LGBT Marriage Equality and Relationship Recognition in Europe

It's interesting to see where Europe stands on marriage equality. It's first important to differentiate between registered partnerships and full marriag equality. Some countries only recognize same-sex couples as registered partnerships, which means that many rights afforded to married couples are not enjoyed by same-sex couples in a registered partnership. Other countries in Europe such as Italy do not recognize same-sex couples at all. 

It's intriguing to get a full run down of LGBT relationship recognition in Europe. The Netherlands was the first country in Europe to legalize same-sex marriage and many countries followed suit soon after. There is public support for same-sex marriage in many countries but most of the decisions about actually legalizing it are made by the government. It's unusual to see how in Ireland it is the people who are deciding via a ballot measure this Friday. This info-graphic from Maria Assia Photography gives you a quick overview of where Europe stands on same-sex marriage in 2015.

Marriage Equality is Here. Why Isn't My Phone Ringing?

One of my wedding professional friends who lives in a state which newly has marriage equality asked me recently, "why aren't same-sex couples calling me yet? I've done all the right things you suggested. Where's the business?" 

Talk yourself off the ledge....The truth is that same-sex couples take their time to get engaged and plan their wedding just like straight couples do. When marriage quality first comes to a state, there will be an influx of couples who have been together for ten, twenty or more years getting married right away. Those marriages ceremonies are probably going be quick, down at City Hall or the courthouse, and may often not require the services of wedding venues, planners or even photographers. 

But for the couples who are planning big weddings, they take time to plan and the engagements take time to happen. There's lots of negotiation that goes in to even getting engaged for same-sex couples, many of whom never thought they'd see marriage equality in their lifetime, and others who need to negotiate the size and scope of their wedding. So don't despair. If you're doing all the right things that I've suggested on this website and in my course, those same-sex couples will come. It's just a matter of time for the proposals to happen, the engagements to happen and the weddings to start being planned.

When Should I Use the Rainbow?

I received an email recently from a stranger who lives in a state which now has marriage equality. This person launched a website targeting the LGBT wedding market, providing a vendor directory on the site and eventually wedding planning tips and advice. This person asked me to write some LGBT wedding planning tips/articles and provide some free content to get started. 

When I took a look at the site I realized there's no way I was going to send any articles over. And it's simply because that site (and many others quite frankly) do not align with the 14 Stories brand. Why is this important? 

Anyone was taken one of the Gay Wedding Institute courses knows that the rainbow flag, the rainbow symbol and use of rainbows is often a turn off to modern same-sex couples, not a turn on. There's data to support this fact. Unfortunately lots of people have yet to learn this valuable piece of LGBT marketing 101. While the rainbow is universally known as an LGBT symbol around the globe, to be completely blunt, the rainbow is overused and if you think that you're going to attract contemporary same-sex couples simply by sticking a rainbow up on your website or creating a rainbow version of your logo, then you will be disappointed. Rainbows can still be successful but mostly in association with Pride events.

If you really insist on using the rainbow, you can be successful but it requires a nuanced approach. Marketing to same-sex couples is a sophisticated process and requires some intimate knowledge of the market. I strongly suggest that you ditch the rainbow and learn more about marketing to the LGBT couples in a more sophisticated and contemporary way. 

Feel free to contact us for a website review or private consultation to discuss your own LGBT wedding marketing.

67 Percent of Engaged Same-Sex Couples Want to Hire Businesses with LGBT Wedding Experience

Yesterday I had a phone call from a wedding photographer I know in Massachusetts. She received an inquiry from a same-sex couple that specifically was looking for a photographer who had experience photographing same-sex weddings and wanted my advice on how to respond since she didn't have any such experience. 

It's actually a pretty common request of LGBTQ couples. In fact, 2/3 of LGBTQ couples are actively seeking businesses who've worked with other same-sex couples. Why? Because they want to be safe and they want to trust you. 

With this in mind, I've created some new "scripts" I'll be sharing in upcoming courses, but here are a few suggestions for you: 

  • Don't try too hard...don't be too overeager and say things like "my college roommate was gay!" or "I was bisexual in college!" (I don't make this stuff up - these comments have been said to me!) 

