Being an LGBTQ Ally and Planning A Wedding

After this weekend’s book club meetups (more on how they went and more discussion coming tomorrow), and reading and discussing Dan Savage’s The Commitment, I thought it was a good time to discuss being a LGBTQ ally, in the context of wedding planning. For the record, I’m writing this as a person in a heterosexual (or mixed gender, achem) relationship (because you know, I am one). I know some of you are LGBTQ and some of you are allies, but hey, I’m writing from where I’m at. I have my limitations.

There are, of course, as many ways to be an wedding-y ally as their are people. Some people opt out of getting married until everyone they love can get married. Others of us get married, but make very specific political statements when they do (David and I put a statement in our program, and on another level, got married by two lesbian clergy members who were both long-married in a Jewish community). Some people get married and don’t make statements, but give money to help the cause quietly. Some people just pray real hard in their hearts. All of these things count.

I don’t think anyone should tell you that there is just one way to be ally. But I do want to take a moment to really consider the fact that we ARE, in fact allies, that we ARE getting married and fighting for marriage equality. That and we do need to get off our asses and do something about it.

One of the APW book club questions was, “If the book came with an *exactly!* button, which passage would you choose?” It was Penelope’s question, and she happened to be at the San Francisco Bay Area meetup. Not surprisingly she came prepared with an answer. The passage she chose was one that made me cry, and one that I thought needed re-printing here. This is Dan Savage talking about his 10th anniversary party that became kind-of a wedding reception:

… As I listened to him, I was thinking about what Andrew Sullivan had to say about the politics of repression. Social conservatives “want to create a shadow class of people operating somehow in a cultural and social limbo,” the lives of gay people de-valued, our relationships denigrated. “That strategy may have worked as long as gay people cooperated – by staying in the closet, keeping their heads down, playing the euphemism game – but the cooperation is over.”

It was clear at our party that it isn’t only gay people who refuse to cooperated anymore. The gay people in our lives who gathered at the Chinese Room and later that night at Re-bar – our gay friends, two of my exes, my gay co-workers – were outnumbered five to on by the straight people who came to celebrate our anniversary. Our straight friends and family members don’t want us living in cultural and social limbo anymore either, even the Bush voters among them, and they refuse to cooperate with the Dobsons and Bauers and Falwells.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this in the past few weeks, this refusal to cooperate. What does it look like, on a practical level? What does it look like in wedding planning?

A few weeks ago, Becca at A Los Angeles Love, wrote a incendiary and awesome series of posts about the politics of wedding photography (for the record, a lot of APW sponsor photographers emailed me the link with notes, like “F*ck yes. Love Becca.”) One of the things that came up was the fact that some photographers refuse to have LGBTQ weddings in their portfolio or on their blog, even if they shoot them. Out of respect for the photographer who commented on the thread, I’m not going to directly quote him, but I’m going to paraphrase. He said, in essence, “I will photography LGBTQ weddings, but I won’t put them in my portfolio or on my blog, because I don’t want to offend potential money making clients.” When another person pointed out that, hey, that means you’re disrespecting your current paying clients to get in good with some potential future homophobic clients, the photographer blew that right off.

What I was struck by in this discussion was not, “Hey, some wedding businesses have ethics that I find sh*tty,” because, yes, OBVIOUSLY. This is not news. What I was struck by is that small business owners think that homophobic people will vote with their dollars, and that LGBTQ allies WON’T. Which made me take a step back. And then, about ten seconds later made me FURIOUS. Like, livid.

Because if people think LGBTQ Allies are not going to vote with their dollars, we all need to step the eff up, and tell them that we sure as hell are. Some things that might mean: doing our best to only work with LGBTQ friendly wedding vendors (you can check out a partial list right here, as well as all APW sponsors). That might mean buying Martha Stewart Weddings when they run gay weddings, to make up for all the other people who cancel their subscriptions (shout out to long time APW-readers who are the FIRST EVER lesbian wedding in MS Weddings). That might mean actively asking people what their policies are before you hire them. It means, in general, adding cash to your arsenal of activism tricks. The best thing about cash is, you can do it quietly if that is what works for you. Your Aunt Sue doesn’t even have to know that you hired only pro-LGBTQ vendors, but you still voted with your wallet. And that counts, big time.

I wanted to take this conversation step further, and talk explicitly about how I try to support that with APW sponsors (rad, rad people that they are). The photos in this post are by the lovely Kristy of Moodeous Photography in Denver. They are the engagement pictures for the winners of the LGBTQ wedding photography giveaway that we ran earlier this year. And how pretty are they? Gahhhh. Later today we’re going to have another LGBTQ wedding photography giveaway, and I wanted to tell you why I think these giveaways are important: it’s not that, hey, LGBTQ people get legally married, so maybe we should show our support by giving them stuff (though that’s not the worst reason in the world). It’s because allied photographers need to have gay couples in their portfolio. It tells gay and straight couples that, “Hey, these we  love working with clients of all kinds of sexual orientations, and we don’t discriminate in our portfolios either.” It starts to normalize gay wedding for people that are not thinking about the issue much. It differentiates allied photographers from the people who will shoot gay weddings, but not put them in their portfolio.

It shows that we refuse to cooperate anymore.

And we’ve got to stop cooperating, all of us. We need to stop cooperating in ways large and small. And this isn’t about where you stand on the political spectrum, it’s about equal rights. The New York times ran a profile of Meghan McCain (John McCain’s daughter, and a Republican) on Sunday. In it she said that she supports marriage equality because, “I have friends who are gay, and I’d like to go to their weddings.”

And that’s exactly it.

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  • Thank you, thank you, thank you. Excellent post, and a great reminder. I try so hard to do all of this in my everyday life–shopping at corporations that aren’t homophobic or racist, etc., and I intend to be as overt as possible about it at my wedding without starting fistfights.

    • Also, these pictures took my breath away–so lovely.

    • sarah

      Meg included a link to to the vendor list. This list is a GODSEND for anyone who wants to make sure that their vendors are LGBTQ allies. It includes allied vendors from all parts of the country. Kelly, who runs soyoureengayged has been compiling the list for almost two years and everyone on it has not only said “I’m an ally,” they’ve shown it through their actions. She has every vendor complete a survey about the actions that they’ve taken to promote marraige equality and she corresponds with them all directly. She also makes sure that they are reputable business owners who do quality work.

  • A wonderful post, and beautiful pictures! I rejected a lot of vendors off the bat if I couldn’t find same-sex couples featured in their materials… I suspect a lot of people don’t realize how casually they can slip same-sex stuff into their website or literature, and most people won’t notice, but it means so much to the people who are looking for it. While we didn’t choose to use anyone just because they were gay, we did make a point to go with people who we were sure we would be comfortable with as a same-sex couple; the last thing you want to do is worry about your comfort level being affectionate with your partner on your wedding day, and that’s the first thing I would expect to feel with someone who wasn’t comfortable featuring their same-sex work. Thank you for writing this.

  • lisa

    Great post!

    We spent a lot of time thinking how we wanted to be allies in our heterosexual wedding. One of the best was asking some same-gendered friends who had just gotten married who they used, and starting there.

    I am also an ordained minister in a progressive Protestant denomination, the United Church of Christ. In the midst of my wedding planning I ran across the UCC inclusive order for marriage, and I love it! I love the language which honors the seriousness of a marriage commitment and that it makes this commitment does it without using gendered nouns. In case it is helpful for other Protestant LGBTQ or allied couples out there:

    • Elise

      I love this ceremony structure (and its options!)! Thank you!

    • This is a really beautiful ceremony! Thank you so much for sharing! I’m going to take tons of notes on it.

    • KristieB

      Yay! My sister-in-law is a minister with the United Church!

    • This is really interesting. We’re planning to do something similar, only without reference to G-d or religion (we want a civil ceremony). For the introduction, we’re going to use language from a few of the marriage equality court decisions, incorporating both the race and sexual equality decisions.

      These are my favorite passages:

      “Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations.

      * * *

      Without question, civil marriage enhances the “welfare of the community.” It is a “social institution of the highest importance.” Civil marriage anchors an ordered society by encouraging stable relationships over transient ones. It is central to the way the [State] identifies individuals, provides for the orderly distribution of property, ensures that children and adults are cared for and supported whenever possible from private rather than public funds, and tracks important epidemiological and demographic data. Marriage also bestows enormous private and social advantages on those who choose to marry. Civil marriage is at once a deeply personal commitment to another human being and a highly public celebration of the ideals of mutuality, companionship, intimacy, fidelity, and family. . . Because it fulfils yearnings for security, safe haven, and connection that express our common humanity, civil marriage is an esteemed institution, and the decision whether and whom to marry is among life’s momentous acts of self-definition.”

      Goodridge v. Dep’t of Public Health, 798 N.E. 2d 941 (Mass. 2003) (citations omitted).

      “Marriage is the state recognition and approval of a couple’s choice to live with each other, to remain committed to one another and to form a household based on their own feelings about one another and to join in an economic partnership and support one another and any dependents. The state has many purposes in licensing and fostering marriage. Facilitating governance and public order by organizing individuals into cohesive family units. Developing a realm of liberty, intimacy and free decision-making by spouses. Creating stable households. Legitimating children. Assigning individuals to care for one another and thus limiting the public’s liability to care for the vulnerable. Facilitating property ownership. Marriage benefits both spouses by promoting physical and psychological health.”

      Perry v. Schwarzenegger

      The “freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.”

