In this socially complex time, adhering to your principles can be challenging and often presents some difficult decisions, especially when it comes to picking and choosing who your business associates with. It is especially important when it comes to providing referrals to your clients, as the partners you recommend speak heavily toward your own company.
For most, business values align neatly with personal values—it’s a question of what is most important to you about the work that you do and the people who you work with.
Being inclusive isn’t about showcasing rainbows and making bold statements, so it’s not always as simple as keeping tabs on your partners’ social media accounts. Instead, inclusivity is a much more fundamental shift—it’s about changing the way you communicate, think, and conduct business as a whole.
If you’re providing referrals for an LGBTQ couple, it’s essential that those professionals are equality-minded. Take a look at how your partners communicate with potential clients, as well as other industry peers. Do they include photos of same-sex couples in their portfolio? For newer relationships, don’t be afraid to ask other vendors if they are LGBTQ-friendly and suggest ways that they can better convey that to their clients. If inclusivity is a part of your day-to-day, it’ll become easier to catch possible red flags and to ensure that your business is aligned with like-minded individuals.
Still, we unfortunately cannot control everything and, in some cases, even pre-qualified professionals can say or do something that leads to hurt feelings. While you may not have been the one to offend, you must still take responsibility for your referral and take strides to remedy the situation. If the situation is salvageable, make sure the other vendor does their due diligence to apologize and ensure that the couple feels safe and appreciated. For many, navigating the waters of same-sex marriage is still a learning experience.
However, if it’s beyond repair and you’re no longer comfortable working with the other vendor, communicate your thoughts with your clients and help them close out the contract with minimal repercussions. If they still choose to continue working with the vendor, take over all communication so the couple doesn’t have to deal with them directly. You may take it on yourself to communicate the wrongdoing to the vendor as well, in hopes that they take it to heart and change their approach.
Regardless of identity or orientation, every couple will have obstacles throughout the planning process. What should be most important to you and your vendor partners is that they’ve put their trust in you to help them through the ups and downs. Be supportive and never make assumptions. Always keep your clients’ best interests at heart and treat them with respect, kindness, and understanding. At the end of the day, it’s their wedding and they deserve nothing but pure happiness during their celebration.
Brittny Drye is the founder and editor-in-chief of Love Inc., the leading equality-minded wedding blog and digital publication. Her inclusive efforts have been celebrated by the New York Times, The Advocate, OUT Magazine, Refinery29, NY Daily News, Cosmopolitan, and more. She serves on the 2018-19 North American Advisory Board for the International Academy of Weddings & Events.