Does the Wedding Industrial Complex hold the key for the USA's gay marriage issues?

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Marika
October 17, 2010 - Halloween Wedding
The wedding of Tribe member DerekKyleNoel to his husband Joey! Photo by OBT member AshleyDuBois

Over the past few months, I have had several conversations with my American friends (I am Canadian, my boyfriend is American and we live in China) about marriage. As a Canadian, and the sibling of a gay person, I believe that everyone should have the same rights as everyone else, and that (forgive me) any country that would not allow its citizens to marry based on sexual preference is, well, a little backward.

So I started thinking, why is the Wedding Industrial Complex not involved in this debate? They make millions of dollars a year selling dreams. They are in it for the money. So why aren't they pushing for the legalization of gay marriage? There's so much more money to be made! My parents were caterers for several years and the number of gay marriages we did certainly helped pay for my college tuition (we only did a few, so yes, that's how much money there is to be made!).

If the wedding industry can persuade people to spend thousands of dollars on a dress that one wears for one day only, couldn't they convince people to do the right thing…?

Look, I don't have a solution to this problem, but clearly the way it has been handled thus far isn't working very well. It just seems to me that if we could get the mainstream wedding industry involved in the debate, the situation could be resolved. If they can persuade people to spend thousands of dollars on a dress that one wears for one day only, couldn't they convince people to vote for a law that would allow everyone to proclaim their love? If every bride who went to a large wedding website, signed petitions to allow everyone to have same rights them, couldn't that help?

There is precedent for what I am suggesting. See The Simpsons episode There's Something About Marrying. I mean if Homer gets it…

Maybe I'm too optimistic. Maybe it's just cause I'm Canadian, and I believe that everyone should be treated fairly. Or maybe I'm just a hopeless romantic.

It's just love.

PS from Ariel: I'm reminded of Proposition 8: The Musical and its line: "Every time a gay or lesbian finds love at the parade / There's money to be made!" Watch the full thing:

    • I just want to put this out there that when I got my winter edition of get married magazine (its free, so I figured that even though its pretttty standard fare I could take it or leave it.) I was tickled pink to find that they featured a gay couple as one of their showcased weddings. I thisnk this revolution is coming faster than anyone anticipates!

  1. I think it would be GREAT if it did that.

    To answer your question, of why isn't the WIC up in arms about this:

    The WIC generally isn't at the forefront of social change – they are more on the back end. Though it would be nice if this changed, they depend a LOT on the older/more conservative crowd for income…I mean think of the things today that the WIC promotes that are still a little behind the times…

    I think as times change, the WIC will eventually change too….just like if you went back 50 years, you sadly wouldn't see wedding vendors promoting inter-racial relationships….but NOW they do b/c the tide is changed, it would be unthinkable for them to be otherwise. Let's hope this will change for same-sex marriages as well. Everyone deserves to be equal, whether others like it or not.

    • I think the reason the WIC isn't involved is that many gay couples have weddings, whether legal or social, anyway, so why "waste" their own money trying to change things? Especially considering how many gay couples have second shindigs to celebrate when it finally is legal.

      Also, "their" money? There isn't a figurehead, only a web of smaller businesses and a few large companies. The smaller ones can't afford to start the long fight, and the large ones don't want to risk alienating conservative buyers. We little guys are really limited in what we can do. I have it on my own site (I make gowns) that all couples are welcome, I don't discriminate, and that I support love, period, but what else can I individually do on the large scale? And I understand the worry the larger companies have, though if Apple Inc. is any indicator, I don't think large companies supporting pro-gay-rights causes has anything to worry about (they donated $25k to try defeating prop h8 and gained themselves MANY devoted fans for life).

  2. I also agree with this (as someone wishing fervently her state would legalize gay marriage). It's so profitable! We're suffering from serious economic problems, here!

    Plus, living adjacent to a state where you CAN get married without residence requirements (unlike some of the other states), I assume it at least crosses the mind of judges and/or legislators when making that decision. Unfortunately, we could drop a lot or a little $$ to get married there without it ever being recognized here (thanks DOMA!).

    …which yes, is totally backwards. No offense taken.

    I think just as a whole the fashion world probably aren't heavy in lobbying, probably. Maybe I'm wrong? I can't imagine what other issues they'd be super involved in, except maybe import/exports.

    • Let me shed some light on the mindset of your typical wedding vendor.

