Monday, March 31, 2014

Spotted Award Winner: Bethel Nathan of Ceremonies by Bethel

What are the Spotted Awards?

The Say I Do! Spotted Awards is our way of recognizing and bringing attention to those businesses that stand on the side of equality and love. We feel that all too often those businesses who refuse service to gays and lesbians receive more attention (though negative) than those businesses that have always stood in alliance with the LGBT community. We want to change that by highlighting businesses who stand for love and equality.   It also serves to provide examples to other businesses on how they can be more diverse and inclusive.

We are so excited to announce our second of 3 Spotted Award winners, Bethel Nathan of Cermonies by Bethel of San Diego, CA!

From the very beginning, Bethel has been a supporter of, and advocate for, marriage equality.  Until Prop 8 was removed, she regularly celebrated couples in commitment ceremonies, and always promised that when the day returned, she would happily legally marry them.  Once marriage equality returned to California, nothing made her happier than not having to distinguish between any of her couples or their commitments.  Now she gets to enjoy celebrating couples coming in from all over the country to get married in San Diego, in celebrations big and small!

As Bethel puts it, "I want to be part of your special day. As a celebrant unaffiliated with any specific religion or organization, I will design, create, and perform a unique ceremony just for you, as it will be about you. Your ceremony can be simple, traditional, contemporary, or as elaborate and eclectic as you desire. Regardless of the style, it will be perfect for you. I believe your ceremony should be a personal reflection of your current relationship and of your future years together.  Ultimately, it should celebrate your union, touch your hearts, and inspire your loved ones with a ceremony that is special and meaningful to you, whatever that may be!

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Custom Wire Hanger Giveaway with Jenn Leece Designs

Winner will receive a wire hanger creation from Jenn Leece Designs! Winner can choose either Mr and Mr and Mrs and Mrs wire hanger designs!
Follow the instructions below to enter to win! Winner is responsible for shipping costs of prize ($15 CAD).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spotted Award Winner: Shaun Cox of A DIY Affair Weddings and Events

What are the Spotted Awards?

The Say I Do! Spotted Awards is our way of recognizing and bringing attention to those businesses that stand on the side of equality and love. We feel that all too often those businesses who refuse service to gays and lesbians receive more attention (though negative) than those businesses that have always stood in alliance with the LGBT community. We want to change that by highlighting businesses who stand for love and equality.   It also serves to provide examples to other businesses on how they can be more diverse and inclusive.

We are so excited to announce our first 3 Spotted Award winners starting with a D.I.Y. Affair Weddings and Events based out of Cleveland, TN!

About a D.I.Y. Affair

We are a wedding coordination boutique based out of Cleveland Tennessee serving the entire  Chattanooga Tennessee area. We provide full-service coordination services for couples that have the planning process covered but need a trusted source to manage the important details of the big day. We were founded on a philosophy that encompases embracing people, no matter the race of a couple, no matter the sexual orientation, no matter the religious practices we just want to serve all people with the most high level of service possible and make their wedding day the best day of their lives. Being a lesbian owned business it important to me that not only do I carry out this philosophy but that the people I hire adopt this philosophy and the vendors I work with support and apply this same philosophy so that the wedding experience is equatable the same from start to finish. We don't parade that were lesbian owned nor do we market ourselves to be the gay/lesbian wedding coordinators in town because we are so much more than that, but you can always count on us to use inclusive language and just make people feel like people without regards to their differences. It's just about the little things and being open to learn those things your not quite sure of.


Monday, March 24, 2014

Say I Do! Wedding & Anniversary Expo!

We are so super excited to hold our 5th Say I Do! LGBT Wedding Expo! We figured since we are celebrating the anniversary of our 5th annual event, that many of our couples who attending since 2010 were celebrating anniversaries as well. So in the honor of all of our beautiful couples, we've updated the event to Say I Do! LGBT Wedding and Anniversary Expo. We are celebrating love, marriage and equality in a grand style! All engaged and married couples are welcome to this grand celebration of pride and LOVE! 
for ticket details!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Instructions: The Say I Do! First Look Giveaway

Enter to win 2 tickets to Say I Do! DC 2014!  We are giving you a first look at our 2014 event by revealing our 5 of our exhibitors. The good news is the 5 exhibitors we are revealing are returning exhibitors from our 2013, which should making guessing a little bit easier.

Correctly guess the vendor name and you will be entered to win tickets, it is that simple!

