I was interviewed recently for a story in the New York Times about how to find inclusive wedding vendors who align with your values.
I hate that the 2023 Supreme Court ruling made this issue something that we need to talk about, but I'm honored to get to speak up on behalf of those of us in the wedding industry willing to take a strong stance around inclusivity.
Here are some excerpts from the story about how to find inclusive wedding vendors:
Inclusive language helps people feel respected and welcome — it’s the reason Ariel Meadow Stallings rebranded her website from Offbeat Bride to Offbeat Wed in 2022. The name change cost her business tens of thousands of dollars, she said, but it was worth it. “Part of my personal values is growing and changing as the culture that I’m serving grows and changes,” Ms. Stallings said.
Ask Tough Questions
Consider reading online reviews from couples of who have worked with a vendor so that “you can read firsthand what their experience was like working with this person,” Mx. Blattel said. If you’re unable to find reviews, Mx. Blattel said, ask vendors if they can connect you with previous clients. You can also ask vendors if they work with couples who share your and your partner’s identities, and if so, how often.
Many vendors may also be unaware of the nuances of language, or they may not be used to having conversations about inclusivity, Ms. Stallings said. That’s not necessarily a red flag.
A willingness to accept feedback, listen to concerns, answer questions and evolve is important, she said. “That’s actually a really wonderful way to test your vendor — understanding how they navigate challenging conversations early on about inclusivity and identity,” she said.
One of the things I talked to the journalist about that didn't get included in the story that I want to clarify: I mentioned the expense of the Offbeat Bride > Offbeat Wed rebrand as a way to convey to wedding vendors that I very personally understand the costs that can be associated with making your wedding business inclusive.
Many of us in this industry are solopreneurs and mom-and-pop shops (or mom-and-mom shops) working with pretty tight margins. I understand that the time and expenses involved in making changes to your business can feel daunting.
That said, I want this to be clear: every cent I spent on the rebrand (and lost due to the decline in traffic and ad revenue) was worth it to get my business in line with my personal values. What I DON'T want to do is imply that I somehow suffered oh-so-nobly in my efforts to be inclusive — my fellow LGBTQ folks are out here literally getting killed in the streets for vogueing, and my lil ol' rebrand isn't especially relevant to that larger, incredibly important dialogue.
That clarification aside, I sincerely hope that I continue to see more of my wedding industry colleagues continuing to talk about the issue of how we can all be more inclusive. If you're a wedding vendor who wants to ensure that you're doing your best for your clients, you can download Offbeat Wed's Guide to Inclusive Marketing for Wedding Vendors FOR FREE right here.