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

The Most Popular Same-Sex Marriage Ceremony Reading

I can promise you that you'll be hearing the following words in thousands of same-sex marriage ceremonies to come:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

Those words were written by Justice Anthony Kennedy in his majority ruling affirming the right of same-sex couples to legally marry in the United States. For years, we've been seeing an excerpt from the Goodridge ruling (in Massachusetts) as a big part of same-sex marriage ceremonies, but I believe that ruling, written by Justice Margaret Marshall, will be usurped by this from Justice Kennedy.

Same-sex couples commonly make some reference to marriage equality (or previously, the lack thereof), in their ceremonies. It puts their marriage in context and lets the guests know that they do not take their rights to marry for granted. Watch out for this for years to come.

¿Está aprobado el Matrimonio Igualitario en todo México?

El mes de Junio ha sido un mes bastante movido en cuanto al activismo de derechos humanos en el mundo y México no fue la excepción. El día viernes 12 de Junio la Suprema Corte de la Nación sorprendió a todo el país declarando que: “Las parejas homosexuales se encuentran en una situación equivalente a las parejas heterosexuales, de tal manera que es totalmente injustificada su exclusión del matrimonio

Ante tal pronunciamiento, surgieron los rumores y dudas acerca del alcance de este dictamen, por lo que acudimos con el Licenciado Francisco Robledo, Abogado y Activista pro derechos humanos del colectivo LGBT en México y director de Matrimonios LGBT.com despacho de servicios jurídicos especializado en el asesoramiento y trámites matrimoniales en México.

El Lic. Robledo nos comenta que en dicha resolución, la Suprema Corte declara básicamente inconstitucionales todos aquellos códigos civiles estatales que limitan al matrimonio como la unión de un hombre y una mujer.

Ciertamente el Matrimonio igualitario –aún- no está totalmente normado en los estados pero con esta resolución se derriban todas las argucias legales con las cuales los gobiernos estatales habían impedido que las parejas del mismo género se pudieran casar libremente en cualquier oficina del registro civil, pero esto definitivamente no significa que ya haya habido cambios en las leyes estatales, sus procedimientos, reglamentos y formatos para de hecho, ya poder celebrar matrimonios entre este tipo de parejas libremente.

En este nuevo marco, señala el Lic. Robledo, las parejas aún deberán interponer un juicio de amparo, el cual ya es un hecho que ganarán de manera automática en cuanto éste se formule y proceda, y entonces podrán solicitar el matrimonio en el juzgado de la ciudad donde estén exigiendo judicialmente su derecho. Pero de igual forma se requerirá la intervención de algún abogado o despacho que les apoye en el trámite para poderlo realizar. Por lo tanto, los casos seguirán siendo atendidos uno a uno.

En la opinión del Lic. Francisco Robledo, aunque las parejas aún deberán considerar la vía del Juicio de Amparo en sus estados o trasladarse al Distrito Federal, Quintana Roo o Coahuila para hacer su trámite de manera personal y sin trámites judiciales adicionales, el camino se torna cada vez más libre que antes, reduciéndose exponencialmente el tiempo en que se resolverán estos amparos.

Ante esta nueva situación jurídica, el día 1ero de Julio el Estado de Guerrero decidió apegarse a la resolución de la Suprema Corte y acoger el Matrimonio igualitario en todas sus oficinas de Registro Civil aun cuando las leyes estatales no han cambiado, ante esto el Gobernador de Guerrero Rogelio Ortega ha dicho que "Amar es un derecho de todos los seres humanos" por lo cual comenzó el cambio en sus formatos administrativos del Registro Civil y están organizando el Primer Matrimonio igualitario masivo en una conocida playa del puerto de Acapulco para este 10 de Julio.

Desde el Gay Wedding Institute ® hacemos votos porque este nuevo marco jurídico facilite los procedimientos dentro del Estado Mexicano para normalizar los trámites matrimoniales para todas las parejas y que sea un punto de partida para una sociedad más incluyente y justa para todos sus ciudadanos.

Gracias al Lic. Francisco Robledo y a MatrimoniosLGBT.com por su valiosa información y orientación.