      Vendors provide a service. Said-service happens to be used in a wedding, and may make more money in a wedding than anything else. Few vendors are in their trade because "yay weddings, yay love!" Nope nope nope. They're in it for the money. Sure, they may love weddings, but I guarantee you that money is the biggest reason. Even in tight times, bridal couples pony up and there's not exactly a shortage of people waving cash as it stands now. From the perspective of a vendor, it matters little to my business whether or not there are more couple legally marrying when I'm already too busy and having to turn away prospective clients, especially when plenty of couples will have non-legal weddings anyway.

      From a business perspective, there's not really anything to gain.

      Those vendors who try to enact change, like myself, are going to do it out of a personal sense of what's right rather than because there's (not really) money to be made.

  3. I think the WIC is too busy upholding the status quo to actually tackle important issues. They are JUST starting to talk about wedding dresses in any other color that white, off-white, and ivory – and THAT causes an incredible amount of controversy! I can only imagine the amount that would be caused by supporting – gasp! – two people of the same gender getting married!

    • From a business perspective, when there is less demand for colored gowns, designers aren't going to pour the resources into making them. Now that there's more demand for colors, especially red, there will be more. It's hard to overlook the demand that still does exist for white gowns, especially in traditional areas, such as the Southern US.

  4. I agree with Faye, no offense taken. It is DEFINITELY backward for all sorts of reasons, the economic aspect being one of them. The fact that some vitriolic opponents of gay marriage legalization site the absolute collapse of our economy as one of their "points" simply astounds me. Clearly they never looked at pictures of Elton John's wedding. The RINGS alone…I mean, golly! Think of the revenue!

    Thanks for the add-on, Ariel! "Prop 8: The Musical" always gives me a giggle when I'm down about how close-minded people can be.

  5. At a guess they probably think it's better to play it safe by not taking sides on any potentially controversial issues rather than risk alienating any potential customers, even if it might lead to more future profit.

    It's sad but that seems to be how most commercial entiprises work.

  6. I’ve heard this argument before. It would be so lovely to get the WIC batting for a cause we believe in, for once! But I do not think that the WIC has the power to make a dent in the same-sex marriage debate. The arguments from the other side are based in ideas that are pretty far removed from the material things that go into a wedding, and I don’t think that the industry would be able to do much to sway opinion (other than contribute money).

    I also think that the WIC tries to sell a kind of wedding traditionalism—i.e., “You should do and buy X, Y, and Z because many brides have FOR YEARS AND YEARS,” even if what they are saying is not necessarily true. I think that may be one reason that the WIC has thus far stayed away from embracing same-sex marriage, because it goes against their message of embracing “traditions.”

    • Who do you think makes the traditions? The WIC in general. Make something out to be a tradition and bridal couples will shell out the cash to have it because not having it doesn't feel right. Most recent case in point? Engagement photos. Magazines said they're needed, so couples flock en masse to have them done. It'll be decades, if that soon, if ever, before engagement photos are no longer routinely done. And all because the WIC said to have them done.

  7. As far as I know, you're right, the WIC isn't pushing for same-sex marriage. However, I would note that I've seen a LOT of WIC vendors (some that specialize in same-sex weddings but also many that don't) promoting their services to the gay and lesbian community. IMHO, there's no shortage of vendors wanting to fulfil the hugemongous wedding dreams of (and make lotsa lotsa money from) same-sex couples.

    Of course, that's more reason, not less, for them to encourage legalization, but it just seemed worth saying that their first interest is making money.

  8. I hate that because I'm American, I'm lumped in with people that DON'T believe everyone should be treated fairly. Because I ABSOLUTELY DO BELIEVE THAT.

    It breaks my heart that we don't have equal marriage rights yet. IN FACT, everyone I personally know is FOR gay marriage. It puzzles me that I know SO MANY PEOPLE here that want this law to change, and yet it still hasn't. Where are all the people that are against this? I haven't met them. I guess I just don't associate with these people… but you can see my point? It's not hard to find an American that is FOR equal rights.

    I just… I sincerely hope that you don't believe you feel this way simply because you're Canadian. There are SO MANY AMERICANS pushing for the legalization of gay marriage.

    To be an American right now is not to believe that everyone doesn't deserve equal rights… no, not at all. To be an American right now is to be EXTREMELY FRUSTRATED with the blatant discrimination.

    I guess my point is… if you think it's ridiculous from the outside looking in, believe me, it's even more ridiculous to those of us dealing with it.

