When the bride takes a bride, businesses respond

Posted by Kevin Sack on nytimes.com:

"When the Palladinos were planning their wedding, they found that traditional bridal magazines were all but useless in addressing their particular questions.

"Questions like: Where does a woman find a man’s suit that does not make her look like a woman in a man’s suit? Should Kirsten and Maria both walk down the aisle, or was it O.K. for Maria, who sees herself as more masculine, to wait for her bride? At which of the Caribbean resorts in the honeymoon pictorials would two women feel most comfortable holding hands?

“'On every level there was something lacking,' said Kirsten Palladino, who took Maria’s surname after their wedding in June 2009. 'We didn’t see any couples like us. The language was all he and she, bride and groom, please your man.'

"After their honeymoon in St. Martin, they decided to do something about it. This month, they published the second issue of their online wedding magazine for same-sex couples, Equally Wed.

"Almost from the moment Massachusetts became the first state to offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2004, mainstream businesses have tried to find a way to attract customers from this new, lucrative market. But as more states legalize the freedom to marry, and the weddings take root in American culture, the marketplace is responding with a growing number of new companies, services and publications aimed directly at gay grooms and lesbian brides.

... "Wedding of same-sex couples have been depicted on network television since the mid-1990s, and about 70 percent of daily newspapers now carry wedding announcements for same-sex couples, according to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. But some mainstream publications and broadcasters are only now taking their first halting steps toward inclusion.

"This month, under pressure from gay rights groups, the Today show on NBC welcomed same-sex couples to compete in its annual wedding contest. Also this month, Brides, a Condé Nast publication, ran its first feature about the wedding of a same-sex couple, depicting the union of one of the magazine’s photo editors and her longtime girlfriend.

"Martha Stewart Weddings, a publication of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, had already broken precedent in its winter 2010 issue, with a pictorial that showed Jeremy Hooper and Andrew Shulman stomping on glass and sharing a kiss.

... "It is not lost on the Palladinos that despite the assertion in their publication’s name, they were wed and continue to live in one of the 41 states that prohibit the freedom to marry. But it is the very absence of state approval, they said, that made their own vows so meaningful and inspired the spirit of their magazine.

“'We’ve done everything we can to be equally wed,' Maria Palladino said.

"The couple are publishing their quarterly from a back room in their tidy house in East Point, an emerging gay outpost just south of Atlanta. Maria, 30, who works as a freelance Web designer, is publisher. Kirsten, 32, who manages the lifestyle sections of a weekly newspaper, is editor.

... "The magazine includes a consumer guide to vendors who are practiced in avoiding heterosexist language and customs. When planning their own wedding, the Palladinos quickly learned to detect discomfort among the photographers they interviewed.

“'They were so delicate in their handling of it,' Kirsten Palladino said. 'They’d say, ‘You know, I’ve never shot a gay wedding, but I’d be happy to.’ And then sign off their e-mail: ‘Much love in Jesus Christ.’ ”

"The Palladinos said that what excited them about the future, both of weddings of same-sex couples and their magazine, was the chance to navigate between tradition and innovation. 'There are no rules,' Kirsten Palladino said. 'We can look to the history of straight weddings and take what we want and leave what we don’t.'"

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