      Loving v Virginia, 388 US 1, 12 (1967)

      “Marriage is a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred. It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects. Yet it is an association for as noble a purpose as any involved in our prior decisions.”

      Griswold v Connecticut, 381 US 479, 486 (1965)

  • Oh you have me in tears and with goose bumps this morning. THANKS for this post! It is a great reminder for all of us to stay active!

  • Katie

    Great post, thank you!

    I’d already planned to make a statement and raise a toast to my LGBTQ friends and now I will be even more conscientious about buying from and hiring allied businesses.

  • We will be married by a Presbyterian (PCUSA) minister and are using that order of service. Our minister is wonderful and has worked with us to try to retain the essence of the ceremonial language while respecting all sexual orientations. We spent a solid 2 hours going over the ceremony word by word and talking about the meaning and why that language is used. There are some places where we have chosen to keep ‘traditional’ language because, when the minister explained it to us, it has such a beautiful meaning and really is inclusive at its core. I’m worried, though, that without knowledge of the Bible and Christianity, that a few of our guests may be offended. I don’t know where and how to find balance– I don’t want to plan our entire ceremony around not offending our LGBTQ friends (or anyone else for that matter), but both my partner and I do care for their feelings of acceptance and comfort at our wedding. There is language like husband and wife, male and female, in our order of service. The fact is that my partner will be my husband, and I will be his wife; he is male, and I am female. The language of male and female is from Genesis 3, and when we talked about it with our minister he described it as meaning that God created us all different but all in his image and that each of us bring something different to the world and to our relationship(s). (You may disagree with that interpretation, but we agree and find it to be quite beautiful and meaningful for any couple.)

    I’m sort of wondering what the LGBTQ reaction might be to this kind of language, but I have to admit I’m a little fearful to put myself out there. Please, if you reply to this, have some grace with me.

    • meg

      The general rul of thumb is, use un-gendered language when talking about the general world (partner), but it’s totally fine to use gendered language when talking about specific people, who are, you know, gendered. I think, in the end, you need to make a decision that is right for you. If you do that, friends will understand. Plus, people don’t go to weddings to be offended, they go to weddings to be happy :)

      David and I opted to use the age old gendered langugage for our vows. We discussed not doing that, but realized that for us part of the power was saying the same words generations and generations had… and we WERE husband and wife anyway.

      • sarah

        You’re right, people don’t go to weddings to be offended, but many of us who are LGBTQ have learned that we should go to the weddings of our friends and family expecting to be offended and have learned how to smile through it. To put it bluntly, it sucks.

        • sarah

          To clarify: I would not have been offended by someone using gendered language in their vows (like you did) — because vows are (for the most part) about the couple, not the institution of marriage (“I take you to be my husband” is different than “marriage is a union between a man and a woman”). However, I have felt pain and sadness at many of my friends’ and family members’ weddings for different reasons:
          -when the MC says “everyone who is married, get out on the dance floor” — um, does that include me? I’m not technically married… what do I do?
          -when a pastor says that marriage is the sacred bond between a man and a woman
          -when my gender-queer wife is asked to wear a dress in order to be a bridesmaid in a good friends’ wedding
          -and sometimes I feel pain and sadness when it goes unacknowledged that marriage is political and that many people are denied both the legal protections of the institution as well as the community support that marriage provides…

          I know APW is all about making the choices that are right for you and I know that many people feel scared and uncomfortable saying something publicly about marriage equality — For those of you who are scared to make a public statement, know that when you do… it means a lot to those of us who are used to feeling those twinges of pain and sadness at our friends and family members’ weddings.

          • meg

            But my point holds, I don’t think it is offensive to call my husband my husband in my vows. It was right for us, and I absolutely stand by that, and I want to let people know that when it comes to your very particular very personal vows, you need to do what is right for you, period.

            Whether, or who you honor marriage equality during your wedding is a different question. And making statements that marriage is between a man and a woman is a WHOLE different question. Our *particular* vows *were* between a man and a woman, and using that language in the particular is fine. It’s when you use it in the general that it’s problematic.

            And you know, we were married by two out lesbians. There were not a lot of mixed messages at our wedding. We were not subtle. So the issues you mentioned were not issues.

          • sarah

            Totally! As I said… I can’t see how anyone would be offended by someone saying “I take you to be my husband” or ” you are the man I love” in their wedding vows. I’m not responding to what you said about your own personal vows, what I’m responding to is the sentiment that “you should do what feels right for you and people will understand” and “people come to weddings to be happy, not to be offended.” Because sometimes I haven’t understood my friends’ choices and sometimes I have been offended.

            Because I have felt pain at my friends’ weddings (and would never have told them that because they’re my friends and I want them to be happy about their wedding day), I think it’s important that people know that if they don’t take action to make sure that their wedding is inclusive, some people won’t understand and some people will be offended. Often times it doesn’t feel right to stand up for other people’s rights and/or be inclusive of all people. Most of the time it feels scary and uncomfortable, but that doesn’t make it any less important.

        • meg

          I think my bottom line is, assuming all my readers are smart, thoughtful, and kind… they need to do what is right for them, period. Sometimes you might offend someone. Should you think of that before hand? Yup. Should you make sure you can live with it if it happens? Yup. Should you SET OUT to offend people? Nope. But the wording of your service HAS to be yours. It HAS to be something you can live inside, and that’s the bottom line.

          Look, I’m an Ally squared, but I’m going to stand up for the fact that ceremonies are personal things, and we have to thoughtfully make decisions that are right for us, even if that risks offending someone a little.

          • I never leave upset comments. I always hit the X on my browser. But…

            I’ve been mulling over this post for several days and I’ve been trying to articulate this politely. However, the politest thing that I can say – after taking several days to calm down – is that you cannot call yourself an ally squared whilst telling an LGBTQ person that we should lay back and think of England when we’re hurt by certain aspects of weddings. Particularly when they had the decency to explain EXACTLY what they meant. Even though it is not the job of LGBTQ people to teach allies. You cannot call yourself an ally when you expect that LGBTQ people to not get upset about when straight couples – who call themselves ALLIES – don’t want to be in people’s faces. Yes. We should be completely happy with the scraps of support that we are given. We should not be upset that standing up for our HUMAN RIGHTS is too difficult for allies.

            Yes. Obviously you’re more than welcome to do whatever you want at your wedding. However, I would not call YOU an ally when you take the approach.

          • meg

            First of all, I’m sorry, I’m an ally. So there is that. You may not like what I said, but that doesn’t negate the fact that I fight very very hard on this issue for very very personal reasons. Second, I made pretty in-your-face choices supporting marriage equality at our wedding. That said, I don’t think what we did is right for everyone, and thinking that doesn’t magically make me a non-ally.

            Am I encouraging people to say “marriage is between a man and a woman” in their service. Because I don’t think that’s ok. But I am saying that it is ok for people to realize that parts of some traditional wording, like, say, “I take you as my husband” are important to them, and they want to use them. Our lesbian rabbi at our very political LGBTQ shul talked us through this particular dilemma, and said, “Look. You can say husband. In fact, you should say husband if that is what feels right to you. And you shouldn’t think for a minute that making that choice takes away from your support for marriage equality.” And she was right, and I don’t regret that choice. Was it hurtful to my many gay friends in attendance? Nope. If it had offended gay friends, would it have still been right for us? Yes. But you bet your ass I would have had a long talk with them about it.

            I have never said or suggested that if LGBTQ members of your community are offended that you should make them pretend that they are not, of course not. You should DISCUSS it with them. But, that said, as adults we have to realize that we’re responsable for our own choices, and we can’t always make everyone happy all the time. Period. Even dear-to-us gay friends. So we make our choices, we own the outcome, and we discuss.

            Is it ok if some people are not comfortable, given their particular family circumstances, making a very loud political point at their weddings? Yes, that’s ok. We many tools at our disposal to make change, and the loudest tool is not always the best or most appropriate tool for the job. Weddings are deeply personal, and about more than just politics. We have to allow people to offer support in ways that they can, and in ways that they feel are helpful for their communities. There is no one size fits all approach to activism.

            Finally, I think that we have to be really careful about further dividing communities. We can’t tell people if they can’t do X, then their support is not good enough. Or, if they can’t do X, we’re kicking them out of the ally club, or the marriage equality club. We need to continue being inclusive, and as understanding and compassionate as we can. Changing hearts and minds is slow and hard, and almost never in black and white.

          • Sarah

            Thanks for your comment, Laura. I haven’t stopped thinking about this particular back and forth for weeks and I think I feel really similarly to you. Your comment helped me to know that I wasn’t the only one feeling that way.

          • Sarah

            You’re 100% right that you do a lot of great work for marriage equality. But I want to point out two specific things about ally-ness that I’ve learned from trying hard to be an white anti-racist ally in communities of color. I don’t know if my experience will be helpful to you or others, but here’s what I’ve learned: The first thing I’ve learned is that being an ally is a lot about listening to the folks I want to be allied with and not a lot debating with the folks I want to be allied with. And the second is that, for me as a white person, I don’t get to define myself as an ally — the only folks who get to say whether or not I’m being a white anti-racist ally in any given situation are people of color. When you think about it, that makes a lot of sense. If you make the comparison to relationships between nations, the U.S. might say that we’re Iraq’s ally, but if Iraqis feel as though something we’ve done is antithetical to their needs or desires, don’t they get to say whether or not we’re being allies?

