LGBTQ Wedding Tips if You're New to this Site

This site is intended to be a resource for wedding professionals and media who are interested in learning more about same-sex weddings and improving their ability to communicate and build a rapport with couples. That said, since I actually PLAN lots of weddings, I don't have as much time to keep this updated as I'd like!  Here are some resources to get you started:

  • Data - We collect our own gay wedding data, but there's also some from the Williams Institute, Forbes and others

  • Our App - it's a free download for iPhones and iPads and is a great tool for wedding planning

  • Certificate Course - We offer an online course which covers everything you need to know about LGBTQ weddings (and more!)

Additionally, here are some of the most popular blog posts from the past 12 years of blogging about LGBTQ weddings for wedding vendors:

Please don't hesitate to contact us or ask if you have any burning questions!

Note: an older version of this first appeared a few years ago

LGBTQ Weddings in 2018: a Survey of Same-sex and Queer Identified Couples

New Survey Reveals How Wedding Businesses Can More Actively Support LGBTQ Couples.

CHICAGO, IL -- Community Marketing & Insights (CMI) and Equality Institute, released today the results of LGBTQ Weddings in 2018: a Survey of Same-sex and Queer Identified Couples. 808 community members who married in the past three years or are currently engaged were recruited from CMI’s proprietary research panel and the client and network databases of Equality Institute. 

“LGBTQ couples, particularly gay men, are increasingly choosing to be non-traditional in their wedding plans. We’ve found that 43% of these couples are choosing to include elements of LGBTQ culture in their weddings, far more than religious or culture traditions (25%). I believe this speaks to the lack of gender roles in these relationships and the creative ways these couples express their authentic selves,” says Bernadette Smith, CEO of Equality Institute.

Adds David Paisley, Senior Research Director at Community Marketing and Insights, “The data also shows us that 20% of LGBTQ couples faced discrimination when wedding planning – and many more were afraid of this happening. To minimize that fear, 83% of these couples want to see photos of same-sex couples on wedding professionals’ websites.”

Other key findings include:

Fear about laws

·       Over 90% of LGBTQ couples expressed at least some concern about religious freedom laws and concern that there could be a successful legal challenges reversing the right of same-sex couples to marry in the United States.  70% said they were very concerned.

·       Just over half (53%) of LGBTQ couples are confident that marriage equality will remain in all 50 states five years from now.

·       The other half mostly feel that we will return to that place where same-sex couples can be married in some states and not others.


LGBTQ couples are still facing discrimination in wedding planning

·       Of the 20% of participants who reported some type of discrimination or negative LGBTQ-specific experience during their wedding planning process, female-same sex couples, non-binary couples, Millennials and those more recently married were most likely to make reports in the research. Reports were high in both liberal and conservative states.

·       There is strong fear (61%) among transgender and non-binary identified couples regarding rejections from wedding vendors.

·       Fear of discrimination also exists among a high percentage of same-sex couples (44%).


Wedding vendor selection

·       The most important qualities that LGBTQ couples are looking for in a wedding vendor are inclusiveness (89%), responsiveness (87%), experience (87%), fair price (82%), and some experience supporting LGBTQ weddings (73%).

·       It is important for same-sex couples to see at least some LGBTQ couples on a wedding vendor’s website (83%). LGBTQ couples also like to see open acknowledgement that the company serves same-sex couples (79%).

Getting married closer to home

·       18% of same-sex couples report getting married in other states or countries, making destination weddings important within the wedding industry.

·       2% of those report international destination weddings

Smaller weddings means more flexibility

Most LGBTQ couples that had a ceremony with invited guests planned celebrations in the 50 to 150 guest range. Very few had celebrations over 150. This means that LGBTQ couples have a lot more options for where they can hold their ceremonies, and opens doors for many different types of venues to promote weddings to LGBTQ couples.


Over 90% of LGBTQ couples continue the tradition of wedding rings. The survey found some weakness on the concept of engagement rings for male same-sex couples.

LGBTQ couples establishing their own traditions

With the exception of creating their own vows and photos, LGBTQ couples are much less likely to use “traditional” elements of a wedding ceremony. Male same-sex couples are far more likely to reject typical wedding traditions.

Lack of connection with religious institutions

On multiple questions throughout the survey, we see LGBTQ couples disconnected with religious institutions in the marriage process. Religious institutions need to do a better job outreaching to LGBTQ couples to let them know that they are welcome in their religious spaces and communities.

For more information, view the report here.

About Community Marketing & Insights

The Community Marketing & Insights team has been conducting LGBT consumer research for 25 years. Our practice includes online surveys, IDIs, MROCs, focus groups (on-site and virtual), and advisory boards in North America, Europe, Latin America, Australia and Asia. Industry leaders around the world depend on CMI’s research and analysis as a basis for feasibility evaluations, positioning, economic impact, ad creative and brand testing, informed forecasting, measurable marketing planning and assessment of return on investment.


