NEW MINI COURSE How to produce an authentically inclusive LGBTQ+ styled shoot


What is gender?

You’ve likely heard the terms assigned gender, gender identity and sex, and maybe you're like me when I first started researching the meaning behind the words. I was thinking, "Are they all the same thing? What are the differences?" My motivations were probably a lot like yours, which was to learn how I can be a better ally to the trans and gender diverse communities.

But before we dive into the definitions of each term, let’s talk about the ways in which much of society has looked upon gender and sex, which is through the lens of the gender binary. The gender binary is the concept that there are two genders: male and female. In recent years, that idea has been challenged as more people come out about their assigned gender not matching who they really are (their gender identity). But even though assigned gender and gender identity are terms used more prevalently in the 21st century, the meanings—and, more importantly, the people living these meanings—behind...

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What to say after mistaking someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation

advice Jan 12, 2023

You've messed up, and maybe you're thinking something like: Will everyone hate me? Am I going to be canceled? Is it really a big deal or can I recover from this? And what should be first but is often the last thought: Have I hurt someone's feelings? What should I do?

The ol’ foot-in-mouth moment. We’ve all been there. Maybe you’ve asked someone when they’re due, and it turns out they’re not pregnant. You’ve asked someone about their Christmas plans, and they’re Jewish. Perhaps you’ve asked someone with an unfamiliar name where they are from, and as it turns out, they grew up in your home state. In the wedding industry, some common mishaps that happen with the LGBTQ+ community are asking a woman about her husband-to-be, such as “How did he propose?” or, if you do know they’re LGBTQ+, posing a question about what their family thinks, implying they might not be getting the support they deserve.

In 2020, when...

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The art of unlearning: an essential practice for authentic inclusivity

inclusivity insights Jan 03, 2023

For inclusivity in the wedding industry, hospitality, or in any facet of personal or professional matters, we need to approach it with the understanding that we’re going to need to unlearn some things. This could be because what you’ve learned might be untrue or that things have changed. Flexibility is key here.

When I teach LGBTQ+ inclusivity in my courses, workshops and team training, I try to come to the subject and my students with an open mind. Having that open mind helps me stay curious. Even though I teach from research and data acquired over the course of nearly 13 years of professional work, I know that there’s never an end to learning about other people. People are vibrant and ever-evolving beings, so how could we know all there is to know about them, their experiences, their concepts about themselves?

Notice that I used the word “try.” It’s human nature to fail, but it is something else entirely to try again after you’ve...

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How to be authentically LGBTQ+ inclusive and affirming in your wedding business

affirming how to inclusive Aug 17, 2022

More wedding and event pros are opening their hearts and business doors to the LGBTQ+ community. As this welcoming happens, it’s important to take note of the level at which businesses are saying yes to equality.

While running our LGBTQ+ wedding magazine, Equally Wed, for the past 12 years, we’ve found that inclusivity and acceptance is happening on multiple levels, from “willing to take money from gay people” all the way to celebrating the full spectrum of the LGBTQ+ community. Being LGBTQ+ inclusive doesn’t just mean being kind to everyone. It requires more work on your part to be intentionally and consistently welcoming and affirming with your thoughts, words and actions.

For a wedding business to be authentically LGBTQ+ inclusive and affirming means that you continually take the following measures to embrace all couples and marriers:

1. Use gender-neutral language throughout your website and social media posts, i.e., couples or marriers instead...

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Wedding titles for LGBTQ+ couples

By Kirsten Palladino

Historically, people who are getting married have had to choose between two wedding titles: bride or groom. However, not everyone feels comfortable with those options. As an LGBTQ+ inclusive and affirming wedding professional, it's important to educate your clients on all the options as well as not limit their choices to just bride or groom. 

Below is a nonexhaustive list of wedding title choices for anyone getting married, whether they're gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, heterosexual, male, female, nonbinary or any other identity. Incorporate the option to select all of these in your contracts, information contact boxes on your website, client onboarding processes or other info-gathering procedures, in addition to asking them their pronouns. Knowing how your clients want to be addressed throughout the wedding-planning process will equip you with the knowledge to treat them with the respect they deserve and showcase your LGBTQ+ inclusive and...

