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Op-ed: Weddings Are About Love, Not Cautious Marketing

Op-ed: Weddings Are About Love, Not Cautious Marketing

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Two wedding photographers noticed an absence of LGBT-friendly messaging at a wedding expo. Here's why that's harmful.

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Recently my wife, Laurie, and I took part in a wedding expo in Massachusetts to promote our business, Back2Back Photography. Having set up our booth successfully we had plenty of time before the doors were to open, so we decided to take a walk around and check out other vendors.

As we walked around looking at booth after booth, covering everything you could possibly want to plan your perfect wedding day I suddenly realized something.

"I don't see any LGBT couples represented in any of these exhibits, do you?" I asked Laurie.

"No, I don't think I did!" she replied. "I think we should look around again!"

So we walked around again, really taking note and sure enough there were no significant same-sex couples images anywhere. The only thing we spotted were a couple of very small photographs tucked out of the way. We were both shocked, especially with us being in Massachusetts, the first state to recognize same-sex marriage more than a decade ago -- you would really think by now same-sex couples would be more visible. Obviously we didn't have time to watch every slideshow, so possibly there were some images included somewhere, but as far as anything notable was concerned, there was nothing.

At our booth we had four 30-by-40-inch canvases, two of which were of same-sex couples. The one of the two brides holding two signs which read "Some Chicks Marry Chicks" brought us endless compliments and attention. We had so many people make a point of stopping to say how much they loved that we had an LGBT-inclusive display with young and old, gay and straight. One lady stopped to tell us about her niece's lesbian wedding and what she wore. A grandmother told us about her granddaughter's lesbian wedding. It seemed as if everyone was happy to chat about their LGBT friends' and families' weddings just because of our display.

Some vendors did make a point of actually coming over to compliment us on our LGBT-inclusive display but from the conversations we had with them it seems that there is a fear of putting off straight couples from booking their services if they show same-sex couples' images. One vendor did actually say to us -- and let's just add, they did know that we are a married lesbian couple -- "People don't want to see that!"

We said to them "What do you mean, that?"

"You know, kissing and everything, your families are used to seeing that, but other people aren't!"

Laurie and I looked at each other in disbelief, not sure what exactly it was they thought people would be seeing. From our own experience, it is absolutely not the case that straight couples won't book us because we show images of same-sex couples and LGBT families. When Laurie and I were fighting for our very own marriage equality, we had a huge outpouring of love and support from our straight wedding couples we had photographed over the years, they stood with us showing they too supported marriage equality. Nowadays we would say, almost without fail, that every wedding we photograph includes same-sex couples in attendance or part of the day itself being nothing but their loving selves.

Previously we have also taken part in what was promoted as a same-sex wedding expo. Even at that show, the vendors had such a limited amount of LGBT-inclusive material on display. And additionally, we wondered, Isn't having a separate expo was an act of segregation, to a degree? LGBT people don't need anything to be separate -- after all, we are using the same venues, same photographers, same DJs, so why can't we have the same wedding expos?

As we progress through 2015 and hope that as state after state sees marriage equality being accepted, wedding vendors will realize they are going to stand out if they don't move with the times, and in fact they could end up losing more than they gain, just like Urloved Photography in California, which had to change its business last year.

These days everyone has an LGBT friend or relative they love, and it's time that all vendors realize this, and that it doesn't scare straight couples from booking with them just because they also include same-sex couples in their marketing material. It would make so much of a difference to same-sex couples to see inclusion and acceptance for everyone celebrating their happily ever after!


CAROLINE HART and her wife, Laurie Hart, run Back2Back Photography in Boston.

Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

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