ORLANDO, Fla. - Same-sex marriage isn't legal in Florida, but that's not stopping wedding vendors from across Central Florida from learning about how to uniquely serve gay couples.
Bernadette Smith leads the Gay Wedding Institute and is an experienced New York-based wedding planner. She ran a workshop Tuesday for Orlando wedding vendors training them to work with gay couples.
Orlando's Ritz-Carlton hosted the workshop--which included vendors like DJs, photographers and wedding planners.
Smith educated the vendors about the unique challenges and experiences that come with same-sex weddings.
"Same-sex couples want to be included. They went to feel like they're being invited to participate in this very traditional right of passage," Smith said.
Part of the training included what kind of language to use with same-sex couples, how to make them feel comfortable and show support throughout the planning process. The workshop covers how to adjust gender roles and traditions to reflect the couple's wishes among many other things.
"Who walks down the aisle last at a same-sex wedding? Is it the bride? What if there are two brides? What if there are no brides?" she said.
Future grooms Adam Motyczka and Kennenth Cantrell took part in a photo shoot the day before the workshop. They have a civil union in Orange County and would like to get legally married in Florida soon. The pictures will be used in promotional materials for the Ritz-Carlton to advertising to gay couples. The upscale hotel is also having its staff certified by Smith in a separate workshop this week.
"Some hotels are really conservative and to know that they would go out of their way to do this is just incredible," said Motyczka.
Smith says the message from the vendors who took part is that they support same-sex unions and they want their business. They're preparing now instead of waiting until gay marriage is legal in Florida.
After the workshop, vendors get a gay wedding certification from Smith, which they can use in advertising.
For the grooms-to-be, knowing vendors are showing support for gay weddings makes them feel closer to the reality of legal gay marriages in the Sunshine State.
"It really gives a good feeling to us and some hope that this will be a reality soon," said Motyczka.
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