          • meg

            Yes, Sarah, that’s true. But the LGBTQ people in my life (lifelong friends, people at our shul, our rabbi, even many many people in the blog-o-sphere) will tell you that I am an ally. Someone disagreeing with me who doesn’t know me does not negate that. It doesn’t’ negate the long conversations I had with suicidal friends in High School, the interventions I did, the marching I’ve done, the donating I’ve done, the writing I’ve done. Because here is the thing, I’m not an ally because I’m selfless. I’m an ally because of my own personal stuff. I’m an ally because of friends who ODed in High School right before coming out. I’m not an ally for you (nor should I be), I’m an ally for me and as me (which is much more powerful stuff).

            And as a member of the community working towards justice, you can bet that I’m going to let my voice be heard. and I’m going to disagree with people sometimes. The LGBTQ community is not a monolithic place. The Allied community is not a monolithic place. And we’re all stronger because of that. I’m not going to be a false version of myself doing this work, I’m going to be my real self, disagreements and all.

            The bottom line is I take a huge amount of heat in emails and comments that you don’t see, for working to make APW a really welcoming and inclusive place, and for being as loudly pro marriage equality as I am. I shouldn’t get your sympathy for that (please) but I should get a little respect. The kind of respect where you say, “Yeah, we disagree, and that’s cool.” Not, “we disagree, so I’m going to try to say you’re not part of the fight.” That helps no one.

            I did what I thought was right no my wedding day, I was really loud in my support for marriage equality. I just know that’s not right for everyone. Which is what I say every single day on every single issue on APW. You can’t reasonably expect me to have a totally different opinion here.

          • Sarah

            I hope you know that I very much respect the work that you do to promote marriage equality on APW and the only reason that I’m not just saying “hell yeah!” in this comment thread is that I trust that this community is actually dedicated to fighting for equality and not just paying lip service to it. In this discussion about how to be an ally, I’m trying to add my opinion about what an ally is and trying to expand our horizons (including my own) about what we all can actually accomplish if we set our sights higher than “not offending” and/or “quietly supporting” our LGBT friends and instead take on the role of ally as one aimed at making lasting and meaningful change that promotes equality for all people. I thought your ideas about being a conscientious consumer in the original post were fantastic — picking active marriage equality activists as vendors is a fantastic way to join the fight. However, I’m going to stick to my guns about what I said earlier – “doing what feels right to you” often is not compatible with being an ally. There are so many ways that families, religions, and the WIC play a part in the structural oppression of LGBT folks, that often we have to struggle against “what feels right to us” in order to do what is right for our neighbors. I think most of the time it feels intimidating and terrifying for folks to stick their necks out and actively fight for marriage equality in public ways (and not just for allies, but for LGBT folks, too). APW’s usual message, that because marriages are personal things, each couple should do what feels right for them, in my opinion doesn’t apply here – because marriage equality often isn’t personal for straight couples – but it is very personal for their LGBT neighbors and I think that people (in this case) shouldn’t do what feels right to them, but instead do what is right for their community at large.

          • meg

            In some ways, I think we need to agree to disagree here. I see a lot of really complex situations, and I’m not comfortable with a one size fits all approach. There are lots of families where sticking your neck out creates some real change, and then there are others where sticking your neck out is just going to harden people’s opinions, have important people walk out of your life, and prevent change from happening over the long term. I can’t ask everyone to do that. I can’t tell people they HAVE to do that, or we’re kicking them out of the movement. That doesn’t feel constructive to me. I can’t tell people they HAVE to do that without hearing their stories.

            As always, I’m going to push people towards sticking their necks out, and towards putting their money where their heart is. But I’m not going to say Have To and Must.

            And I guess, in closing, I wouldn’t tell the world at large to do what feels right to them on this issue. But I will tell that to APW readers. They are self-selected, they have thought a lot about these issues, they are aware of the pitfalls. I trust my readers, I trust this community. And part of that trust is saying, “do what’s in your heart, not what is in mine.”

    • I don’t really see why anyone would be offended that you’re using “male/female” and “husband/wife” in your ceremony. They’re the terms that apply to you, that you feel comfortable using, and that you have said are meaningful and important to you. Remember, this is *your* ceremony, and while you don’t want to go out of your way to hurt people (so maybe leave out any “male/female is inherently better than any other relationship” :D), but ultimately the ceremony should be what feels right to you and your soon-to-be-husband.

    • I understand where you are coming from on this. A lot of language in traditional ceremonies emphasizes that it is specifically a man and woman who wed, not just people in love. While I am in heterosexual relationship, and have no problem with a minister referring to us as a female/male couple and wife/husband, I don’t like the generalizing that sometimes gets inferred (ie. god only brings men and women together in matrimony). If it makes you uncomfortable, try to remove or edit those passages that make the sweeping generalizations about what kind of love god “condones.”

    • sarah

      Here are my two cents on the ceremony language issue: I think it depends on the exact language. If the language you’re worried about is like “you will be his wife and he will be your husband and together you will be a man and a woman starting a life together”, etc, etc… that’s not offensive at all.

      However, if the language you’re talking about is like “marraige is an age old union between a man and a woman” or “God man and then God made woman and they were meant to marry each other” then you should know that some of your LGBTQ and allied guests will be offended (and never say anything to you about it, because it’s your day and they love you).

      The real difference is if the language describes you and your relationship or if the language describes the institution of marraige.

      • I went to a wedding once where the bride’s cousin got up and did a surprise reading (she was assigned to be a reader but did not tell the bride what the reading would be) of the Adam’s rib bible passage. The bride, a doctor, was even offended.

    • Kibbins

      I had to edit the traditional wording of our ceremony. Starting from the first sentence: “Christian marriage is a joyful covenanting between a man and a woman…” is now “Christian marriage is a joyful promise between two people…”.

      As has been said, it’s a very personal decision and you shouldn’t question doing what you want to do. I considered my FH and my preference for more contemporary church services and more contemporary language when I made changes. Also, I did consider the audience. I didn’t want people drifting off with the first hint of “church-y” language, because I know that a lot of people who will be at the ceremony don’t attend church regularly, me being one of them, but I want them to … I guess be an active guest. To listen and understand what this commitment means to us.

      And I removed the gender-specific language because it made me cringe. And a cringing bride? That ain’t cute.

  • Wow, oh wow! Thank you for this post! The idea to put your money where your mouth is seems so simple yet brilliant! As someone who is just starting out to plan a wedding this is some of the best practical (from APW, go figure!) advice I have received yet. Thank you for approaching the support of marriage equality from a place of positive thinking. Being negative and cynical only gets you so far and wedding and marriage planning should come from a place of unbridled joy!

  • Michelle

    “Small business owners think that homophobic people will vote with their dollars, and that LGBTQ allies WON’T.”

    Such a great reminder! Even though I’m a bridesmaid in a gay wedding this fall, have LGBTQ members in my own wedding party, will be legally married in DC (even though our ceremony is in VA), plan to donate to a gay rights org. after our wedding & have included an option to donate to that org. in lieu of a wedding gift to us, it didn’t occur to me to specifically ask vendors about their policies or review their websites for this crucial inclusion. Adding it to our list of questions right now! THANK YOU.

  • Erin

    Thanks for pointing out the quiet ways to be an ally, because sometimes avoiding confronting the beliefs and feelings of your immediate community (grandmothers, parents) is non-negotiable when wedding planning. If you are planning to get married in a Christian church, there are several denominations that are moving toward promoting equality, including the Episcopal and Evangelical Lutheran churches (and others that I can’t think of off the top of my head). For us, getting married in an ELCA church was an important, but subtle, symbol of solidarity with the gay pastor who had ministered to us as a couple for years.

    • Marina

      United Church of Christ is super LGBT-friendly, as another Christian option.

  • Thanks for this post and for all the Allies out there! As a same-sex couple, we didn’t really have much choice but to ask the “how do you feel about same-sex couples” question of all of our vendors, but I think it’s really powerful when straight couples ask the same questions and use those answers to help shape your choices. And I’m so glad that resources like SoYou’reEngayged exist to help easily locate businesses that go out of their way to be supportive of same-sex relationships. And thanks, Meg, for making this site so inclusive. Through perusing the comments, I’ve discovered lots of fantastic blogs, including many other women who are planning two-bride weddings. Love it!

  • Mallory

    What a simple but profound concept. I will remember to add that to my list of considerations when choosing vendors, it had never even occurred to me before but obviously makes so much sense.

    Also on a similar note, besides mentioning it in the ceremony, does anyone else have good ideas for how they honored (or plan to honor) the fight for gay rights at their wedding? I’ve been considering making a donation to a gay rights organization like courage campaign instead of doing favors but am definitely looking for some good ideas.

    • Michelle

      I think a donation is a great idea, Mallory, as is the white knot idea going around. How did you decide on Courage Campaign? There are so many gay rights orgs out there and I don’t know as much about them as I should (how solid they are on the T part of LGBTQ, e.g.) One of my friends suggested the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force. Anyone want to throw in some other suggestions?

  • How beautiful is that couple?!

    Thank you Meg for the reminder to chose to live consciously and conscientiously. That it might require a bit more work. But it’s fucking important.

  • Margaret M.

    I was caught off guard by how transforming it would feel to be married, and while I thoroughly supported LGBTQ rights before marriage, I have felt an order of magnitude more passionate about the marriage cause after getting married. Because who could deny this feeling to anyone? Who could get married and feel how life-changing that is and want to tell ANYONE else they can’t have this?

    I want my gay friends to get married and I want to go to their weddings and I want their marriages to have all the legal protections and obligations that go along with it.

