No two weddings look the same and no two couples are the same. That’s what makes the work we all do so special. We celebrate and appreciate all those differences while always remembering the one thing that is the same — how each couple wants to be treated. Equally, with respect and compassion, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, or anything else that makes them who they are.
Celebrating love every day is a joy and a privilege. And it’s never been more important. With anti-LGBTQ+ legislation gaining momentum across the country, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, we all need to show up as an authentic ally and advocate every day for equality and inclusivity in the wedding industry.
This guide is designed to provide insights and practical tips to help make that happen, created in partnership with the experts at Open to All, a nonprofit nondiscrimination program that believes everyone should be welcome and works with nonprofit and corporate partners like Zola to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
The wedding industry is rooted in tradition. But that doesn’t mean it should be stuck in the past. We see today’s couples breaking gendered and heteronormative stereotypes, picking and choosing the traditions that they find meaningful to create a wedding that reflects themselves and their values. We need to evolve with them. Together we can truly celebrate the uniqueness of every couple’s love story and wedding vision by creating an environment where everyone feels listened to, respected, accepted, supported, and valued.
Here are some of the questions we get asked most often by wedding vendors.
Listing on Zola is a great place to start. Because every Zola vendor commits to our Vendor Vows, couples already know and trust your business to be inclusive and that you’re proud to work with couples of all backgrounds. Here’s what else to think about:
Listen to your couples. Ask them questions rather than making assumptions. And don’t be afraid to share your own experiences, whether personal or from LGBTQ+ weddings you’ve been proud to be a part of. And remember to visibly support LGBTQ+ couples all year round, not just during Pride month.
Open to All also has tools and training available for your business.
Some of our favorite wedding-related blogs with an LGTBQ+ focus are Equally Wed, Love Inc, and Dancing With Her. For a broader look at LGTBQ+ issues and culture, try Autostraddle, Out, or The Advocate. For political developments and advocacy, keep an eye on GLAAD, ACLU, and the Human Rights Campaign.
Explore CenterLink to find an LGTBQ+ community center in your local area.
Remember to keep an eye on our Expert Advice section on Zola.com for tips and trends, including recent articles on how LGTBQ+ couples are reinventing wedding traditions and a guide to gender-neutral wedding attire.
Weddings are always better when everyone feels welcome. Many words associated with weddings are rooted in gender and heteronormative assumptions and stereotypes. From the obvious (“Bridezillas”) to the subtle (“fiancé”), there are words the industry should try to avoid to help create that safe and inclusive space.
Whenever you’re working with a client, remember that you’re addressing couples, not individuals (they’re both on the wedding planning journey, after all!). If you start by meeting with one partner, avoid making assumptions at the other half of the couple or referring to them with a specific gender identity. Here are some alternatives to consider:
For more on gender-neutral language, take a look at this Zola article.
It’s important to remember that you’re in the powerful majority; the vast majority of business owners in our industry do strive to treat all couples with dignity and respect, and understand that excluding couples because of who they are is harmful. And nationally, the majority of Americans support marriage equality for all couples and oppose discrimination. In working together, we can ensure that everyone feels included in weddings. However, we also understand that while being an ally opens your business up to everyone, it’s possible some people won’t support your actions. Here are some tips:
Celebrating diversity has always been part of our DNA. Zola was founded to shake up the wedding industry, to better represent all beautiful couples, and to allow couples to get married the way they want.
This year marks our ten year anniversary as a company. We understand that these same ten years have been a rollercoaster for the LGBTQ+ community. We cheered eight years ago when Obergefell v. Hodges meant states were required to license and recognize marriage for same-sex couples, and watched in horror as legal challenges were mounted. We will continue to speak loudly and proudly regarding our commitment to celebrate all couples and the love they share, every day.
It’s a joy and privilege to build inclusive products, and to uphold the very same Vows that we ask our Zola Vendors say “I do” to in joining our platform. We could not be more proud to celebrate and support all of our couples along their wedding journey, and have curated a community of tens of thousands of vendors who feel the same.
Together, we wholeheartedly reaffirm that we will always: