A Colorful Conversation with Kirsten Palladino of Equally Wed

Coping with Heteronormative Bias When Planning Your Wedding 

When Kirsten Palladino sat down to start planning her own wedding she did not see her or her partner in any of the mainstream wedding resources available to her. So, they decided to do something about it and co-founded Equally Wed to combat the heteronormative bias in the wedding industry all while offering inclusive planning guides, vendor lists, and a place where couples can get real inspiration from real LBGTQ+ weddings.

Even though marriage equality is now legal in the US, the LGBTQ+ community still deals with homophobia, transphobia and hetero-normative standards on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this can become especially prominent and stressful when planning a wedding that should fundamentally celebrate their union as a couple. 

In this interview, Leah and Kirsten discuss how to deal with what Kirsten calls “the mental gymnastics of planning a wedding.” 

She advocates throwing out the stereotypes of what a wedding should be and making it your own. She also encourages friends, family and marriage equality advocates everywhere to be allies to the LGBTQ+ community, whether you’re a wedding guest or not.

Here are some of our favorite takeaways from Kirsten’s Interview. 

Tips for dealing with heteronormative assumptions

Let’s face it, the LGBTQ+ community encounters a lot of heteronormative assumptions along with both unconscious and conscious bias in the wedding industry. 

For example, Kirsten pointed out that “every time a vendor is contacted, the couple has to potentially ‘come out’ all over again and wait for a pause or reaction from the vendor to see if they want to work with them.” 

She also acknowledged that members of a couple’s family of origin can be unsupportive.. 

She called dealing with these types of issues “mental gymnastics” and shared how they can be exhausting as well as rob some of the joy LGBTQ+ couples are 100% entitled to when planning their weddings. 

Tips for coping with heteronormative bias

Kirsten offers the following tips to make sure that you do not add more to your mental plate during your planning process:

  • Utilize resources that are LGTBQ+ friendly so you don’t have to worry about unconscious bias. Tools like Equally Wed’s Vendor Directory already have a fully vetted and certified vendor list. The vendors have to pass a rigorous course so LGBTQ+ couples know they are working with someone who is an advocate for marriage equality and the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Do not invite people to your wedding just because you think you should. Even though marriage equality is legal, families can still reject your relationship. It’s ok if your origin family does not show up, so don’t forget to embrace your chosen family. Remember to maintain boundaries on your big day and during the wedding planning process. Keep the toxicity out and your heart safe. 

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Tips for making your wedding day your own.

“We’re lucky that we get to take what we want from the hetero weddings and throw out the rest,” says Kirsten. LGBTQ+ couples don’t have to be like everyone else when it comes to their weddings and that should be celebrated. There are many ways you can shake up your nuptials to have the day reflect who you are as a couple. 

Look at every component of a typical wedding day, and don’t be afraid to question whether you want to keep it or change it up to fit your taste. 

For example, are you comfortable using the term “bride” or “groom” to describe yourself? If not, that’s ok. Make up your own term! 

Kirsten gave a great personal example about how the term “broom” was lovingly coined for her own wedding day for her spouse. It was something that made sense to them and that is what ultimately mattered. 

Tips for being an LGBTQ+ ally.

Through all the hurdles and assumptions that are made through the wedding planning process, allies can be an important part of supporting LGBTQ+ couples. 

Here are some tips Kirsten offers for allies:

  • Approach the couple with an open heart and willingness to learn about their needs. Leave your assumptions at the door and ask what they would prefer. You may put your foot in your mouth and that’s ok. Intent and heart matter most according to Kirsten.

  • Recognize the challenges that the community faces. First, listen to members of the LGBTQ+ community, then don’t be afraid to offer help. The help does not have to be financial and can be something as simple as researching vendors that are inclusive to lend a helping hand. 

  • Speak up! Everyone can be an agent for change. Little things like requesting “bride and groom” be stricken and changed to something more inclusive can raise awareness and help vendors be more inclusive.  

Final Thoughts

Remember, you get to reimagine your wedding day to something that reflects who you are as a couple. “Traditions are not rules. The only rule you need to follow is writing thank you notes,” jokes Kirsten. Kirsten is clearly a fellow Southerner.

Where to find Kirsten

Pioneers and Thought Leaders Mentioned