Let us be the first to say that it sucks that we have to write a post about finding LGBTQ+ friendly wedding vendors in 2023. This shouldn’t be an issue and “queer-friendly” should be the bare minimum – all vendors should be supportive, welcoming and celebratory of all couples.
And it certainly shouldn’t be on queer couples to have to do the extra work of figuring out if the people they want to hire for their wedding day actually support their love!
So as much as it sucks that this issue still exists, we want to help make all couples feel welcome, respected and safe. Bottom line: Your love deserves to be proudly celebrated! You should not have to hide or minimize any part of yourself on your wedding day. And every vendor who gets to be a part of your day should believe that and help you celebrate it.
While this post is written to help LGBTQ+ couples find inclusive vendors, it’s also applicable for wedding vendors and for straight couples too. There are lots of things allies can do to ensure every wedding we work on, attend or host is welcoming to all people.
One more thing before we dive in: Research was conducted for this post but we are not experts and don’t claim to speak for all LGBTQ+ couples. We at Young Hip & Married always have more learning to do and are very open to any feedback. If you see something we could be doing better, we would appreciate it if you could let us know!
Ask for recommendations: Queer-friendly vendors know other queer-friendly vendors!
One of the best ways to find LGBTQ+ friendly wedding vendors is to ask for recommendations. For example, if you’ve already hired a queer or queer-friendly photographer, ask them to recommend a queer-friendly florist! Many LGBTQ+ friendly vendors or vendors who are part of the LGBTQ+ community know other vendors who also belong to and/or support the community and would be happy to put you in touch.
You can also reach out to your own queer community, particularly if you have any friends or family members who were recently married. Who did they hire and how was their experience?
Many wedding databases will also have lists of queer-friendly or queer-owned vendor businesses. These lists may not be exhaustive, but they can give you a good starting place. Keep in mind that not all wedding databases give couples the ability to search for inclusive vendors and some still support and promote non-inclusive vendors.
Does this wedding vendor have a history of working with LGBTQ+ couples?
A great way to find out if a wedding vendor supports and celebrates LGBTQ+ weddings is to look at their history: Have they worked with queer couples before? Of course, a vendor who is just starting out may not have as much diverse experience. But for more established vendors, this is a great way to check.
To learn about a vendor’s history with queer weddings, scan their website and social media channels. Do they work with and show off diverse couples? Are LGBTQ+ couples represented? Do the photos or stories they share look like weddings you would want to be a part of?
This goes beyond tokenism – it’s about true representation. Queer couples and weddings should be a part of this vendor’s regular work, not just something they talk about during Pride Month.
For more on representation, check out this awesome interview with one of our elopement photographers, John Bello!
What do other queer couples say about this vendor?
If you can’t get a personal recommendation, the next best way to find out about a vendor is through their reviews. Many vendors will post reviews on their website or social media channels. You can also look up the vendor’s profile on Google or on vendor databases, like The Knot or Wedding Wire, where reviews get posted.
Look through the vendor’s reviews and see what other couples have to say about them. Particularly, look to see if any reviewers mention queer weddings or identify as LGBTQ+. Of course, not all queer couples will identify themselves as queer in their review, but some might.
Does this wedding vendor work with and/or employ LGBTQ+ staff?
Another way to determine if a vendor is going to support your union is to look at the people they work with. Is their business queer-owned or do they have queer people on staff? If so, can you request to work with a queer person for your wedding? While no one is required to out themselves, you may find this information on a company’s About page or in their staff directory.
For smaller or solo businesses that don’t employ staff, do they have a history of working with queer vendors? Many businesses have a preferred vendor list or will share photos or stories of collaborations with other vendors. From there, you may be able to find out if they partner with queer-owned or queer-staffed businesses.
At Young Hip & Married, we are very proud to currently have 9 queer folk on our team. One of our queer officiants, Beth, shared with us why officiating fellow LGBTQ+ weddings is so special to her.
Does this vendor use inclusive language?
As wedding officiants who write scripts and speak at ceremonies, language is very important to us. We understand how inclusive language can help marginalized people feel welcome in spaces they were traditionally excluded from.
Below are a few questions to ask yourself when assessing a potential vendor’s language. You can do this by scanning their website, emails or social posts.
- Do they use heteronormative language? For example, everything is based on the “bride and groom” instead of the “couple” or “newlyweds.”
- Is all of their content bride-centric? Sadly, some vendors will only address the bride and refer to the wedding as her day.
- Do they give you a place to share your pronouns? And do they respect and use the pronouns you’ve shared?
- Do they share their own pronouns? While sharing pronouns should not be required, it can be a good sign if a vendor shares their own.
- Is their language up to date? Using terms that are current to the LGBTQ+ community may demonstrate that the vendor is actively engaged in the LGBTQ+ community and improving their language as they learn.
For more on the importance of language, check out this post about inclusive language changes you can make at your wedding ceremony.
Gut check: How do you feel about this wedding vendor?
At the end of the day, only you can evaluate your own comfort level with a vendor. Not only should you feel safe and comfortable, but you should feel excited to have this person and their business be a part of your special day.
If you’re still not sure, take a scroll through the vendor’s social media and website. When you look at their photos and read their words, how do you feel? Visit their blog or About page: Do their values align with yours?
If you’re still not sure, feel free to reach out to the vendor and ask them some questions. Of course, this is not always a safe option, and it can be very uncomfortable or triggering. If you’re unsure about how the interaction will go, that may be your gut’s way of letting you know this vendor is not for you.
Wedding vendors, let’s do better in 2023!
Wedding vendors, we have work to do.
It should not be on queer couples or any marginalized couples to have to do the extra work of figuring out what businesses will celebrate and support them. As allies, we need to ask ourselves: How can we make our businesses and services more welcoming, safe, inclusive and comfortable for all couples?
What on-going education can we enrol in? Is there a conversation we can be a part of to help shift our industry? How can we be more open to feedback and making the needed changes? Can we commit to creating safe spaces and providing safe resources to our couples? How can we share our values more openly and ensure our actions follow those values?
Here are a few places to start:
- Create an inclusive ceremony environment with these tips by Officiant Beth
- Follow these tips (provided by fellow vendors!) to make our industry more safe and welcoming
- Get educated and find support through industry-shifting spaces, like Altared
- Engage in the act of unlearning and stop assuming with wisdom by Equally Wed
If you have more ideas or feedback to share, we’d love to hear it: Leave us a comment below or get in touch. Let’s work together to make the wedding industry a safer and more supportive space for all couples in love!