I firmly believe that if you work in an industry that is entirely centered around love, you should be accepting and affirming of all love. I wish being LGBTQIA+ affirming was a requirement for working in the wedding industry. Until then, engaged couples have to navigate the process of finding and booking vendors who love and accept them. If you’re in the LGBTQIA+ community (or if you’re not, but this is something that’s important to you regardless), here are a few tips on finding LGBTQ+ affirming wedding vendors. This will also help you vet vendors that you’re interested in to make sure that love and inclusion is important to them!
Within the Mid-America LGBT Chamber of Commerce lives the Wedding and Events Coalition, or WECo! Their motto is “Events Without Discrimination” and members of WECo, like myself, fully support and affirm LGBTQIA+ couples. They host a directory, which is a fantastic place to find LGBTQ+ affirming vendors in Kansas City.
A few years ago, Tay compiled a huge list of Kansas City wedding vendors who are LGBTQ+ friendly. The list isn’t entirely up-to-date (and by no means comprehensive), but it’s a great resource for couples who are searching and the largest list I’ve found!
While not specific to Kansas City, Zola has a vendor directory. All vendors with a Zola listing must agree to their “Vendor Vows,” which emphasize love and respect, inclusion and anti-discrimination, and tolerance and acceptance. If you aren’t in the Kansas City area, this is where I would start if you’re looking for LGBTQ+ affirming vendors!
If you’re already working with a planner/venue/photographer who you love, there’s a good chance they know other vendors who share their same values. You can ask directly for quick recommendations, or in the case of a planner, request that they only send you affirming vendors.
If you have friends who have recently gotten married, there’s a good chance you’ve already talked to them about their vendor team. If they’re an LGBTQ+ couple, then ask about their experience working with various vendors and if there were any they would (or wouldn’t) recommend.
Possible Hot Take: If you have to look hard to find out if a vendor is LGBTQ+ affirming, they probably aren’t. Or at least not as much as you deserve. There are vendors out there who are loud about their support, and they’re easy to spot. If you have to spend more than 10 minutes playing Sherlock, it might be worth moving on to someone louder. That said, here are some places to check for clues:
Some vendors have their core values in the About section of their website. They may also include a values or inclusivity statement in their footer, which is super easy to spot. They may also discuss their own identity and whether or not they’re in the LGBTQIA+ community themselves. If they have an FAQ section, check there as well!
If a vendor includes pronouns in their About Me, you can be fairly certain they’re LGBTQIA+ affirming. Another big clue is if they consistently use “couple,” “marrier,” “nearlywed,” etc. instead of “bride and groom.”
Much like a website, if a vendor includes pronouns in their bio, that’s a pretty obvious hint. This won’t apply to companies with larger teams, since there isn’t one main human you’ll be in contact with. Some vendors also include their own identities or values in their bio with words and/or emojis.
I wouldn’t put too much weight into this because some vendors truly have not had the opportunity to work with, and therefore get photos of, LGBTQ+ couples. Also, you cannot tell by looking at a couple what their identity is. I am a woman and married to a man, but I am still bisexual and still identify as queer. With that disclaimer out of the way, if you see gay or lesbian couples on their IG feed or in their portfolio, that’s a clue that they are proud to work with those couples.
As I stated earlier, if you have to ask, you may just want to move on. That said, maybe a vendor doesn’t have much of an online presence or you’ve absolutely fallen in love with their work. If you ask a vendor directly, then be aware of how they respond; not just what they say. If they give a quick “Yes,” that might actually mean “Sure, I’ll take your money.” On your wedding day, you deserve so much more than that. “Hell yes!” or “Absolutely, I’m sorry you even had to ask,” are much more affirming responses.
Please email me if you’re worried about reaching out to a vendor! I will contact them on your behalf so you aren’t exposed to any negativity. You don’t have to be a Philosofi couple or based in Kansas City. This is a forever offer to all LGBTQIA+ couples because you don’t need to deal with any potential BS directly.
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