7 Days of Pride: Language Matters



Jodi with clients N & SJ, June 1, 2019,

photo credit: Ruthless Images

As members of the LGBTQ2+ community, we look for inclusivity in the vendors we refer our clients to. We take seriously the commitment to fostering spaces where all people feel welcomed and a sense of belonging. This commitment extends beyond acceptance of the LGBTQ2+ clients we serve, but extends toward all clients we serve, their wedding parties, guests and fellow vendors. We also recognize that our fellow vendors may not know where to begin to ensure their services are more inclusive; therefore, we’re presenting 7 days of Pride - Ways you can become a more inclusive wedding vendor.

Before we get started, let us say, becoming a more inclusive vendor is an ongoing process of challenging the wedding industry itself, and questioning how each one of us has been conditioned to see weddings in a particular way that centers a cisgendered man and woman (unsure about terminology, see this awesome resource) presenting in binary ways (gowns and suits), as they “walk” down the proverbial aisle.

1. Language Matters

We’re kicking off our 7 days of Pride - Tips to becoming a more inclusive wedding vendor, with a focus on language. Switching up language is the ‘lowest hanging fruit’ to becoming more inclusive in your approach with clients. It requires the least amount of introspection, and therefore, should only been done if you’re willing and able to do the harder work (please read: It's Time for a Wedding Language Re-Dux: Say This Not That) required to truly become a more inclusive wedding provider. This isn’t about optics.

Take a glance over your promotional materials (e.g. website, social feeds, pamphlets). Now, what about your intake forms and questionnaires? Who is represented? Language and image choices signal right off the hop who you see as your clients and who you do not; who you cater to and who should just keep moving along. For instance, if you use terminology husband/wife as your default, you’re going to be missing out on a whole host of amazing folx for whom you’ll be placing into the position of asking if you will/can marry them, or they’ll need to correct you (uhm, no, we aren’t sisters), or they will simply turn to another vendor where they ‘see’ themselves.

TIP: We use spouse-to-be A, and spouse-to-be B on all our forms, and we ask clients how they'd like us to refer to themselves in their documents (e.g. partners, wives, husbands, spouses), and legal name (because we are officiants) but also preferred name for interactions. We also ask our clients for their gender pronouns, when it feels appropriate to do so (e.g. intake forms or in person consultations), and listen closely during meetings for language that suits clients' needs/preferences. We are respectful and treat our clients' information as confidential.

And language just isn’t important for the couples you serve, but for everyone in attendance. Long gone are the days of ‘bridesmaids’/‘groomsmen’, ‘ring bearers’ and ‘flower girls’. People are making choices about who (figuratively and literally speaking) stands with them, and increasingly are departing from long held, gendered-traditions. Sometimes, we have 'best people', the flower brigade and 'ring security'. And it's all fabulous fun. Clients take comfort in knowing that we enthusiastically embrace all the possibilities for their special day, and that we’ll proudly proclaim “I will!” to their request to be their vendor.

Next up: When grief shows up to the party

For further reading and language suggestions:

https://cassandrazetta.com/photographers-inclusive-copy-content-lgbtq-weddings/ https://equallywed.com/how-to-create-inclusive-wedding-contracts/