Introducing the Self-Guided Certificate Course

There's finally a self-guided, set your own pace version of the Gay Wedding Institute certificate course! 

I've been asked about this for years and have hesitated but the time has come. All of the content of the course is the same as the live and webinar courses (there are a ton of videos of me explaining the materials), and it's still quite interactive with quizzes, homework and discussions. But now you can take the course at your leisure without having to commit to a specific date and time. 

Because this is brand new, the price is only $99 until 10am EST on February 1. After that the price goes up. Here's the registration link.

Managing Unexpected Bias

Many times, team members find themselves in situations they would never expect and were never trained for. I've spoken to managers who have been approached by guests expressing frustration at LGBTQ clientele in a hotel. For example, I trained a sales manager who struggled with how to respond to a guest complaining about a drag queen convention at a hotel. I've personally experienced guests at same-sex weddings come up to my team to vent and discuss their conflicted feelings about being present. Is your team prepared to respond to such bias? 

Is your team prepared to comfortably interact with a guest whose gender is nonconforming? 

I've trained directors who want to be prepared to answer questions from LGBTQ clients about how to ensure safety during a ceremony in a public area (such as a beach). Can you answer this question?

The good news is that our team is skilled in facilitating trainings to empower your team to manage these situations. Our interactive trainings with ample role plays and mock scenarios ensure that each team member has the space to keep it real and ask questions. We are not afraid to create discomfort because we know that's where the truth is, and when we uncover truths, we can create change and empower everyone. That's our goal.

Over the Rainbow: How to Truly Understand the Same-Sex Wedding Market

I'm sure many of the readers have heard me speak or taken my course at one point or another. Well, I'm tired of going it alone. I think it's important to hear other points of view and decided to invite other experts to join me for a FREE virtual summit on LGBT wedding marketing. This summit will give away tons of new information you're going to love.

The virtual summit is called Over the Rainbow: How to Truly Understand the LGBT Wedding Market and you can attend for free the week of October 12. Here's how it works: you sign up here and each day beginning on October 12, you'll get a video to my interview with other experts. You have access to that video for two weeks.

I'm so proud to be interviewing the following amazing folks who will share their own perspective on marketing your business to same-sex couples:

  • Kathryn Hamm (LGBT wedding pioneer and publisher of GayWeddings.com)
  • David Paisley (LGBT marketing expert who will share the latest travel data and trends)
  • Kirsten Ott (Founder of EquallyWed.com and noted writer)
  • Bethel Nathan (Wedding officiant and business coach)
  • Kathy DalPra (SEO and online marketing expert)

That first day (in addition to my interview with Kathryn) I'll explain why you should be Over the Rainbow. It's really good stuff! Register now at www.lgbtweddingsummit.com

Using Images in Marketing

I received the following question from Michelle at Memorable Events:

I am designing a folder and business card for same sex couples. My folder will have my business name on one side and my motto on the other. I am not sure what to do for a design for my card. I have a bride on my cards now. I hope that you can help me with this.

Michelle, great question. My first piece of advice is to create a folder and a business card that you can use for ALL couples, not just same-sex couples. Create something that is your new standard, instead of having a straight and a gay version. Trust me, if you have two versions, you'll get them confused and have the wrong ones at the wrong time. Keep it simple with one version.

As far as imagery goes, you can choose any neutral wedding-related image so you can appeal to all couples. Maybe a wedding cake, champagne flutes, two intertwined wedding rings or similar. Those images would work for all couples. Keep it elegant and classy, though - of course!

If you have a question for an upcoming blog post or newsletter, drop a note!

Marriott Hotels in Atlanta Complete GWI Course

Last week I spent the day in Atlanta with Catering Sales Managers from a variety of area Marriott Hotels. Kristin, the area sales leader brought me in for a day of training and community building. We went through all the elements of a typical training but I was particularly impressed by Kristin's commitment to follow through. She set dates by which the "homework" assignments/action steps would be due and the group would get back together to debrief. The training was the same day as a Marriott One evening event, during which their LGBTQ and allied employees were getting together in community. 

The GM of the beautiful Renaissance Atlanta (which hosted the event) told me that Marriott will be a top sponsor of Atlanta Pride in 2015. In this case, Pride is a great idea for Marriott and now any sales leads that come from Pride will go directly to employees who've been trained by the Gay Wedding Institute. I have no doubt that these CSMs and Event Leaders will thrive with their new LGBTQ client base. I'm excited for them and really impressed by their commitment to training.

How Do I Name the Event?

In the last newsletter, I invited readers to send me questions. Here's one from Kathryn at the Siena Golf Club:
I do have a question for you. I recently booked two gay weddings and I was suddenly stumped on how “name the event”. Traditionally, the bride’s last name goes first and then the grooms, so Jane Doe and Bob Smith would be the Doe-Smith wedding. What is the correct etiquette for a gay wedding? I went with the alphabetical approach but is there a better way? All of my files are listed this way so I don’t really want to stray from last names but would it have been better to ask the couple what they prefer?

My response:

There's no etiquette at all, so you can just use last names alphabetically as you did, or ask the couple directly. When it doubt, you can always ask the couple!

If you have a question for an upcoming blog post or newsletter, drop me a note!

