How to Be an LGBTQIA+ Inclusive Wedding & Elopement Vendor

Serving the queer community is one of my top priorities as a wedding and elopement photographer. It goes without needing to be said, but it can be difficult to find queer friendly wedding/elopement vendors, or quickly spot a friendly vendor in the masses. Currently, my business home base of Arkansas has zero largely-invested resources or directories solely catering to queer wedding and elopement planning. While there are wedding and bridal shows happening multiple times a year, and local Facebook groups packed full of vendors and helpful info, none of it is guaranteed to be 100% queer friendly. I have seen steps taken to improve the experience for queer couples amongst some of the wedding shows and groups, and that’s great to see, but many states across the country need Queer ONLY events to truly cater the queer community like they do the cis/hetero community.

Why? Because time after time, I’ve seen queer couples posting online looking for help on their vendor search because they either: a) can’t find anyone willing to work with them, or b) are struggling to find out if vendors are queer friendly or not, or c) hired a vendor and later had that vendor cancel on the couple when they found out the couple’s sexuality or gender identity. C unfortunately happens quite often.

It’s sad and angering to see something so heartbreaking happen to queer couples who just want to enjoy the wedding experience like any other couple. The hate and the extra steps queer couples have to deal with in order to have a wedding or elopement are just unfair in comparison to how easily accessible it is for the average cis hetero couple. While there are nationwide and worldwide wedding and elopement directories that specifically help connect vendors the queer community, I have yet to see any of these have a presence in Arkansas, and many other areas that aren’t LARGE cities/states like California, New York, etc.. Hopefully this is something that will change in time, but until then, it’s our sole responsibility as vendors to do our part in making the wedding experience 100% queer inclusive from beginning to end.

My Why

The queer community is an incredibly important piece of me because of my childhood and those that I grew up with.

I grew up in a small town in Arkansas where being different would get you bullied in grade school on the daily. I had a large circle of friends that consisted mostly of the ‘misfits’, and many of them just happened to be queer, or have since found their queer identity after we graduated. I’ll never forget once, in the 4th grade, hearing one of my friends being bullied and called a f*g on the playground by fellow classmates. All because most of his friends were girls and he liked many of the things and music girls liked. That was the first taste of queer-hate I witnessed of the countless interactions my friends and I would have over the next decade. The fact 7-8 year old children even knew that word (pre the days of unlimited access to the internet, anyways) is still insane to me. That friend was one of many of my friends that struggled with their sexuality and bullying until the day we graduated.

People just like those childhood friends of mine are why it’s so important to me to serve the community. There’s vendors who accept queer wedding clients when they’re asked to take on the job, and then there’s THE queer friendly vendors – the ones you don’t even have to ask about because they’re shouting it to the world that they are a safe place. Queer couples should be able to take one look at your socials, website, etc., and just KNOW that you’re the right fit. There shouldn’t be any questions about it, and they shouldn’t have to ask you.


1. Use the Right Vocabulary

Use the right vocabulary on your website, inquiry forms, contracts, questionnaires, and social media posts when referring to your audience/clients. Instead of using “Bride and Groom / Husband and Wife”, use gender neutral terms, such as:

  1. Partner 1 and Partner 2
  2. Lover 1 and Lover 2
  3. Spouse 1 and Spouse 2

Or come up with your own unique definitions that fit your brand! For instance, if you only do adventure elopements, use something like: Adventurer 1 and Adventurer 2.

2. Ask for Their Pronouns & Correct Names

Asking for your client’s pronouns either in your inquiry form or your follow-up questionnaire will ensure you don’t make any mistakes when addressing them. I also like to ask about nicknames and/or their correct name I should use, just in case they filled out any of my info with their unused legal name, because sometimes they will use that for contract purposes since it’s still on their identification forms.

3. Post the Shit Out of Your Queer Couples

Be sure you’re showing off your queer couples on your social media, website, blogs, everywhere that you are using for advertising. And do it regularly. Don’t make queer couples scroll for ages looking for people like them within your work. It might discourage them, or they will get tired of looking to find out if you’re queer friendly and not reach out altogether.

4. Use Queer Friendly Labels

Put queer friendly labels in your social bios and on your website (where it is quickly and easily visible) just for extra measure for them to know that you are queer friendly. This is especially helpful if you haven’t had any new queer work to share in your feed in awhile. For me personally, I just added a little sentence at the bottom of my website that says “this is a safe place for all”, since I have quite a bit of queer representation on my website and socials anyways.

5. Plan Styled Shoots

If you’re lacking queer representation in your portfolio/website/socials, plan styled shoots with queer couples so you can build that portfolio. Don’t wait for a queer couple to hire you to start building your portfolio for that community, because it will show a lack of experience on your end and you may never get those couples to book you. Make the effort and investment to reach out to queer couples so you can get them in front of your camera or business. Reach out to other vendors who are queer or work with the community often and they might just be willing to collab with you!

6. Create a Queer Friendly Vendor List

Most of us vendors have a referral list to help our couples plan. Be sure your list is friendly vendors ONLY. Like I said in the beginning, it’s hard to find vendors in the queer community. You can go above and beyond for queer couples by providing a vendor list that is guaranteed to treat them with kindness. It will save them a ton of time on their search, and help them avoid the annoyances of unfriendly vendors that might sour their experience.

7. Create or Join a Local Queer Wedding Group

Be it Facebook or another popular social app, consider creating a queer wedding group for your local area, or join the ones that already exist. There’s generally local pride groups, but how many of them are specifically queer wedding groups that serve the sole purpose of connecting the community to vendors? This is something Arkansas was lacking in until I created one last year. It’s a continuously growing group that is full of vendors ready to serve the community, and couples looking for help when it comes to planning their event. During the start-up phases of the group, I shared about it in the local pride groups and other queer-friendly groups in efforts to reach out to the queer community and wedding vendor community to let them know about it. Tons of vendors immediately poured in and we’ve been getting a steady flow of couples looking for help. So far it’s been a success and has helped couples connect to vendors without all of that hassle of questioning and asking if the vendor in question is friendly. You can join us here if you’re an Arkansas local!

8. Join Other Local Queer Groups

If you’re not already in some of the online pride groups, join them so that you can become an involved member of the community. It will help you make connections and keep you up to date on what’s going on in your area. These groups are also resourceful for finding couples that can model for you, and you just might find couples needing help with their wedding/elopement, too.

9. Share Your Story

Whether your why for serving the queer community is because you’re queer yourself, or you’re like me and just have a strong passion for it, share your story. It’s comforting for couples to know exactly why you’re so passionate about this. Connection is your greatest tool. Let’s make this a more friendly, safe, and fun space for couples that are planning their dream wedding or elopement. ALL of our couples deserve that.

Have any other suggestions I missed?

I could’ve totally blanked on other helpful tips when writing this, or maybe there’s ones I’ve never heard about our thought of. Either way, feel free to comment with tips and advice so all of us vendors out here can be doing our best to serve the community.

Planning your own wedding or elopement? Reach out and let’s chat 🙂

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