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

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

The Business of Gay Weddings

Business-of-Gay-Weddings-Cover-332x500Overview: The cultural issue of Marriage Equality is a rapidly evolving topic in the United States, and the world. This post is a review of the book, The Business of Gay Weddings by Bernadette Coveney-Smith. 

About the author: Bernadette is founder and president of 14 Stories and the Gay Wedding Institute and author of two other books on same-sex weddings. 14 Stories has offices in Boston and New York, since 2004, has produced hundreds of gay and lesbian weddings at top venues with couples from around the world.

Reviewer perspective: Growing up in the 60’s, heading into college in the 70’s was an interesting time. I ran smack into the civil rights movement and the war in Vietnam. And then, on June 28, 1969, The Stonewall Riots took place; in my home town of New York City.

“The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay community against apolice raid that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. They are widely considered to represent the single most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for gay and lesbian rights in the United States

Read the full entry in Wikipedia

Americans live in a big country, and sometimes proximity to social unrest and news events are inexorably tied to geography. After attending college in Arizona, I moved to San Francisco. Less than two years after the move to the Bay Area, Mayor George Moscone and Board of Supervisor Member, Harvey Milk, were assassinated in San Francisco City Hall by former Board of Supervisor Member, Dan White.

In the context of the San Francisco assassinations, it became immediately clear to me that political and social climate had been electrified by events, just as in The Stonewall Riots.

And in my fledgling mobile disc jockey business, I would soon become more fully acquainted with all corners of our diverse community. Thought it is only recently California fully embraced marriage equality, my outlook was shaped in the mid to late 70’s, and stands today.

A 25-year residency in Greater San Francisco afforded me many experiences,  and some perspective, but does not qualify me in the cultural and social nuances of LGBTQ weddings. For that, we have Bernadette’s book.

Educating the Wedding Professional

Bernadette Smith
Bernadette Smith

As an educator, I often find people looking for THE ANSWER.  You won’t find simple answers, here. What you will read from Bernadette is well-thought-out, organized, and neatly presented guidelines, recommendations, customs, and suggestions on handling simple situations, complex ones, and everything in-between.

For example, there are many examples of dialogues between a wedding planner and an engaged couple. Through these well crafted examples, both good and bad, it becomes easy to see what approach is likely to be well-received, and how another is certain to offend. And, of course, with all the permutations of people and personalities, the most important skill is listening, because not all reactions will be the same.

Statistics are Changing, Rapidly

Though just published in 2013, even foundation statistics have been quickly eclipsed. A statement such as: What states have approved same-sex marriages? is significantly different than when New York State approved its same-sex marriage bill, June 24, 2011. 

Bernadette gives the statistical information as it was, upon the book’s publication date. Wikipedia shall pick up the slack on the numbers.

It’s About Protocol, People and their Feelings

In painstaking detail, Chapter 2 presents us with a glossary of familiar words, defined precisely. This section is supplemented by a discussion of subcultures and a discussion of stereotypes. More exactly, the danger of assuming stereotypes.

On Page 42, Bernadette narrates six stages of Cultural Competency in the arena of gay marriage; ranging from the unfamiliar to ‘Cultural Proficiency.’ It’s a variation on the 4 Stages of Learning; something I learned in formal sales training. Both these sequences start with awkward or incompetent, and end with proficiency that becomes reflexive, over time. Knowing what to do, and doing it, become inseparable after enough improvements and repetition.

Marketing to Same-Sex Couples

Chapter 9 addresses a range of issues, framed as: Marketing: The Key To Everything. The guidance offered, provides superb guidelines. But, take each step carefully, and with considered thought.

===

In current news

Friday, Wisconsin was the latest state to strike down laws limited or prohibiting same-sex marriage.

In a coincidence of good timing, today, a good friend of mine, KC Kokoruz, a bridal show producer, was hosting The Badger State Bridal Expo in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. And the media came out… three TV crews, no less. They spoke with exhibitors, brides, and their entourages. But it was KC who had the mic, before the assembled crowd. He cited a line spoken by Pink, quoted in Bernadette’s book. Paraphrasing….

“It will a be great day when we no longer refer to a gay or lesbian wedding, but simply as a wedding.” … and those in attendance erupted in cheers and applause.

Pink

The Business of Gay Weddings is a must-have, not simply for Wedding Planners, but required reading for every employee of every company with plans to serve the LGBTQ communities. It’s both foundation and nuances. It’s both practical and tender.

Let’s face it… ‘We don’t know, what we don’t know.’ and understanding, not just reading, is an important step in reaching the level of Cultural Proficiency, necessary, to produce a wedding without bursting any bubbles along the way.

The Business of Gay Weddings: A Guide for Wedding Professionals (Amazon Books)

 

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Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority
The Wedding Marketing Blog