Event Planner Erin Hansen asks How Can I be Sensitive to Same-Sex Couples?
Anything I should be aware of when I first meet with a same-sex couple to discuss working together?
2B2B: Every couple is different – this is also true of same-sex couples. As long as you are candid and open from the start, then you should be able to make decisions together that will keep everyone not just comfortable, but also happy. You can set a positive tone right away with a warm and welcome attitude. It’s absolutely okay to say, “I want to be sensitive to your needs as a couple, but I need your help. Let’s be sure to communicate our feelings and if any time I am using language or making suggestions that you’re not comfortable with, please let me know.”
* Thank you for this! I love how you give me the language to use as well!
During my first meeting with a couple we talk about the big categories – budget, design, florals, attire, venues, music, food – I’d like to be prepared to offer the best possible experience for every couple that employs my services.
2B2B: Again, I’m someone who thinks that communication is key. You can ask if there are any specific categories that they may find more stressful than others, if there’s anything they’re particularly concerned about, especially as a same-sex couple, and you can ensure them that these details will get your extra attention. As with all couples, I’m sure you’ll get a sense of them pretty quickly.
*Perfect! I do ask all my couples about their concerns immediately and continue to ask them throughout the process. Making sure I address any concerns my couple is having as a same-sex couple is a wonderfully organic addition to my consultation process.
How can I help lesbian couples that want to incorporate religion into their wedding ceremony?
2B2B: I suspect that most lesbian couples have a pretty good idea of what they want the vibe of their ceremony to be. If they’re looking for religious elements, for example, it’s likely they already know who should or how to handle this. If they don’t then help them explore their options.
How should the officiant address each woman during the ceremony? What kind of language might the brides prefer throughout the ceremony?
2B2B: This is going to be different for every same-sex couple, and I think it’s important to have a frank discussion about this. My wife and I did not want to be called partners, as that didn’t feel at all like us. Some brides don’t even want to be referred to as brides. Master Life-Cycle Celebrant® and Interfaith Minister Elizabeth Phaire has more on this.
*Thanks for the link! I agree with the language of partners with my own relationship and struggle with that a bit as well when I’m working with all couples. I love the idea of just putting that out on the table early on with everyone I work with!
How can the planner help the officiant with details that may otherwise be overlooked?
2B2B: Make a checklist with the couple. This way nothing will get past you.
–What unique details have you seen in same-sex weddings regarding the ceremony, processional/recessional and wedding party traditions?
2B2B: This tradition has evolved for all couples,—not just for same-sex—so go ahead and ask the couple if they’re having a wedding party, if they want some suggestions as to how to incorporate their loved ones without going the traditional route, or if they already have something in mind. So much of the fun in planning is figuring out unique details that will make the wedding extra special.
I’ve seen couples walk hand-in-hand, my wife and I were both escorted by our fathers down two separate aisles, meeting up front, and rather than a wedding party my sister stood as my Maid of Honor and my wife’s brother as Man of Honor. I’ve also been seeing men and women on both the bride’s side and the groom’s side. Today’s wedding parties appear to be less about tradition and more about devotion.
What about wedding items like etched champagne flutes or “Mr. & Mrs.” Insignia? We see so much male and female language in the wedding industry, how do I avoid insensitivity?
2B2B: The male & female language is everywhere in the wedding industry, and sometimes, even if we don’t want to care, that can feel discouraging. Etsy has made it so easy to get all the appropriately labeled decorations and favors, but many vendors don’t prepare documents with the correct language, so remind them that instead of creating an invoice that might say, “Bride’s Name,” and “Groom’s Name,” they should take the extra care to use language that is inclusive to the couple you’re working with. It’s a small detail, but having paperwork with the appropriate wording makes even the mundane parts, like signing checks, feel like they’re for something special.
*Thanks for the added attention to the details like invoices and paperwork! I can see how that might go overlooked in the planning and shuffling of emails and confirmations.
Any issues that same-sex couples consistently face that I should be prepared for?
2B2B: Families can be a complication for any couple, and sometimes same-sex couples face added scrutiny. From the beginning, ask the couple if there are going to be any guests who need special attention or if there are concerns that you should be made aware of. Even if you can’t control conservative Aunt Millie, knowing they have your support and understanding should help the couple feel more comfortable mailing her an invite. If you establish respect and communication between yourself and the couple then you should be able to handle any situation that might arise.
*Isn’t this the truth! We discuss any foreseen issues with guests at the first consultation as well and it makes so much sense to check in with the couple about their concerns with “conservative” guests even prior the invitations going out. One of my favorite parts of the planning and design process is the relationship I build with my couples, and I couldn’t agree more!