INCLUSIVITY: what does it mean and why does it matter?
I’m talking about a topic I’m loud and passionate about – creating an environment where couples of all sexual orientations feel SAFE and SEEN. Inclusivity also means that couples of all races, ethnicities, age, size, ANYTHING are safe and seen, but today I’m going to discuss being inclusive regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Often, wedding vendors are being exclusive and dismissive without even knowing it. First, LEARN what inclusivity is and why you should practice it, then, you can CHANGE your behaviors.
The easiest way to practice inclusivity is to stop making assumptions. Don’t assume every person ordering a bouquet is a bride. Don’t assume a woman is taking her husband’s last name (and worse, address mail, gifts, HER by her husband’s name). Don’t assume that woman is even marrying a man. Don’t assume you know someone’s pronouns. Just stop assuming and ASK!
Not all weddings have brides! Not all weddings have grooms! Imagine if a male gay couple went on your website and you had gendered language, talked about brides everywhere, and didn’t have a single photo of a gay wedding? I bet they would 1) be sad / feel invisible 2) move on 3) hire someone who was inclusive and made them feel celebrated and seen and important! This isn’t about sales, though – it’s about acknowledging a huge part of the population that has fought for their right to marry and how we can support them and give them the best experience possible.
How CAN YOU fix THIS? REMOVE GENDERED LANGUAGE!
Do an AUDIT of your entire business. This might take 10-30 minutes. It’s quick! Read through every bit of website copy, recently Instagram captions, questionnaires, email templates, all of it. If you use gendered language, switch it to neutral language. Easy!
QUICK FIX EXAMPLES:
Instead of “bride’s name / groom’s name” on your contact form, use “partner’s name”
Instead of bride / groom, use “partner” “spouse” “nearlywed” “sweetie” “other half” or “couple”
Instead of “bridal suite / guide / party”, use “wedding suite / guide / party”
Instead of “bridesmaids” or “groomsmen”, use “your favorite people, your squad”
Instead of #yourphotographybizbrides #yourphotographybizcouples
Instead of asking “Is the bride is changing her name?” ask “Are there any name changes happening?”
When posing a couple, don’t use their looks to assign “gender roles” – if you have a same-sex couple, use all your typical poses, holding hands, kissing, laughing, etc – then ASK who is more likely to hold the other from behind, then pose them that way. I mean, do it with straight couples too! See how easy that is? Throw assumptions out the window and you’re alllll good! Always feel comfortable asking for or giving pronouns, too – it’s respectful.
Ask for pronouns in your contact form and share your own on your website, email signature, and social media profiles.
It’s totally fine to customize your experience with each couple on the backend – if you have a straight couple, by all means write bride + groom on their contract and questionnaire. But when you’re not speaking to individuals whose preferences you’re already aware of, and instead speaking to the masses through your digital storefront and your social media messaging, you should remain neutral.
Just because “big names” in the industry might not use gender neutral language doesn’t mean it’s ok. Gay people exist. And they get married, despite their lack of existence on some photographers’ feeds!
Everyone is learning, and it’s ok to recognize that you need to change some gendered language within your brand, audit some old blogs, and start asking for pronouns. We have all done it. It’s about moving forward and spreading the word on how to run an inclusive business and support the LGBTQ+ community.
let’s make the wedding world a joyful, loving, and inclusive one for all!