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Pride 2019: How to help LGBTQ+ Guests (AKA friends and family) feel at ease by breaking up with gender-centric traditions

Over the last few months, I have been working hard to be as inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community in my life as possible. As a member of the community, even I find it hard sometimes to shake off the hetero-normative way I talk.   I talked with my friend Mason Aid numerous times about being inclusive in parenting, my business and just dealing with life. ( I featured Mason in a post here about the importance of inclusivity in your biz)   I’ve been researching and sharing and in all of this research, I realized how absolutely gender-centric the wedding world really is!  

HERE IS AN EXAMPLE OF WHAT I MEAN…

In the wedding professional world, almost all businesses market exclusively to women because (as a whole) they are typically the ones planning the wedding.  But, that means that LGBTQ+ couples who don’t identify as a woman/female could feel completely excluded because of the way websites only talk about brides. So a lot of LGBTQ+ community members turn to sources like EquallyWed to find LGBTQ+ friendly wedding proffesionals

Little side note:

I was intrigued to see how many of the vendors on equally wed identified as LGBTQ+ and was shocked to see there were literally only 10 businesses in the whole directory! And that was across the whole country!  

Now, I may be an expert in stationery and techy-biz things, but I am no expert on planning parties and weddings.  And as much as I love all the wedding community allies to the LGBTQ+ community, I knew that only an LGBTQ+ person had the unique perspective I was hoping to capture.  

So I set out on a journey to find the perfect person and I think I nailed it!  I reached out to a champion for inclusivity within the LGBTQ+ and Wedding Communities. Jove Meyer and his team at Jove Meyer Events in NYC.  And I was totally stoked that Jove took time to answer my questions.  (Like, I may have called my sister in shock)  

Kermit showing how excited I was when Jove said he would answer my questions.

So let’s learn how to help our LGBTQ+ guests (a.k.a. our friends and family) feel more at ease and break up with gender-centric traditions! .

Jove, obviously, inclusivity is important and should be considered in all aspects of our lives. Could you speak to the importance of planning an inclusive event?

Everyone plans special events throughout their lives. They should feel comfortable and supported in doing so without fear of rejection, hate or negativity based on their gender identity, sexuality, race or religion. Everyone deserves to celebrate. No one should feel worried that they may be treated differently because they are LGBTQ+ people. If you work in the events world you should be ready to work with all kinds of diverse people from all walks of life. If they love your work you should be flattered and excited to collaborate with them on their special occasion regardless of their gender identity or sexuality. 

What are some simple/basic things couples and planners can do to make an inclusive atmosphere for their guests?

Language is a great place to be more inclusive. It is often so easy to use words that you have used for much of your life. But with a little effort and practice, you can make guests feel more welcome and loved by using inclusive language. 

  • Instead of saying bride, say couple. 
  • Rather than say bridal suite say private room. 
  • Rather than say bridal party, say wedding party. 
  • Do not assume couples have same gendered wedding parties. Simply ask the names of those in the party and leave gender out of it. 
  • On your contracts replace bride and groom with client 1 and client 2, or name 1 and name 2. 

There is no reason we should be using bridecentric language. Expescially in a country where marriage equality has passed and everyone can be married. Same sex and opposite sex couples alike. Another way to make events more inclusive is to ask the couple their preferred pronouns. If they have any guests who have preferred pronouns they should be aware of. It is a simple question. But it will make guests who may go by a pronoun that does not match their visible gender feel seen and feel more comfortable.

If you are not sure, never assume, just ask.

Take time to be more present in your business and the relationships you have with people. A little moment of clarification and language correction will go along way to make people feel comfortable.

What are the most un-inclusive party traditions that you have seen/experienced? How can couples and planners prevent these things from happening?

There are not any wedding traditions that couples are forced to do. Each wedding and every couple should embrace the traditions that resonate with them, their love, and their relationship. If they don’t, I encourage them to create new traditions. 

For the couples who still toss the bouquet to the single ladies, you could invite all single people who want to try to catch it, rather than just women.

What is a subtle hint to give guests that this will be a safe/inclusive event

Being a kind-hearted, open and loving person is the best way to create an inclusive event. Guests will feel your intentions and energy based on your actions and words, so be thoughtful with those and you should be good! 

Being an ally does not mean you have to walk around with a rainbow pin or waving a flag. It means when others make mistakes you kindly correct them. You stand up for LGBTQ+ people when we are not present and when we are. You support, uplift and encourage us to be our true selves. It means you create a level of comfort for LGBTQ+ people to be authentic. Allowing them to present themselves as they are, not in a conforming way to please straight people. 

meet the author

JOVE MEYER

Jove Meyer Events was born after Jove planned and designed his best friend’s wedding in the summer of 2008, and loved every minute of it! In the decade since, The Knot has called him a Wedding Wizard and listed him as one of the top 100 wedding pros! US Weekly has called him a Wedding Guru. Jove and his work have been featured in publications worldwide, most notably The New York Times, Vogue, Martha Stewart Weddings, Brides, Refinery29, Marie Claire, Bridal Guide, The Knot, BuzzFeed and many more. He has appeared twice on Rachael Ray. 

Jove is a fierce advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and marriage equality. He co-taught the first LGBTQ+ wedding webinar in partnership with The Knot and speaks passionately about inclusivity in the wedding space and working with same sex couples around the world at Engage, Destination Wedding Planners Congress and domestically at The Knot Workshops.

Jove Meyer is the host of the popular podcast Weddings-ish with Jove! He is the creator of the “Totes Getting Married” tote bag and the founder of the Planners Dining Club.

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Planning your wedding and want to learn more about Jove’s Services? Yes! Jove your amazing, please plan my wedding!

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