Happy 4th! :: Thoughts on Independence

:: Happy 4th! // Thoughts on Independence ::

As our readers know, MRSter is all about marriage equality. We work really hard to not lump people in to categories like “straight”, “lesbian”, “gay”, “bisexual”, “queer” or “questioning.” Come to think of it, we can also separate people by labeling them disabled, ie; a “disabled wedding”. Or elderly, as in, an “old folks wedding” or an “interracial wedding”. It happens. Come to think of it, we can say a “Jewish Wedding” or a “Mexican Wedding” or an “African American Wedding” or an Interfaith Wedding”, et cetera and so forth.

Gay Wedding

Photography :: {MRSter Approved} Mod Wed

While these labels may be true, and while some of these labels may be perceived as offensive while others are not, the fact of the matter is that the human race has more similarities than differences. We just have subtle nuances that make us unique; little differences in shade and tone that make us who we are. The world would be a boring place if we were all the same.

I understand the need for labels when we are expressing an idea, so that others can get what we are trying to express. If I told you I recently went to a Jewish wedding, it may bring to mind the smashing of glasses, or a canopy, or men wearing yamakas, but what do you think of when I tell you I attended a gay wedding? Was everyone there super happy? I mean really, what does that mean? And how does the freedom to marry the one you love enter into an independent life? 

With Independence Day just around the corner, it got me thinking about freedom. I thought about the fight of African Americans to be able to vote. I thought about the fight of people with disabilities for the right to enter a building in a wheelchair. I thought about the fight of Native Americans to get back that which was stolen, and I thought about the words of Nelson Mandela:

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Independence Day

Photography via Sian Clark

Really, the freedom to marry the person you love is, or should be, an elementary right in every state of the nation. I’ve heard all the arguments for and against, and agree that everyone has the right to their opinion. However, no one has the right to belittle, deny or otherwise cause harm to other individuals because they don’t approve of a certain lifestyle (or race of people, or religion).

We are a nation of diversity. Unfortunately however, unless we ever achieve a perfect society, there will always be bigoted, ugly, hateful people in the world. So, and focusing on the area of equality in marriage, MRSter celebrates diversity and tries to bring our equality to the community of humans. Viva la difference!

Love Is Love

We wish you a safe and joyful Independence Day. May our nation continue to be a place where freedom is embraced and celebrated! How will you be celebrating this Holiday weekend?!

Wedding Wisdom Wednesday :: Why the Wedding Industry & Engaged Couples Need MRSter

:: Why the Wedding Industry & Engaged Couples Need MRSter ::

We hate to brag (not really), but MRSter serves a valuable purpose to both the wedding industry and ALL engaged couples. We believe that all engaged couples should be treated equally. We recently interviewed MRSter co-founder Cicely Rocha Miller and MRSter Approved Photographer, Justin McCallum of Justin McCallum Photography on the subject of why the wedding industry and engaged couples need MRSter. We thought it was a good idea to present these questions from our point of view and that of a candid vendor, and hope you agree.

MRSter :: What is it that makes MRSter unique?

Cicely :: We vet all of the wedding vendors that want to list with us through an application process; researching them and confirm their marketing materials are inclusive. We also aren’t just about gay weddings, we are about ALL weddings, as we welcome and celebrate straight couples as well.

Justin :: I was thankful to come across MRSter not only as a wedding vendor myself, but as a member of the LGBTQ community. With rhetoric dividing the conversation surrounding same-sex weddings between exclusion or normalization, it is inspiring to see an online resource that presents couples as they are, without judgement or emphasis on the ‘wedding-industrial-complex.’ MRSter is a space for couples to seek out inspirational and aspirational wedding planning resources with real examples and vendors who are actually reflective of them.

MRSter :: What is the most common error(s) vendors make specific to LGBT engaged couples?

Cicely :: Constantly referring in print, social media and on their websites, to their clients as “Brides”.