About Equality Institute

Since 2009, Equality Institute has provided thoughtful, interactive training and consulting solutions to enhance sales, marketing, communication, and customer service to LGBTQ and other diverse colleagues, guests and customers. Our work also addresses unconscious bias, how to be an advocate at work, and is designed to inspire meaningful dialogue and improve organizational culture.

Defining Transgender (and how it relates to gay weddings)

You may have noticed that the Obama administration recently made a high profile transgender appointment.  It's a giant leap forward for transgender visibility in Washington, DC.  That article I linked to, incidentally, was written by a client of mine, Joanne Herman, author of the book Transgender Explained For Those Who Are Not. I highly recommend her articles and book for no-nonsense, no jargon explanations.

Since many people don't understand what the T is in the LGBT acronym, let me define a few thing

  • Sex:  what is listed on your birth certificate, depends on the sex organs you are born with.  Male and female are sex categories.

  • Gender Identity: the way an individual feels about his or her gender.  This is a broad term and includes male, female, transgender, genderqueer and so on - and may not align with their born sex.

  • Transgender: someone who is born one gender and is living/identifying/expressing themselves as another gender or in a gender ambiguous way (they may or may not have had sex-reassignment surgery).  The T in LGBT = transgender. 

  • Sexual Orientation:  describes who you are attracted to; may be towards males, females or both genders.  

  • MTF:  a transgender person who was born male but lives as a female

  • FTM:  a transgender person who was born female but lives as a male

In the example of my client, her sex at birth was male. Her identity is female. Her sexual orientation is a lesbian.  She is an MTF.

How does this come into play with weddings?  A few things to note:

  • If you are a wedding planner, when screening vendors and scheduling appointments for this client, tell vendors in advance that your client is transgender; even if they are comfortable with the L, G and B couples, they may not be with the T.

  • It's impolite to ask about the transgender client's former name or life prior to their transition.

  • Wedding attire shopping may be complicated and there may be extra sensitivity in the dressing room.  For example, when wedding dress shopping, my client was concerned that her shoulders were too broad for a strapless dress.

  • Some transgender people do not "pass" easily into their new gender but you must respect the new gender regardless of their stage of transition, appearance or voice.

  • There may be extra sensitivity about family involvement or lack thereof.  

I'll have more to add in an upcoming post. 

Do you know anyone who is transgender?  Have you ever worked with a transgender individual who is getting married?

Redefining Bridegroom

According to Merriam Webster, a bridegroom is a man who is just married or about to be married.

In my gay wedding world, I don't just work with brides and grooms.  A fair number of people fall somewhere else on the male-female gender spectrum and don't feel 100% either.

There have been several instances in the past year in which I've said something along the lines of, "You're the brides!" And been told by some women (in a very polite way), "I don't feel like a bride."  I've heard this from women who are wearing a tux or suit on their wedding day, not a wedding dress or gown, are still female-identified and who do not identify as transgender.

So what are these women called?  In my experience, they are comfortable with the term "bridegroom."  

Even though I'm a gay wedding planner, I learned from my own experience that I shouldn't assume that all engaged lesbians want to be called brides.  Be careful not to make the same assumption yourself and handle this situation by saying something like, "Do you feel comfortable with the term brides?  I know some lesbian women prefer to be called bridegrooms."

Gay weddings are redefining the term bridegroom.  Take note for your current and future clients.

Are you working with any engaged lesbian women who don't feel like a bride?  What do they like to be called?

Rainbows and Pink Triangles

I recently spoke to wedding professionals in DC and one of the points I made is that gay couples don't like to be tokenized.  Despite your best intentions, it's annoying for us to hear things like, "I went to college with a lot of gay people."  And if you are a wedding vendor, there is no need to put rainbows on your website unless you do so in a clever way like in the photo to the left.  While the rainbow is universally and globally known, there are other ways to show your inclusivity.

Truthfully, modern gays and lesbians aren't that into rainbows.  They have a lovely meaning and the meaning of the pink triangle is very powerful - but we find both symbols to be cheesy and dated.  Rainbows and pink triangles aren't going to offend gays and lesbians, nor are they politically incorrect.  But they are very "old school."  So while you can put rainbows in your marketing materials, you might find that the modern engaged gay or lesbian couple isn't into it.  

If you choose to use a symbol, a more modern alternative is the HRC symbol, the yellow equals on the blue background.  You may see this on bumper stickers - it's very common and we all know what it means.

Do you use rainbows, pink triangles or other symbols to signify your support of LGBT individuals?