Knowing how to find the best LGBTQ-friendly wedding venues can really save you a lot of headaches and frustration during the planning phase of your big day. While most states forbid discrimination against same-sex couples, there’s a big difference between a venue that “allows” gay weddings and one that really embraces LGBTQ couples.
Don’t settle for the former. Use our tips below to help you find a venue that can truly give you the day you deserve.
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How to Find LGBTQ-Friendly Wedding Venues
According to Wedding Wire’s 2020 Newlywed Report, the average cost of a wedding venue in 2019 was $10,500, an increase from the $9,000 average in 2018 and 2017. So, what type of wedding venues are the most popular? Well, the report shows that 21% of couples hold their reception at a banquet hall, followed by barn/farm (18%) and historical building (12%).
Of course, you can hold your wedding reception anywhere you’d like and here are some tips on how to find great LGBTQ-friendly wedding venues.
FYI, this post contains some affiliate links to recommended books. If you make a purchase through these links, we earn a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Use same-sex online wedding directories
Same-sex online wedding directories connect couples with LGBTQ-friendly wedding vendors and venues. EnGAYged Weddings, for example, allows you to search by location (United States, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Denmark, and Costa Rica). According to their Facebook page, on the website “you will find wedding professionals that are proud to provide wedding services and support to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender couples.”
LGBTWeddings.com is an “online resource where same-sex couples can find screened providers, articles, real weddings, and planning tools.” You can search for wedding venues by zip code at LGBTWeddings.com. Another one, Pridezillas, allows you to search for wedding venues by location (United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and Australia). According to their Facebook page, Pridezillas mission is “to connect same-sex couples with wedding professionals who support marriage equality.”
Lastly, the Rainbow Wedding Network allows you to search wedding venues by zip code. Launched in 2000, the website provides a diversity of screened LGBT-friendly wedding professionals.
Read up on same-sex wedding planning books
Wedding planning books can provide you with invaluable advice and several options for your wedding venue, as well as an array of other aspects of your big day. Two of the most popular LGBT wedding planning books are:
2 Brides 2 Be: A Same-Sex Guide for the Modern Bride– Laura Leigh Abby- “2Brides 2Be is a guidebook specifically for women same-sex couples, covering all of what they will face as they plan a wedding with two brides.”
Equally Wed: The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your LGBTQ+ Wedding– Kirsten Palladino- Written by the co-founder and editorial director of equallywed.com, the world’s leading digital LGBT wedding magazine. “The ultimate wedding planning guide for engaged couples seeking a meaningful ceremony that celebrates the culture of the LGBTQ community.”
Use Wedding Spot Estimates to obtain ballpark venue cost
With Spot Estimates from Wedding-Spot, you can get an estimate of what a particular venue will cost before you even contact them. This way, you can see if a venue that you are interested in fits your budget and preferences. You can search for venues by location, budget, venue type and number of guests. Then, build your ideal wedding and get an estimate based on your selections. Also, you can save your Spot Estimates and compare venues side-by-side.
If you’re using local venues that aren’t listed- or just don’t want to create an account with them- then I recommend making your own spreadsheet. Include things like “full price,” “deposit,” “refund policy,” “guest capacity,” and “services included.”
Ask necessary questions before booking your venue
Once you have whittled down your list of wedding venues to a select few, there are some questions that you’re going to want answers to before you sign on that dotted line.
It would be counter-intuitive to rush into booking, as you need to carry out a thorough investigation, making sure that everything is to your taste and that there is nothing that will disrupt your ceremony or hold you back on your big day.
After all, your wedding is one of the biggest days of your life, and you should not have to sacrifice on anything that has the potential to make it any less grand. You and your guests should be treated to the best.
Don’t have a clue what to ask a wedding venue coordinator? Not a problem! Offbeat Bride has you covered with their “Giant List of Important Questions to Ask Wedding Venues.” Their list of 80+ (85 to be exact; yes, I counted them all) questions features an array of questions in 8 different categories- Dates, Logistics, Music & Sound, Vendors, Food & Rentals, Staffing & Coordination, Shared Ceremony/Reception Spaces, Accommodations and Money, Payments & Liability.
So, here are some of the important things you may want to know before booking a wedding venue.
● Local laws: Your choice venue might be in an area you are unfamiliar with regarding LGBTQ marital laws. Is the venue aware of any local laws or regulations that may impact the rights of LGBTQ+ couples getting married?
