend half your life coming out and dealing with potential judgment. Sadly, society is not advanced enough to simply accept that all kinds of identities and orientations are normal and valid. So, honestly, you’re just not going to escape it, even when planning the happiest day of your life.
You’ll find that people have no shortage of capacity to disdain “otherness”. Heck, a wedding vendor could say no to you because of your tattoos. The point is, those aren’t people you want near at your wedding. It’s best to know that before you put down a deposit. I always tell people I have no problem using my gay ass dollars to pay someone else’s bills.
There are a couple of good reasons to be up front about the fact that you’re planning a queer wedding. For one, you have nothing to hide. We’ve already spent to much time in the closet to turn around and walk right back in. You should never be afraid to love yourself and be proud of who you are, even if others are small-minded.
Secondly, you don’t want to get close to your date and have a vendor discover they’re assisting a wedding they would’ve rejected. You could end up scrambling to find a replacement at the last minute. Even worse, you could find yourself enforcing a contract with someone who doesn’t want to serve you. In that case, you will not receive the level of service you deserve on your wedding day. Though you may have to pass on a favorite vendor by “coming out,” you’ll get better results working with a vendor who wants to be involved.
As for how to go about making it clear that you’re planning a queer wedding, you don’t necessarily have to blurt it out. It’s natural enough to mention your “partner,” or call your fiancé by name to make the situation clear. Of course, you may have to spell it out. To avoid wasting time, just cut to the chase. Explain your situation, and ask up front if the vendor has any problem working on same sex, or LGBTQ weddings.
One way to “stick-it-to” biased vendors is to invest only in businesses that support LGBTQ rights and celebrate LGBTQ weddings. How do you find these vendors? Like finding any other kind of goods or services, you may have to shop around. Some will openly advertise their stance. In other cases, you can ask family and friends for referrals, or read online reviews. If nothing else, call or email your preferred vendors. When you’re up front, you save yourself some time sparring with bigoted vendors that would make you miserable. Instead, support the vendors in your community who also support you, and will work to make your wedding day truly special.