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Creative LGBTQ+ wedding ideas for your clients

pronouns Oct 14, 2021

One of the reasons working with LGBTQ+ couples is so much fun is because it often calls for tons of creativity. Couples must morph heteronormative traditions into ones that work for them, and as such, LGBTQ+ couples don’t often feel tied to doing things in any specific way. There are so many creative ways LGBTQ+ people can get married. Here are a few suggestions you can give to couples who are looking to get both creative and inclusive. 

A Double Aisle

If a couple doesn’t want to walk down the aisle together but is having trouble deciding who will walk first, a double aisle is an increasingly popular choice for LGBTQ+ marriers. That way, they can walk at the same time, but still separately. Typically, the aisles begin in opposite corners of the room and angle toward one another, but of course, it is up to each couple how they want to design the room. 

Pronoun Pins

Offering pronoun pins to guests is a fantastic way to throw an inclusive...

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Switzerland passes marriage equality

marriage equality Sep 28, 2021

Switzerland will officially legalize marriage equality and LGBTQ+ adoption after almost two-thirds of Swiss voters chose love in a Sunday referendum.

This will make Switzerland the 30th country to legalize marriage equality. Amnesty International called the moment a "milestone for equality."

Jan Muller, who was part of the national committee to vote "yes" for equality, told the AFP News Agency that Sunday was "a historic day for Switzerland, a historic day when it comes to equality for same-sex couples, and [was] also an important day for the whole LGBT community."

Olga Baranova, a spokesperson for the vote "yes" committee, added that the vote reflected the massive acceptance LGBTQ+ people have gained in the country over the past twenty years. The journey to this moment was a challenging one, though. In December 2020, both houses of the Swiss legislature approved a...

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Don't be weird: LGBTQ+ inclusive wedding insights from Christy and CaSandra's private beach wedding in Moorea, French Polynesia

Adventurous couple Christy and CaSandra got engaged in Maui and then eloped on a private beach in Moorea, French Polynesia. (See more from their wedding feature on

In an idyllic way start to the wedding day, the couple was picked up by a boat from their beachside villa and driven to the private island. The only guest was CaSandra’s 25-year-old-daughter. Later, they enjoyed a reception with family and friends in Atlanta, Georgia.

Their marriers shared some advice for vendors working with LGBTQ+ couples: “Don’t be weird.

“We spoke to a couple of vendors in the Atlanta area when planning our reception and they just seemed awkward or maybe they were hesitant to accommodate us. Gay and lesbian couples are no different than your straight couples and there is no need to be weird or awkward if you truly want our business. The only thing that perhaps makes us a tad bit different is whether or not we are out to our families and wedding planning...

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Be openly LGBTQ+ inclusive: insights from Dawn and Candy’s garden chic wedding

After getting engaged on the Mississippi River in New Orleans, Dawn and Candy decided to throw the perfect garden chic wedding

Their main goal was “to let love permeate every nook and cranny of every space and heart.”

Their April celebration took place in their hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina. The couple ensured the space was filled with trees and other greenery, like grasses and succulents. They also wanted to support women-owned businesses so they hired an all-female team of vendors.

“The day was perfect!” they said. “Guests enjoyed an intentional and organic exchange of vows and promises and then partied the night away!”

Their advice to vendors: “Please add that you are LGBTQIA+ friendly on your website so that we can forego that opening question in the preliminary discussions.”

It’s seems like such a simple addition, but it can make all the difference for LGBTQ+ couples. Remember that for these couples, it...

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How to celebrate Pride as an ally

ally lgbtq+ inclusive pride Jun 01, 2021
Pride month is finally here! While any time is the right time to support the LGBTQ+ community, Pride month is a special opportunity for allies in the wedding industry to examine how they show that support for LGBTQ+ couples they work with. There are endless ways to show your pride as an ally, but these six are a great place to start.

Center LGBTQ+ Voices

True allies make their support about the LGBTQ+ community, rather than about themselves. There is no one way to center LGBTQ+ voices, but here are a few ideas:

  1. Ask LGBTQ+ couples you've worked with to share their love stories on your website or social media.
  2. For any LGBTQ+ styled shoots you take part in, make sure the models are actually part of the LGBTQ+ community (and ideally a real couple).
  3. Directly ask LGBTQ+ couples what they most need from vendors to feel affirmed and then work on living up to that.
  4. Use photos of real LGBTQ+ couples on your website.
  5. If you're not LGBTQ+, don't speak on our behalf and our experiences. Elevate...
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