Specialty Training on LGBT Weddings for Destination Wedding and Honeymoon Planners

I spent a wonderful day today leading a full day training/certification course for 31 travel agents who are members of DWHSA (Destination Weddings and Honeymoons Specialist Association). DWHSA brought me down to Mexico to teach the full day course which was hosted at the beautiful Iberostar Grand resort in Riviera Maya. This was such an enthusiastic group who were full of questions about how to understand the needs of LGBT couples and best market their destination wedding and honeymoon businesses to engaged LGBT couples and honeymooning couples. 

It was so great to connect with many more professionals from around North America who are passionate about serving LGBT couples with their wedding and honeymoon plans. Together we are all building a tribe of global wedding professionals who are sensitive, trained, and ready to serve this market with integrity. Thank you to DWSHA for organizing this event and inviting me to speak and thank you to Iberostar for hosting. I know all of you are going to do an exceptional job of serving LGBT couples.

More than 800 people from 16 countries have now taken our certification course...it's amazing seeing our community grow. Together, we are creating a more equal world.

If you want to schedule a training in your area, please email us!

Should I Tag or Separate LGBT When I Blog?

I've seen some questions come up from mainstream (that is, non-LGBT) wedding bloggers about whether or not they should have a separate section on their blog for LGBT weddings. This is a great question because now that there is nationwide marriage equality, a wedding truly is a wedding and same-sex couples should not get special treatment, only equal treatment. 

That said, I do believe that same-sex couples are actively looking to see images of other same-sex couples. They want to be inspired by people like them. They're following along on Pinterest, Instagram, and yes, your blogs, but they want to see themselves represented. They don't want to feel invisible. To help this process, I'd suggest that you use a tag for LGBT weddings or same-sex weddings on your blog. Simply adding a tag to all of your same-sex wedding content will let same-sex couples be able to more easily find images that represent them and look like them. We are not going to feel marginalized by a tag like we would by a separate section simply for LGBT weddings. A tag would make it easier for us to find other inspiration, and would not keep us separate from the rest of the crowd. Not to mention, it should help with your SEO.

Think of it as offering assistance rather than marginalizing. A simple tweak like that and also editing all of the language and editorial content on your website so that it's not straight-focused (aka heteronormative) will also go a long way in helping LGBT couples feel safe and welcome in the mainstream wedding world. The ultimate goal is integration and it starts by being inclusive of all couples. 

Episcopal Churches to Allow Same-Sex Marriage Ceremonies

Previously, each Episcopal diocese made their own rules about whether same-sex couples could marry in that diocese's churches. For awhile there weren't very many that allowed it. It's gradually changed and Wednesday the entire Episcopal church approved the inclusion of same-sex marriage ceremonies. The change goes into effect in November.

The church also approved two new liturgies, one for same-sex and one for opposite-sex marriages. They also removed language indicating that marriage is between one man and one woman.

This is huge progress for the church which is considered by many to the closest to Catholicism. 

Keep in mind that the rules which may apply regarding all couples marrying would still apply here - for example, couples would likely need to be members of the church, participate in pre-marital counseling and more. 

This is incredible news in a week of amazing news...the world is changing in some great ways, folks!

Is Marriage Equality Approved in Mexico?

June has been a very moved month when it comes to the activism of human rights throughout the world and Mexico was not the exception. Friday 12th, June, the Supreme Court of the Nation surprised the whole country declaring that: “Homosexual couples are in the same situation as the heterosexual couples, in such a way that it is totally unjustified its exclusion of marriage

Given this statement, there were rumors and doubts about the scope of this ruling, that is why we went with the Graduate Francisco Robledo, Lawyer and Activist in favor of the human rights of the collective LGBT in Mexico and director of Marriages LGBT.com legal services firm specializing in advising and marriage procedures in Mexico.

Robledo tells us that this ruling, of the Supreme Court basically declares unconstitutional all those state civil codes that limit the marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Certainly equal marriage –yet- is not fully regulated in the states but with this resolution all legal arguments are demolished with which the state governments had prevented same-sex couples could marry freely in any civil registry office, but this definitely does not mean that there are already changes in the state laws, procedures, regulations and formats actually, as to celebrate such marriages freely.

In this new context, points Robledo, couples must still file an injunction, which is already a fact that will automatically win as it is formulated and appropriate, and then they will be able to ask for the marriage in the court where they are judicially demanding their right. But equally the intervention of a lawyer or firm is required to help them in the process. Therefore, cases will continue to be served individually.

In Francisco Robledo´s opinion, even though couples would still have to consider the path of an injunction in their states or translate to Mexico City, Quintana Roo or Coahuila states to make their procedure personally and without any additional procedures, the road becomes increasingly freer than before, reducing exponentially the time these protections will be resolved.

With this new legal situation, this July 1st The Guerrero State decided to stick to the decision of the Supreme Court and accept equal marriage in all offices of the Civil Registry even when the state laws have not yet changed, to this, the Governor of Guerrero, Rogelio Ortega, said "Loving is a right of all human beings" this is why the change started in all of its formats and they are organizing the First Massive Equality Marriage in a known beach of Acapulco for this July 10th

From the Gay Wedding Institute ® we vote so that this new legal framework facilitates the procedures within the Mexican State to normalize the marriage procedures for all couples and make it a starting point for a more inclusive and just society for all its citizens.

Special Thanks to Francisco Robledo and MatrimoniosLGBT.com