Planners meet demands of same-sex weddings

Excerpt from an article, as published at ChicagoTribune.com
By Gwendolyn Purdom, Special to Tribune Newspapers

Joey Scaletta didn’t grow up dreaming of his wedding day. As a gay man, he figured that a traditional ceremony and reception weren’t in the cards — until a few years ago, when suddenly, legally, they were. Scaletta and his husband, Marc Gann, who live in Kansas, legally wed in New York City last April.

“When (our wedding planner) asked, ‘What do you envision for your big day?’ my response was, ‘I don’t know. I’ve never envisioned my big day,’ ” Scaletta says.

Same-sex weddings aren’t new, but with more states legally recognizing gay and lesbian marriages, brides, grooms and industry professionals are seeing a shift in the way same-sex couples are planning and celebrating their nuptials, and the way vendors are responding….

…For years, gay and lesbian weddings have been smaller, often because families or friends weren’t supportive or it was hard for guests to travel to a state where same-sex marriage was legal. Kathryn Hamm, president of GayWeddings.com, says that also is changing.

“The more families that are excited and proud of their kids for that marriage, the more it may be a bigger event and one that has a broader reach than one that a couple is putting together on a shoestring,” Hamm says.

The Washington, D.C.-based Hamm says she’s also seeing couples adopting traditions they might not have previously, such as engagement photos. In May, Hamm and photographer Thea Dodds will release a second edition of “The New Art of Capturing Love: The Essential Guide to Lesbian & Gay Wedding Photography” (Random House). Traditional approaches for heterosexual couples don’t necessarily translate to same-sex weddings, so Hamm encourages photographers to rethink their preconceptions.

Other industry professionals are also evolving to accommodate all couples, though vendors still have a way to go.

“You can’t just say, ‘Oh, I like gay people. I’d love to work with you,’ ” Hamm says. “We’re certainly appreciative of that, but there are a lot of wedding professionals who are incredibly seasoned at supporting same-sex couples, and they understand what some of those higher-level needs are and are able to address them.”

Coveney Smith and Hamm say that they’d like to see vendors focus less on the bride and that websites and other editorial materials are still behind in their portrayal of gay and lesbian couples. Because the industry is largely made up of small businesses, sweeping changes will take time. But progress is being made.

Read the full article at ChicagoTribune.com