When Jove Meyer plans a wedding, he goes all in. He leaves no boutonnière unpinned. No ring stone unbuffed. He makes sure the trains are running, and no one steps on the train of anyone’s wedding dress. (If a dress is involved, that is). But one of the most important parts of his job happens before the big day. As an all-inclusive wedding planner, Meyer serves as the first line of defense between the vendors and couples. He makes sure that everyone involved with each wedding he plans — from the caterers to the calligraphers — supports all races, genders, and sexualities.
Here’s the thing about weddings: They’re always stressful. But there’s an added layer of anxiety and tension if you have to worry about whether the baker will discriminate against you for your sexual orientation.
“I’m a filter, and the couples who hire me know that the vendors they’re going to collaborate with on their wedding are going to be so excited to work with them… whether they’re gay, straight, black, white, Asian, religious, thick, thin,” Meyer says. For him, that’s a non-negotiable. Meyer — the founder of Jove Meyer Events — asks every vendor he works with to sign a form stating that they're “love inclusive” and open to all. If they don’t sign, he won’t be working with them.
“As a gay man, I will not work with any vendor who does not welcome and applaud all kinds of couples, regardless of their sexuality, gender, race, religion, or body size,” Meyer says. “For me, there’s not a world where I would support a vendor who is racist, homophobic, xenophobic — it’s not going to happen.”
Justine Broughal, the founder and lead event planner of Together Events, says there’s still a very strong heteronormative presence in the wedding industry today, and even vendors who don’t blatantly discriminate can take a less than ideal approach to inclusive matrimony.
“There are people who explicitly will not serve LGTBQ couples, and that’s one level of discrimination,” Broughal says. “But there are also people who are quiet about it. It’s behind closed doors — you wouldn’t know at first. They might not explicitly say ‘we won’t do your wedding,’ but say something like ‘we’re not available on that date.’ Some really obvious forms of discrimination are deep-rooted, but less visible." Broughal says you can sometimes spot these kinds of vendors if they don’t have any photos or representations of LGBTQ+ couples on their websites. She says a company using the word “bride” heavily on their website is another red flag, because it doesn’t acknowledge that in some couples there is no “bride.”
Meyer says that even the most accepting companies have a lot to learn about inclusivity. That’s why he gives lectures around the world to folks in the wedding industry about how to be more inclusive. He hopes that he can change the way vendors deal with couples, so they never have to experience “that uncomfortable moment of saying to a vendor: ‘By the way I’m gay — will you still do my wedding?’”
Meyer says that even some of the most accepting companies make careless mistakes that show our society is still entrenched in heteronormativity. “I’ll say: ‘I have two grooms,’ and they’ll be like: ‘Oh, come check out our bridal suite,’” Meyer says. “It’s like, come on guys! I told you. This is not a bridal suite, it’s a private room. Change your language.”
He says every once in a while, he’ll get a contact that will say “bride and groom.” “And I'll say: ‘Hey! Perhaps you were being lazy, or perhaps you were really busy and you forgot, but this is two brides. There’s no groom.’ And so part of the mission of my speaking is to help everyone change their language from bride-centric to couple-centric.”
That’s because the word “couple” doesn’t exclude anyone. Excluding people isn’t just a problem from an emotional standpoint, it’s also bad for business, as Meyer points out.
And although Meyer says there needs to be a space for LGBTQ+ couples to find vendors who make them feel accepted and comfortable, we don’t need a “gay wedding planning industry.” We already have a 72 billion-dollar wedding industry — it just needs to be more accepting of all love.