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Just One More Reason Straight Couples Need A Gay Wedding Planner!

Not long before her wedding, Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell wrote a piece (“The One Fight To Have Before Your Wedding: Married women deserve their own names on the invitation“; August 29, 2014) taking on the Wall of Wedding Tradition she encountered when she decided to go rogue and introduce (more) equality on to the outer envelopes of her wedding invitation ensemble.

She says, “I had but one unyielding, Bridezillian demand, championed by my feminist fiance as well: how women’s names were rendered. Specifically, that they be rendered at all.”

What she goes on to share about her experience really isn’t surprising. Same-sex couples have been hammering away and calling for inclusion in an industry often stuck in its ways. And, when we haven’t had luck with explicit legal, religious, commercial or social approval, we’ve gone ahead and done what we needed to do anyway.

After reading her column, I was inspired to write her a quick note of congratulations to share my experience with her, as follows:

“Having spent more years in the wedding industry than I care to count, I absolutely understand (and have seen first hand) the overbearing Systems of Tradition to which you refer in today’s column. From its deepest core, the industry sticks engaged couples (let’s be honest, it really still only refers to brides) into boxes that don’t fit them. These days, I’m doing my best to change that conversation and help wedding professionals understand how damaging and limiting the boxes are for all couples — straight or LGBT.

“You probably won’t be surprised to know that I have iterations on this conversation quite often as I talk with straight couples who have just married or are about to get married. They are generally relieved by my open-minded approach of asking them about their wedding planning or in how I brainstorm planning solutions with them.

“When I have these conversations, most straight couples are floored because no one has asked them what they want or what it means to them. We gay and lesbian couples have had no choice but to start at this place. We have planned outside of the agenda of laws, parents, friends, and the industry and this has enriched our experience and our rituals. Most straight couples have not enjoyed that blessing and some, like you, have had fights that have astounded, exasperated, and exhausted them.

“So, when I talk with most straight couples, at the end of the conversation, we generally all agree, they would have preferred to work with a planner who specializes in same-sex weddings because the process and end result would have been a more peaceful representation of what best represents them as a couple rather than a result of an industry’s auto-pilot.

“Thanks for sharing your own personal story with a call for couples (and especially women) to speak up for what best represents them as equals in a loving and long-term relationship.”

Bottom Line From A Gay Wedding Planner

I believe that the LGBTQ community is transforming the industry one creative and personally meaningful ceremony at a time. And, straight couples, like Catherine and her husband, and wedding professionals across the country are beginning to see the value in thinking ‘outside the box’.

But, don’t get me wrong, there is no need to throw out all wedding tradition or all etiquette, as the guidance can often be helpful. We should, however, absolutely re-think what we are doing and what we are saying if we want wedding ritual to be reflective of two equal partners who promise a lifetime of love and commitment to one another.

Last time I checked, it takes two people to  “exchange” vows not one. And both deserve as equal spot at the altar, chuppah, courthouse steps, and on the outer envelope.

Wedding innovator Kathryn Hamm (@madebykathryn) is co-author of The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography (Amphoto Books, 2014), an Education Expert for WeddingWire and Publisher of GayWeddings.com