Who doesn’t love a wedding site that’s truly a sign of the times? As we've discussed before, the internet has truly leveled the playing field when it comes to finding resources for planning any type of wedding, from the budget ceremony to the over the top destination locations, ocean to city, coast to coast. There’s a whole world out there, waiting to be discovered.
H&H Weddings, based right here in New York, is a Hitch favorite. H&H is focused on same-sex wedding inspiration that couples beautiful aesthetics with the less-than-pretty challenges faced when planning — the complex etiquette, the tricky politics, the hard questions. Plus, the highlighted vendors are those with experience in the same-sex market, one that’s fortunately growing and will continue to do so.
We had a chance to chat with Kate Schaefer, who founded the site with Brenna Simmons, to learn about their beginnings, the state of LGBT marriages, and the wedding industry of our shared hometown.
Can you provide a brief history of H&H Weddings, particularly the initial inspiration behind it?
Brenna and I were working together at a restaurant when the idea of H&H Weddings came to us. At the time, I was also interning at Gothamist, where I spent a lot of time trolling social media. Via a Huffington Post article, I read the story of a woman who was newly engaged. Her girlfriend (now fiance) had proposed. The bride-to-be was so excited that she ran out and did what everyone in her position would do: she grabbed all of the bridal magazines on the shelf and went home to plan her dream wedding.
Her spirit was crushed when she realized that she was unable to use these publications because she was in a same-sex relationship. At the time, while I was reading this, I kept thinking to myself, “This is absurd, there has to be resources for this woman to use.” I did a bit of research and was completely disheartened when I found myself corrected. There were no aesthetically pleasing, modern resources for LGBT couples. I shared my disbelief and horror with Brenna at work and she (an avid wedding stalker) was on board to help me change things!
What type of content do you provide your readers? How do you go about generating ideas for that content?
Many wedding blogs focus solely on real weddings and styled shoots. For heterosexual weddings, this tends to be enough content, because the guidelines have been the same for so long. We wanted to provide beautiful decor and fashion inspiration to our couples, but also provide the less “pretty” stuff. Like, the etiquette questions that need answering, as well as a solid list of vendors from all areas who work with and have experience with same sex couples.
What void are you filling in the existing wedding market?
We are filling a big, gaping void that has existed for some time now in the wedding industry. There are plenty of wedding websites out there for LGBT couples, but they are filled with rainbows and are running in a template created in 2001. They don’t have a high-end look and feel to them. As I was perusing some of these sites, it seemed that they pointed out the glaring discrepancies between LGBT couples and straight couples. They truly made it seem like members of LGBT couples were second-class citizens. My favorite description of a few of these sites came from Brenna’s stepmom. She said, “They look like a Costco website.” So poignant, so true.
The political state of marriage rights for LGBT is constantly in flux, but progress is being made. Do you see the marketplace – existing blogs, publications, vendors, and so on — following suit?
We do see some progress. There are plenty of predominantly straight wedding websites that will feature LGBT work, but not often. These websites have digitally published gay wedding guides and will answer same-sex wedding questions. But, if that’s not the majority of your work, it’s probably not the subject that you’re most knowledgeable on. You wouldn’t go to a dermatologist to deliver your baby, even if they were capable of it.
Though there are underlying politics, as mentioned above, H&H seems refreshingly focused on the universal beauty of weddings, rather than any inherent cause, per se. Is that a conscious decision? Do you look for content that appeals to all types of LGBT couples, or do you have a specific aesthetic in mind?
It is certainly a choice on our part to stray away from politics. In a way, I think Brenna and I live our lives wearing rose colored glasses. We live as though everyone, everywhere has the right to love whomever they want and in whatever capacity they want. We run our website accordingly, because let’s be honest, your homophobic family might make things tougher on you, but they will not change who you fall in love with. Nor should they. We want to celebrate the beauty of love and what’s more beautiful than two people committing themselves to one another?
We hope to represent every facet of gender identity, sexual orientation, and loving commitment that exists. We want everyone to feel supported, validated, and celebrated by our site. We also want them to have killer celebrations. I suppose we have labeled ourselves as “high-end.” We stray away from work that feels very “DIY,” but it’s mostly because those types of weddings are everywhere. Before same sex marriage starting becoming legal, couples might not have felt like they could go all out and have a beautifully designed wedding. We want same sex couples to feel like they can have and deserve to have the wedding of their dreams. We want couples to feel like royalty on their wedding days, so we treat them as such.
What is personally your favorite type of content to post? Do any recent stories stick out to you?
We looooove inspiration shoots. We love them for two reasons. 1. It’s always a group of crazy-talented vendors that come together, so the work tends to be fantastic. 2. Inspiration shoots with LGBT couples show how much the climate is changing in the wedding world. Inspiration shoots take a lot of time, energy, and resources. When industry professionals dedicate their time to LGBT couples, they are taking a risk that we applaud them for. But when we get submissions of gorgeous real weddings, it is doubly amazing. It makes us super happy that vendors are coming together to make these weddings a reality and that we are providing an outlet for them to be showcased. Our favorites include this Bora Bora wedding and this Houston Zoo wedding!
What do you think of the wedding industry here in New York? Any favorite venues, vendors, or sources of inspiration?
The wedding industry in New York is a world full of possibilities. We have the best of everything here. We did an inspiration shoot at the New York Public Library, that was our personal favorite so far. In terms of vendors, there are so many! We love Mademoiselle Fiona, a fabulous photographer and our friend, Becca, from Suite Paperie creates the most intricate paper goods. In the midst of the tough, the gritty, the downright disgusting, there is always a ton of beauty in New York. If you can find that, you can find inspiration in just about anything.
What are your long-term plans for H&H? Anything we should watch out for?
Ah! The future! There are so many things we have considered. You’ll just have to hang tight to see what we come up with! Ultimately, we’d like to be considered the most reliable resource for LGBT wedding content. We’ll strive for that for now!