How to win:
1. We will post a clue that describes a Say I Do! 2014 vendor
2. We will link to our image gallery on Facebook where the vendor logo is located
3. Correctly guess the vendor using the clue and post it under status that provides the clue. Follow directions, clue may be posted on FB, Twitter or our blog. By correctly guessing the vendor you will be entered to win. Incorrect guesses are not eligible. Only one guess per person per day
4. We will announce one clue each day through Friday
5. The ticket winner will be announced by Thursday, March 20th

Visit us on Facebook for the first clue coming up on Monday, March 9th at 3pm EST.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Why Being "LGBT-Friendly" Is No Longer Enough

For years, I've been asking the question of what it means to be "LGBT-friendly". Sure, we say our Say I Do! event features LGBT-friendly vendors but there was always the nagging question in my mind, “Is being  ‘LGBT-friendly’  enough?” I wasn't sure what enough would be or how to go the extra step.
And like a sack of bricks, it hits me. Being LGBT-friendly isn't enough. As a matter of fact, if current events and events I've personally witnessed are any indicator - and they are-  being "friendly" to the LGBT community really means nothing at all.
I am a big fan of RuPaul's Drag Race. This show delivers everything to keep me entertained and I usually come away with a new phrase or word. I swear, its pure gold! But, I digress. Anyone who has watched this show knows that while some of the contestants may act friendly towards each other (at times) they are all not friends, not at all! The many ways in which these queens “throw shade” is astounding. It's damn near brilliant. It makes for great TV but in real life, who needs someone who is just "friendly" to you?  Smile in your face, talk about you behind your back- I'll pass!
For the past five years, we have been producing the Say I Do! LGBT Wedding Expo. Part of my job is to find vendors and businesses who want to work with the same-gender loving community and who are as excited about helping us plan our weddings as they would be with any couple. I wish I could say it's been all roses; I wish I could say that every person, every business has jumped for joy to work with our couples.  That has not been the case. I have had people step away from me;  I mean, literally take a couple of steps back when I told them that I produce wedding shows for the LGBT community. The same people who were in my face and excited to meet and talk to me were no longer interested in networking when they found out what it was I do. It was as if being gay was contagious or standing next to me somehow transposed my "sin" onto them. I even had a venue manager tell me that while they will do gay weddings, the wedding can be held in the back pavilion; and that no, they would never put a gay or lesbian couple on their marketing materials because they are "family-friendly". These things I cannot make up! Though,  I do wish it was fiction.
The cornucopia of what I like to call "luke-warm" businesses is dizzying. These are businesses that will take your money but will talk about you behind your back.  They really don't like you because you're gay but will put up with you for the check.  Ask yourself- If someone is just putting up with you, do you think they're going to give you the best service or the best product? Of course not! Funny though, these businesses call themselves "LGBT-friendly"! If the standard of "friendly" they use is the same standard that Christians who proclaim “love the sinner, hate the sin” when they refer to gays, or are like the "friendly" we see on RuPaul's Drag Race or on a Real Housewives episode- that is a friend that the LGBT community does not need!  Ask any of the politicians who passed the Arizona bill to discriminate against gays, I'm sure they'll tell you they are "gay-friendly" as well!
If you judge me by anything other than my character, I don't need your services or products nor do you deserve my money.  No tea, no shade- just real talk!
Part of my job is to fend off these types of businesses so that the couples that attend Say I Do! Events- or look to us to recommend businesses to help them plan their big day- don't have to deal with them. I wish there was more we could do to let people know that while certain business will take your money, they are fundamentally opposed to who you are on the basis of who you love.
It may be impossible to ensure that every time money leaves your hands it is given to a person, business or entity that believes in the right for two consenting adults to love each other regardless of gender but we can make sure that larger planned out efforts, such as a wedding, are only conducted with businesses who affirm us not just tolerate us. The decision has been made to move from saying "LGBT-friendly" to "LGBT-affirming" when describing the businesses that participate at Say I Do! events.  Affirming means:  I accept you for who you are, regardless of who you love and I won't treat you any differently because of it. Affirming is all or nothing. You can't fake it. You can't affirm someone and then not like or agree with what it is you are supposedly affirming. Maybe you can, but it would be really hard to fake. When you affirm someone, you don't tell them that you can work with them but they have to hold their "gay wedding" at the back of the venue. Recently, I fell head over heels for a unique and fun game for weddings.  I noticed that none of the sample images showed same-sex couples or indicated any same-sex partnerships. I talked to the company and suggested that they make mock-up samples featuring same-sex couples. Two weeks later, I received an email saying they would not do it. Over twenty images of straight couples but they could not accommodate one image of a same-sex couple. But once again, they'd be happy to take my order! I'm invisible and so are others like me but you want my very tangible money? No, thank you! We need businesses that affirm us without hesitation. I cannot settle for anything less than affirming for the couples who attend our events and trust us for advice. And whether you decide to attend a Say I Do! event or not, you shouldn't settle for anything less either!
Say I Do! is in the process of creating a badge for businesses to display and let others know that they are affirming of the LGBT community. The badge will signify to our community that you can shop here, we will treat you with dignity and respect, and we will not deny your right to be served at this establishment because of who you love. Further, it means that if another patron has an issue with your presence because you are gay, we will stand for your right to be who you are regardless of what others may think, feel or publicize. That's a big statement.  It’s on the side of equality and justice and it is simply the only way to counter discrimination and to let people know that bigotry, by any means, will not be tolerated.  There is no room for intolerance or hate in love.
It is my hope that the words "LGBT-affirming" speaks volumes and indicates the seriousness of our cause and how committed we are to our couples.