Early this summer, marriage equality became the law of the land. The wailing and gnashing of teeth was mostly kept to a minimum, and so far the sky hasn’t fallen.
But same-sex couples in Oklahoma may have a long road ahead to marital bliss, just like their heterosexual counterparts. A few years ago, NBC News reported on a new Census Bureau study that said Oklahoma led the nation in terms of divorce. While the honeymoon may not be over yet (pun intended) for those who are enjoying marriage equality, time will tell whether the incorporation of same-sex marriages to that data will help improve Oklahoma’s rankings.
Meanwhile, some local vendors are basking in the new business same-sex marriages are bringing in.
Not long after the U.S. Supreme Court extended the right to marry to all adults, the first same-sex wedding show came to Oklahoma City. It was designed to help gay couples find vendors who are “friendly” – weeding out those who might be opposed for whatever reason.
“There’s a mixed bag of responses, for sure,” says Kindt Steven Myers, a local event planner who organized the show. “Finding only a few vendors who were unwilling to work with gay wedding clients was enough motivation for us to decide to produce the wedding show. Instead of blacklisting those who don’t, we wanted to highlight those who do.”
Turnout for the show was great, he said, with both same-sex and heterosexual couples checking out local vendors. As times change, so do some aspects of the nuptials.
Myers continued that he has noticed a few differences already as a wedding planner: “You may find your clients have been together for many years, possibly waiting for legal recognition to tie the knot,” he explains.
“The other difference is in the language we use as wedding professionals. It is no longer a ‘bridal suite,’ it is a ‘wedding suite.’ Likewise, bridal parties should be referred to as wedding parties. It is important to recognize who you’re working with in the moment and think before you speak.”
A number of vendors participated in the wedding show – everyone from bakers to florists. Tony Foss of Tony Foss Flowers said the main objective was to tell clients they are important and so is their business.
“I do a lot of weddings,” Foss says. “That is probably 80 percent of my business. Our goal at this particular wedding show was to tell same-sex couples, loud and clear, that we want your business and we will treat you with respect and dignity.”
Interest in the wedding show has been tremendous, Foss said, and he and Myers are already in the planning stages of another event for early next year. He also is getting an up-close look at what other couples face when putting together a wedding, since he and his partner of 12 years are busy planning their own ceremony.
“I would have never gone to another state just to get married,” Foss says, “but since it’s legal in Oklahoma, now we are doing it. We set the date for Feb. 29, which is when we met 12 years ago. Now that I am engaged to DeWayne, I get to see what my customers go through when they have to choose a DJ, a florist and all the other myriad choices they have to make.”
Foss said he thinks a lot more people today are tolerant and open-minded when it comes to equality. Likewise, Myers said he is grateful for the hard work, time and talents given by others to make marriage equality a reality. “Some have gone on who worked diligently in this civil rights movement and did not get to see this ruling or these actions take place in their lifetime,” Myers says. “I think it’s important to honor those who have worked and who still work for the LGBTQI community.
“As a business owner and a wedding planner, I am often asked about how this impacts us at the local level. My advice? Good business begets good business. Be kind and do what you do well. My doors are open to all couples who want to marry, and I am on board to help make my clients’ wedding day everything they’ve dreamed it could be.”