Let’s put an end to exclusionary language and sexist vendors in the wedding industry

Guest post by Lindsey Huddleston
please dont feed the groom

Man, if you want to get my panties in a wad, let's talk about the EXTREME sexism in the wedding industry. All sorts of vendors make gender stereotypes — brides do these things, grooms roll eyeballs and/or have no opinion. So grooms are slated into either a) thinking the opinions of their partner are stupid/insignificant/overblown, or b) they just don't care at all. AS IF!

Just because one partner is more involved in the planning than the other doesn't mean they don't care or are taking it lightly. Even that isn't true — you both have priorities as individuals, and as a couple, for your wedding day. So many times, vendors fall into the “this is how all brides/grooms act, this is what the plan and the packages always are…” Why do people do this? And then label it EXPERIENCE? Infuriating.

My general thoughts and feelings are, and always will be, that any language that is exclusionary should be shunned. Wedding vendors should refer to clients as a unit without gender identification. Two main reasons as I see it:

  1. Two people are getting married, one person isn't marrying themselves.
  2. Not all couples are composed of one male and one female.

Why can't we wedding professionals refer to our clients as clients, our couples, our newlyweds, partners, betrothed, whatever? Both partners will participate on some level — usually one more than the other — but that doesn't discount their partnership in making decisions and participation in the creation of their marriage.

So, here are some suggestions for ways to talk to vendors:

Begin early

Include your partner in all communications as much as possible: in person, via email, conference calls, Skype together, whatever it takes. You are planning a wedding together; you are marrying each other.

Have a way for vendors to reach both of you

Email, cell phone, texting privileges, etc. If they only have one person to communicate with, then that's what will happen.

Talk early and often about your priorities as individuals and as a couple

Obviously your level of care and attention will wane or grow with what you care about the most. (Duh, just like everything else in life. I'm thinking of Biology class in particular here.) Know what your partner wants to help with, what is most important, and where you have free rein. Make compromises. Stand your ground on your Most Important Priorities together.

This will help you work as a unit, even if you have to work independently of one another. Say you can't go to a site visit but your partner can — your partner will have full knowledge and be able to speak for both of you, united. This is not the same as one person doing all the work, because communicating on this level in advance is a TON of work.

Don't work with people who don't acknowledge your future spouse

It's that easy. General rule of thumb, in life and in your wedding planning: give your money to people you like. Duh.

Introduce all parties

It's simple, but this helps your vendors so much! Who are these people here with you? Is it your mom, best friend's mom, maternal grandmother? We want to know who they are and how they're important to you. Don't work with people who assume. Their assumptions only worsen over time, and they may assume they know what's best for you without consulting you. This = BAD!

There are inclusive resources and a growing number of groom-only resources available

Just like everything else you find here on Offbeat Bride — find your group and stick with them.

So couples planning weddings are already working against so many other things, like familial expectations and budget concerns. Planning in general is fucking stressful. Do not let sexist vendors be one of your issues.

Comments on Let’s put an end to exclusionary language and sexist vendors in the wedding industry

  1. Thank you for this post! This stuff was fingernails-on-a-blackboard annoying to me when we were planning our wedding, and now that I work with weddings myself I make it a point to always use inclusive language. When I talk about the people who commission my work I refer to them as couples or clients (or families–I make chuppahs and sometimes it’s parents who commission the work), not “brides and grooms.” The last thing I want is for anyone to come to my site and feel invisible or excluded. Not just same-sex couples but anyone–why leave room for doubt in a potential client’s mind about whether you’d welcome them?

    Weirdly, I had an upsetting experience with this exact thing when I was first starting out. I was going to be featured in a daily email wedding guide, which was huge for me as a startup, and I was so thrilled–right up until it came out, then I was just dismayed. They’d put me in the one “groom-centric” section of the email, the theme of which was basically “the groom is an infant and his mother is horrible.” A tuxedo shop was described as a place for “mama’s boy” to “grow up” with a new suit; my work was described as a bone to throw your mother-in-law to distract her from meddling with your wedding plans “and be done with it.” It was this awful trifecta of sexism, infantilization and negativity–and that was my first press exposure! Everything I hated when I was planning my own wedding, distilled into one offensive paragraph with a link to my web site, ugh. It’s been years and it still smarts.

  2. This is right on the money. My FH has been very involved in every step. He even chose our colors. Every time we go to a convention or a shop people make so many assumptions.

    That’s the other thing, conventions! You get a special name tag if you are the bride and every booth sees it and hones in on you. But they don’t even see my FH and when they do they act like he is suffering through this. They act like he has no opinion. News flash! He’s the one who bought the tickets to the show and wanted to go!

    Not to mention how a same se couple must feel in these gender role centric pits… The industry needs to catch up with the times.

  3. Well, my husband actually didn’t care much for the organisation of the wedding, except for the food part. But since day 1, I included him in every decision anyway. It was that much harder to avoid this kind of sexism from the vendors cause my then-fiancé was abroad during the organisation, so I heard a lot of comments on how I was the bride, the decision was mine, until I explained why he wasn’t there with me and that, no, no decisions were being taken until I asked his opinion.
    I don’t know if in the end he was happy to be included in the process. He was very happy with the wedding itself, so it’s a win…

  4. On behalf of all of the vast majority of event professionals that regularly address the “engaged couple,” have gender neutral language in our contracts and in conversation, and are not dismissive of either men or women, whether they are same sex couples or otherwise, we are disappointed to hear that some couples still have less-than-desirable experiences with how wedding vendors communicate. However, it would be more productive if Offbeat BRIDE, and the contributors, would resist painting the entire industry in one stroke with these generalized negative stereotypes.

    Also Ariel, you do realize you would not be the first or only business who had to change their branding, domains and entire business lexicon to adapt to changing perspectives in society, right? Until you stop making excuses for your own business name, you might want to be less hypocritical about an industry you continue to actively court for revenue and rely on for your own business to exist.

    Everyone needs to do their part in changing the vocabulary in the wedding industry by having positive and enlightening dialog with vendors and all people you talk with, including your friends and family. The lexicon in our industry is based on 100+ years of relations with, yes, primarily brides, and how we are conditioned by our clients to relate to them. We still see many clients in 2015 that possess the attitude that the wedding is “all about the bride,” so as the market and attitudes evolve, so will the nature of how the industry talks and relates to their clients. And it is changing. Educate, don’t hate. Otherwise, this site is no better than the unenlightened wedding media and vendors you are complaining about in this post. Also, it appears this original post is from THREE YEARS ago. Ariel, why don’t you try communicating with some people in the industry to see how many have worked very hard at evolving in the last few years to embrace progress, instead of just reposting outdated stereotypical posts on your social media.

    • Ann, thanks for this feedback, although I do want to clarify that I did not write this post. It was written by a wedding planner named Lindsey Huddleston, who is credited at both the top and the bottom of the post.

      That said, we’d love to share an updated perspective on this issue from a vendor. It sounds like you’ve got some strong feelings about the topic! Feel free to submit a guestpost over here: http://offbeatbride.com/submissions

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