Marriage equality has been a reality for nearly two years in Australia. As a result, we’re now seeing more couples who have been planning their weddings for a few years being able to tie the knot.
In fact, Australian wedding businesses reported a 45% increase in the number of same-sex weddings worked between 2018 and 2019.
With more same-sex couples planning their weddings in Australia than ever before, it’s important to make sure you’re up-to-date with their needs and wants for a wedding.
It’s not that same-sex couples are any different to a hetero couple who are planning their big day. But just like different nationalities and cultures, same-sex couples have faced historical challenges that other couples have not.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to helping a same-sex couple plan one of the best days of their life.
Understand they may have different fears around wedding planning
A heterosexual couple might be concerned about losing the date of their preferred venue or having family input into their guest list. Same-sex couples may also show these concerns, but they actually have one bigger fear. The fear of rejection.
Until two years ago same-sex couples weren’t allowed to get married in Australia. Prior to that, they had to ask the Australian population to validate their relationships before being able to marry the person they love. And it’s still legal for Australian ministers to refuse service to same-sex couples on religious grounds.
The LGBTIQ+ community may be more reserved with suppliers as a result of this. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not interested in your service. But it’s one way they may be protecting themselves for potential rejection.
Being aware of this and treating a couple with this knowledge will help your relationship grow.
Make sure you treat each member of the couple equally
Weddings have been all about the bride in recent years. The groom has even somewhat been neglected when it comes to hetero couples planning. So imagine what it would feel like to be a same-sex couple who don’t fit into the category of a ‘bride’. ‘Bridal shows’ or ‘bridal expos’ may not be something you feel included attending.
Make sure that you don’t automatically assign each member of a couple to the traditional ‘bride’ or ‘groom’ trope. If you would spend half an hour photographing shots of the wedding dress in a hetero couple, then why not give the same focus and details to the tuxedos of a same-sex couple?
Find areas in your business that might be tailored to one gender over the other and see where you can balance out the equality for every couple that you work with.
Think about your written collateral – not just your inclusive language
Inclusive language and images have had a big push in the wedding industry in recent years, but sometimes this can be neglected in your written collateral. Think about the ways that you respond to emails, or what your contracts or competition entries say.
Do you tend to ask about a fiancé for instance? While it’s easy to get away with this over the phone, using fiancé or fiancée in an email could start you off on the wrong foot.
What about fliers you hand out for competitions or have online? Do you ask for the name of the bride and the groom? Think about how many times a same-sex couple has to cross one of those terms out on a piece of paper when they’re filling out forms at an expo.
It’s a small change to have different versions for different couples, but it will make a difference. The same goes for your contract and getting the signatures of the ‘bride’ and ‘groom’.
Don’t assume – ask
This is something we’re encouraging across the board for all couples, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or nationality. One of the best ways to build a relationship with any couple is to ask them about their wedding day rather than assuming what they may or may not want.
With same-sex couples, this could be how a venue is set up, how they enter the ceremony, where they might sit during their reception, and what they might be wearing. Unfortunately, there have been many instances where one member of a couple has been treated more like a ‘groom’ or a ‘bride’. As we’ve mentioned earlier this can create a disproportionate focus on one person vs the other on their big day.
The same goes for public displays of affection. While many couples may be happy with this, historical circumstances may mean that a particular couple might want to be more reserved when it comes to those public displays of affection outside of the wedding.
A good way to get more information from a couple is to ask open-ended questions in your usual process.
“Most couples like to go with X, Y, or Z option. What did you have in mind?”
Another area to avoid assumptions is the involvement of related family vs chosen family. Try asking something like:
“You’ve mentioned that you want X to be more involved in your wedding. Tell me more about your relationship with them?” vs “Is X your mother?”
Refresh yourself every year
This is another tip that works well for all couples, genders, orientations and diversities. The average couple we’re targetting is 27-years-old while the average wedding supplier is 44.
Having a knowledge of the different areas of your market and what couples look like every year will help you bridge the gap between yourself and your target market.
Make an effort to educate yourself on the same-sex market at least once a year. What is going on in their community? What are they comfortable with? Are there any new trends that they are interested in?
Reevaluate your visual first impressions such as your website, storefront, social media or advertising. Whatever a couple sees for your business make sure it’s in line with the modern couple, not a couple from a few years ago. You can also update your first impression for communication channels such as phone, SMS and email.
And finally, expand and vet your network. Is there someone in your category who has worked with a lot of same-sex couples who you could learn more from? Do you want to make sure you have a preferred supplier list who you know have worked same-sex weddings before?
This is a good piece of business admin to do every 12 months and will help you keep up-to-date with the needs of every couple you service.