Wedding planners can help same-sex couples navigate industry.
By Henry V. Thiel
Be forewarned: there are some snakes in the Garden of Love, and they may be disguised as wedding vendors. “To be completely honest, there are a lot of a-holes in this industry,” says Lauren Burnham, owner of EventSmith, a lesbian-owned, full-service wedding- and event-planning firm that specializes in all things LGBTQ.
“There are many vendors in Houston who are out for themselves, or who just simply have black hearts and do not support our community,” Burnham says. “There are even vendors who will not work with us [EventSmith] simply because we are gay, or they will just take our money and end up delivering a terrible product.”
So how can same-sex couples separate the snakes from the angels? Well, they can start by hiring an LGBTQ-friendly consultant like Burnham, David Alcorta of David Alcorta Catering, or Claudia de Velasco of A Day To Remember.
“I am very protective of my clients, and I will refer them to only vendors that I personally know and trust—people who will not belittle or hurt them,” Burnham says. She emphasizes that couples should also look for a wedding planner whose personality meshes with theirs.
“Is this someone you want to spend the next 12 to 18 months with?” Burnham says. “Make sure you want to have conversations with this person—lots of conversations.”
Another mistake couples make in planning their weddings is booking vendors based solely on price, Burnham says. “You get what you pay for,” she warns. “Hire someone that you value, someone whose work you appreciate. Find that person with great reviews, and don’t be afraid to ask for—and to follow up with—all references. And please, get everything in writing.”
Alcorta, the proprietor of David Alcorta Catering, seconds Burnham’s warning about homophobic vendors. “It’s just sad that there are some vendors who will not work with those in our community,” Alcorta says. “I know who they are, and will steer my clients away from them [and toward] those who will.”
Alcorta’s services include everything from drop-off trays of finger foods to full-service catered events, complete with a staff of culinary artists, servers, and mixologists. “Our menus include Mexican, Latin, Italian, and American cuisines,” Alcorta says. “And I am very proud to say that our chefs can even recreate your grandmother’s favorite family recipe.”
Alcorta offers an extensive menu of bite-size desserts and cakes for all occasions. It’s a one-stop shop for the two stars of any wedding reception—the food and the cake.
“The first thing one should look for in a wedding planner is just how well-engaged they are in the community. Do they have relationships with the vendors and resources you need to make your dream wedding come true?” Alcorta says. “A good wedding planner should be able to envision your dream wedding within the first hour of meeting the happy couple.
Alcorta says the biggest mistake couples make is not knowing how big or small they want their wedding to be. “They start off small and intimate, and two weeks later decide they want a big event so everyone they have ever met can attend,” he says.
Regardless, Alcorta says he loves working with same-sex couples. “I’m gay, and I’m in a same-sex marriage, and I personally planned our wedding,” he says. “Prior to the 2015 Supreme Court decision, I had planned a few same-sex weddings. Afterward, I am happy to report that gay men and women are getting married in record numbers. I am currently working with two same-sex couples for weddings in November and January. Both are big weddings, and are going to be lots of fun.”
De Velasco, lead event-planner and creator of memories at A Day To Remember, believes couples need to connect with their planner. “Not on just a business level, but on a personal level as well,” De Velasco says.
“When planning and designing a wedding, we personalize each and every wedding; we are definitely not in business to generate cookie-cutter weddings,” she adds.
De Velasco says the biggest mistake couples make is not planning their budget. “Oftentimes, couples are not fully aware of the costs of a wedding,” she says. “Having a planner who is familiar with the costs, based on their needs and vision, will not only save them money but also help alleviate some of the stress.”
De Velasco also reported an increase in same-sex clients since the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling in favor of nationwide marriage equality. “[Same-sex] weddings tend to be even more emotional, as they are still a new concept, even though it’s been two years,” she says. “Many of our same-sex couples grew up thinking they could never get married, so the possibility of a legal marriage is even more sacred, and definitely not taken for granted.
“The challenge same-sex couples face when it comes to planning weddings is that, even today, there are sadly many vendors who are not very accepting,” de Velasco says. “It is truly a sad reality that we must continue to vet professionals before considering them for our same-sex couples. We have vowed never to let any of our same-sex couples feel uncomfortable as they begin their happily-ever-after life together.”
Claudia de Velasco, Lead Event Planner and Creator of Memories
A Day To Remember
This article appears in the October 2017 edition of OutSmart Magazine.