Evolving gay marriage laws make same-sex weddings
a promising new market
Wedding planner businesses thrive on diversity, opportunity, and innovation. Nowhere is the opportunity to plan a wedding in a whole new way more promising than in the emerging gay marriage market created by changing marriage law and public opinion. While the total number of Americans getting married each year continues to decline, same-sex weddings are on the rise. Currently, same-sex couples can get a marriage license under liberalized marriage law in Canada, Mexico, and major European countries. Same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York, making destination weddings more popular that ever in each of these states. In 2011, civil unions became legal in Illinois, creating a wave of same-sex destination wedding-like events in Chicago and other cities. Courts continue to overturn state laws limiting marriage, Americans under 30 overwhelmingly support same-sex marriage, and 68 percent of all Americans now acknowledge same-sex couples with children as families. Professional wedding planners and vendors who are prepared to serve same-sex clients are already ahead of the curve. But same-sex weddings present unprecedented challenges, not only for couples who must navigate patchwork marriage law before getting their marriage license, but also for wedding consultants who make the commitment to equality, diversity, and innovation. Learning how to be a wedding consultant serving the same-sex market means keeping up with marriage law changes, understanding wedding vow options, and knowing how to verify gay-friendly wedding venues and vendors. Choosing wedding planning as a career today means making a decision about diversity. A wedding planning course should provide the facts needed to make the decision wisely, and the tools required if the answer is yes.
The Gay Marriage and Green Wedding Movements Have a Lot in Common
Although there’s no ‘green marriage license’ for eco-friendly couples, go-green and same-sex wedding planning clients have much in common. Like green-wedding clients, couples planning same-sex wedding events are connected to their cause, committed to educating others, and careful to choose people, places, and products they trust before they spend their money. Conscientious go-green couples interview vendors to weed out 'greenwashers,' merchants who advertise green practices in their business but don't follow them in their behavior. Same-sex couples also want to know more before they buy, but are more likely to rely on the experience of their friends, the advice of their planner, and their personal instincts about who's gay, who's gay-friendly, and who isn't. Many have the economic advantage of no children and extra income, and most want to spend where they feel truly welcome. While wedding planners really have to go green in their personal behavior to win over green-wedding customers, openness may be more important than orientation when a wedding professional is courting same-sex marriage clients. What do wedding planners do when starting a wedding planning business where go-green and gay marriage clients represent an opportunity to innovate? Listen, learn, and adapt! These wedding trends are here to stay.
Course Video Tutorial: 'Two Gay Experts Teach Gay Marriage and Same-Sex Weddings' (35:05)
Cheryl Dumesnil is an award-winning Bay Area author, teacher, and poet. She counsels gay partners, officiates at same-sex weddings, and interviewed newly married couples for her book, 'Hitched! Wedding Stories from San Francisco City Hall,' with an introduction by Rosie O'Donnell. The Rev. Allen Newman, PhD, is a New York-based economist and priest who is intimately familiar with marriage license and marriage law requirements throughout America and has studied same-sex marriage doctrines and practices throughout the world. Cheryl, a gay spouse and mother, and Allen, an openly gay minister, were married to their same-sex partners in 2008. In this course video tutorial, Cheryl and Allen provide Members with details on sensitive subjects that are increasingly important to being a wedding planner in America. These include structuring same-sex wedding ceremonies, counseling same-sex marriage clients, verifying gay-friendly venues and vendors, and overcoming the wedding stress when friends or family members follow a religion that still condemns gay marriage.
Learn 12 essential elements of planning same-sex weddings:
- The history of civil unions and same-sex marriage
- Countries and states where one or both are legal
- Religious denominations that perform gay marriage ceremonies
- Where to turn to get married when your faith community is hostile
- Questions the wedding officiant or wedding planner should ask every couple
- How to handle uncertainty, ambivalence, and hesitation in family and friends
- How to change minds and hearts by crafting an inclusive ceremony
- Wedding vow texts that speak from the heart and connect with the community
- How to incorporate spiritual and religious elements within a secular celebration
- How to plan for children, illness, and death in a same-sex prenuptial document
- How to pre-screen wedding vendors and wedding venues for same-sex marriage clients
- Suggested readings for wedding planners who are open to same-sex wedding business