Heteronormativity: why you should avoid it

It is very usual to see wedding magazines and other publications on this area referring specifically to brides. But have you ever thought that with this language might be a little excluding? This is what we call heteronormativity – when heterosexuality is the assumed sexual orientation. According to Gallup, as of June 2016, there have been 491,000 same-sex couples who legally married in the U.S., and according to the Williams Institute, $1.3+ billion has been spent by same-sex couples on their weddings from June 2015-June 2016. This represents a great public to work with and it means that these couples can no longer be ignored. So, how is it possible to approach this public?

The wedding planner Guadalupe Alvarez treats it like any other wedding. “On my Instagram and on my Facebook page there are many pictures of same-sex marriage, I guess for me it has always been easy because I have friends who are gay and I did not think much about doing their wedding. Then, we have been on blogs and in magazines about this, at the beginning I did advertise in a wedding blog for this public, but I never got a single wedding. However, with this strategy, I guess people knew I was friendly. Also, San Miguel, the city where I live, is very alternative and that made it easy”, explains Guadalupe Alvarez.

Wedding planner: Valentina Lombardi | Photo: Cristiano Ostinelli Studio

The wedding planner Suita Carrano followed a different path to walk into this market. “I work with same-sex couples since many years. What I did from the very beginning is to market my company, not as ‘LGBT friendly’ but just proposing myself as a ‘same-sex wedding consultant’. Then I designed a website especially for this market and always avoid to post heterosexual wedding photos on it”, says Suita Carrano.

Valentina Lombardi also invested on a thematic website, but she believes that there is still a long way to go regarding this kind of weddings in Italy. “Legal same-sex weddings in Italy have been recently approved by our government so this is a brand new area for wedding business. In Italy, they are called ‘unioni civili’ (civil unions) and not marriage. There is still a lot to do as you can see. However, we decided to help these couples in their wedding plans even before that the wedding was approved. On our website, there is a special section on this and we openly say that we ‘are happy and proud to serve all couples’. Also, we have a thematic site www.italiangayweddings.com so we are really open to all possibilities”, she tells.

Dos and don’ts for same-sex weddings

The wedding planners give some hints regarding how to treat same-sex weddings:

same-sex wedding - how to avoid heteronormativityWedding planner: Guadalupe Alvarez | Photo: Charley Smith Photography

– Refer to the clients saying “couples” rather than bride and groom. “Here, in Italy, we also use ‘unione civile’ instead of marriage”, says Valentina Lombardi.

– Don’t push the clients to expose themselves. “As far as Italian society is concerned, in general, we don’t try to force the couple in exposing them too much. Being a brand new option for them, if they want to be under the spotlight, this is fine for us, but if not we respect this. For example, we do not force them to be on our websites or social media with their photos”, reminds Valentina Lombardi.

– Forget about the prejudiced talk about who is the bride and who is the groom. “Some of my suppliers used to ask me ‘who’s the bride and who’s the groom’ and obviously I had to clarify that if BRIDE is a feminine term when we have two girls getting married they are two brides and same with grooms. What I know for sure, LGBT clients, when they are a couple, wants to be treated like any other client, so terms as Gays Only or Lesbians Only should be avoided”, advises Suita Carrano.

– If you are not ready to get same-sex weddings, then don’t do it. “I can just suggest to treat them as any other couple. Suppliers involved should be respectful as well. Either planners or suppliers who don’t feel confident with same-sex couples should probably not offer their services to them”, recommends Suita Carrano.

same-sex wedding - how to avoid heteronormativityWedding planner: Valentina Lombardi | Photo: Cristiano Ostinelli Studio

– Treat it like any other wedding – according to a study from The Knot, Of the LGBTQ couples surveyed, 96% don’t consider their marriage a “same-sex marriage”—they consider it a marriage. “To be honest we do not change much, we see a LGBT wedding the same as any wedding, we listen to what they want, we take care of the details and we make them happy. I do not know if anybody else has this same approach but for us, a wedding is a wedding it does not depend on who you love”, says Guadalupe Alvarez.

– Let the couple be comfortable. “Photography plays an important role here. Showing romantic and natural photos of the couple would be surely a good help to make LGBT public comfortable with their choice. Again also let them feel free of what to wear or what to do on the day to express their personalities is a good way to make them feel at their ease”, suggests Valentina Lombardi.

What are your tips to do same-sex weddings? Tell us in the comments!

First photo credits:

Wedding planner: Guadalupe Alvarez | Photo: Charley Smith Photography

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