Whether your wedding is fast approaching or you’re dreaming of the moment you get to say “I do,” as LGBTQ+ folks, this day is not just about the union of hearts — it’s a celebration of standing proud after years and years of fighting for a place in this world.
It’s no surprise that the wedding industry is long overdue for a makeover to help LGBTQ+ couples and guests feel safe in their spaces and enjoy what truly matters: love. But how can we make these changes in an industry with deep-rooted traditions? Two words: Queer it.
Yes, as a verb.
Back in early May, I shot an elopement in Northern Minnesota. To this day, this experience holds a special place in my heart — it was full of adventure (I love adventure), and I was blessed with being in the presence of a beautiful couple.
During this trip, one of them said, “I just feel like every wedding should be a little bit queer.”
I loved this thought, especially as an LGBTQ+ wedding photographer. I liked it so much that I took it with me, made a podcast, and came up with some answers to the question: Why should every wedding be a little bit queer? So, with open arms, let’s talk a little more about queering the wedding industry, one step at a time.
- Strange; Odd.
This definition is the first to pop up when you search for the meaning of ‘queer.’ Does this, by default, mean that queer weddings are also strange and odd? The answer should be a resounding ‘no.’ But the truth is a little more complicated (sadly). Let me explain why.
Queer relationships are not a new thing. They’ve stood the test of time across cultures, laws, discrimination, and public scrutiny. If queer love has always been here, it doesn’t seem fair that Minnesota just legalized same-sex marriage in 2013, right? Worse, the entire country only got on board two years later.
Something about this timing tells me that someone (or a large group of someones) found queerness quite an odd thing, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know where I’m going with this.
As members of the LGBTQ+ community, we’ve always been seen as a little strange to the larger, heteronormative society. People see us differently just because of who we are and who we love.
So, that’s why the textbook definition of ‘queer’ holds some truth when it comes to LGBTQ+ weddings. I wish it didn’t. But it does. Thankfully, there’s hope.
After a quick trip through the dictionary and history book, there’s a good chance you’re asking why. The reasons behind making every wedding a little queer might be obvious, but if not, there are two points that matter the most: We need to do it for you (the couple) and others (your guests).
First, and perhaps the most important, is you. It’s your special day, and you and your partner deserve to feel seen and celebrated. Even in the most inviting and accepting situations, there’s a chance someone might view you differently. And this, understandably, can cause you to change how you do things. Every wedding needs to be a little queer so that you can feel safe marrying the person you love.
Let’s be honest. There’s a good chance someone you invited identifies as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Weddings should embrace everyone, whether you’re the one getting married or part of the guest list. Your invitation should allow others to be themselves, bring who they love, and shine a light of hope on the idea that these spaces can and do exist.
We’re talking about taking on the entire wedding industry — a place that has been rigid in its practices and turned its back on LGBTQ+ folks for far too long. Now’s our time to reclaim our power in the name of love! Here are a few (of many) things we can do to make every wedding a little bit queer.
As I mentioned above, being perceived differently may cause us to do things differently. Whether we break the norm because we’re loud and proud of our identities or because it’s our only way to survive and adapt, all experiences are valid.
The key is to think critically and creatively about what wedding traditions you want to hold and what you’d like to change in a way that makes sense for you, your partner, and your life. If your energy and space allow, take the label of “being different” as an opportunity to do unique and incredible things and run with them! For example:
Share the love by validating the identities of others at your wedding. Use gender-neutral language on your invitations, encourage your guests to bring their partners, and show them the same enthusiasm you’d want for yourself, even if you’re not an LGBTQ+ couple.
The burden of flipping the entire wedding industry should not be for couples to carry alone. Wedding vendors like florists, photographers, caterers, and hair and makeup artists are also part of this special day. Even more, venue owners play a massive role in creating the space and can make all the difference in promoting the energy needed for happiness, comfort, and acceptance.
There are roughly 2.5 million weddings each year in the United States. That’s 2.5 million opportunities to show people what it’s like to exist in a safe space. As an LGBTQ+-friendly wedding photographer, I’ve seen that the more inclusive an environment is, the more smiles there are. And I love seeing smiles. Are we surprised?
If you’re a venue owner or vendor wanting to create these safe spaces, here are some questions to ask yourself:
While this is just a short list, it’s an example of what to consider if you want to be part of the positive change that the wedding industry needs. The more inclusive we make our services, the more love we can celebrate — and isn’t that what this is all about in the first place?
For all you lovely couples and queers out there, take this as a sign that it’s okay to do things uniquely on your wedding day:
For all vendors and venue owners: Let this be a time for you to dream about unique ideas to bring to the table to create allyship with the LGBTQ+ couples you’re serving.
As an LGBTQ+ wedding photographer from Minnesota, I’ve traveled far and wide to celebrate the love of many couples. I want to be a maker of change in the industry, starting with what I do best: connecting with you. If you and your partner are looking for a wedding photographer, feel free to reach out to me! I can’t wait to hear your story.
With that, there’s just one thing left to say: Let’s work together to make every wedding a little bit queer!
By the way, if listening is more of your style, check out “Why Every Wedding Should be a Little Queer,” the first episode of my podcast, Queerly Beloved. Catch you there!
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