Here at Weddingly, we believe that love transcends gender, colour, size, race, bathroom habits and even popcorn preference. (The secret right answer to that last one, is salted popcorn with M&Ms- don’t knock it till you try it!) We celebrate our differences and pioneer true love. We also believe that inclusivity is important to you as a business. Below we outline a little about the history and why we believe that (if you haven’t already done so) you should consider making your wedding business clearly inclusive. You may think you’ve done this already, but on closer inspection, have you really?
In 2004 The Civil Partnership Act was passed which granted the opportunity for couples of the same sex to join together in a ceremony allowing them to receive the same legal rights as heterosexual couples in traditional legal marriages. Heterosexual couples could also opt-in for a civil partnership too. Civil Partnerships were not allowed to take place in a religious context and were not the same as marriage but afforded the same rights legally.
In 2013 the government passed the Marriage Act which allowed same sex couples to formally marry. This involved changing the definition of “marriage” which was very controversial at the time within much of the religious community, both Christian and otherwise. This Act allowed religious organisations to opt-in to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies however, it was still not a legal requirement to do so. This also allowed couples who had civil partnerships to convert into a marriage and couples where one, or both, were transgender could change their gender without having to end their marriage to do so. The first ceremonies took place in March 2014.
Why is inclusivity important to you as a business?
Here are some bullet points as to why:
- The number of gay weddings in the UK more than doubled in 2016 from circa 26,000 in 2015 to more than 60,000 weddings in 2016 according to the Office for National Statistics. This is a huge market!
- Over 77% of people under 30 years old supports gay marriage (survey by bluemagnetinteractive) – this means that 77% of engaged couples (the average age of engaged couples is 26) believes in inclusivity – You should too!
- Gay weddings are increasing in prevalence within the industry, in fact same-sex married couples are being credited with slowing the decline of marriage in the UK! (The Marriage Foundation)
- Often (but not always) same sex couples will not have children (perhaps not prior to marriage anyway) so therefore have more disposable income than some hetero couples. This means their budgets can be bigger and therefore present as a more lucrative business opportunity.
- Finally, if the reasons above aren’t enough, it is illegal to discriminate against someone for reasons of sexual orientation.
How can you be seen to be more inclusive?
Both straight and gay couples want to see you be more inclusive, here are some quick and easy ways you can be seen to do so:
- Imagery: Include same sex couples in your imagery on your site and across your platforms – don’t always use straight couples in your pictures and don’t always show women (and women in dresses). Many same-sex couples will be switched off if you aren’t showing their demographic.
- Make your language inclusive: For example, use “couple” rather than “bride and groom”, use “honeymoon suite” rather than “bridal suite”. Non-gender-specific language will not only help you with the same-sex couples but also those couples who identify with non-conformist gender identities such as non-binary. It won’t switch off the straight couples, which, to be fair, are a much larger demographic so understandable if you are solely targeting them currently but it won’t offend other couples either. Best of both worlds!
- Don’t make assumptions: When you speak with a couple use inclusive language such as “what is your partner’s name” rather than gender specific pronouns or “bride or groom”. This way you don’t make anyone uncomfortable or rely on someone correcting you. It’s never more awkward than spending a whole conversation thinking one thing only, to be corrected when the client gets a word in edgeways to tell you that you have your assumptions all wrong!
- In person, don’t assume you know who the bride/groom is and don’t assume they have someone of the opposite sex as their partner: At a wedding fair, “ask is your partner with you?” – usually they will introduce you to them if they are there, or at least point them out, otherwise they will likely tell you who their partner is or give a name or pronoun which you can then use in your conversations.
- If in doubt, ask: If you are really struggling ie. the partner’s name is non-gender specific like Ashley or Bobby – try asking. Better to ask than to get it wrong. Be confident when asking, you look less comfortable if you ask nervously.
- Marketing in inclusive ways: Weddingly is an inclusive site as we outwardly support gay marriage and there are many others as well. There are also sites which specifically target the same-sex marriage market as well, usually at a cost, which would allow you to be seen within this market strongly.
Build these good habits now and think about ways you can make your business more inclusivity-friendly.
Do you have any ideas? Or, perhaps, you are unsure how your business can be shown to be more inclusive – comment below or, for more detailed information email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Featured image, courtesy of Urban Flower Farmer and Mavric Photography.