  • Class of 1980

    I am currently living in a super conservative area in the mountains – the kind of place where people are “cultural conservatives” rather than “fiscal conservatives”. Next year, while staying in the same geographical area, I may be moving closer to the most liberal small city in the south – Asheville, NC.

    There are so many great photographers there and a large LGBTQ population. I’ve seen many of the portfolios online and I’m racking my brains about whether or not I’ve ever seen any LGBTQ weddings represented. I don’t remember any. Now I’m wondering how this could possibly be the case!

    On another note, I saw an interview recently with Laura Bush where she now says she is for gay marriage and thinks it will eventually happen. All I could think was “Too little, too late, lady.” When her husband was in office, all she said on the subject was that many people found the idea shocking.

  • Yes. This. Exactly. Thank you.

    I am a bisexual woman marrying my 4 year partner next May. Our caterer hosts monthly gay wedding symposiums at HRC in DC. Our photographer features pictures from our engagement session on her blog because she wants to be inclusive (also, because we’re hot, duh). We got our dresses from a LGBT friendly store.

    It’s hard to think of the fact that your joy has to be louder than someone else’s hate, disdain or ignorance. It’s hard to have to come out to vendors continually, not knowing how the results will be. It’s frustrating to go to wedding events or bridal stores with your partner and have people assume you are friends or sisters. So I vote with my dollars.

  • I love that Meg is starting this discussion. Voting with your dollars is incredibly important in this day and age. But I think it goes a step beyond just finding out if your vendor supports LGBTQ issues. If they don’t, and that is why you don’t choose them, they need to know. If you boycott a certain big box store because they have supported anti-equality candidates before, you have to tell them. People and companies don’t change unless they know why their customers are leaving them…knowing most of these people, they’ll just chalk it up to the economy (and blame the current guy in office) if you are not vocal with you reasoning.

  • Ali

    “we refuse to cooperate” very nicely put!

    I am a wedding photographer in the Madison WI area, and although I have not as of yet photographed a LGBTQ wedding. I would love to and would be proud to put it on my blog.

    • It’s very important for people not to jump to conclusions about vendors like yourself. Just because a vendor doesn’t have an LGBTQ wedding in her/his portfolio doesn’t mean that person isn’t pro-same sex marriage. In a lot of states where same sex marriage does not exist, it is less likely to have same-sex clients.

      That’s why we must ask our vendors what their policies are! Kudos to you and your desire to shoot same-sex couples.

      • Also there is this nifty ‘White Knot’ badge that you can put on your website or blog. I haven’t as of yet photographed a LGBTQ wedding either (first one in coming in November woot!) and I wanted to make it clear where I stood. I found this via the lovely Ms. Emily Takes Photos blog, and decided that I must have one too. you can check it out here:

        • ddayporter

          thank you for sharing!! I had never heard of this.

  • Can I just EXACTLY this whole post? :-)

    I am a photographer in NYC, and I have LGBTQ couples in my portfolio. I am super excited to be second shooting my first Lesbian wedding in two weeks, and those photos will of course go on my blog. And if those photographs turn away a mixed gender couple that wanted to hire me, then that is fine with me. I don’t want to work with those people anyway, and I certainly don’t want their money.

    In planning our own mixed gender wedding, we have been very careful to hire vendors that are supportive of the LGBTQ community. It is our own small way of showing how we feel.

  • i just want to thank you for writing a queer/wedding/ally/etc. post that isn’t all about laws.

    frankly, as a queer bride-to-be, i think the social aspects are so much more relevant, and i’m kind of sick of having to explain the nuances of my (pointedly nontraditional) legal opinions on marriage as the first thing anyone asks about.

    • Lady Brett, so much word. Acquaintances seem to think that me choosing to marry my partner means that they can debate gay marriage with me. Oy.

  • lou

    yep. this was a really important thing for us to address, seeing as how, in Australia, it is the law that you include this in your ceremony:

    Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these
    witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are about to enter. Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.

    i was really shocked by this and it made me really angry to think how my gay friends might feel hearing this at my wedding. so we have agreed with our celebrant that we will add another sentence onto the end of the legal declaration to state our hope that soon anyone who wants to get married will be able to.

    if anyone at the wedding is offended they can f*** off to be honest! i don’t really care. this is just discrimination plain and simple and it’s embarrassing that this is still even an issue.

    • Anna

      The language is the same in the UK. We had a legal ceremony in the town hall (with 2 witnesses) & I winced as that came up. At our “real” ceremony conducted by a Humanist we were very clear that we wanted all our language to be inclusive.

    • KristieB

      I can’t believe that has to be said.


  • Another thing I’m very cognizant of, besides our vendors’ LGBTQ policies, is of our officiant’s. I refuse to get married by someone who wouldn’t marry me if I had fallen in love with a women instead of a man.

    • Maddie

      Agreed! Our officiant is the father of a very close friend of mine, and the sole reason we chose him (this was the first wedding decision we made ten years ago when we were *shame face* in High School) is because of the way he reacted to his son coming out. He is a Protestant Reverend and to this day is the only religious authority I know who makes LGBTQ rights, religious acceptance, and inclusiveness a priority in his sermons. I think that we also do a service to the community as a whole when we hire LGBTQ friendly vendors because a commitment to the queer community usually means that they are supportive of other non-traditional family types.

    • Marina

      Absolutely! Half the reason we decided on our officiant is because when we asked her what her favorite wedding was, she talked about a lesbian Buddhist-Jewish wedding that involved the couple’s son as well. That was a very, very good sign.

    • Ha! I solved that problem by asking my brother. He’d marry me to anyone except my ex. :D

  • McPants

    Yay allies! I felt like one of the coolest things about my upcoming (legal!) wedding is that there was no one more dedicated to finding homo-friendly businesses and speaking with our dollars than my (straight) mother. Even when my partner and I hadn’t done the research yet, she was already prepared with information on caterers and venues, and was adamant that “everybody there, down to the person picking up the trash afterward” should be totally onboard with a same-sex wedding. It was super-touching, and even a good reminder to us to keep it in the foreground.

    Oh, and on the note of research, maintains a list of LGBTQ-friendly vendors in areas around the country, so allies might want to start there as a pre-vetted jumping off point in their search.

    • meg

      I linked to that list in the post, silly.

  • Amy

    Exactly, exactly, exactly–great post! At our wedding a week and a half ago (!) we wanted to express our support for equal marriage. We had someone read the Goodridge v. Department of Public Health reading. We listed it in the program as “Reading in Support of Equal Marriage” which at the end of the day was, as one guest put it, like a “dog whistle” of sorts to those who would get what we were saying and who would appreciate it. We probably could have been more direct about it, but it felt right.

    Now the first wedding we are attending after ours will be this weekend and we will celebrate the legal marriage of two dear friends who happen to both be men and I’m so proud to live in a city where this is possible!

  • This post is great, and so hard for me. While I have supported LGBTQ rights for many years, the whole process of getting engaged and planning a wedding has made me so much more adamant about the true necessity for marriage rights within all communities.

    My wedding will take place in a very small Southern town in the United Methodist Church. My family are so very socially conservative it makes my stomach hurt. I feel as though I have to be a closeted supporter. The minister that is marrying us stood up at the general council meeting for marriage rights and that makes me so relieved. I couldn’t be married by someone who didn’t support marriage rights for all. The ceremony leaves out a lot of traditional wording and any political stance for the current definition of marriage, but it’s not enough. I feel as though I should do so much more for the cause but have to walk a very thin line or I would not be allowed to be married in my church, and most of my family (including my parents) wouldn’t show up. How can I affirm my belief in equality and make sure that our marriage honors everyone, while still bringing people together in joy and love instead of tearing relationships apart?

    • meg

      Lotsa stuff! You can hire LGBTQ friendly vendors for key positions (you can always fly in an affordable photographer, for example). You can give to LAMDA Legal, or another org quietly, in honor of your marriage. You can say some sort of blessing or have some sort of reading in a private with your partner before or after the service. Plus, if you have a minister that is for marriage equality, ask him. He knows the town, and knows what will fly, and might well have really good ideas.

  • After being so conflicted about having a wedding at all and spending this much money on it, it’s focusing on the way I spend my money that has allowed me to come to peace with it all. If a great starting out photographer in my area costs $2500, then that’s what the price is, but I’m darn well sure that $2500 goes to someone whose values AND talent I support. As much as our wedding is about celebrating within out community, it’s also about supporting a broader political and economic community too. I couldn’t be happier to have found Kelly Prizel through your site. And once I realized that this incredibly talented photographer we both loved was the co-founder of SoYourEnGAYged, it was a no-brainer. We had to hire her.

  • ddayporter

    thank you Meg. As someone else already mentioned, this is such a great idea, that should have been so Obvious. I have to admit to being less diligent in this than I should have been. If I am aware of a business’s anti-LGBTQ stance I have avoided them, but I have not actively researched. ALLY FAIL.

  • Love this! Love the beautiful couple, love the conversation that it needs to start. We wrote a statement together that we included in our ceremony, and it was one of the best decisions we made. I never thought of the concept of “voting with our dollars” on this, and I love it. If everyone who is a LGBT ally did this, it really would make a difference.

  • Pamela

    Thank you for this post!

    I absolutely, firmly believe in equal marriage rights for all – and being engaged and planning my wedding has totally cemented that for me. My relationship with a man is no more “worthy” of social recognition than a same-sex relationship, and it blows my mind that I’m allowed all kinds of rights that are denied to other people, just because my partner is a man and not a woman.