    • I just wanted to say, as a Canadian, I certainly don't think ALL Americans are narrow-minded. I have close family who are American (currently living in Bothel, WA), who feel the same way you do.

      I think looking from the outside (and coming from a country where it IS legal), it does seem backwards to us. Especially with the way the US is today with the extreme politics that are constantly being broadcasted on crazy cable news. We constantly see the extremists, never the reasonable folks. But I KNOW they are there, and that they out-number the extremists! But I can understand how frustrating it is for reasonable people who are fighting for equality rights and for the extremism to stop.

      I come from a province in Canada that is so conservative, that our Premier wanted to over-turn gay-marriage in the province, and wanted to bring it to national referendum. I'm sad and appalled about how backwards my province is. However, we have come far since then. But whenever I'm in a restaurant, I always hear conversations about how "those gays are an abomination", and it makes me want to smack them, because they are the people that are projecting our backwards red-neck stereotype to the rest of Canada. I want to yell to BC and Ontario that, "I'm not like them!!! Please stop calling me a redneck!"

      I'm from Alberta BTW.

      • Don't worry Alberta, we know it's the premier who's nuts. Too many great people come out of Alberta!

        Quebec BTW

    • I am in no way a great writer, but my post was more about condemning an industry that is willing to just sit back and wait for change to come, instead of fighting for what should be at the core of their business: love.

      • It's an issue that's far greater that the WIC can reasonably be able to handle. Who are the main opponents of gay marriage? Christians and others of faiths that claim that gay people are evil. Unfortunately many politicians believe this crap too. Hence the whole "preserve marriage" shit that we all know is bogus (look at Britney Spears marrying for fun – that's really sacred, eh?). We can't change the minds of politicians by pointing out the extra tax revenue, and many of them are afraid of coming out in favor of gay marriage lest they lose the next election.

        This is an issue that needs to be fought at the grassroots level. We need to convince fellow private that gay marriage is okay, that there's nothing wrong with it. Secretly-pro-gay-rights politicians (and I'm sure they exist, especially in bible-belt states) need support of their constituents rather than to fear being booted and replaced with someone who'd do even more harm to the people.

        Politicians know that there's money to be made. This isn't an issue of money. It's an issue of religion and forcing this aspect of religion on us all. We need to remove the calls from politicians via voting, and getting the votes means opening the eyes of our fellow citizens (and banning Utah Mormons from registering and voting in California elections, as happened).

  9. I think the problem is that they figure that members of the GLBT community are going to have some sort of ceremony anyway and still spend the same amount of money, so they don't really care if it's legal or not.

  10. As someone said, there's no figurehead. I'm sure some vendors refuse to work with same-sex couples, but for others, a party is a party is a party. What else can they do besides accept a job from a same sex couple? There's no one org that I know of that'll stand up to legislators, stand behind their vendors who push for change, whatever. It's tough for any group to get into politics, esp one that's getting along just fine the way things are.

    As for the money thing, that was one of the arguments I read about for the California thing. The state is drowning and people are suffering-why not make it legal for people to throw more money into the economy??

  11. I think some of it is due to the fear of losing very religious customers. After all certain more extremist people do boycott companies/products that support gay rights. I know the idea of recession should encourage them to expend, but like many other companies at the moment they are not ready to take the risk for "possible" (i do believe its guarantee but to them it isn't) bigger profit just in case they would lose the current client base they do have. It's a shame and the first ones that will take that step forwards are the first one who will see the buck. But be assured that marriage isn't the only market "playing it safe", the media, movies, games, books, etc are all relaying on what they know works rather then taking risks with new fresh ideas.

    I'm Canadian and soon to marry my same-sex lover and I too get so frustrated when I see what's going on in other countries. It's not cool and not smart.

  12. I agree 100% with the sentiment but, I think, one reason they don't get involved is because they can't bear to think about losing even one sale over it. Remember: brides are not long term consumers and therefore only have one sale to offer. Sad but true.

  13. I am in no way a great writer, but my post was more about condemning an industry that is willing to just sit back and wait for change to come, instead of fighting for what should be at the core of their business: love.

