As we enter Pride Month and celebrate the right for same-sex couples to legally wed, it’s important to keep in mind that many brides and grooms, particularly in more conservative areas, may stumble across wedding vendors that do not support their decision, despite federal protection.
You may remember the infamous case of a Colorado bakery that refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. A trial went straight to the Supreme Court which ultimately ruled in favor of the business, citing the owner’s right to free exercise of religion and speech.
Wedding planning is already a stressful process and it’s important to align with vendors that will not only provide exceptional customer service and products, but also support you along the way. “If you don’t enjoy your vendors as humans, it’s going to be a long process working together,” says Kalin Sheick, owner of Petoskey, Michigan-based Sweetwater Floral that specializes in wedding flowers. “You don’t need to be best friends but seeing eye to eye on values is a must. The planning process should be one you enjoy.”
Taking Sheick’s expertise on the subject into consideration (her website even says “When planning my own wedding, all I was looking for were vendors who got me and made it easy, so I started a company that would do just that”), we asked her to come up with a list of quick tips for any couple to keep in mind when selecting vendors that they can and should feel good about.
It’s important to also note that this advice isn’t just applicable to same-sex couples, but also those who want religious and cultural traditions to be at the forefront of their ceremony. Check out Sheick’s list below.
Do Your Research
This may seem self-explanatory, but many couples don’t take the time to really research a company, its reviews, and mission statement prior to signing a contract. “The easiest way to first ‘meet’ a vendor is through their social media presence,” says Sheick. “Are they sharing work from events with same-sex couples? How about a variety of religious backgrounds? Do they seem like a person you would enjoy working with?”
It is fair to look for these clues and seek vendors who go out of their way to celebrate a diverse range of weddings and couples. A simple Instagram post can quickly reveal that they are making a commitment to show that they do not discriminate.
“Oftentimes, a vendor’s website will also be pretty straightforward on important topics,” adds Mallory Powell, a wedding planner and colleague of Sheick who specializes in traditional Indian ceremonies. ”Also, look for stickers on email signatures and marketing materials that may indicate the type of unique weddings they’re experienced in.”
Ask Candid Questions
“Don’t worry about being offensive!” Sheick advises. “I love when couples ask me clear questions—it shows they are doing their due diligence in the decision process.”
While most professional vendors should lay out their work’s mission on their websites, the gallery, bio, and “about me” sections can only contain so much information. Do not be afraid to sit down face to face with a prospective vendor and ask if they have experience working with couples that are similar to you and your partner. You should also feel comfortable asking for specific examples, testimonials, and visual guides to help make your decision easier.
Rely on Referrals
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If you attended the wedding of a friend or family member and really enjoyed an aspect like the flowers, cake, or band, don’t be afraid to ask for a contact and referral. “Chances are likely that someone in your circle or close to it has planned a wedding in the last year or so,” reminds Sheick. “Hear what they liked and didn’t like about their vendor experiences and go from there.”
At the end of the big day, nothing is more reassuring than the advice of someone who worked with a local business firsthand.
Lean on Your Venue for Support
“Your venue is an incredible resource for amazing referrals,” Sheick adds. “If you’re booking a venue first, ask to see their preferred vendor list.”
It is likely that these venues have established extremely close relationships with their recommended vendors—and for good reason. Be completely upfront with your venue on particular needs and ask for help when you need it. They’ll know these vendors better than anyone and, like you, will want the event to go off without a hitch (except the part where you get hitched and live happily ever after).