LGBTQ Wedding Windfall? Don’t Believe The Hype

LGBTQ Wedding Windfall

NEWS, ANALYSIS, and OPINION

LGBTQ Wedding Windfall has been a story looking for a reality in the last couple of years. Print, electronic, and social media have a predisposition to shout about the present and coming infusion of business, resulting from the passage marriage equality legislation, state by state, and now, the SCOTUS decision to unify marriage law, nationwide.

Do The Math

The LGBTQ population is less than 10% of the entire United States population. Published posts and articles often site Average Wedding Costs, attempting to project the immediate and future revenue from this new niche market. It’s a classic case of editors with a preconceived conclusion, looking for facts to support such a notion.

Professional wedding businesses understand about 1% of the general population is involved in a wedding, at any time. Simplistic logic would suggest a logjam of LGBTQ couples rushing down the aisle now, as legalization knows no borders.

For the LGBTQ community, the 1% weddings, computes down to one-tenth of one percent of the entire population. Not exactly overwhelming.

It Ain’t Necessarily So

As law changes occurred, state-by-state, there was anticipation of court appeals. In numerous cases decisions were reversed, temporarily. In those situations, many couples headed for the local courthouse to have a simple ceremony, before a court appeal was filed.

The reality, in the long term, is age and length-of-relationship both matter. A same-sex couple in their 40’s-50’s, with relationship of 20+ years is not likely to suddenly have a wedding for 125 – 150+ guests. It is more reasonable to believe such a couple has hosted a commitment ceremony, some time ago, and now, a wedding and reception are more likely to a smaller, intimate group than full-scale.

A couple in their late 20’s to early 30’s is more likely to proceed on a traditional time frame (12-18 months) for their wedding and reception.

What this means to your company

The massive publicity about marriage equality, over the last three years, has been key in evolution of opinions and moving the country forward. However, the change in business flow is more likely to be a bump in demand, rather than a spike; then steady demand into the future.

Your mileage may vary

Exceptions will occur for companies which have been working with LGBTQ clients over years, prior to the SCOTUS decision. It is unrealistic for a business which is not LGBTQ-literate or experienced to simply access these newly available clients, quickly and easily.

“The complexities of educating your staff about the range of LGBTQ tastes, concerns, and preferences should not be underestimated. This is not an overnight process.”

Be conservative with your business projections. If you choose to focus on LGBTQ weddings, it can make a measured difference to the bottom line… just don’t let financial optimism overtake real-world sales projections.

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Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Facebook On Fire: Sometimes the Best Reaction is Muted Reaction

Opinion, News Analysis, and Social Media 

facebook-on-fireFacebook is a lousy place for a group discussion. There are no debate or discussion guidelines. Reading a Facebook rant is like watching a coyote howl at the moon. Surely a message will be heard, but it’s likely misunderstood and won’t change anybody’s mind.

Depending on one’s vantage point, events and outcomes of the past week or so generated wildly different reactions. The biggest matter at hand was/is the SCOTUS Ruling on marriage equality.

“Facebook is the public square for the digital age, and thunderous array of posts, observations, and opinions has caused it to short-circuit.” ~ Andy Ebon

Forming Perspective

People see virtually everything through experience: Geography, neighborhood, country… the politics of our parents and relatives, the sophistication of our schools… the brands and products used in our household, music influence from an older sibling or friends… the religion practiced in one’s family, teachers who taught the process of critical thinking, dinner tables discussions which allowed for differences of opinion.

Enter, The Bell Curve

Facebook in FireIn any set of polling numbers, there tend to be 3-5 distinct segments of opinion. Using the simplest set of three opinions, there are two extremes. each with roughly 20%. The middle segment is the remaining 60%. The extreme opinions tend to be rock solid, whatever their reasoning.

The middle group is more likely to shift with discussion and debate. And somewhere along the line, a majority opinion is formed.