    That said, I’ve had a hard time with figuring out how to include these beliefs in our wedding ceremony, if at all. My fiance is in total agreement with me on the equal marriage rights issue (if anything, he’s a little more radical), so that’s not the problem. The thing is, I grew up in a faith community that was on the far right of the political spectrum, and every event (like a wedding, a baby’s birth, etc) was seen as an event to preach far-right ideology. So, weddings were the “perfect” opportunity to rail against gay marriage, divorce, etc. Even recently, I attended a mostly nice wedding where the priest talked far too much about the evils of divorce in society. I have a hard time when I feel like politics overshadow the event that’s actually going on, if that makes sense.

    I want to be true to my beliefs, but at the same time, I want the wedding to be happy and joyful and about us and our relationship and not a political diatribe. I don’t know if my vendors are gay-friendly or not – I didn’t think to ask (which makes me sad right now, but at less than 30 days to go, I can’t really change that). I did change our wedding ceremony to have gender neutral terms in it, except where we are personaly vowing to each other. Part of me feels badly that I’m not making more of a statement, and I realize I’m in a priviledged position where I don’t *have* to make it political. But also, I don’t want the more conservative members of my family (including my own parents) seething during the ceremony, either. So it feels like a fine line to me.

    • Class of 1980

      I understand where you’re coming from. Neither of my parents would get in someone’s face about being gay and neither of them would shun the person. But their faith precludes them thinking gay relationships are okay. And it’s only their faith, because I don’t think they would care otherwise.

      I was at a party last month and most of the people were conservatives and belonged to churches where being gay is wrong. I was talking to a lady there about our move next year and said we’d be closer to Asheville, NC. She said she liked Asheville, but there were too many gays there. I decided to be bold and said . . . “Well, I don’t care about that.”

      To my surprise, she said she didn’t really care if people were gay or not either because “how can more love in the world be a bad thing?” She said she should have clarified that the only thing that bothered her was when people were in her face about it, but she also didn’t like it when heterosexual couples were making a display of their affections.

      Hey, it was progress. This lady is bucking her church.

  • This never occurred to me!

    I have a bud of a photography business, and my focus is on family portraits (pets, engagement, maternity, and other non-event things like that).

    It never occurred to me to specifically seek out same sex couples to put in my portfolio (I live in a Brooklyn bubble where same-sex couples don’t get a second glance).

    Any NYC same-sex couples want to get in front of my lens for a free photo session?

    I can’t wait for the day where we don’t even “see” same sex couples (much like now, I often don’t “see” a mixed race couple when perusing wedding blogs).

    • Sarah

      “I can’t wait for the day where we don’t even “see” same sex couples (much like now, I often don’t “see” a mixed race couple when perusing wedding blogs).”

      Yes. Yes yes yes and more yes.

  • At our (same-sex) wedding, we made white knots for everyone to wear, instead of handing out favors. We were actually surprised to find out how many of our (super supportive) straight friends had no clue what the white knot stands for – and that cemented our decision to do it (it was low on our list of priorities.) One of our (straight, previously clueless about white knots) friends spent the afternoon before our wedding researching and making little notes to go with the knots, explaining their meaning. I think both straight and gay couples could do this at their weddings! It was really easy – scissors + 1 spool of ribbon + 100 tiny safety pins + 1 printer + internet access + 1 fantastic best person and one great friend = 100 white knots in about 90 minutes.

    Here’s what the notes said:

    Please wear this knot in celebration of Cindy and Julia’s big day!
    The white knot combines two symbols of marriage, the color white and “tying the knot” to represent support for marriage equality.
    Wear it every day to show your support and to create conversation. Use it to tell someone today that equal rights are important to everyone. Share the white knot and spread the word that all loving couples deserve the same legal rights, benefits, and respect that civil marriage bestows.

    • ddayporter

      *raises hand* straight person here who had no clue about white knots! someone further up in the comments just linked to it as well so I am now educated. I just emailed a couple friends who are getting married in November and offered to make white knots for them if they wanted to give them out at their wedding! actually sells kits for $25 that make up to 300 knots! how did I not know about this before?? gahh.

      • Sarah

        If any of your friends take you up on this, I am all over helping you make them. ::nods::

        • Michelle

          Me too!

          • ddayporter

            thanks friends! I will let you know.

    • Mallory

      That’s an awesome idea.

      Also I consider myself pretty informed about the gay rights (particularly marriage) movement, live in a pretty liberal area, and donate to The Courage Campaign, but I didn’t know what the white knot was either. It must be more common in other regions.

    • I’m gay and I got married in March, and I’d never heard of the White Knot either. Pretty cool to learn about.

  • YES! Wonderfully written. :)

    Also, props for mentioning Megan McCain. As one who considers myself a “die-hard” liberal, I’m finding myself increasingly impressed with her. At a young age, she already has a vision of moving her party in a different direction. It would be lovely if her/our generation could work toward making the country less politically polarized and most importantly more tolerant for the future.

  • Great combination of private/public ways of being active, Meg!

    I’ve been thinking a lot recently on the sentiment that gets raised about “If you make a public statement at your wedding, you might offend your more conservative guests and that would be tacky/selfish/thoughtless/BAD.” And while on the one hand I’m glad none of our conservative guests made a big stink about our program’s statement for marriage equality (because I like to think all my loved ones are sensible people who attend weddings for the joy), in retrospect, I’d say that even if someone had, it wouldn’t have made me regret putting that paragraph in there. Marriage equality is something I’m vocal about in my everyday life – suddenly falling silent on the subject on my wedding day would have felt false to me. I’m starting to think this “offend no one” mentality comes from the same place in the WIC that demands our weddings be “perfect days” and threatens us that if someone disagrees with our choices or feels anything less than blissed out emotions, then everything will be ruined. RUINED! Which… eh, I don’t know about you guys, but people in my life disagree with me fairly often and so far it really hasn’t ruined anything…

    • Erin

      Hmm. I think it also comes from bringing your community to your wedding, and your marriage into your community. If your community includes people who are integral to your life, but who stand to be alienated from you and your new family by feeling like they’ve been force-fed, I think it’s wise to tread carefully. That’s one reason this post is so good, because it spells out ways to stand in solidarity without invoking the anger of a father-in-law who may, over time, become more amenable to conversations about how the world is changing for the better.

    • meg

      For us the *big* issue was that we had our aufruf (pre-wedding blessing) at our *very* LGBTQ synagogue. We knew that might be tough for people because it was a totally new semi-political environment, where they were the minority. A statement in the program you can ignore, after all. Anyway, we warned everyone in advance, so they could make their excuses if they were not comfortable (it only seemed fair, in reverse I’d want the same courtesy, right?) Then, the people who came that we knew were pretty uncomfortable with the issue, given their generation, we actively sought out, and spoke to, and we really appreciated their support, etc. And they were TREMENDOUSLY gracious. I was blown away by it.

      But then. Then it turned out that some people who we never in a million years would have pegged as uncomfortable, were. We found out when they made really homophobic comments to our faces. Did we feel bad that we’d offended them? Turns out, no. If they’d been more thoughtful, we might have. But they were hateful, and it turns out I was just angry, not sorry.

      So. I suppose what I’m saying is you never know. People you worry about offending might not be offended at all (even if they don’t agree with you). And others might surprise you unpleasantly. But all said and done, I don’t regret the choices we made for a second.

      • meg

        Hum. And I should clarify. We both have very liberal families, but we had a big wedding. With 125 people, you’re going to have a few people with different views. We might have taken a different path if people very close to us had been uncomfortable. But then again, we might not. We do, after all, belong to an LGBTQ shul. It’s part of who we are, and we didn’t want to sweep that under the rug and pretend to be something we were not. But that’s our very particular situation.

    • Erin

      I think it also helps to consider how loudly your choice of action may speak to your guests. Both our families are incredibly conservative, so choosing in the first place to be married by a denomination in the midst of deciding to ordain gay pastors was a more overt declaration than it may at first appear.

      • meg

        I also really really don’t think it should be a contest of who’s making the biggest or most overt statement. The point is to find things you can do that work for you.

        • Erin

          No, of course not. That’s not exactly what I meant. I’d hate to hijack this discussion into a competition about who made the grandest statement. It’s obviously a complicated and sometimes painful thing to balance. I was trying more to add perspective from someone whose immediate family isn’t on the more liberal side of the spectrum, but stumbled over my concluding statement.

    • sarah

      The other thing that I find striking in the “don’t publicly declare your support for equality at your wedding because it might offend people” line of thinking is that it assumes the LGBTQ folks and allies aren’t offended by the lack of it. My aunts, who are an international couple who has been through HELL because they can’t get married have been together for close to 20 years. About ten years ago they just stopped going to anyone’s wedding. It was too painful. They didn’t get up in people’s faces about it… They just always declined invitations because they knew it would be painful to go. I know a lot of older same-sex couples who’ve made that decision. They don’t want to hurt their straight friends… they just don’t want to deal with the pain.

      • KristieB

        This broke my heart.

      • Absolutely, this. When Jason and I were discussing the potential for offending guests and family (both of our families are on the “very conservative” side of the scale), I think at one point I just looked at him and said, “You know what, NOT being offended or hurt by the common discourse on marriage is a privilege of heterosexual people. Our LGBTQ friends get excluded from the larger conversation of love all. the. time. I refuse to let our wedding be one of those times.”