  • Be sincere in your support of marriage equality. Say something like, "While we have yet to photograph any same-sex weddings, our entire team supports marriage equality and would be honored to work with you."

  • Offer an incentive....for your first same-sex wedding, there's no shame in offering the couple some incentive to work with you. In the case of the photographer, she could offer a free engagement session, rehearsal dinner coverage or something else to book this first couple (who hopefully have a lot of also-engaged friends!)

  • Whatever you do, don't lie and pretend you've worked on a same-sex wedding when you haven't!

Have you heard same-sex couples make similar comments to you? How did you respond?

Is My Website Attracting or Turning Off LGBT Couples?

For those of you who are wondering why your phone isn't ringing and your inbox isn't filling up with inquiries from engaged same-sex couples, maybe you should take a look at your website and other marketing materials. Or better yet, have us take a look at it for you. You might not realize it, but your marketing may be inadvertently turning off engaged same-sex couples. We'll take a look at your website and all of your other marketing materials including any profiles on TheKnot, Wedding Wire and other sites and examine them for their readiness to attract LGBT couples. 

If you're concerned about how you're missing out on this business opportunity, we can help. Our marketing review is just $379 and can be scheduled at your convenience. We'll start with an introductory phone meeting to get all the appropriate URLs and marketing materials, and then we'll dig deep into the analysis, then prepare a report with areas for improvement and action items, and review that with you during a second meeting.

To schedule your marketing review and analysis, just drop us a line!

How Do I Update My Contracts and Forms for Same-Sex Couples?

When wedding professionals have not yet worked on a same-sex wedding, they might not realize that language and terminology is incredibly important. You might not have ever thought that your forms and contracts need to be updated to make sure they're suitable for all of your clients, not just your straight ones.

If your contract right now still says "bride and groom", then it's time to update the language. For those of you who are wedding photographers or videographers, your information worksheet might ask questions such as "when is the father daughter dance?" For DJs and bands, your form might ask "what is the song is for the father daughter dance?”. This terminology assumes that there is in fact only a bride and groom getting married and is exclusionary to same-sex couples. If you send those types of forms to engaged LGBT couples, chances are they will get frustrated and disappointed with you and you would lose some credibility and respect. 

You don't want to make that mistake. It's important to be inclusive, not exclusive and same-sex couples appreciate when they've been invited to the table. If you haven't done this yet, you can download forms from our website that are appropriate for all of your clients- not just your straight ones. These gender-neutral forms and templates are suitable for wedding planners and venues, photographers and videographers, florists and designers, DJs and bands. 

There's something for everyone and we've got you covered.

If I Can't Make Your Course, How Do I Learn About LGBT Weddings?

I know a lot of wedding professionals want to be certified by the Gay Wedding Institute, but might not have the ability to participate in one of our live courses (which is a full day course) or in our monthly webinar series which is generally offered at 1 PM Eastern once a week for three weeks. 

If you can't participate but still want a crash course on LGBT weddings, we've got you covered! Check out these training videos available on our website. The content of the videos is virtually identical to what's happening in the webinar and the live Gay Wedding Institute certification course. Although it's not going to grant you the certification, you can definitely learn a lot by watching these videos and taking diligent notes. Check them out. They are only $99 each and if you download the ones on language, data, laws, trends and traditions, and marketing then you'll be very well-versed in all things LGBT weddings.

These three videos are even sold as a three pack on the website. In addition to those three videos we also have an overview session and a session especially for wedding officiants.

Same Sex Couples Are Mobile. Are You?

Mobile is How Same Sex Couples Find You

According to a 2013 Digitas study the LGBT community relies on mobile devices to research, plan and purchase online, even more than the general populous.

When you consider this along with Google’s recent announcement that mobile-friendliness is a factor in your website’s ranking, vendors serving same sex couples have plenty of reasons to go mobile. 

The Real LGBT Stats 

In 2013, a Digitas study found that 56% of the LGBT community choses to use a mobile device over a “desktop” or “laptop” compared to 2012. 51% of LGBT mobile device users had already been using a smartphone or tablet for three years or more and 35% of those age 18–24 used a mobile device in coming out. 

