This is not the first, nor the last time that I have come out. Much like every person who identifies as a member of the LGBTIQA+ community, coming out is a long
process that is repeated very, very often.
So, on that note, it’s high time that we had (another) chat about language and genuine inclusivity in the Wedding Industry.
“Marriage in Australia is the union of TWO people…” not a Bride and a Groom.
Marriage Equality was achieved in Australia in December 2017 and since then over 20,00 couples who do not identify as a Bride and a Groom have been legally married.
The official Marriage paperwork issued by the Attorney General Department, now offers, female, male and non-binary as gender options alongside Bride, Groom and Partner as Marriage Titles.
Nowhere on these official forms is a person’s sexuality asked for.
A person’s gender has no relevance to their ability to be married.
So, let me repeat, not EVERY wedding has a Bride and a Groom.
Far too often in 2023 we are seeing and hearing non-inclusive language used in the Wedding Industry.
It’s actually everywhere we look.
From Bridal Magazines, to vendor forms that only ask for Bride and Groom, to industry events marketed solely at Brides.
To venues, still calling it a ‘Bridal Suite’
All of us, calling a couple’s Best People, a Bridal Party.
This not only excludes LGBTIQA+ people but also diminishes the very real and valid input of both partners planning a wedding. It’s 2023, BOTH members of the couple getting married are highly engaged in Wedding planning and making decisions.
Picture this, you are two women, two men, two non-binary people or a bisexual couple getting married. You enquire with a venue /photographer / florist / celebrant that you love and on their enquiry form, there are only two options…
With these limited terms we are not excluding many of the people that we are marrying, but implying that they must fit into these two very limited options.
These same couples will then start to be nervous about how they will be referred to in the planning process and, most importantly, on their wedding day.
Which is why, many couples feel the need to ask us vendors questions like:
“Do you do same sex weddings?”
“My partner is non-binary, are you comfortable with that?”
“We are two women getting married and wanted to make sure that you don’t say
Bride and Groom at our wedding”
All too often members of the LGBTIQA+ community are used to overcoming OUR discomfort to make it easier on others, especially in a customer service setting.
Well, I’m calling TIME on that!
As the Wedding Industry, we need to be better at being inclusive.
From our initial enquiry forms, to our marketing, to how we interact with couples and guests on the day and how we speak on social media.
These are things said to me, a Marriage Celebrant, recently, and by recently, I mean in the last 12 months, by fellow wedding industry colleagues.
“Which one is wearing the dress?”
“How am I supposed to know who is who – they’re both in suits!”
“Which side is the Bride going to be on and which side is the Groom going to be on?”
asked by a photographer JUST before two beautiful Brides arrived for their wedding.
Clearly, they don’t realise (or care!) that I identify as a gay woman and that these
comments are not only deeply offensive to me as well as my couples.
I’ve stopped awkwardly laughing as I correct them. I’ve maintained my
professionalism, but have very clearly stated that there are TWO Brides or TWO Grooms or TWO people and that who is wearing what is irrelevant.
I want them to know that it’s not acceptable.
I’ve done this to ensure that my couple NEVER hear anything other than inclusive and supportive language on their wedding Day.
Frankly, as a wedding vendor, it’s not good enough to be part of a couple’s Wedding day, your job, and not realise that there are two PEOPLE getting married.
Two people with names! Here’s a thought, use their names instead of terms that may be incorrect.
If it’s a habit, then it’s time to train yourself out of that habit.
Hopefully as a wedding vendor in 2023 you are supportive of all couples celebrating their love and getting married. How do you show that you are inclusive?
Do an inventory of your enquiry forms, paperwork, signage and terminology used within all aspects of your business.
Still using Bride and Groom? Change it to Partner 1 and Partner 2.
Ask for your couples’ pronouns.
Ask how each person would like to be referred to as Bride or Groom or quite simply by their name!
If you are reading this as a couple getting married and planning your wedding, please know that there are so very many of us that are here to support and celebrant you.
I know that wedding planning is overwhelming. I also know, that no single person comes out as a member of the LGBTIQA+ community and IMMEDIATELY starts planning a Wedding!
You have no doubt been subjected to some level of discrimination and non-inclusive language long before you started to plan your Wedding.
As difficult as it can be, I promise you that you hold the power here, if you don’t see yourself or your family reflected in a business, ask them to change or choose another business.
When you enquire with a Wedding business and the enquiry form only offers Bride and Groom, consider if this is truly a vendor that you want to be planning your Wedding with.
If you are discussing your Wedding and a vendor is dismissive of your pronouns or gets your names wrong and makes zero attempt to correct themselves, truly consider finding another vendor.
To my fellow vendors and my couples, I say all this with the full knowledge that I am far from perfect!
I make mistakes. However, I listen and I learn and I vow not to make them again.
To me, a couple getting married, are two people. Two people getting married. Each with their own unique family, story and vision for their day.
OUR job, as vendors, as leaders in the wedding industry, is to help each couple, at every step along the way, have the most positive, love filled and amazing experience as possible.
I think we can all agree on that, right?
Whilst almost every LGBTIQA+ couple encounters some level of trepidation when planning their wedding, all the of the photographers featured in this post are members of the LGBTIQA+ community themselves or very supportive allies.