As specialists in same sex wedding photography and having photographed over 40 same sex couples, we are often asked how to go into a consultation with two people of the same gender or an LGBT couple and make them feel supported and accepted. The answer is simple: treat them just as you would any other couple.
Ok, that may seem too simple when when it comes to addressing couples or individuals who may not identify with traditional gender roles. But, once you get the hang of it, it really isn’t as daunting as it seems. So, let’s break it down…
ADDRESSING YOUR COUPLE
The best rule of thumb is to always be as transparent and as open as possible. There is nothing wrong with asking a person or a couple if they would prefer to be addressed a certain way. Until you have exact clarification I always resort to addressing a couple with things like “Hi you two” or “Hi there”. I have found that some girls who don’t really identify as female prefer not to be addressed using female pronouns such as she and her and may not want to be called a lady or a girl. The same goes for guys. So, to be on the safe side, I always use a non-gender address until I know for sure how a couple prefers to be addressed. Once a relationship has been established I end up using terms such as “Hi guys”, which I tend to feel is non-gender specific for a couple with whom I have an open line of communication with.
Never ask questions that assume one person is doing something that the other is not. This implies that we are making conclusions based on how they look, which may be inaccurate.
- Which one of you is wearing a dress? – What if neither of them is wearing a dress or BOTH of them are wearing dresses. The same rule applies to the guys and even straight couples. Never assume that you know what either person is planning to wear. Instead, just ask them both what they are wearing and let them tell you.
- Which one of you is the groom? – Technically, if they are both women, neither is a groom unless they identify as a male. In that case they may want to be called the groom. Regardless of what “role” each person identifies with, don’t assume that you know how they may be approaching their wedding day or any of the traditions that go with it. A better question would be, “How are you BOTH planning to walk down the aisle?” The answer to this question will give you plenty of insight as to what they may have in mind.
I always try to ask very open questions that pose no assumptions. Let your couple tell you about what they have planned and what their expectations are. If you spend more time asking questions and listening to the answers your couple provides, you will get plenty of information about their relationship and the event they are planning.
HOW DO I GET LEADS IN THE FIRST PLACE?
You may be saying to yourself, “This is all great in theory, Robin, but I have to get leads so that I can even attempt to ask them questions! So, how do I do that?”
The first step is making sure that your site has very INCLUSIVE wording throughout. Terms like “bride” or “bridesmaids” or “bridal party” are all VERY gender specific. Unless you are only trying to reach the female population, we suggest changing these terms to a more inclusive option. If you are talking about the wedding party, for example, why not just call them a wedding party?? Regardless of whether or not you are working with a same sex couple, why even call it a bridal party at all? What if there is a groom involved? I have never heard it referred to as a groomsparty. So, in this case, no matter who our couple is, we refer to their bridesmaids/groomsmen/attendants as The Wedding Party.
Let’s talk about your contact form. Something as simple as asking for the couples information can be an instant red flag as to whether or not you are “gay friendly”. What if you have two men inquiring about your services and your contact form asks for the “bride’s name” and “groom’s name”?? A quick and easy fix would be to replace that wording with “Your Name” and “Your Fiance’s Name”. Easy!
Making sure the wording on your site implies that you are inclusive of all couples is one of the easiest ways to show couples that you are a gay friendly wedding photographer! Stay away from things such as “bride resources”. No matter if we are working with a gay couple or a straight couple, we have found that our grooms do like to be involved somewhere along the way. For this reason we may offer “resources for couples”. Unless you are specifically targeting ONLY a bride for a specific bridal reason, then let’s not single them out. There are two people involved in the process so let’s make it count!
READY TO BOOK! NOW WHAT?
So, you have gotten the inquiry and met with them and everything is flowing smoothly. They are ready to book so what do you do now? Well, if you’ve arrived at the point of sending over a contract then congratulations! Just like the suggestions I had with your contact form you are going to want your contract to be very inclusive in the terminology as well. Be sure that you replace all instances of gender specific wording from you contract such as “bridal party” and include their names in there as something like “main contact” or “spouse 1 & 2” etc.
Once you have them locked in, make sure that, if you’re sending a thank you gift or note that it’s also not too gender specific. In fact, I would even go as far as to send them a brief questionnaire that might inform you of their likes/dislikes so that you can send an appropriate gift no matter what their gender is!
LGBT couples are a TON of fun. We will twist the norm, get you outside of your box, create new traditions, and take you on one of a kind adventures that will have you wishing you could photograph more same sex weddings. So, if ever in doubt just remember to be as open, honest, and transparent as you can. All people appreciate genuine effort in attempting to make them as comfortable as possible. Learning more about each of your couples will continue to broaden your horizons as you grow in becoming a “gay friendly” wedding photographer or vendor! Thanks for joining us on this journey to make marriage equal for all people in love!