With same-sex marriage on the fast track, wedding planner Bernadette Coveney Smith has put her many years of same-sex wedding planning experience into a useful guide for lesbian couples headed to the alter.
The Lesbian Couple's Guide to Wedding Planning is the first wedding-planning book to focus specifically on the needs of lesbian couples.
As Coveney Smith, who is a married lesbian herself, notes in the book's introduction, "Having worked with hundreds of lesbian couples, I've realized that we have our own needs, our own agendas, our own musicand our own wedding tastes and concepts."
Even with all the lesbian weddings that have taken place since 2004, when Massachusetts began allowing gay marriage, Coveney Smith points out that two of the most common questions she fields are: "What's normal?" and "What does a same-sex wedding look like?"
Her response? "Any wedding, gay or straight, should be about the personality and style of the couple. Don't let anyone tell you differently."
The book is designed to take the guesswork and stress out of wedding planning and help couples bring out their personality and style.
It is laid out in 15 chapters, with 12 of them serving as a planning guide that covers every step of the wedding planning process.
For example, "12 months out" includes subtopics on creating an organizing system, developing a budget, choosing the wedding party, and deciding whether or not to hire a wedding planner. "Nine months out" looks at setting up a wedding registry and booking a photographer. Lastly,"Three months out" includes purchasing rings, ways to personalize the wedding, finalizing the music and planning for transportation.
Coveney Smith also provides helpful tips specifically for transgender brides and grooms and acknowledges that despite using "lesbian," "brides," "LGBT" and "same-sex," she has tried to make the book inclusive.
A couple of the tips provided early on in the book specifically for transgender individuals include a note on which states have laws banning discrimination based on sexual orientation but that do not explicitly include gender identity, and a tip on coming out as transgender to vendors.
Coveney Smith does not sugarcoat the possibility of running into a homophobic vendor or someone who might actually mean well, but doesn't come across that way, and highlights some of the examples she's witnessed.
"I need to be honest and let you know that there's a good chance you're going to encounter some heterosexism and possibly homophobia, even if you're marrying in a state where same-sex marriage is legal," she writes. "I want to tell you this because, even as a planner, I've seen some ugly things, even with vendors I have prescreened."
She suggests lesbian couples come out to potential vendors right away, and reminds that in many states its legal for a vendor to say no to working with same-sex couples.
That honesty, combined with the book's thoughtfulness and expertise, make it a great resource.
In addition, it includes numerous photos of lesbian couples enjoying their wedding day, a great inspiration for the couple just setting off on their journey to the aisle.
Coveney Smith is the founder and president of 14 Stories, the first company in the United States specializing in planning legal same-sex weddings. Her company has produced hundreds of gay and lesbian weddings.
The book, which was published in September of this year, is available in bookstores nationwide.
View wedding section at www.windycitymediagroup.com/pdf/wedding_section_11.6.13.pdf .