    • An industry is made of independent vendors – that is, individuals. At the end of the day, all of individual really wants is safety, food, and shelter for their family. If, during the course of the day, they get those essentials by catering to lovey-dovey couples, then they just get an extra fuzzy feeling. If the couple's not so lovey-dovey, and an annulment seems imminent, well, the vendor still has food on the table. My point is the vendor is just catering to their customers in order to buy life's essentials, not because "love is the core of their business." Now, the smart vendor will cater to any couple, regardless of race, culture, sexual orientation, or anything else, because of the greater market-share to be had. That's why I'll bet quite a lot that OBB gets a lot more LGTB traffic than most other wedding websites. I don't blame vendors for generally not lobbying for gay marriage – because, again, at the end of the day they really just want to make a living by freely contracting with whoever wants to be their customer. If they get an extra fuzzy feeling from working with doe-eyed lovey couples, or interracial couples, or gay couples, that's really just icing on the cake and doesn't change what they set out to do (provide for their family's needs and maybe even some wants).

      I understand your sentiment, I'm just saying it's not the first thing individual vendors think of or even care about. And who can really blame them?

  14. I honestly think it's partly that a lot of WIC businesses don't want to lose the revenue of conservatives/traditionalists. In one well-known wedding blog, you may remember a series of posts took photographers to task over their constant use of thin, white, straight 20-somethings in portfolios and never images of real couples. It was all over the wedding community for awhile.

    One thing that was mentioned was that you so rarely see gay couples in photography portfolios. One photographer came forward in the comments to say that he'd never shot a gay wedding but if he did, he wouldn't put even the best photos in his portfolio, because "some potential clients would get offended by that".

    UGH! is all I can say to that.

    But it is an issue.

    Also, the WIC probably figures that gay couples who want to marry but can't do so legally where they live are still likely to hold a "commitment ceremony" wedding. As we all know, the actual legal contract of marriage is so cheap as to be basically free (our marriage license was $60, officiant $250).

    It's the party afterwards where the WIC makes its money, and anyone – gay or straight – can have that.

    • While I agree that it's messed up that a lot of photographers choose to cherry-pick their photos in that manner, I'll bet you a lot of those thin, white, etc. couples are "real" couples. Unless you're suggesting they chose models to pose for wedding-esque photos?

  15. From another bridal vendor who is emphatically NOT a part of the WIC:

    I'm agreeing with a lot of what is being said here (I'm reading and nodding, even though no one's with me in the room). Like 'Aria', I have a small business and I make wedding gowns. And years ago I put a rainbow triangle link in the footer of my site that links to my non-discrimination policy. It states right up front that we will honor every bride, regardless of self-identified gender (bride's gender or intended's gender). This is absolutley at the heart of our business values.

    And we've had the honor of creating dresses for several same-gender weddings. All female so far, though. But I'm looking to change that: I'm planning to create a line of wedding gowns for bio-born guys in the next year because I believe that everyone should have the right to get married in a pretty pretty dress if that's what their heart desires.

    Might this alienate more conservative clients? Frankly, I hope it does. I want to do business with people who welcome love in all forms, not just what's sanctioned by a few.

  16. From a bridal vendor who is emphatically NOT a part of the WIC:

    I'm agreeing with a lot of what is being said here (I'm reading and nodding, even though no one's with me in the room at the moment). And there's no excuse for people's reluctance or fear of 'alienating'. That reluctance is not only part of the problem, it's reinforcing it.

    Like the 'Aria' commentor above, I have a small business and I make wedding gowns. And years ago I put a rainbow triangle link in the footer of my site that links to my non-discrimination policy. It states right up front that we will honor every bride, regardless of self-identified gender (bride's gender or intended's gender). This is absolutely at the heart of our business values.

    And we've had the pleasure of creating dresses for several same-gender weddings. All female so far, though. But I'm hoping to change that: I'm planning to create a line of wedding gowns for bio-born guys in the next year because I believe that everyone should have the right to get married in a pretty pretty dress if that's what their heart desires.

    Might this alienate more conservative clients? Frankly, I hope it does. I want to do business with people who welcome love in all forms, not just what's sanctioned by a few.

  17. It's refreshing to see a male gay wedding on OBB! Is there a reason there are so few? I get that gay weddings are not all offbeat but there must be some non-traditional gay men out there posting their weddings on internet!

    • This is a perennial question. From the FAQ:

      Why is your site called Offbeat Bride? Why exclude men?
      Well, the simplest answer is that the website is named after my book, Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides, which was published by a women's press. The more complex answer is that while I work to make Offbeat Bride inclusive … I just can't do it all! Men are welcome, but ultimately my mission has always been to create a community to support women. That said, I do have a whole category of posts dedicated to grooms and some offbeat grooms have started their own community.

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