Survey reveals wedding trends among same-sex couples

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On November 12, LGBT consumer research company Community Marketing & Insights (CMI) released the results of a survey called “Same-Sex Couples: Weddings and Engagements.” The survey, a collaboration between CMI and The Gay Wedding Institute, uncovered many trends (both surprising and not) among those planning weddings in the wake of recent marriage equality victories.

The survey, which questioned over nine hundred couples, is “the widest-reaching ever of same-sex couples, and reflects the diversity of our community—from those who eloped at City Hall to those who had a more formal celebration,” said the Senior Research Director at CMI, David Paisley, in a press release. “This timely survey gives the wedding industry and the public some fascinating insights into how engagement and marriage are viewed by same-sex couples.

“We combined the knowledge of an LGBT research organization with a wedding planning company, and can now answer many questions about what really happens when [LGBT couples] plan a wedding.”

The president of the Gay Wedding Institute, Bernadette Coveney Smith, added that “What we learned is fascinating and would be of interest to anyone involved in the wedding industry. By and large, same-sex couples are quite non-traditional, especially the gay grooms.

“We learned that the terms ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ haven’t quite caught on within much of our community, and how important it is for wedding professionals to have inclusive language and photos in their marketing materials. This information is not only helpful to my colleagues in the wedding industry but to anyone interested in the cultural change happening now that same-sex couples can marry in fourteen states, with more to come, “ concluded Coveney Smith.

The survey, which was taken by a total of 916 couples, was given to people all over the US; 57 percent were already married, 19 percent in a domestic partnership, and 5 percent in a civil union.

Major findings included:

• As noted, only around half of LGBT couples were sufficiently in favor of the words “wife” and “husband” to use them; common alternatives included “partner” and “spouse.”

• Civil unions and domestic partnerships aren’t as good for the economy as full marriages; 76 percent of couples entering into a civil union or domestic partnership skipped having the traditional large, expensive wedding with a ceremony and reception.

• Couples who had already been married for some time, regardless of the legality, generally spent less on their weddings and had fewer guests than couples who had gotten engaged only recently.

• Lesbian couples consistently had more expensive weddings than male-male couples; even those who were already married and only having a wedding to make it legal spent 15 percent more than male couples. (Whether or not this had to do with the expense of wedding dresses versus tuxedos was not explored.)

• Male couples were usually together for over five years before getting married, while female couples tended to marry before the fifth anniversary.

• 76 percent of LGBT couples considered it important to find gay-friendly businesses for their weddings.

• 74 percent of same-sex couples preferred LGBT media as their source for wedding planning, such as selecting a venue or finding a flower vendor. However, personal recommendations were the most trusted source of information.

A copy of the “Same-Sex Couples: Weddings and Engagements” survey, as well as other CMI research, can be downloaded for free here (registration required).

There will also be a discussion of the survey results in a free webinar scheduled for Wednesday, November 20, at 11:00 AM PST/2:00 PM EST; those interested can sign up at LGBT Webinars.

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