        • sarah

          I wish I could have been there!!!
          If I could exactly this post a million times I would.

  • I love this:

    “And we’ve got to stop cooperating, all of us. We need to stop cooperating in ways large and small. And this isn’t about where you stand on the political spectrum, it’s about equal rights.”

    I’ve long believed that voting with our wallets is what works best in America. And I *think* if John Q Photog realized he was losing potential dollars because he wasn’t using photos in his portfolio in order not to offend people — he might change his tune.

    Hell. yeahs.

  • Katie

    Thank you so much for this post. Seriously, thank you. I’ve been wrestling with this like crazy lately because as I plan my wedding, my brother is planning his. About three months after I get married, my brother and brother-in-love (I started calling him that because brother-in-law isn’t technically true and nothing else seemed to do him justice) will have their own wedding.
    Only they won’t legally be married when all is said and done because the state of Pennsylvania doesn’t recognize same sex marriages… or civil unions… or domestic partnerships. And it makes me madder than I can even say. These two amazing, crazy in love guys… who have shared a home for longer than I’ve even known my fiance, who have spent years raising a blended family of seven (yes, seven!) amazing, smart, happy kids don’t get to have what I’ll have.
    And I’ve been wanting so badly to do something. To say that it’s not right. I thought about having the Massachusetts ruling as one of our readings. But my brother and my brother-in-love are both incredibly quiet about their politics. They’re out of the closet, of course. And they don’t make any effort to hide who they are, but they also don’t shout it from the rooftops and I’m so afraid that by doing something publicly at my wedding, I’ll embarrass them…

    So anyway, thank you for this… for helping me remember there are a million different ways to make a political statement. And they don’t all have to be loud to be heard.

    • sarah

      I don’t know your brother… so, take what I say with a grain of salt. But my best friend got married the same summer that I did. I married a woman and she married a man. I NEVER would have told her that it would have meant something to me if she had included something about marraige equality in her ceremony. She didn’t. I really wish she had.

      My vote is… do it… don’t make it about your brother… make it about you and your fiance and how the two of you feel about marraige. Don’t talk to your brother about it. I can’t think of a gay person in the world who would ever feel bad about that.

      • My husband’s sister is a lesbian and it was very important for us to be married in a place that is accepting of her and her right to marry. We chose a UCC church for this very reason. Our pastor made a statement in her opening remarks about the fact that we were proud to be marrying in CT a state that recognizes the fact that ALL people have the right to be married. This way my SIL and her gf knew that we were supporting them, but we didn’t shine a spotlight ON them. So maybe there is a way that your pastor/officiant can work it into the ceremony, reflecting that it is YOUR beliefs, but your brother will know that it was important for you to make this statement.

    • BG

      I’m coming to the conversation very late, partially because I spent this last weekend getting married. (yay!) But here’s my two cents: my sister was my matron of honor, and she and her partner sat with us at the head table. And while planning the wedding I was all fired up and writing statements about marriage equality for the program and place cards, she asked me to take a step back. They have never been “in the spotlight” people, and the thought of lots of politicized attention focused on the two of them at our wedding bothered her, even though our friends and family are disgustingly supportive. If I had gone ahead with any of my big political plans she would have been *mortified*. And it made me realize that while support of the LBGTQ community is vital, if I alienate my favorite lesbian by doing it, it rather defeats the point.

      So, yes, statements are important, and support is important, and love is important, but it’s also important to take actual people’s actual feelings into account. Some people want their friends/relatives to recognize the terrible state of marriage equality at their weddings, and that makes sense and is reasonable and right. Others would rather enjoy being included in the party and not be a political point, and that also makes sense, and is also reasonable and right.

      It’s tricky and frustrating some times, for sure. But it may be worth having a quiet conversation with your brother to suss out his feelings. He may appreciate a mention in the readings or the programs. Or he may prefer to have a special dance with his partner or the chance for the two of them to toast you together without making a bigger deal of it. Whatever you choose, I’m sure he’ll be touched that you actually took the time to think about how he feels and what he wants on a day that is ostensibly yours.

      Best best wishes with everything!

      • Sarah

        I see what you’re saying. But I also don’t think that straight couples who mention their support for marriage equality are necessarily shining a spotlight on their LGBT guests. The reason that I suggested that the above commenter not talk to her brother about how he would want her to do to support marriage equality is that the couple’s support of marriage equality doesn’t need to be about their brother and his partner, it can instead be about the couple’s beliefs about marriage.

        I think that if my straight best friend had asked me if it was important to me that she mention marriage equality in some way during her wedding, I would have lied and said that is was not important to me. I wouldn’t have wanted to burden her during her already stressful wedding planning and if she had asked me, I would have felt like it was about me and not about her true beliefs. I don’t really see how mentioning marriage equality in a program or in a sentence during a ceremony shines a spotlight on LGBT guests unless you’re mentioning them by name.

  • Jessica

    I was at a friends wedding shooting photographs candidly (as a hobby, not as a business) and happened upon a lesbian couple slow dancing together. I admit, a fleeting moment of “Does the Family Care?” ran through my mind as I framed them through my lens. And then I proceeded to shoot a dozen awesome, emotion-filled, and wonderful shots.

    A wedding, to me, celebrates love. And I don’t care how that love looks, it still feels the same.

  • Liz

    Thank you! Thank you so much for this post. As a lesbian, simply planning my August 2011 wedding feels like a giant political play sometimes. My partner and I want our wedding to be just like everybody else’s, we don’t want to be the “lesbians getting married” we want to be Liz & Alaina getting married. I am so ecstatic that there are allies willing to join us in this fight, it really means a lot to us. We live in a pretty liberal area and luckily haven’t faced any real negativity when it comes to vendors and our local community has been super supportive and very excited.

    One of the ways we have ensured that our vendors are LGBTQ friendly is by hiring LGBTQ vendors. Our bakers for our wedding cupcakes are an amazing queer couple and are so, so excited to be baking for a gay wedding. (It feels a little like we are almost doing them a favor!) It feels good to my partner and I to be keeping our money “in the community” so to speak. My biggest challenge right now is to find a rental company that doesn’t support anti-equality political candidates. Planning a pro-gay wedding takes a bit more time, energy and sometimes money, but I can’t imagine doing it any other way.

    I have complete faith that we will get there. Someday we will be able to have a civil wedding, in the mean time, we are so blessed to have our marriage recognized and supported by our community of family and friends.

  • Katie B

    We are being very, very vocal about our support of marriage equality at our wedding, and it is going to be a big wedding so inevitably there will be people there who don’t agree. And frankly, I don’t care. I have gone to their weddings when they did/said stuff I didn’t agree with. The fact is that so many people who we love are LGBT or Q and we are not ashamed of that. Furthermore, we have been ver careful to select openly LGBTQ friendly vendors, because once again, with my personality, silence is not an option. I might be sitting down at the new “White’s Only Lunch Counter”–which is a little how I feel about getting married–but I am going to make a big fuss about it while I am there.

    In my very humble opinon, this fear of offending around this issue reveals how far we really have to go on this one. I wouldn’t accomadate racism at my wedding and I won’t accomadate homophobia or transphobia. END OF STORY!

    P.S. My partner and I are two of three “straight” people in our wedding posse of 12. I was largely raised by my gay uncle. Just so you know where I am coming from.

    • sarah

      THANK YOU!

    • “In my very humble opinon, this fear of offending around this issue reveals how far we really have to go on this one. I wouldn’t accomadate racism at my wedding and I won’t accomadate homophobia or transphobia. END OF STORY!”

      THIS. Sorry, hitting the “Exactly” button just wasn’t enough on this one. It’s so. effin’. true.

  • Marina

    Slightly off-topic, but a couple of people have mentioned struggling to find a way to incorporate a statement of marriage equality in their wedding ceremony, so I wanted to mention what we did… Jewish wedding ceremonies involve drinking wine (or in our case, grape juice) and before we did, we poured a little of the wine on the ground. Our officiant said something to the effect of, “In the midst of our joy today, we must remember that there are those who cannot legally be married. To symbolize that our cup of joy is not full while this is the case, we pour some wine out.” Other traditions might have a moment of silence for the same effect.

    We did struggle over the wording. I wanted to be sure it was inclusive of transgender and polyamorous partners, since they’re part of my community too. I actually asked several queer friends of mine to review the wording beforehand as a “privilege check”–as someone with a lot of heterosexual privilege, I know I don’t always catch the things others might. I ended up having a couple people tell me afterwards that they really appreciated it, and no one was mean about it at all. I think it was vague enough that anyone with homophobic leanings could brush it off.

    • That was FANTASTIC, Marin!Kevin still talks about it as the “beer wine for my dead unmarried homies” moment.

      We strongly considered doing something similar in our wedding… we ended up saying something like, “We look forward to the day when all loving couples can legally marry and start families” instead.

  • This is a great post. What it means to actually be an ally is something a lot of folks seem confused about. I think it’s great to give money to Lambda Legal, but I gotta say, if you’re doing it “quietly” (like, in a closeted manner) I don’t know if you can really call yourself an ally. Because if you actually support LGBTQ rights, then you’re not afraid of saying so outloud. I’m not saying you need to make your wedding all about teh gayz, but quiet is not a word that goes well with ally, for me.

    But it is so true that what we need is for straight people to stand up and say, “no, I’m not going to tolerate this anymore.”

    I had to sit in the front pew at my brother’s wedding (next to my fiancee) while the Baptist minister gave a sermon about marriage being between a man and a woman. It wouldn’t have helped me any to know that they “quietly” gave money to a queer org just to assuage their guilt.