Don’t quibble about my suggest numbers. It could be 30% – 40% – 30%, but the personalities still apply. There is also another segment defined by frustration. In election and proposition politics, these people can become disenchanted and choose not vote.

Public Opinion is Evolutionary and Slow-Changing

,,, and the politicians are usually the last to figure it out.

  • in 1920, our country was almost 150 years old, when women were ‘granted the right to vote.’ (19th Amendment) In five years, celebration of women voting will reach one full century. Many developed countries, worldwide, have elected Prime Ministers and Presidents, yet the USA has barely tapped the potential of its female citizenry for the Senate, Congress, and Presidency.
  • In 1969, came the tipping point for the America’s gay community. “The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community  against a police raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, located in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of ManhattanNew York City. They are widely considered to constitute the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United Statessource Wikipedia
  • And this past week, marriage equality became the law of the land in the United States, 48 years after interracial marriage became a reality.

A Key Historical Note

The United States was built on two key platforms (among others): Freedom of Religion and the separation of Church and State. (note: see this detailed explanation of Freedom of Religion in the United States).

Extreme Facebook

Facebook in FireThese last few days Facebook has been a torrent of aggressive pontificating, in part lacking specific knowledge of the events and symbols of history, that led up to these landmark changes.

It’s reasonable to understand the celebration and jubilation of oppressed citizens as blue skies began to appear.

It’s also fair that people who hold longstanding religious practices or skewed social outlooks immediately shout ‘Hell, no!’. 

“The fact that the Supreme Court has decided (in a 5-4 vote)  for reasons of law, with the current beliefs of 60% of the population does not wave a magic wand over the remaining 40%. Getting more closely aligned will take more time.” 

~ Andy Ebon

Facebook: In the present tense

How about calling a timeout on projecting extreme opinions on Social Media? You know… let’s all take a chill pill… for maybe a week or two. Don’t make awkward attempts at sexual humor or people who are different to you. What’s funny to you may scare away some of your closest friends in business.

People who were MIA during the run-up to the marriage equality by SCOTUS are experiencing backlash, being labeled as bandwagon jumpers and opportunists; suddenly the alleged low-hanging fruit in a windfall LGBTQ marriages.

The nature of Social Media begs us to pop off. Let your thoughts marinate… then edit them, and see what social media platform they belong on, IF ANY.

Facebook in FireSearch for Empathy

It wouldn’t hurt any of us to develop a feel for empathy; understanding another person or group’s perspective through their eyes and context.

Combining empathy with being somewhat slower to react to events, large or small, makes for better collaboration, decisions, and middle ground.

Hope to meet up with you on the middle ground of reaction… It’s a calmer, and more thoughtful place.

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Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Love Wins – SCOTUS Rules in Favor of Marriage Equality

love winsToday is the tipping point for establishing Marriage Equality across all 50 states. Today, I shall not be writing about the business ramifications of this watershed moment, preferring to share some small personal perspective.

Jubilation and Relief

Those are the emotions I feel. I have been quietly ‘on-edge’ for days awaiting the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality and a number of other key cases.

I was sipping coffee at about 7:00am at my local hangout. The climate was normal… the usual suspects chattering about the price of who-knows-what, and complaining about a laundry list of other alleged important issues.

Me? I was not overly confident about a favorable SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality. It’s not as though I was waiting to disappointed. Rather, the vote would not be a landslide, and I was ready for anything at anytime.

… and then various news feeds on my iPhone blew up with ‘Breaking News’ alerts of the 5-4 SCOTUS ruling. I looked around the room for someone to hug, to share the moment. They all seemed somewhere else; a different planet perhaps.

San Francisco or Supreme Court Steps?

A Star Trek moment would have been nice. ‘Scotty… Beam me back to San Francisco’. I imagined watching the pure joy of so many longtime wedding industry friends.

love wins
WeddingWire Team at SCOTUS, June 26, 2015

And then, ‘Scotty… Beam me to the Supreme Court steps in Washington D.C.’ A representative team from WeddingWire gathered there, to ‘represent’ and soak in the earliest notice of the ruling.

