We wanted to conclude APW Pride Week with an LGBTQ perspective Ask Team Practical. That, of course, required that we bring in the big guns, because all of the current APW staff is in mixed gender relationships. So! Today’s ATP is a collaboration between Alyssa and Michelle, two theatre loving liberal Texans, which makes y’all pretty lucky. And while the questions are specifically aimed at those of you planning gay weddings, they are so thought provoking for those of us that are not. So girls, let’s do it….
While all of our ATP questions can apply to anyone, regardless of orientation, there are just some issues that LGBTQ couples face that hetero couples will hardly, if ever, have to deal with. (Not fair, huh? We should probably do something about that.) In order to answer some of those, we enlisted Michelle of Deborah and Michelle of So You’re En-GAY-ged. She is adorable, I love her, and I want her and Deborah to adopt me and let me watch geeky TV with them forever and ever, amen.
We came up with a list of questions that LGBTQ couples face and while a straight couple reading this might go, “Hey, we have that problem,” remember that an LGBTQ couple reading this will go, “Hey. We have nearly ALL those problems.” Here’s to the day when this list doesn’t exist. Take it away, Michelle!!
How do I find LGBTQ-friendly vendors? (And by doing so, vote with my money?)
Let’s say you are looking for a photographer:
- Step 1: Go to a wedding directory, local bridal association, blog vendor listing, etc.
- Step 2: Find the section you are looking for (photographers)
- Step 3: Open as many sites as you can manage without going crazy in the tabs of your internet browser.
- Step 4: Find that *one* photographer that has music playing on their site and turn it off. Seriously, who thinks Taylor Swift’s “Today was a Fairytale” is appropriate for a website? If you can’t find the mute button on their site, just eliminate them from your search. You don’t need them anyway.
- Step 5: Do some old fashioned super-sleuthing! Key elements to look for on any website include gender neutral language and photos of other LGBTQ couples in their portfolio. Tip: Any reference to marriage between a man and woman? Be a Dalek and EXTERMINATE that site.
- Step 6:Whittle it down to the few photographers you like and if you can’t figure out if they are LGBTQ inclusive or not, just send them an email and ask. The worst possible scenario is an annoying email from said photographer who disagrees with you. Then you have the pleasure of just deleting their email and badmouthing them on Facebook. No, don’t do that last part– just delete the email and tell your friends not to hire them… though, if it were to be via Facebook I wouldn’t judge you.
Not the investigating type? That’s okay, not everyone can be Mulder or Scully (or Bones/Booth depending on your age and coolness level). The following websites have vendors who actively seek out LGBTQ friendly vendors:
- So You’re En-GAY-ged (I know, personally, they have a super legit criteria for their vendors! And I can vouch that the ones on there are fantastic)
- Purple Unions
- Purple Roofs (This is actually a gay friend B&B directory, but many B&Bs also have wedding packages.
- And obviously all APW vendors are about equality!
How do I find an officiant when I don’t want a church or courthouse wedding?
While searching your local directories or listings can be helpful, most sites don’t have an officiant section. Try mainstream wedding sites; Wedding Wire and The Kn*t both have search capabilities for officiants, (and on Wedding Wire you can actually read past reviews.)
You can also have a friend officiate the ceremony and have them ordained by Universal Life Church which will allow them to legally sign your marriage certificate! If you are having your ceremony in a lame state like mine that doesn’t recognize gay marriage, then two things: 1. GOOD FOR YOU! 2. Don’t go through the processing fees of ULC unless your soon-to-be-officiating friend really really wants to.
If you don’t have friends who are comfortable in front of crowds, you may want to try and find an official person who oversees weddings all the time. When you meet with them, make sure to ask your potential wedding master or mistress of ceremonies how many LGBTQ weddings they have done. Ask for sample scripts and read them before you send in the deposit check.
I have blogged about my search for our officiant on So You’re En-GAY-ged and used the following types of questions to see if she was right for us.
- What is their stance on gay marriage?
- How long have they been officiating and how many LGBTQ ceremonies have they done?
- What are their general fees? Do they have any extra fees? (Travel, customized readings, etc.)
- How do they structure their ceremony? Will you be able to pick readings? Do they have samples that you can look at?
How do you honor your family without making your partner feel like shit when their family won’t be there?
Personal back story: When I came out to my father and step-mother, my father’s response was “Why are you crying? No, please, stop crying! Why would this ever change how much I love you?” When Deborah and I first started dating, my father immediately invited her over to our monthly family dinner and she quickly became an important part of my parent’s life. On the flip side, when Deborah came out, her family wanted to have a family dinner of another kind– one that involved discussing what went wrong in her life and how sad she must be that she has resorted to this ‘lifestyle’. Needless to say, that dinner never happened, but I understand the complications of having one family be completely supportive of your marriage and sexuality while the other is less than… um, nice. My wife’s family was a big ol’ detour sign on our road to wedded bliss, so I can answer this question from a personal standpoint. However, every relationship is different, and I don’t know your partner as well as you do, so remember that all of these suggestions may not be applicable.
- Be pro-active. Talk to your partner about how he/she is feeling and how you are feeling. You may think your significant other is wallowing in self-pity, but I found that Deborah had come to terms with her parents unwillingness to participate in our wedding much sooner than I had. Once we had that discussion, we were able to plan accordingly. We both knew there would be some sadness when it came to wedding milestones, like finding a dress for instance. We made sure there were tons of loving and supportive people around when Deborah did find her dress and we ended up turning the whole day into a big celebration. Continue reading Ask Team Practical: Michelle on LGBTQ Weddings