Justin :: Having mistakenly landed on the receiving end of many a wedding vendor e-blast, nothing makes me hit “SPAM” faster than immediately calling a wedding planner the “bride” and mentioning a “hubby-to-be” later on. To make such assumptions in today’s day and age is so short-sighted, that it immediately makes me call into question whether they can understand the nuances unique to any relationship, let alone a LGBTQ partnership. In a similar vein, however, couples shouldn’t look exclusively for LGBTQ vendors. Just being queer doesn’t guarantee they’ll vibe with you or your boo, so make sure you meet with vendors before you hire them, since they have to be a good fit for every nook and cranny of you.

MRSter :: How can we best assist vendors?

Cicely :: We offer education, tips and ideas on how to attract the new demographic through an email marketing series that will help them BUILD MORE WEDDING BUSINESS. Click here to sign up!

Justin :: Although I think MRSter has a burgeoning social media presence, I have never seen any marketing or other efforts to grow the network. I think it may be a great website for couples to Pin photos or look at the occasional wedding, but it is lacking a bit of the authority necessary to make couples outright book vendors based on being featured or seeing a profile. That could also be improved with sharper web design.

Cicely :: (in response to Justin). We are aware, and that is something we greatly desire to change. We are working with designers currently to try and work out an easier way for our MRSter Approved vendors to be booked. Thank you for your insight, Justin! We are always open and grateful to hear feedback as to how we can make this resource as user-friendly as possible!

MRSter :: How can we best assist engaged couples?

Cicely :: We offer an amazing list of vendor partners through the FABuLIST. These MRSter Approved vendors are those that celebrate your engagement and love; not merely tolerate it. We offer stories of other wedding days and tips on planning as well.

MRSter :: What still needs to be done to engage greater acceptance of LGBT couples?

Cicely :: Practicing what you are preaching. It’s not about adding a rainbow to your website and assuming that will take care of being inclusive in your business. It’s about you, as a professional wedding vendor, being among the first to practice and implement the tips and suggestions we offer to attract more wedding business.

Justin: MRSter is on the right to track to hasten acceptance of LGBTQ couples by presenting their unique love stories and avoiding stereotypes. Similarly, presenting same-sex couples alongside straight counterparts without division legitimates their love as ordinary, and removes the stigma of being “other.” Continued, honest representation of LGBTQ couples is the clearest path to greater acceptance.

MRSter offers heartfelt thanks to Justin McCallum for his forthright and honest responses. If any of our readers have something to add, we’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Top Five Friday :: Top 5 Things Same-Sex Couples Need to Know When Selecting a Wedding Vendor

:: Top 5 Things Same-Sex Couples Need to Know When Selecting a Wedding Vendor ::

Let’s face it, planning a wedding is stressful, no doubt about it, and for the same-sex couple, you don’t need the hassle of trying to work with wedding vendors who are not savvy about the modern union. We consulted Drew Coleman, professional wedding planner and MRSter co-founder, on the subject of the top 5 things same-sex couples should know when selecting wedding vendors.

Drew Coleman

Drew Coleman

1 :: Experience. How long has the vendor been working with gay couples? It is a good practice to ask the potential vendor about their direct experience and the question may get them to open up about their view on the subject.

2 :: Paperwork: Does the vendor use gender-neutral paperwork and practice neutral processes? Make sure their contracts, forms, and other documentation are properly worded to include your spouse and yourself so you don’t have to cross out “bride” or “groom”. That would be annoying to say the least and is certainly not in keeping with  modern union practices.

Wedding Documentation

3 :: Team Values. Does the entire team share the owner’s’ values? Will the workers on the wedding day be just as gay-friendly? Ask, “What are you doing in your business to make sure your entire team and everybody we come in contact with from your company shares your same values of inclusiveness?”

4 :: Website. When looking at the vendor’s online presence, does it appear that they celebrate diversity and inclusiveness? Ask, “What are you doing in your marketing and social media to show couples that you are open and inclusive?”

MRSter

5 :: Reviews and References. Do the vendors have good reviews in general? Are their any references from gay couples the vendor is willing to share?

Your wedding should be all about the two of you. It is your wedding and you get to make it whatever you want it to be.The bottom line is to make sure you are working with people who respect and honor your right to be together as a couple.

