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

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, a certificate of completion and much more. Early bird registration for Orlando ends tomorrow so don't delay in registering!

Get Married by Noon and Fired by 5

Did you know that in 29 states you can be fired for being gay/LGBT? If your answer was no, then you probably didn’t know that in the same 29 states an LGBT couple could be refused services for all aspects of their wedding planning. Here enters chaos and confusion. Some cities, towns and counties in the aforementioned 29 states have their own laws which actually protect LGBT people against discrimination. For example, in the state of Florida it is technically against the law to fire someone for being gay, but not so in Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville. The map below shows which counties have this protection:


Map of Florida counties and cities that have sexual orientation and/or gender identity anti–employment discrimination ordinances   Sexual orientation and gender identity with anti–employment discrimination ordinance   Sexual orientation with anti–employment discrimination ordinance   Sexual orientation and gender identity solely in public employment   Sexual orientation in public employment   Does not protect sexual orientation and gender identity in employment

Are you following along? I know it's awfully confusing, but do try. Over the last five or six months, we have seen a rapid acceleration in  marriage equality. However, we have also seen some very conservative states try to block those little LGBT protection laws from going into effect. Just last week in the state of Arkansas a law was passed which prohibited cities towns and counties from protecting LGBT people against discrimination. A similar law is about to pass in South Carolina and also in West Virginia. This prevents the patchwork of LGBT protection laws within those 29 states as in the map above. 

Although we're seeing more progress with marriage equality, there are also some pretty significant steps backwards happening at the same time. Marriage equality has made huge progress. When someone can get married at noon and be fired for being gay at 5 PM there is still is a lot of work to do. Just don't forget that your same-sex clients might not always have an easy time when planning their wedding and it's our role in the wedding industry to be advocates for all of our clients so they never have to experience discrimination from those in the wedding industry who don't support marriage equality.

Wedding Inclusion Marketing

Inclusion marketing is the marketing strategy of including images of diverse people side-by-side. In the case of the LGBT community you might see an ad where a same-sex couple is featured right alongside a straight couple as if that is a completely normal situation (which it is).

This is the future of our society and this is the future of marketing. Good examples of inclusion marketing which you may have seen on TV include this ad for the Amazon Kindle:


Or this ad for Microsoft Outlook: 


An example of how you can use inclusion marketing for print advertisement in a wedding magazine is below. This ad appeals to not only same-sex couples but also opposite sex couples and simply reflects the diversity of the clientele that this planner works with. In short, everyone is included.

This is a very successful marketing strategy for you to consider as you create ads, especially print ads and banner ads for your business. You can also take this approach on your website. Although same-sex couples really are looking for images of other same-sex couples, you don't necessarily have to have a gay section on your website unless you do that section very very well. Including images of straight and gay couples side-by-side is a perfectly respectful and successful approach in reaching all audiences.

Facebook Changes its Gender Policy Again

Gender is an awfully confusing subject. And one thing that's important to remember is that there are not just two genders: male and female. There are many people in the world who might feel male one day and female the next. Or, people who might feel like they are a man trapped in a woman's body or vice-versa. They might not like to check a box that says "male" or "female". 

Essentially what I'm getting at is that gender is fluid for many people.

This means that companies need to start paying attention to such preferences. Facebook is one of the pioneering corporations in understanding that gender is fluid. Last year, you may recall that face that Facebook created a policy whereby users could select custom as a gender and then choose between over 50 different genders beyond just male or female. Example genders on their list included cisgender, transfeminine and more.

Now Facebook has changed their gender policy again. Now when someone selects custom when adjusting their gender on Facebook, they simply get a blank line to write in their own gender. Those 50+ gender examples are gone and now individuals can describe themselves the way they see fit.

Such gender identification is going to be increasingly common especially among millennials and those who are identifying as genderqueer, or otherwise feeling very fluid in their gender identity and expression.

Facebook is paying attention. Are you? Think beyond gender when planning someone's wedding and beyond the preconceived notions of what the role of the male and female is in wedding planning. Consider how gender fluidity could come into effect when you're working with a same-sex couple.

Weddings in a Changing World

On Saturday I had the pleasure of speaking in New Orleans at the Events & Tents sub-conference of The Rental Show, the conference of the American Rental Association. The audience consisted mostly of owners and employees of party and tent rental companies throughout North America.

My topic, Weddings in a Changing World discussed how more couples than ever before (including same-sex couples and many modern couples) are looking for different things in rental products. My presentation covered some of the nuances, language, and terminology that arise with LGBT couples. Also included were different strategies for marketing and advertising, and ways to make sure that all of couples have their needs met. 

I was humbled by the opportunity to be the first person ever to speak on this subject at an event of this magnitude, and grateful to have been graced with the good company of Peyton Manning, who was the Speaker today.