    • sarah

      Thank you for having the guts to come out and say this. Having LGBTQ friends and/or quietly supporting marraige equality is different than being an ally.

    • Marina

      My own personal definition of acting like an ally is when I’m doing something not just to make myself feel better, but something that the people I am supposedly allied with actually feel is what really supports them. If what someone is hearing is “We really need allies to speak up and be loud” and respond with, “Well, that’s nice, but I think I’ll donate instead” then no, absolutely that is not being an ally. It’s nice, but not being an ally. I suppose it’s theoretically possible that what someone could be hearing is, “When straight people speak up that hurts us–what we really need is money” in which case I think donating would be being an ally… That’s certainly not the case in the queer communities I’m involved in, but I hesitate to say it’s not the case anywhere.

      • KristieB

        I have to agree about being loud about things.

        Unfortunately, there are some families and faiths that would not be OK with that. It comes down to which is more important to you on your wedding day (and ya, it blows that you have to choose).

        My best friend is is smart, vocal and an ally. One of our closest friends in high school and college was a gay man. Her Aunties are lesbians. She has been a long supporter of the community. Her and her husband also grew up Catholic. Their families were adamant about them getting married at the big local Catholic church. There were things said in the ceremony that weren’t a part of their belief system. Things that challenged what they knew about the reality of marriage. But, it was more important on that day for my friend to get married in a Catholic church. I don’t think that makes her less of an ally.

        • sarah

          My best friends did not act like allies on their weddings days either. They’re still my friends. They’re still fabulous people. But they weren’t allies.

          You’re absolutely right that for a lot of people their faith (including all of it’s inequality) or their community (including all of its bigotry) is more important to them than being an ally. Being an ally is hard work. It’s hard to do every day of the year. Just like it’s hard to be LGBTQ in a homophobic and transphobic society every day of the year.

          LGBTQ people can’t choose not to be political on their wedding day. Now matter how much we want to choose faith and community over politics. We can’t do it. Being an ally on your wedding day means that you choose to be political in order to support all of the people who have no choice. Being an ally is harder than being a friend.

          • Marina

            I want to do more than “exactly” this. I think the distinction you make between “friend” and “ally” is so important. Not all straight people have to be allies–not even all straight people with queer friends have to be allies. And you can be someone’s friend without being their ally. But I think to call yourself an ally does really require doing that hard work, of not just being being an ally when it’s convinient or when it’s something that is personally meaningful, but taking on someone else’s fight as your own and realizing the privilege you have in being able to walk away from that fight when you want to.

            I don’t want to discount the important work of supporting equal rights in quieter or easier ways, or even being neutral. If the world had more neutral people we’d be a whole lot closer to equal rights, that’s for sure. But I think being an ally is something different than being neutral. And I think that us straight people need to realize that when we say, “I will quietly donate to organizations that support you, but I will not put my own relationships at risk” what we’re saying is a powerful statement of how important our queer friends are to us compared to our other relationships. If that’s a statement you choose to make, absolutely, live by your values and do it. But I don’t think you can make that statement and also claim that the fight your friends are fighting is your fight too.

            I’m worried that this is an inflamatory comment, and I hope it doesn’t give Meg too many headaches. But I really do feel like it’s so important.

          • Marina

            Ugh, I wish I could edit my comment. What I want to add is that even allies don’t have to be allies every day… I think it’s valid to say that someone wasn’t an ally on their wedding day, even if they were an ally every other day of the year.

          • sarah

            Marina, This is exactly what I was trying to say. Thank you for your wise words. For me the word “ally” is a very powerful one. It truly means that someone has “taken on my fight as if it was their own.”

    • Alyssa

      Being the daughter of, and being married to, someone who is pathologically quiet and shy, I have to disagree. I think quietly giving money, or any kind of more subtle support, is just as valid.

      In the situation that you present, no. You can’t say you support gay marriage and then have a wedding ceremony that says marriage is only between a husband and wife.
      But I think those who quietly give money are still allies. My quiet people will still say something if someone is out of line, but their natural reaction of support isn’t to wave a flag or shout. They admire those who do, but it’s just not in them. If faced with a debate or confronted with someone who was homophobic, my mother would probably walk away because she doesn’t deal with confrontation well and would be able to articulate her feelings. It’s a personality quirk. She stands up to prejudice, but she does it with her voting and her signing of petitions and her donations and her personal support of friends. And maybe that’s not good enough. But it’s something, and it’s more than most. And she raised a big mouthed flag-waving protester who is about to start sporting a White Knot thanks to Lauren, so maybe that’s something too!

      And I’m not trying to disparage your point, I do agree with you on hypocritical “allies”. I just know the other side intimately and just wanted to bring up that those who quietly support don’t always do so because they’re not committed.

      • Alyssa

        “wouldn’t” be able to articulate her feelings, rather. Sorry. Damn typos.

      • meg

        You know, I think I agree with Alyssa here, not in an absolute way (I totally see what you are saying Ms. Loaf, and with my personality I *want* to agree… but.) I think the point is to change hearts and minds in the long term. I think we really miss the mark if we think the best way to do that is to always be loud. There are plenty of families where, if you were really loud about your support for marriage equality on your wedding day, you might not only loose relationships with these people personally, but you’d harden them in their position forever. Sometimes we need to do things slowly, quietly, lovingly, and privately. Sometimes that gets you a lot further.

        I also want to clarify the points a little here. It’s not that you can be A) Loud and Proud or B) Homophobic in a wedding service. You can also be neutral. Sometimes neutral is as far as you can go, and hard fight. In that case I think that you should talk to your LGBTQ friends and loved ones, and tell them how much you support them and what it means for you that they are coming to your wedding, and then give money if you can. Because giving money isn’t a theoretical thing – it’s a real and meaningful thing that allows organizations like LAMBDA to keep lobbying and fighting for change. And that’s a BIG effing deal.

        Plus. It’s your wedding day, and life isn’t absolutes, or black and white. It’s a day to celebrate something, and if you know that taking certain actions will switch the from the wedding to being super angry and political, and/or might lose you family members forever, then I think it absolutely within the bounds of ethics to decide to take a ‘neutral on the surface, quietly supporting’ approach.

        I know that’s seeing life in shades of grey, but sometimes we have to. These things are complicated

        • Class of 1980

          It is SO true that with some people, the louder you are, the more entrenched in their position they become. People by and large don’t like to be told what to think. If you try it, they just stop mulling the issue over and switch to defending themselves.

          When I think back to the things I’ve changed my mind about, it was NEVER because someone got in my face about it. It was always because my thoughts gradually changed over time, or I had an epiphany.

          I wanted to bring up another aspect of alienating family members. No one has mentioned it, but sometimes a person is in the closet about religion itself. Many people walk away from the religion they were brought up in and keep the secret from their family because it would truly break their hearts.

          In that case, the person walks on eggshells because of the emotional devastation that would ensue if the truth came out. If a Christian parent is told that their adult child no longer believes, it’s like hearing a death sentence pronounced. This reality had led to many a couple getting married in a church rather than bringing grief to their parents.

          Some people don’t make any equality statements because they are in a different closet themselves – the religion closet.

          • Ok, but there’s also a HUGE difference between being “in someone’s face” and “loud” and simply stating or even putting in the program something in support of marriage equality. I mean claiming that supporting marriage equality in a public way is “in someone’s face” is just as bad as saying that it’s ok to be gay, just don’t “flaunt it” by, you know, kissing your partner in public.

            I mean, obviously anyone can do whatever they want and yes, Meg, it is important to financially support orgs like Lambda, but it would be nice if AT LEAST people that prefer to do that would acknowledge they’re doing it. One of my friends had something on her website saying that all monetary gifts they received would be donated to Lambda and I thought that was great, because everyone saw the website, but they didn’t “make a big deal” about it on the day of.

            Obviously this is an issue that’s very close to me, since I’m a lesbian. I know not everyone is going to be an ally on their wedding day. But I do know that my friends who have not been or who have done something quiet that didn’t require them to actually stand up for anything–well, my friendships with them really changed.

            It has been my experience that the people in the majority will almost always choose what’s easiest for them when it really comes down to it. And that usually means NOT standing up, NOT having an uncomfortable conversation with their parents or grandparents. Does that make them a BAD person…no. But it does make them NOT an ally.

            Again, there’s a difference between ALLY and supporter of LGBTQ issues.

          • Sarah

            Thank you Ms. Loaf! I’ve never quite understood why people think that stating their belief that all people should have the right to create a legally-protected family is somehow “getting in people’s faces” or “forcing their beliefs on others.” No one ever says that mentioning your belief in Jesus during your wedding ceremony is forcing your beliefs on non-Christians. People choose not to mention their belief in marriage equality in order to avoid offending folks who don’t believe in equality. But no one ever chooses not to have religious ceremonies in order to avoid offending guests who aren’t followers of their faith? Why is mentioning your belief in marriage equality when getting married somehow forceful and uncouth?

  • Meg B

    As a newly engaged couple I never would have thought to do something like this, but after reading what you wrote, my fiance and i will absolutely take an active approach in hiring only LGBTQ friendly wedding elves.

    I’m with whoever said that bit at the end, I’d like to go to those weddings, too.

  • KristieB

    I live in Canada, where it is, of course, legal for everyone to marry. I remember a time when that wasn’t so – and then Ontario allowed same-sex marriage and my conservative red-neck (read: Canadian Texas) province went nuts because there was no way we were going to allow it. But, we did allow it. Nothing burned down. There were no orgies in the street. The kids were alright. We were alright.