After those fleeting ‘Star Trek moments’, I simply headed for Facebook, Twitter, and other social media to see what the various reactions were.

In Retrospect

Despite living and working in the wedding industry in a diverse city, San Francisco, it took me far too long to appreciate the uneven application of equality across-the-board. Over time, I came to strongly empathize with those people who consciously omitted from the equal rights due to all Americans.

What Comes Next?

‘What comes next?’ can wait until Monday. Supreme Court rulings, like parades after sports championship, are fleeting.

Hats off to all the activists and communicators who fueled the recently rapid pace to marriage equality. To some, this ruling may appear to have been ‘an overnight success.’ …Not exactly!!

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog

The New Art of Capturing Love: A Book Review

Capturing LoveThe New Art of Capturing Love represents itself as The Essential Guide to Lesbian and Gay Wedding Photography. That is true, but the book is far more all-encompassing. Certainly, it is written, in large part, through the eyes of a wedding photographer and all interesting possibilities in LGBTQ weddings.

The Co-Authors are:

Kathryn Hamm, President of GayWeddings.com, the pioneering online wedding boutique and resource for same-sex couples. Kathryn also serves as a member of the WeddingWire Education Team.

Thea Dodds is an award-winning photographer and Founder of Authentic Eye Photography.

The overall tone of ‘Capturing Love’ is warm, thoughtful, and illuminating. While the world of heterosexual weddings, including various religions, cultures, and ethnicities, have roots and practices dating back thousands of years. The presence of same-sex marriage, from a legal standpoint (in the United States), is a product of the new millenium. In a flurry of legal proceedings during recent months,

Same-sex marriage is legal in a majority of U.S. states and recognized by the United States federal government. Same-sex marriage is legal in 32 states, the District of Columbia, and ten Native American tribal jurisdictions.”

Source: Wikipedia

Both, in words and pictures, the authors share the nuances, challenges, options, and potential land-mines faced by wedding couples and wedding professionals surrounding them. As expressed by the authors, you will feel the many points of view, converging on the event.

Assume Nothing: There is nothing boilerplate about a LGBTQ wedding. Even the most seasoned wedding professional, reading this book, will think, “Wow, I never considered that!”

Some examples cited include:

  • PDA – Public Display of Affection – Is the wedding couple comfortable with PDA? Have they ever kissed in public? Will they be comfortable with it?
  • Family Acceptance – What are the parental politics? Are they accepting or not-so-much? How about other family members?
  • Wedding Attire – These decisions are as varied as can be. Explore softly, listen intently, understand.
  • Rapport between the wedding couple and wedding professionals is paramount.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Kathryn Hamm and I are both part of the WeddingWire Education Team. As of this writing, we’ve been part of four out of five WeddingWire World conferences. Kathryn has a gentle way of addressing tricky issues, without making people feel uncomfortable.

And sometimes, she is direct. At our second WeddingWire World in Washington, D.C., Kathryn pulled me aside and said, “There’s something I need you to do for me… (without missing a beat) Stop saying Bride and Groom, and begin saying, Wedding Couple.”

The de-programming of 35+ years in the conventional wedding industry was going to take some time. I realized, immediately, this was good advice, and it wasn’t about being politically correct. It was about being inclusive. Now, when I complete a presentation, I flashback to remember how many times I got it right, self-corrected myself, or missed the brass ring. I’ve shown a lot of improvement 🙂

Understanding What is New to Us

Every wedding professional should read ‘Capturing Love’, not just for business reasons, but to see the world, more clearly, through the eyes of others. That is the meaning of empathy, and it’s a powerful thing.

I’d tell you more, but absorbing the narrative and images are a personal growth experience. Enjoy it at your own pace.

Andy Ebon

 

 

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog