So today, I have Tidewater and Tulle Vendor Fam, Crystal Beng of Cherry Blossom Weddings, chiming in to help the local LGBT community. She is feisty for weddings and specializes in same sex weddings, locally and beyond, and clearly the best expert to help answer the big questions when it comes to getting married here in Hampton Roads.
This post has been updated quite a few times in 2014 due to the changing of laws, so many extra thanks to Crystal for keeping us up-to-date! ♥
Take it away, wedding ninja!
[This resource is current as of November 20, 2014.]
Once upon a time, it wasn't legal for gay couples to get their marriage license, but now they go to the courthouse just like their straight counterparts! A valid form of ID from each person and a check gets the license, and a certified copy can be sent for an additional fee. Though both parties will need to be present, you don't need to worry about having any witnesses or dealing with any waiting periods - huge perks of getting your license in Virginia! To find your specific county/city in Hampton Roads and any city-specific guidelines, you'll want to check out Virginia's Circuit Courts website.
How do I find LGBT-friendly vendors?
Hire Cherry Blossom Weddings (ha!)...
While most vendors don't think twice about the sexual orientation of their clients, there may be some who just won't be a good fit working for you. It's really hard for me not to get on my soapbox here, but the short answer is to ask for referrals. If you're planning your own wedding, you'll have to "come out" a few times to your venue, photographer, videographer, and DJ. These particular people are going to be in your face (literally), and it's best if you get along with them on a deeper level. After you get past those main vendors, everyone else will need to know your wedding date, venue, guest count, et cetera.
Why should I hire a planner? Will it make the whole process easier?
As with any couple - gay or straight - a wedding planner is going to take loads of stress off your shoulders. We reduce the number of emails you have to answer, field the phone calls, and come prepared with tips and tricks to make the process as a whole much easier.
If I'm working with a gay couple, I would say the biggest way I make their lives easier is by pre-screening each vendor. Our clients don't have to "come out" to each vendor, deal with any awkward facial expressions, or have to answer any personal questions - they simply arrive to the meeting knowing we've already taken care of it for them.
How do I find non-traditional wedding attire?
If someone is looking for something a little more fashion-forward like a bridal suit, Alfred Angelo offers some interesting options and the lovelies at Ava Clara Couture Bridal in Virginia Beach have a designer in Boston they often work with for custom pieces. 14 Stories, an amazing business in NYC and Boston, recently launched a line of suit separates designed specifically for lesbian, queer, and trans weddings.
What do I need to keep in mind when wedding planning?
Not to get too emotional here, but don't let anyone downplay your wedding. Yes, we all know it's not legally recognized (yet) in the state of Virginia. Don't get wrapped up in the technicalities, ignore anyone who isn't super excited for you, and let your planner take care of the vendors. After all, the hard part is done - you found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.
Are there any special tidbits about having a gay wedding in our area?
Planning any sort of wedding is an emotional roller coaster for most people. You're trying to please 40-400 of your closest friends and family, it's a huge investment, and you have to worry about a million little details in between. If you're specifically planning a gay wedding, the emotions are just the same but you have the added scrutiny of the general public. Though we've never had to fend off any protesters, it's not uncommon to have gawkers. I like to think people don't mean to be rude, but instead they're just curious. It's nothing that a little extra planning can't prevent, but definitely something to be mindful of.
Are there any resources that might make finding LGBT-friendly vendors easier?
Because Hampton Roads is still growing to become more LGBT-friendly as a whole, there aren't too many local organizations where you can just do a quick search for wedding vendors without doing your own personal inquiries. But there are two main online resources that might help you get started if you don't have a wedding planner: Gayweddings.com (which is affiliated with WeddingWire) and Purpleunions.com. You can always check Hampton Roads Business OutReach and any partnerships with Hampton Roads Pride.
All photos by Amanda Dorian Photography.