    And, I barely remember a time when it wasn’t OK.

    I am also someone who has always known queers (I’m using this term to include all gender-variant/ same-sex relationship, etc people). I’ve been loosely a part of the “community” since high school. I’ve always been an advocate of human rights (isn’t that what it boils down to?) for ALL people.

    We got married this May, in Hawaii. A state that doesn’t allow same-sex marriage. While knowing that upset me, we made other choices that I think supported our beliefs. We chose to use a minister that will perform (non-legal) commitment ceremonies. Anyone that attended our Hawaii wedding knows that both D & I have strong political beliefs regarding same-sex marriage. D’s sister is a minister and national leader with the United church – strong advocates of same-sex marriage and queer ministers.

    I also chose to volunteer with Camp fYrefly (a queer youth leadership camp – google it!) this summer. Hanging out with the youth, the leaders and really strong people in the community filled my heart with so much love I thought I was going to explode. I take for granted how far we’ve come and forget so much how much further we can come.

    There is so much everyone of us can do to say “hey, I support this community.” You may lose some business, but you main gain a whole bunch more business from people you would actually want to work with. In my case, seeing same-sex wedding or family pictures on a vendor’s site would have caused me to go “YAY! I want to work with this person!”

    • KristieB

      In our camp training (and at camp) people would assume I was “straight” and an “ally” because I am married to a man in what seems like a typical hetero-marriage. In our training, we were discussing stereotypes/ assumptions. I made a snippy remark that came out something like “That just because you say you are married you are straight…wait, change that, that just because you are married to someone of the opposite sex you are straight.”

      I was born a woman and I married a man. But, I don’t fit into straight/ hetero. I am attracted to men, women and trans-gendered people. If given the option to define myself, I would probably say that I was “queer” or “bi-sexual.”

      I would love to here more from other bi-sexual people who are in straight/ hetero marriages. We have our own unique bag of marital discussions.

      • Brook

        I will be next year– My long term relationships have been with a trans guy before, during and after transition, and a lesbian. They are both great folks and we still keep in touch. I am getting married in about eight months.

        I met my current partner at work and I never expected to end up with a guy who was raised a guy. In some ways it’s different, but in many ways my experience with being partnered to someone during transition was eye-opening- gender is, in fact, a very fluid thing. Our lifestyles and problem solving skills matched up well enough that I feel comfortable making a commitment to this person, and we both feel that having a wedding plays an important role in peoples’ lives. Also, Dan Savage says it’s OK for “straight people” to get married.

        Most of my friends are also queer. We’ve had some interesting conversations, especially my two friends who used to be married to xy guys and are now in relationships with women. I am so glad my friends are open, too, because I know some queer women who have married men and all of their friends rejected them.

        Let me know if you want to talk further over email– I can share one friend’s doctoral research on women in our situation.

  • This really made me think twice about things. We’re four months away from our wedding & I wish I could go back & chose only LGBTQ-friendly wedding elves. I would never in a million years hire someone who isn’t LGBTQ-friendly but I never thought about looking for actively LGBTQ-friendly vendors. Hmmm.

    On a side note, I’m a wedding elf- sell invitations & plan weddings- & I’ve only had the opportunity to assist one gay couple with invitations. I wish I could help more & I need to think about how to reach out to ALL couples.

    • KristieB

      Is it wrong that I want to become a wedding planner that deals exclusively with queer couples?

      • sarah

        Not at all… check out this company… they do the same thing:

      • Sarah

        Part of me wants to say “There’s nothing wrong with that! That’s fantastic!”

        But then I think “Wait … isn’t that just another form of discrimination?”

        What about dealing exclusively with couples who support the LGBTQ community … be they the same, or mixed gender?

        KristieB’s suggestion aside, it brings up an issue that I keep seeing more and more:

        It seems to me creating something that separates a community while rallying for equality for that community is counter-productive. And just gets us back right to where we started. Because really, isn’t the point here that we want everyone to be treated equally, and to have the same rights? Oh, the complexities here. It’s such a fine line, and so many people feel so strongly about it.

        As they should.

        • Alyssa

          Maybe it’s just about semantics. Rather than “deals exclusively”, what about someone who “specializes” in the LGBTQ community? That way you get the LGBTQ couples and the rockin’ straight couples who care enough to seek you out.

          • Sarah

            Hey look! You found my miss-fire and corrected it!

            This is totally what I was trying to say. =)

        • Marina

          I don’t want everyone to be treated equally, as in treated exactly the same–I want everyone to be treated equitably, as in fairly. Since there are so many wedding vendors that only do straight marriages, I think it’s perfectly equitable to have a few that only do gay marriages.

          • meg

            Well, but is it RIGHT that vendors only do straight weddings? Noooo.

            I think Alyssa is right (here too! she didn’t pay me, I swear!) Specalizes in is very inclusive, while keeping the focus on one part of your community.

  • Eliza

    Have not yet read all the comments but had to jump right in and say:

    This post makes my heart sing. SING. Thankyou Meg.

  • Englyn

    I would like to be an ally. I am thinking of including a segment of that Massachussets Supreme Court ruling as an antidote to that bloody awful requirement of ‘man and a woman’ by Australian law.

    On the other hand, I feel pretty wierd about the prospect of including this political statement in my wedding, which is about us and our community, when I don’t know any gay people. (Which says a lot about the small size of my circle of acquaintances and nothing else.) There is a lot of injustice in the world. Why this one? On that day?

    Anyone got any suggestions on how to make sense of that disconnect? Or how to be an ally on other days instead?

    • sarah

      Here’s my take on your dilemma (I’m sure others will have other ideas, too). Since your country requires you to include the “marriage is between a man and a woman” statement — they have mandated that your wedding be made political… which SUCKS of them. They’ve made it impossible for you to be neutral. So, I say, find a way to include your support of marriage equality in your ceremony — it doesn’t have be be a whole reading (although that would KICK A$%). It could be a comment in your program, a statement following the dreaded mandated inequality statement (someone in the thread above found a really class way of following that up, but I can’t remember what it was). Since you’ll probably cringe when you hear the mandated statement, it’ll be good for you to know that it’s going to be followed up by something that cancels it out. Nobody wants to be cringing on their wedding day.

      Oh… and you probably do know some gay people… that’s the funny thing about us gays… we’re always hiding where you’d least expect!

  • I like your Henry David Thoreau “Civil Disobedience” style! I was just teaching this essay to my class and thinking of all the ways I still support activities I dislike because of my financial contribution. It is a great way to show what you really believe in by how you spend your money.

  • My just-chosen photographer has a lesbian couple in the portfolio she sent me, and that felt really good. My intended officiant is a LGBTQ activist, and I want her for that very reason. I happen to be marrying a man, but it could just as well have been a woman, and I want to give my money to people who would have treated me the same if that were the case.

    I totally agree with this whole post, pretty much.

  • Brook

    We are really barely doing anything through vendors except for photography, but! Our photographer is not only part of the environmentalist, homebirth and attachment parenting communities that are tiny but thriving in my mid-sized Midwestern city, but she also does same-sex weddings. And she is SO talented.

  • Claire

    My husband and I placed a bowl of White Knots next to our guestbook, with a sign that read:

    The White Knot is the symbol for marriage equality. All loving couples deserve the same legal rights, benefits, and respect that civil marriage bestows. Please wear a White Knot to show your support for marriage equality, and full equal rights under the law for everyone.

    The majority of our guests, both straight and gay, happily pinned on a white knot. Some guests did not, and we accept their choice. Some guests came to ask us about the ribbons we were wearing, and we were happy to explain what the white knots symbolized. My husband and I thought it was beautiful to see so many of our loved ones wearing this symbol of support on their lapels, and love how it was captured in our photographs.

    More important to me, was how my parents, siblings and nieces (ages 12 – 4) sat with my husband and me the night before our wedding and helped us cut the ribbons and tie the white knots. At first, my Dad (a very conservative Christian missionary) thought “marriage equality” meant the husband and wife would be equals in their marriage. I pulled up the website and explained what marriage equality meant to us. I was worried he would be offended and walk out, but he just said a quiet, “Oh.” and then went back to helping my young nieces tie knots. That memory is priceless to me.

  • Carla

    I definitely just bought the MSW issue in question solely due to this post.

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  • Eeeeee! Yes yes yes!! How did I miss this post… I’ve thought about this topic like crazy. As a wedding photographer, it’s still a very conscious decision to include LGBT couples in your portfolio. I remember having that 5 second moment of pause after I shot a gay wedding where I thought, “Is seeing a photo of two guys kissing going to alienate my different-sex couples?” Which was immediately followed by “WTF. Why would I want to work with anyone who was homophobic anyway?” Decision made. (Can I also add that I had similar thoughts about whether to offer leather vs faux leather albums? Result: I don’t offer leather.) I could write an entire diatribe on how part of my desire to be a positive influence on the world through wedding photography is in pursuit of documenting love between all kinds of people, and staying true to my personal ideology, but maybe later. For now I just want to say that I have both a lesbian and gay couple in my portfolio, and I’ve had no shortage of bookings from completely awesome couples. So *pffft* to wedding professionals who think they have to sell out their personal values to get bookings. Remind yourself why you became an independent [photographer/caterer/event designer, etc] in the first place — you know it was because you wanted to be able to pick and choose great couples to work with. Don’t forget that.

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