Why Mobile Matters 

We are all creatures of instant gratification and few of us, regardless of orientation or gender, have the patience to stumble through a glitchy website that looks terrible on our phones. 

If research indicates that same sex couples prefer to use mobile devices to research and plan their lives, then your best chance for getting in front of them is by using the medium they most prefer: mobile. 

How Couples Search for You in Mobile Devices 

The two most reliable ways to make your brand visible in mobile devices are through browser searches and/or mobile app searches.

For example, let’s say an individual is looking for information on “gay weddings” on an iPhone, and since the same Digitas study revealed that LGBTs prefer Apple products, this is a likely scenario.  He or she will either pull up Safari and type in “gay weddings” in the search bar or open up the App Store and do the same. This is roughly what they might find:

Getting Your Website Seen on Mobile Devices 

Getting found in a browser search on a mobile phone employs many of the same SEO techniques you’re already using to get ranked in Google, Bing and Yahoo right now, with a few tweaks:

  • Mobile searches have a preference for locally based businesses slightly more than traditional search Google’s mobile search will soon factor in the mobile-friendliness of your website 

  • Mobile search listings get far less clicks when your website is ranked below the first few positions

  • Google’s mobile search engine integrates mobile app listings with website listings, so that they can both appear when a user is searching for relevant content

Getting found in mobile applications requires you to first have a mobile application developed, which may or may not make sense for your type of business, and optimizing your app description to fit with the search terms for which you want to be found. 

Which Mobile Option is Best for You?

There are three ways to make your brand mobile accessible:

  1. Redesign and code your existing website to be responsive; this allows your one main web property to be both your desktop website and your mobile website

  2. Design a strictly mobile version of your website that is sized specifically for mobile devices; this will exist as a second web property alongside your website.

  3. Develop a totally separate mobile application and optimize it to get found both in App Stores and in mobile search engines; this will exist as a second mobile-only property alongside your website.

When you use one main website for both mobile and desktop, utilizing what is called “responsive design”, it will look something like this:

Need More Help? 

I know going mobile can be a little intimidating at first. I put together a free mobile toolkit you can request if you need to know which resources to share with your website developer or training on how to determine just how much of your existing traffic is mobile.

About the Author: 

Kathy takes the overwhelm out of SEO and website marketing so wedding businesses can thrive online. You can connect with her at http://brideappeal.com.

How Do I Find Photos of Same-Sex Couples for Marketing if I Haven't Booked Any Yet?

One of the questions I get most often from wedding professionals is "how do I attract same-sex couples to my business?" It seems like a pretty simple question but the solution is not as easy as you would think.

Same-sex couples are actively looking for wedding professionals that show their support of marriage equality and LGBT weddings. One of the ways that you as a wedding professional can show your support of marriage equality is by including images on your website of same-sex couples at their wedding. If you've never worked on a same-sex wedding before you might not have these images. The Gay Wedding Institute is always here to help.

Check out our stock photo collection and buy a ready to use, instant download images. These images will send a signal to a couple who is perusing your website that you do support marriage equality and would love to work on them with their LGBT wedding. LGBT couples want to feel included. We want to see images of people like us as we're looking for wedding professionals.

After you get over the hurdle and book that first same-sex couple, chances are you'll have their images to use on your website and in your marketing materials - but until then our stock photography collection is a great place to start building your client base of same-sex couples.

Images of a same-sex couple getting married are available to you with prices as low as $33 per high-resolution image.

Upcoming Gay Wedding Institute Certification Courses in Orlando and Toronto

I'll be on the road in April teaching Gay Wedding Institute certificate courses in Orlando on April 7 and Toronto on April 12. The Orlando course is being organized by the amazing Kathy Thomas Photography and is taking place at the Citrus Club from 9:30-3:30pm.

The Toronto course is being organized by the fabulous Holly Matrimony and is taking place from 11am-5pm at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

As with all the recent courses, all students will receive a copy of my book The Business of Gay Weddings, a free listing on MRSter.com, a certificate of completion and much more. Early bird registration for Orlando ends tomorrow so don't delay in registering!