“I grew up really daydreaming about the cookie-cutter life of getting married, having kids, and having a house, all before I was 30. In my head, I always assumed that would be with a man,” says 32-year-old cookbook author and Internet personality Hannah Hart. Of course, those assumptions were way off. In November 2012, the beloved YouTuber behind My Drunk Kitchen posted a coming out video, publicly identifying as a lesbian and amassing, to date, over 1.3 million views. Her success has spiraled from her comedic cooking series to a New York Times bestselling cookbook, a bestselling memoir, another forthcoming book, and millions upon millions of social followers and fans.
For queer folks who love to cook, Hart has emerged as a hero, queering the domestic space traditionally occupied by straight women. And for aspiring entertainers, Hart’s openness about her identity has also helped ignite a new era of authenticity. While she works hard to separate her private life from her well-streamed public presence, a July 2018 engagement to Ella Mielniczenko presented new details for fans to be curious about, from where the couple will host her spring 2020 wedding (she’s not spilling… yet) to the process of planning a wedding as a queer person, which Hart tweeted in March, “Brings up lots of old, bad feelz.”
Though she and Mielniczenko are only in the early stages of wedding planning, Hart spoke with Brides for an exclusive interview on what it means to be a queer person planning her wedding today:
On Her Dream Wedding
There was no question whether Hannah Hart and Ella Mielniczenko would celebrate the marriage milestone with a big bash. "I love weddings," says Hart. "I know they’re not for everybody, but I’m the type of person who would cry at a stranger’s wedding. I love celebration. I love being with family and friends. We like to throw parties and this is a great reason to throw a party celebrating a momentous occasion for both of us."
And what does the perfect party consist of for this too-cool couple? “We’re still very much in the beginning of the wedding planning process," admits Hart. "For both of us, it’s important that we have a ceremony that really feels like us and includes our different cultures and upbringings. We do already have a hashtag, #hellagoodwedding."
"We go back and forth about [having] a wedding party," Hart continues. "The one thing we know is that we want everyone’s energy to be in a good place, so I think we’ll have incense burning as everyone walks in to make sure everyone’s getting nice and cleansed, so they’re not bringing in any bad juju. Our wedding planner will help us hammer out the details."
On Working With Queer and Ally Wedding Vendors
Throughout their planning journey, Hart and Mielniczenko have recruited their dream team of wedding professionals—who all just so happen to be part of the queer community. "We’re using Heartthrob Weddings," says Hart. "Emily’s a fellow queer person who has done a ton of same-sex and queer weddings. She’s really protected us in the process—she has an attitude that protects us from all that [hurtful] language. That’s really helped me a lot. That’s why we hired her," she explains.
"When we were originally looking for a wedding planner, we thought we’d look for someone with great reviews. It didn’t even cross our minds that we needed to find someone familiar with queer weddings. We just wanted someone who provides excellent service. So we hired a different wedding planner and started with them, and immediately started bumping into stuff. In one email they referred to us as 'the girls.' And I was like, uuugh! It just made me feel so icky. That’s what my dad called me and my sisters. We’re not the girls, we’re the couple, the wedding people...It just felt really weird. After that, we found our queer wedding planner."
So far, says Hart, all of their other vendors are also queer. "The venue we found is queer owned and operated," says Hart, noting, "We found it because it was beautiful, but it’s a nice coincidence. We’re making all our decisions from that space. But it is really important that we don't work with any vendors that have biases or who aren't excited to work with us."
On the Lack of Inclusivity in the Wedding Industry
Despite having her all-star vendor team in place, Hart can't ignore some heteronormative aspects of the wedding industry. "I think it’s a lack of interest," says Hart of the industry's lack of LGBTQ+ inclusivity. "Same-sex marriage only became nationally recognized very recently [in 2015]. The wedding industry needs to catch up and realize that there’s a whole market out there of people who would love help planning their weddings."
So how can wedding vendors catch up? "I think a lot of it is wording," Hart explains. "Say 'wedding party' instead of 'bridal party,' 'the couple' instead of 'bride and groom.' There's all these terms we didn't really think about."
"It really just shuts me down and takes me out of the moment," Hart says of encountering exclusionary language in the wedding planning process. "It makes me feel like what we’re doing is making something up instead of engaging in a tradition that we choose to. It takes me out of the joy of planning this amazing promise to each other that we’re about to make."
"I’d like some heritage and some roots, but unfortunately same-sex marriages have been ignored for pretty much the whole modern era. As we go forward and plan this wedding, which not all people will recognize as legitimate, it brings up kind of painful feelings, like I don't deserve this or like I’m doing something wrong. And all I’m doing is getting married to the person I love, and that will never hurt anyone."