With same sex weddings rapidly becoming legalized and accepted in the US, many wedding pros are embracing the trend.
But if you’ve never worked a gay wedding before and you want to get started, how do you attract those leads without saying, “Hey, en-gay-ged couples! Hire me?”
Here are some actions you can take to clearly position yourself as an LGBT friendly wedding business or when you choose to specialize in the same sex wedding market.
1) Use inclusive language on your website and marketing materials.
Same sex couples want to work with wedding professionals who support marriage equality, so they’re carefully scanning your website and promotional materials to determine how you feel about the issue before they contact you.
If they read the phrase “bride” or “bride and groom” exclusively, they may assume that you only serve the heterosexual marriage market.
Simply switching the wording to “brides and grooms” or “couples” makes it inclusive right away. Referring to “your partner” rather than the specific term “bride” or “groom” is a natural and subtle way to suggest your openness to marriages between couples of the same sex.
2) Include photos of same sex couples.
Another easy way to market yourself as a gay friendly wedding business is to include photos of same sex weddings in your website and marketing.
If you already have these photos, display them prominently. You needn’t be afraid of alienating straight couples because most Millennials support marriage equality and it work in your favor for attracting them, too.
If you don’t have photos from your own same sex weddings because you haven’t yet worked one, never fear! Consider stock photos from sites like iStockPhoto or contact your photographer friends and ask for a same sex couple photo you can purchase or use with their company watermark.
3) Affiliate yourself with marriage equality and LGBT wedding associations or groups.
Many websites and associations such as Gay Weddings, Engayged Weddings, Rainbow Weddings and Equally Wed offer listings of LGBT friendly wedding businesses. Get listed there and display a badge and link to these websites from your own site to announce your openness.
Display the Wed We Can badge on your website to show your support for marriage equality.
You can even earn the 14 Stories Gay Wedding Institute Certification, which gives you added credibility as a trained specialist.
4) Publish blog posts and real weddings featuring same sex couples.
If you support marriage equality, write about it! Interview other wedding businesses who serve this market and feature real weddings of same sex couples, yours and others.
Don’t forget to include the keyword phrases these couples are searching in your posts. For example, “gay friendly wedding vendors in San Francisco” or “same sex wedding photographer St. Louis.” This makes it easier for couples searching online to find you.
5) Connect with other wedding professionals serving the LGBT wedding market, especially venues and photographers.
You want gay wedding leads? Build relationships with other businesses who have these referrals to give.
Make it a point to meet these wedding pros at networking meetings, or call them up and ask them to lunch. Once they know you’re also same sex wedding friendly, they may send you referrals.
6) Advertise at expos and on websites for gay weddings.
If you want to work with same sex couples, buying advertising targeted for this market is a good idea. Give marketing at the local level preference over national marketing unless you work the national or destination market.
7) Guest blog on popular local wedding websites frequented by same sex couples.
Type those same sex wedding keywords into Google and see which businesses come up in your local wedding market. The websites with blogs that come up on Page 1 and 2 make good prospects for guest blogging.
Simply write a helpful blog post (one that’s geared towards same sex couples is best) and offer it to those blogs that rank for gay wedding related terms. You write the article free in exchange for credit and a link back to your website in your author bio. You’ll get prime exposure to the market when your post is published on the blog.
Equally Wed also accepts real wedding submissions where you can encourage your couples to share their stories.
Same Sex Wedding Friendly or Same Sex Wedding Specialist?
There are many subtle signals LGBT couples look for when hiring a wedding professional. You need to get these right in order to avoid accidentally alienating them.
A few tips on making a good first impression with same sex wedding couples from Kathryn Hamm, President of GayWeddings.com:
- Modify your website’s contact form and contract documents to use gender neutral language.
- Offer packages specifically designed for same-sex couples when appropriate. (Example: tuxedo rentals for two, wedding gowns for two, etc.)
- Don’t use assumptive language when responding to a lead via email or telephone. (Say, “What is your partner’s name?” rather than, “What is the groom’s name?”)
- Familiarize yourself with the legalities of same sex marriage in your state.
Educate yourself on the language, concerns and legalities of the market you want to serve in order to best position yourself as the caring professional they want to hire.
Here’s some advice from one wedding officiant who’s worked with over 30 same sex couples:
“We use welcoming and accepting language–wedding couple, wedding party etc. We do not use the terms bridal party, or bridal couple or bride and groom on our website or facebook page.
We include photos of same sex couples we have served.
We promote the local Pride events and activities, we are involved in the local LGBT community and mention it on our facebook page and in the bios on our website. Our statement of who we serve is very clear about our willingness to serve the LGBT community.
We were very active when Marriage Equality finally came to North Carolina–on all the local news channels, in several newspapers. We did more than 20 free ceremonies on the first day it was legal in our state for couples to get married. We are still getting calls from folks saying we say you on the news and we are now ready to make our plans and want you to do our ceremony.
I wrote several blog posts about the work we did and how much it impacted our lives and how strong we felt about the right of all people to be married.
I received no cancellations, no negative feedback on my Facebook (personal or business) or any problems with that.” – Rev Liz Grimes, All Faiths Wedding Officiants of the Triad
Follow these strategies to start attracting and booking more same sex weddings. The more connections you make, the more this market will expand for you.
How do you make your wedding business friendly to same sex couples?