Marriage Equality Whispers at New York Bridal Week
Bridal tuxedo at Sarah Jassir show at New York Bridal Market 2011
As I was surrounded by celebration on that historical New York night on June 24in my downtown New York City neighborhood, I felt relief. Pride. Hope. And the naïve notion that all would instantly change. After all, the state of New York is home to the nation’s most immersed city, with veins running through all aspects of the wedding industry. If LGBT couples can get married here, surely the wedding industry would be quick to cash in.
But after that night, the public seemingly began viewing the marriage equality fight as a downhill battle, without giving any additional thought to what comes after the bill signing. Yes, a huge milestone was surpassed, and hopefully will encourage other states to follow in New York’s footsteps. But even though we’ve passed the Marriage Equality Bill, we’re far from the state of actual equality.
The wedding industry itself is greatly lacking a presence for the gay community, and has a huge misperception of the vastly different needs a same-sex couple has while planning. This was made clear to me as I perused the bridal booths at Pier 94 during New York Bridal Week. As I chatted with vendors, I was met with quizzical looks when I mentioned that I was representing Equally Wed, seeing a lack of understanding wash over their faces. Others assumed it was for grooms only (which I’ve found to be a common misconception; for whatever reason, people assume same-sex marriages apply to men only). And even others shunned me with cold stares or harsh words, such as James Fong, president of OpheliaContessa bridal, informing me that there was “nothing here for your outlet.”
Hand-in-hand brides in the finale walk at the Sarah Jassir show at New York Bridal Market 2011
However, the overall response was positive, though slightly obtuse. Most were excited for us covering such an important niche in the wedding industry, since, you know, “that bill passed and all.” The engagement ring vendors I spoke with enthusiastically informed me they could add on rainbow embellishments for their gay clients, and fashion houses that designed for both men and women referenced me to their menswear line for brides. Out of the hundreds of dresses that walked the runway, I saw one sole bridal tuxedo, a beautiful creation designed by Sarah Jassir, at a show produced by LGBT-focused wedding planning firm, Gay Ever After. There was a whisper of a presence there, but even that whisper was slightly misconstrued. After all, contrary to the apparent belief, not all lesbians want to dress in men’s clothing and wear rainbows. Which is why at Equally Wed, we have our ear to the ground to grasp any hints of a vendor who truly gets our community and its wedding planning needs, so that we can provide our readers with LGBT-friendly resources that are designed for you—not what a straight person thinks a gay person wants. With a little bit of awareness, we can break this stereotype mold of “what’s gay” and hopefully help lead the wedding industry into a direction that incorporates all types of unions.