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Wedding help to the rescue

By |2012-04-26T09:00:00-04:00April 26th, 2012|Uncategorized|

Dreaming about the big day with the one you love is an exciting time. When it comes time to actually planning the wedding, you’ll want to create a budget, get organized and make important decisions in advance so that you can enjoy it.
For example, will it be a small event at your home, a destination wedding or a grand affair? Whatever your decision, there are several LGBT-friendly vendors who understand the powerful, emerging LGBT wedding market.
“One of the aspects I find very fun to help with when it comes to LGBT couples is that most of them come into our store not knowing the traditions,” says Kyle Burns from Miner’s Den Jewelers in Royal Oak They ask me, ‘Do I get to wear two rings or only one?’ or ‘Can I get down on one knee?’ My response is always the same: ‘This is your moment that no one can take away from you. How do you want to remember it?’
“The engagement process is something that is supposed to be fun and exciting, not pressure-filled and intimidating. LGBT couples want the same experience shopping for a ring that heterosexual couples experience.”
Miner’s Den Jewelers has helped so many couples with their rings that they have seen many different styles leave the store. “Some couples want simple gold bands; other couples want something that has tons of sparkling diamonds,” says Burns. “When shopping from us, we want to make sure the customer gets what they want and that they understand their purchase. For example, the benefits of different metals or the 4 C’s of diamond purchases. The more knowledge that we possess, the more knowledge our customer will possess.”
Many LGBT-friendly vendors are available to provide products, resources and information for same-sex couples looking for something different. Sure, there are traditional elements involved when planning a wedding, but many LGBT people love the opportunity to be non-traditional and reinvent what weddings should look like.
In the men’s formal wear business for nearly 19 years, Jeff Nelson serves the LGBT community often as owner of The Tux Shop on Woodward in Birmingham In year’s past, Nelson produced tuxedos for the Human Rights Campaign Fund Dinner back when the organization did regular black tie galas. As recent as last month, he coordinated with Affirmations to be the exclusive tuxedo provider for their Spring Bash at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
“When helping a couple to decide what to wear, the basic questions are still with tuxedo style and color of tie and vest or cummerbund,” says Nelson. “However, when women choose to wear tuxedo formal wear, we explore the different options of men’s coats such as tail coats or shawl lapel tuxedos, just as an example. I do have the capability of ordering tuxedos for purchase designed to fit women. With rental merchandise, the ideas and fit is surrounded with men’s clothing sizes only. Therefore, I discover what style options would be the best fit per individual.”
For women who prefer to wear a wedding gown, Michelle McFarland from The Wedding Shoppe in Berkley said she has had “wonderful experiences” with same-sex couples and looks forward to serving many more in the future. “Honestly, most of the time we don’t even find out our bride has a same-sex partner until deep into the process,” says McFarland. “I don’t really think helping a lesbian bride is any different to helping a heterosexual bride. She’s just a girl in love and wants the same thing: a happy stress-free experience trying on beautiful wedding gowns.”
The process of choosing a gown can be challenging. According to McFarland, a starting point is deciding how formal the wedding is going to be: Is it a beach wedding, or is the setting contemporary? Will the reception be formal or informal? “Then we guide the bride toward gowns that coordinate with her surroundings,” she says, adding that many LGBT couples have their plans well formed by the time they visit The Wedding Shoppe. “Their concerns over which type of dress they will choose is the same as everyone else. It’s our job to help each bride discover her own wedding gown style, which best fits her figure and personality.”
Sometimes the bride will wear a dress and her partner will wear a linen or informal suit. McFarland and her staff have seen couples both wear gowns and in that case, they try to help coordinate the looks. “But in the end, we always encourage our brides to wear what makes them happy. If she’s always wanted a big poofy ballgown on a beach and it makes her happy, then we say go for it,” MacFarland says.
And to capture special moments on camera, including the fabulous attire, are photographers like Steve Schwall and Kathleen Mabbott, co-owners of Rawlinson Photography in Plymouth
“We have been serving the metro Detroit area for 41 years but have never been approached until recently by the LGBT community,” says Mabbott. “We just finished shooting an engagement session for a lesbian couple and it was a wonderful experience. Although we have not had the privilege to shoot an LGBT wedding, we look forward to in the future.”
Schwall and Mabbott have had the pleasure to photograph more than 4,000 weddings and there’s one single factor that every couple wants above all the rest. “It’s simple, good, high-quality photographs so that they can relive that special day for years to come,” says Mabbott. “A common concern when couples come in to talk with us is that they don’t want their photographs to look still like their parents’ wedding photographs. They want to feel and look relaxed, which is why today’s couples see the advantage of a pair or team of photographers at their wedding.”
When asked if shooting an LGBT wedding would be different than a straight wedding, Mabbott says, “No. Love is love. It photographs the same.”
For more information on where to find LGBT-friendly vendors, check out these websites:,,, and

About the Author:

Kate Opalewski
Kate Opalewski is BTL's features editor and has been since 2015. She has covered a variety of topics ranging from art, politics and community outreach. Recently, she was honored by the Detroit Police Department LGBT Advisory Board for her work for the local LGBTQIA community.