Make no mistake, LGBTQ couples still have trouble finding bakers, florists, planners, and photographers for their weddings. Most vendors don’t proclaim if they are friendly or unfriendly to LGBTQ couples. Guesswork is involved and rejection for services is frequent.
A traveling LGBTQ wedding expo exists to combat that.
Started in 2003 by Rainbow Wedding Network, the LGBTQ Wedding Expo has traveled to 35 different states. Co-founder Marianne Puechl says the Aug. 5 expo in Cranberry will be the event’s first time in the Pittsburgh area.
Even in a country with growing LGBTQ acceptance, Puechl still hears from people seeking help connecting with vendors.
“We still hear from couples, even from Massachusetts and California, who thought a vendor was gay friendly, but they weren’t,” says Puechl. “With our expo, you don't have to walk up and have someone say ‘which one of you is the bride and which is husband?’”
Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ wedding expo will have about 25 vendors and run three hours.
“Most of our couples feel a bit intimidated by [hundreds of vendors],” says Puechl. “A lot of our couples never envisioned that they would get married. We don’t need to overwhelm them.”
The expo is free, but Puechl says a $5 suggested donation is appreciated. The experience should be easily digestible. Making personal connections between vendors and couples is the expo’s goal.
“It is a great vibe to bring several hundred couples together to celebrate equality,” says Puechl. “It’s a celebratory, productive, and uplifting day.”
Participating vendors include local bakeries, musicians Scott and Rosanna Spindler, Rodef Shalom temple, and Seven Springs Mountain Resort. All vendors are unabashedly pro-LGBTQ.
And though the expo is mostly about getting down to business of booking vendors, Puechl says the environment will be welcoming, relaxing and family-friendly. DJ Mad Max will be playing light music, and a bar and refreshments will be served. It’s more low-key than large bridal shows.
“Bridal fairs can be a lot like cattle calls with people just running through to get free stuff,” says Puechl. “Some have a party feel. Our expo allows people to join together in a nice atmosphere.”
Puechl recognizes Cranberry isn’t the friendliest of LGBTQ areas. (It’s still legal in Butler County to fire or evict people who openly identify as LGBTQ). But she says the Pittsburgh Marriott North hotel was “very enthusiastic” about hosting the expo. Puechl is confident it will go off without a hitch.
Pittsburgh LGBT Wedding Expo 12:30 p.m. Sun., Aug. 5. Pittsburgh Marriott North, 100 Cranberry Woods Drive, Cranberry Township. Free. rainbowweddingnetwork.com