Are you planning your wedding and looking for gay-friendly wedding vendors? Check out our amazing FABuLISTers!!

Cicely Speaks :: How To Make Your Wedding Business Truly Inclusive // Podcast

:: How To Make Your Wedding Business Truly Inclusive ::

For some time now, and particularly since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide back in June, there has been an increased interest in the fairly ‘new’ and exciting demographic of engaged LGBT couples looking to legally marry.

We have seen a large number of businesses and wedding vendors trying to embrace this demographic and ensure that their business is inclusive to ALL couples, but for many it is a daunting process. Vendors are nervous about what they should say, how they should ask questions, whether they are asking the right questions… worried to say the wrong thing. Then on the other hand, there are businesses who believe that they are fully inclusive and welcoming to LGBT couples, yet in reality, they are unknowingly turning off couples. MRSter are here to help…

How To Make Your Wedding Business Truly Inclusive

Cicely {Co-Founder of MRSter} recently had the opportunity to chatter with Heidi of Evolve Your Wedding Business.Com, for a special podcast about how vendors can avoid this, and ensure that their wedding business is truly inclusive. The podcast episode covers the following ::

:: How to focus on inclusion and not separation.

:: How MRSter benefits from having an advisory board and how you can create your own.

:: How we often overcomplicate the way we approach LGBT couples.

:: The common mistakes wedding pros make when it comes to being inclusive.

:: Why you may not be getting as many LGBT weddings as your expected.

:: How you can showcase that you’re open to working with LGBT couples.

:: The importance of gender neutral language on your website & in your marketing.

:: How 2nd class phrases actually take away from marriage equality.

:: How to take your straight glasses off and view your business from a different perspective.

:: How MRSter is working to connect LGBT couples to amazing wedding vendors like you.

You can check out the podcast here.

We would love to know what you thought, and be sure to let us know if you have any questions!!

Coming to Phoenix :: Gay Wedding Institute Certificate Program by 14 Stories // This Is Not To Be Missed!

Advisory board member of MRSter and founder of the Gay Wedding Institute, Bernadette Smith, is coming to Phoenix to certify!

14 Stories Gay Wedding Institute certificate program is coming to Phoenix on Wednesday, August 26th! The workshop will be taking place from 9.30AM until 4.00PM at MRSter Approved venue the Hotel Palomar in downtown Phoenix!

14 stories

The U.S. became the 21st country to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of same-sex marriage nationwide back in June! Fantastic news for us all, as not only are LGBT weddings good for society, but they are also very good for business! Despite the marriage equality ruling, however, wedding planning can be a very daunting experience for many same-sex couples. With unfortunate stories of businesses being shown to discriminate against same-sex couples being commonplace in the media, it is difficult for LGBT couples to know which vendors they can turn to and trust.

“Same-sex couples are a lucrative, emerging market that can help grow your wedding business. To reach this powerful market, you must be ready.  You don’t want to lose business or risk offending potential clients!” [14 Stories].

14stories2Kate McElwee Photography via 14 Stories

Would you like to become more open and knowledgeable about working with LGBT couples when planning their wedding day? We want all wedding professionals to be knowledgeable, confident and excited about this newer market, and now is the perfect opportunity!

“Earn the trust of the loyal LGBT wedding market by learning from the experts at the Gay Wedding Institute” [14 Stories].

:: What Is The Gay Wedding Institute Certificate Program? ::

The Gay Wedding Institute Certificate Program is “the world’s only wedding certificate program that focuses on the LGBT market” [14 Stories]. The course will inspire you, energize you and put you in a position to attract loyal customers. It will allow you to “master the skills and strategies to reach the loyal same-sex wedding market” [14 Stories]. Since the Gay Wedding Institute launched in 2009, “over 700 people have completed this program, representing 14 countries around the world”. [14 Stories]. The Gay Wedding Institute continues to be “a national thought leader, researcher and educator on gay and lesbian weddings” [14 Stories].

