Basic Language Tips to Make Your Business LGBT-Inclusive

November 16, 2016 by 14stories

01-hurricane-sandy-weddingThe U.S. has had legal marriage equality in every state for about a year and a half. Have you been booking many same-sex weddings yet? If not, you might find that the problem is in the wording used in your marketing and in your contracts.

When wedding professionals have not yet worked on a same-sex wedding, they might not realize that language and terminology is incredibly important. Simply put, same-sex couples want to feel included, not excluded. For example, if your website references “bride and groom”, make a quick edit to instead say “couple.” If your website contact form says “bride’s name” and “groom’s name”, change it to “name.” If your website references the “bridal” party, make a quick edit to replace “bridal” with “wedding.” These quick changes show that you want to be inclusive.

You might not have ever thought that your forms and contracts should also be updated to make sure they’re suitable for all of your clients, not just your straight ones. If your contract right now still says “bride and groom”, then it’s time to update the language.

Your planning worksheet is probably also quite gendered with questions like: “what is the song is for the father daughter dance?” This terminology assumes that there is in fact only a bride and groom getting married and is exclusionary to same-sex couples. If you send those types of forms to engaged LGBT couples, chances are they will get frustrated and disappointed with you and you would lose some credibility and respect.

You don’t want to make that mistake. It’s important to be inclusive, not exclusive and same-sex couples appreciate when they’ve been invited to the table. If you haven’t done this yet, you can download forms from our website that are appropriate for all of your clients – not just your straight ones.

Photo by Lisa Ross

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Bernadette Smith is founder and president of 14 Stories and the Gay Wedding Institute (GWI), and award-winning author of three books, including The Business of Gay Weddings: A Guide for Wedding Professionals. 14 Stories, the nation’s leading same-sex wedding planning company, has produced hundreds of gay and lesbian weddings with couples from around the world. Through the GWI, Bernadette has trained thousands of wedding and hospitality professionals on sales and marketing best practices to same-sex couples. Bernadette’s expertise has been sought after by the Today Show, National Public Radio, the BBC, the New York Times, CNN, among many others.

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