● Availability: You certainly would want to know if your chosen wedding venue is available at the time of the year you intend on getting married. The only exception should be if you are flexible enough with your schedule, but when it comes to last-minute planning, there are no compromises.
You also want to make sure that the amenities you fancied when you sourced out the venue remain the same when the time comes.
● Accommodation: Is your chosen wedding venue big enough to accommodate your guests? Do you have enough space for X amount of people (replace “X” with your guest count)? What about children and guests with disabilities?
This is must-have information, particularly if you plan on having a large guest pool (possibly with kids) and entertainment. You want a venue large enough to have a spot for everybody to feel comfortable.
● Experience level: Before booking a venue, one important thing to note is how experienced they are in hosting LGBTQ weddings. Do they offer LGBTQ-specific wedding packages or services?
Does the venue have any experience working with an LGBTQ wedding planner? Are there any designated spaces for changing or getting ready that are safe and comfortable for transgender and non-binary individuals? This information goes a long way, acting as a guarantee that everything goes smoothly
● Restrictions: One thing you must make sure of is that your guests do not face any form of discrimination or marginalization, and this can come in form of restrictions.
Are there any restrictions that you need to be aware of? Dress code restrictions for transgender and non-binary individuals? What about restrictions on the use of pronouns or language during the ceremony or reception?
General questions to ask include:
- Is the venue available on my wedding date?
- What is included in the fee and what costs extra?
- What is your refund policy if we have to cancel or postpone our wedding due to unforeseen circumstances?
- Can I get in early to set up, and what time do we have to be out by?
- Is there enough parking for guests? Do you offer a shuttle for those who flew in?
- Do you have a backup plan for bad weather (if it’s outdoors)?
- Can we use our own caterer? ( Some venues have their own kitchen staff and don’t allow outside food, aside from the cake).
- Will we have access to an on-site coordinator?
- Do you have secure areas to keep gifts, guests’ purses, etc?
As I said, though, Offbeat Bride’s list is VERY comprehensive, so I highly recommend using that as a checklist. They included things even I didn’t think of, like what happens if the venue goes out of business after you’ve given them their deposit? Given current circumstances, it’s an entirely plausible scenario.
You’ll also want to ask some LGBTQ-specific questions to determine if they embrace same-sex couples or just “allow” them because of anti-discrimination laws. Be blunt. Ask them flat-out how their venue treats same-sex couples. Also, ask about the staff who will be present during your wedding/reception. Are they LGBTQ-friendly as well? The last thing you want is a server that sneers at you all night because she objects to same-sex marriages and is just there because she needs the money. You deserve top-notch service from people who actually want to give you the day of your dreams.
Ask for recommendations or reviews from other LGBTQ couples
Unless you’ve chosen a venue that is well-known for their inclusiveness (or, even better, LGBTQ-owned), I highly recommend talking to other same-sex couples that used their services. Was the staff genuinely friendly, or did they give off a “we’re only serving you because we have to” vibe? Compare their experiences to non-LGBTQ couples. Some venues in the “just because it’s law” category treat LGBTQ couples differently, and you definitely don’t need/want/deserve that.
Book your wedding venue as early as possible
You should book your wedding venue at least a year before your wedding, if possible. The venue should be booked first before anything else because it needs to be booked before you can start securing your vendors, like your caterers, DJs, florists, photographers, etc. You may want to consider booking your wedding venue 15-24 months out if you’re getting married in a highly populated area or during the wedding peak season, which is May-October.
Related post: Let’s Talk Wedding Venue Business – How to Start a Wedding Venue in 7 Easy Steps
Planning your dream wedding should be an amazing experience, no matter who you are or whom you love. But unfortunately, not all wedding venues are created equal when it comes to inclusivity.
That’s why it’s important to do your research and find LGBTQ-friendly wedding venues that will make everyone feel welcomed and celebrated on your big day. With a little effort, you can find the perfect venue for your once-in-a-lifetime event. And ultimately, isn’t that what weddings are all about?
Do you have any other tips for finding the best LGBTQ-friendly venues? Do you have a favorite to recommend? Share below!
Deanna has a knack for finding unique vacation destinations. She regularly puts her research skills into action to find the most amazing LGBTQ-friendly honeymoon ideas.