the subject Of How to be more welcoming and inclusive is very important to Carys Duckworth OF our UK Sales team.
“If you are only marketing to one particular persona, you are by default, excluding another. For example, if everything shows in your marketing that you only cater to opposite sex weddings, you never will win that same sex market”
Carys understands there is hesitancy on how to take the first step when it comes to being more inclusive with wedding marketing. She says:
”We still have a way to go to move away from the outdated thinking of the hetero-normative mindset, when it comes to marketing our venues and welcoming our couples.”
If you have ever caught yourself thinking “The majority of our enquiries are brides and grooms” or “We don’t get any same sex couples enquiring” then this is a MUST READ article for you.
Recently, I read an article where a gay couple had been asked, by two separate people on property, “When is the bride arriving?” In this day and age, this is not good enough and as industry professionals we need to step up. (I’ve suggested some alternatives at the end of this piece.)
Weddings by their nature are steeped in tradition and when we reflect, it’s hard to believe that same sex weddings were legalised in the UK in 2014, just 8 years ago! While we are now used to the fabulousness of these events, I believe we are less used to navigating the language around being more inclusive, generally. We still have a way to go to move away from the outdated thinking of the hetero-normative mindset, when it comes to marketing our venues and welcoming our couples.
Gender inclusive language is language that avoids bias toward a particular sex or social gender.
Bridal bias is a big one
It might sound obvious but not all weddings these days have a bride. That said, much of our beloved industry’s communication and language is aimed to attract and resonate with the females of the group.
Think about it. References to bridal suites and bridal parties are subtly embedded with the assumption that the bride, i.e. the woman, will be the one who bears The Mental Load of planning, coordinating and hosting the wedding day. And, it’s assumed they are the ones that will be judged on the success of the event or indeed if things do not go to plan. Beyond this, this bias also feeds the not so subtle unfair stereotype of the “bridezilla” – the demanding “difficult” woman. The pressure of organising an event on this scale for so many people at so much expense, can be daunting for a professional not to mind a first time event organiser with their heart and soul invested in its success.
As professionals, we must remember what’s at the heart of a wedding – it’s a coming together, a celebration of love and partnership. There are two people, who bring their own dreams, hopes and a little nerves to the day, regardless of gender and regardless of orientation.
Objections and outdated assumptions
“The majority of our enquiries are brides and grooms”
“We don’t get any same sex couple’s enquiring”
As you read, do you find yourself saying this in the back of your mind? This may be factually correct – You may well have the stats to show me. Truth is, if you are only marketing to one particular persona, you are by default, excluding another profile. For example, if everything shows in your marketing that you only cater to opposite sex weddings, you never will win that same sex market.
“Straight couples don’t want gender neutral terms”.
Do you really know that or have you assumed? Of course, in every dealing with a couple I would always seek to mirror their language. However, Millennials and Gen Z are very used to this new language so you might be surprised. Let me assure you these terms will become the norm, so get ahead of the curve and start using them now.
“It’s difficult, I’m afraid I will say the wrong thing”
Navigating the language can feel like a bit of a minefield when meeting in person for the first time. And, of course, you don’t want to offend anyone, but most people would rather that you ask and clarify at the outset. Ask what pronouns they prefer to use.
Strive for diversity
There’s more to think about than just sexual orientation. Think about gender identity, non-binary, gender fluid and trans.
Does your promotion only identify one type of couple? Think about diversity of age profiles, race, religion, and body shapes.
Where to start?
If you need to spell out in words that you cater for same sex weddings or other type of religious ceremonies, I would suggest you need more work to reflect diversity. Here are some ideas.
Start with yourself
Be aware of the way you use your own words and language, and strive to improve it. Get better at asking the right questions when you meet a new couple.
Does your organisation have a DEI policy? Ask HR to provide training on this for the entire team. If you’re a small team, start small, decide what you are going to change and do it.
Do an audit of your collateral. Think about any point of contact – personalised emails, automated emails, newsletters, brochures, contracts, final details, enquiry forms.
Review your Brochures, Ads, Social Media, Photos, Posters and Displays*
*I walked into a hotel one time, and they had a wedding display in their lobby up front and centre with a sign saying “Mr & Mrs”.
Use your tools. Make notes in your CRM. Get the pronouns right. Write down the words your couple is using to describe themselves, their wedding party etc.
Photo by Becerra Govea Photo from Pexels
I believe now is the best time to take stock and make changes. With good reason.
You are missing out on the many financial opportunities that come from appealing to a wider and diverse audience. For example, the same sex weddings market is one that is increasing whereas opposite sex weddings are on the decrease. Older couples are likely to have greater disposable income so higher spend. And much more.
Most importantly of all, the idea that anyone would feel less than incredible when going through the exciting journey to planning their dream day, I find so desperately sad. The main reason is moral duty. Everyone must be able to celebrate their love, with whomever they love. Welcome them with open arms and an open mind.
Note: As mentioned above, it’s important to reflect the language of your couple using their terms when you have established how the reference themselves and other members of their party. The traditional terms are not necessarily wrong in this context. This is about the messaging (words and pictures) you use in your marketing.
Check out my list below and let me know what you think. Are there other terms that are used/misused?