14stories3Kelly Prizel Photography via 14 Stories

:: What Will You Learn? ::

This course covers a variety of topics, including;

  • The financial impact of the gay and lesbian wedding market
  • Differences between straight and gay weddings
  • Language and terminology
  • Marketing to engaged same-sex couples
  • Law and policies affecting same-sex couples
  • Same-sex wedding traditions
  • LGBT wedding data and trends

And much, much more…

“This intensive and interactive workshop will [also] include lunch, a packet of materials and tons of great ideas to reach this powerful market” [14 Stories].

14stories4Photography by Antonio del Valle Studio via 14 Stories

:: What Is The Benefit Of Doing The Course? ::

“Besides a projected increase in business, participants who attend this all day session will receive a 14 Stories Gay Wedding Institute certificate badge you can proudly display on your website, a copy of the book The Business of Gay Weddings, a certificate of completion and resource materials. Graduates will also be listed on the Gay Wedding Institute website” [14 Stories]! Not only this, but you will also receive a FREE FABuLIST listing on MRSter for one year!!

MRSter Icons-10

:: Who Are 14 Stories? ::

14 Stories is a MRSter Approved boutique wedding planning firm based in Massachusetts! Their vision is for “a wedding industry fully inclusive of all couples, including LGBTQ couples” [14 Stories]. This is something that they have been working on since they opened their doors in 2004; making them the first firm in the country to specialize in planning legal same-sex weddings!

14 stories

Find out all about this rad company by heading to our Wedding Vendor Wednesday highlight blog all about 14 Stories here!

You can check out their website here, and of course, don’t forget to check out their FABuLIST listing here!

:: Interested In Signing Up? ::

If you are a wedding professional looking to become more open, knowledgeable and confident about working with the LGBT market, then you seriously do not want to miss this!

14stories1Photography by Kevin Day Photography via 14 Stories

Date :: Wednesday, August 26

Time :: 9:30 AM- 4:00 PM

Location :: (MRSter Approved) Hotel Palomar in Phoenix

To register for the workshop, simply head to this link to complete the application form!

Early bird registration cost $309, and expires on August 12th, so hurry to take advantage of this great deal! After August 12th, the price goes up to $349!

Will we see you there?!

Sian Clark // Social Media Manager

Wedding Vendors // Check out what is totally mind-blowing!

There aren’t many times we like to promote products but this is one of those times where our eyes popped out and screamed “We have to tell the world!”

Vendors

During any sort of set up that involves AV (audio and visual) and those pesky cords we see those poor souls on their hands and needs taping the tripping hazards down with that sticky duck tape. This contraption is so worth it and I don’t even know the price.

Check it out.

Join the Revolution from GaffGun on Vimeo.

So we just looked up the price and it’s marked down to $199.

Vendors, would you purchase this?

MRSter Speaks to Arizona

MRSter Speaks to Arizona

We’d like to speak to the state of Arizona for a moment because there is where our MRSter headquarters lie. We are on the brink of change and we urge the Arizona wedding industry to learn and embrace our LGBT engaged couples and provide them with an equally awesome experience when planning their wedding.

Because coming out to vendors over and over again really sucks.

Watch.

MRSter Speaks // Scottsdale, Arizona // Wedding Business Training to work with Gay Wedding Clients

Back by popular demand!
Click image or here to register! This will sell out!

MRSter Speaks Clip from vongspoth.

MRSter-Speaks2014

MRSter Speaks is a forum for wedding business professionals to begin a conversation about how wedding industry professionals can learn to become more open and knowledgeable about working with gay and lesbian couples when planning their wedding day. We want all wedding professionals to be knowledgable, confident and excited about this newer market so we welcome businesses to ask questions, learn and discuss working with this newer demographic.

Because of the desire to learn more about gay and lesbian weddings MRSter put together a special forum that we have officially called MRSter Speaks (formally Same Sex Wedding Business Symposium) to teach and learn from experts in “modern unions”. Please note that this is not a certified class but merely an opportunity to have open and honest dialogue about the industry, upcoming trends, gay business development and how it affects the economy.

Click here for more information on MRSter Speaks.