What gave you the idea to start

Inspiration for­ directory of caliber gay and lesbian friendly wedding vendors came from an Oregon news story. ‘Sweet Cakes by Melissa’ refused to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding, sparking public outrage and ultimately closing the establishment.

My partner and I were disgusted. Planning your big day should be exciting not humiliating!

According to Community Marketing & Insights, the San Francisco ­based LGBT consumer research firm, an incredible 24% of married couples experienced discrimination or awkwardness with vendors. Gay and lesbian couples are in need of an outlet where they can be assured all wedding vendors are of high quality and instill a strong supporting stance within the community.

What kind of competition are you looking at on the market?

The Knot and Wedding Wire rule the online wedding industry. Aside from word­of ­mouth recommendations many couples rely on these sites to help plan their big day. While The Knot does have a same­sex version of its main site, it is still very much ‘The Knot.’

How do you plan to grow the company and create revenue? Do you hope to have advertisers in the future, or are you sticking to just membership fees? 

We are currently developing a pitch deck for investors, seeking funding for marketing efforts and employing scouts assigned the task of seeking out local, quality vendors in every state listed on the site. Eventually advertising space will be warranted but for now we are dedicating much of our focus on acquiring fresh vendors.

Can you tell me more about the process in determining what vendors are “gay­friendly”?

Networking is absolutely essential to discovering vendors. With the community embracing the freedom to marry, it seems as though everywhere we turn there’s a gay wedding in the works.

Tell me more about your team of “LGBT professionals” who review the applications.

There are five of us. Myself and my partner, I come from a market research background and he’s a cardiologist, along with three close friend: an HR rep, advertiser, and fashionista. A team page is in the works and should be up within the next few months.

What kinds of things have accepted vendors done that demonstrate a commitment to the LGBT community? 

J & J Photography is a prime example of support for the community. They offer a 33 percent ‘Inequality in Marriage Discount’ off their full day packages for same-sex weddings. The 33 percent represents states still upholding bans on same­-sex marriage, and is adjusted accordingly as the bans are dismissed.

Do you deny very many applicants? If so, why?

Unfortunately, we do. There’s no denying that the industry is saturated, it’s commonplace for a couple to be filtering through 100s if not 1000s of local vendors in any given category making the decision process a taxing one. When we receive an application the first thing we do is ask one simple question, ‘Would we use this vendor for our own wedding?’ And if the consensus is yes, then we’ll perform a pretty extensive internet search and visit them if possible. Do they have testimonials? Any glowing reviews? We consider many factors.

We do believe all applicants are dignified a thorough explanation if we choose not to showcase them, with the two leading reasons being: Poor online reviews and location issues.

Do you know, off­hand, how large the LGBT­ wedding industry is in terms of annual sales? 

It’s hard to speculate considering how fresh the industry is. According to 14 Stories, a vendor we proudly showcase, New York City in particular has seen tremendous success with $259 million spent during the first year of its marriage ban dismissal.

You have many expansions for the site coming in 2014. Do you plan to expand to other states allowing LGBT weddings, beyond the 6 you currently have listed, in 2014? 

2014 is going to be a big year for us. Due to the ambitious nature of the site and how hands on we are with choosing vendors it’s important for us to focus on one market at a time. We are shooting for 50 exclusive vendors in each respective market by mid 2014.

Tell me more about yourself, personally. 

I’m originally from Ft. Lauderdale with a Cuban and Swiss background. I have my B.A. in English with a professional background in sales and marketing. I came out with I was 17, never developed a taste for house music or Broadway musicals, am very much a board shorts and flip flops beach guy at heart, love art and have had a long run of kissing frogs. Until finally one turned into a prince. And to ensure my heart was never broken again, I got engaged to a cardiologist!

What does LGBT marriage equality mean to you?

Marriage equality is so much more than rights and tax benefits, or whether we’re allowed to visit loved ones in the hospital. It’s an understanding, a global mindset acknowledging and evolving toward a greater sense of peace and comfort with one another; it’s about moving from ‘the gay couple’ to simply ‘the couple.’ It’s about finally taking down the fence and becoming neighbors.

What would you say is your personal motto?

Looking for the key to happiness? Check your front pocket.


View Peter Bippus’s full profile and connect with him here. 

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