It’s most certainly engagement season (that time between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day when the majority of couples get engaged) and often the first to-do on their list is to find a venue. But get this: 95% of LGBTQ couples agree that wedding pros need a better way of showing and communicating that they are LGBTQ-friendly (that stat, according to our LGBT Weddings Study from 2017). Want to make sure you’re not missing out on LGBTQ couples finding you this season? We reached out to New Orleans-based The Chicory Venue Sales Manager, Brent Bogan (Also one of our 2020 WeddingPro Educators) for his top tips. Here, four must-dos for every venue looking to better connect and attract LGBTQ couples in 2020.
1. Familiarize Yourself With the LGBTQ Community
“Familiarize yourself with the LGBTQ community and new pronouns like they/them, non-binary, gender fluidity, cisgender, and so on,” Brent suggests. “These terms apply to so many of the community.” And even if your couples are straight, remember that millennials and Gen Z have been raised in a very different, more inclusive world, he presses. “The couple may be straight but they have friends and family members that may fall into one of these categories,” he says. “They want to know that their guests will feel included as well.”
2. Do an Audit on Your Social Channels and Website
When a couple lands on your Instagram feed or peruses your website, how diverse are your featured couples? The more types of couples represented, the more obvious it is that everyone is welcome at your venue. “Make sure you have a variety of clients–black, gay, asian, straight, physically challenged, or even a bride in a black dress,” Brent says. “Social media pages should look like an ad for United Colors of Benetton! Every picture can’t be of the same blonde haired, blue eyed girl. Celebrate the diversity your venue has seen!”
3. Change Your Pronouns
This goes for your marketing materials and the way in which you speak to your couples in person. “Instead of having the words, “Bride and Groom,” change the wording to “The Couple,” says Brent. “And change phrases like “bridal suite” or “bridal party” to “wedding suite” and “wedding party.”
4. Get to Know Your Clients (Really Well!)
This one isn’t about LGBTQ couples per se but it’s an important way of ensuring your venue is creating a more inclusive experience. “Find familiar ground with your clients. Always ask your clients about themselves outside of their wedding,” Brent suggests. “Where do they vacation? What types of music do they listen to? What are their favorite restaurants? I always make a personal connection with all our couples to make them feel welcomed and cared for. I share some of my personal life with them. They feel included. Your clients want to know you this way. You will be spending a lot of time (whether be in person, phone calls, emails) with them; they want to feel like you care. Include them!”
Photo: Heather Rice Photography
About the author: Anja Winikka is the former editor of TheKnot.com and The Knot Magazines turned educator and contributing editor @WeddingPro. She’s on a mission to help creatives, community leaders, and wedding businesses own their stories and tell the world about it (follow along via Instagram @anjawinikka).