This is going to be one of those posts that I’m half afraid to even put out there because of the potential backlash it could bring out. However, I strongly feel it needs to be said. I want to start this post with a disclaimer: I have a relatively legalistic upbringing which made figuring out my own beliefs about certain topics a struggle. Then I found feminism and learned who Jesus really was and is. I believe with all my heart that my job is to love not judge. I post about my opinions, I sometimes rip into people I think are a few bulbs short of a chandelier… But I do know that the Jesus I believe in is one who spent time with the whores, the immoral tax collectors, and the liars; basically all the people that a lot of legalistic Christians seem to forget to love, shove in a corner, and Bible beat until they’re “healed” of their sin. Guys, that’s not what Jesus did. How do I know this?
Matthew 9:10-13 “While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
I am more interested in knowing who a person is and why they are that way than I am interested in making them conform to something that makes me at ease. If I wanted a comfortable life, I wouldn’t have chosen to be self-employed. If I wanted to have the same comfortable (awful) relationship as the ones who have broken my heart so deeply, I wouldn’t be dating a man who so lovingly and graciously calls out my faults and brings to light what I still need to let Jesus heal. I’ve been attending a new church out in Lake Forest, this week I heard this nugget of insight: being a Christian doesn’t mean our suffering goes away — it’s not a golden ticket to everlasting earthly blessings. We do not have it any better than the next guy. If anything, it means we’re going to suffer more. That’s not because we have a vicious and evil God, it’s because we have a vicious and evil enemy.
So where am I going with this.
Please. Oh, please hear me out and read this whole thing before forming your opinion. Clear your mind of preconceived notions about Christians in the wedding industry, because we’re under a lot of pressure to please right now.
“Same-sex marriage has been legal in Idaho for all of 2 days, and two ministers already face jail and fines for declining to perform a same-sex wedding ceremony.” This is a real thing that I read today. We all remember the cake decorator who refused to sell a cake to a gay couple for their wedding. And if you didn’t know, Arizona vetoed a bill that would give businesses the right to turn people away on the basis of religious liberty. Pretty much all of these conflicts between businesses and the LGBT community are centered around marriage and religion. Quite frankly, I’m tired of it. Yeah, I said it.
In my perfect world, people wouldn’t put business decisions toward interacting with clients on their religion. In my perfect world, Christians would choose to be more like Jesus and work with the clients who live a life they don’t agree with. What is honestly more shocking to people who don’t believe in Jesus? It’s the people who hold their arms wide open and say, “Yes! I want to know you! I want to love you! I want to help make your wedding day everything you imagined!” We all fall short. We all sin and forget to love like Jesus. And guess what? Sin is sin is sin. I know my salvation no better than you do, but I know I’m trying really hard to be like Jesus because I don’t believe there is any better way to try to be.
Have I been approached by a gay couple? One time. It was in the middle of that weird time that I didn’t know what I believed, did I blame it on my religion? Not at all. She asked if I was comfortable with the shoot, I said I knew someone who would be, and left it at that. I didn’t give much of an explanation, if I had tried, it would have come out wrong. Not because I don’t believe in equality, it’s because I didn’t know I could.
Am I currently approached by gay couples looking for photos? Nope. I don’t avoid them. I don’t target them. I just do what I do. Which is telling everyone that I’m available for sessions and weddings. I draw the line on some things (like couples boudoir… nooooooo thanks). But the situation hasn’t come up in almost three years. Does that make me a terrible person or discriminatory photographer? I don’t think so. The situation just doesn’t present itself to me. Which isn’t wrong, it’s just lack of opportunity.
Here is the thing about being in the wedding industry: it is heavily based on referrals. Some people have the ability to choose their clients, others have to grovel and work endlessly to make ends meet. Currently, I’m the latter, but that’s a subject for another time. There are a number of people in the industry who can say, “Limited number of bookings per year.” And is that because they’re discriminating against a couple? NO! It’s because they’re totally badass and EVERYONE wants to work with them.
Here’s where I might lose some fans. No, I do not believe you should turn away business because of your religion. But here’s something (for the people being turned away) to consider for the people who DO run their businesses that way:
If they don’t want to work with you, you probably don’t want to work with them. A little known fact about weddings: vendors spend more time with the couple than the majority of the guests. If you’re being turned away by someone for your wedding day and you think their reasons are bogus, do you actually want to spend what is supposed to be the happiest day of your life, knowing they don’t want to be there?
It’s like forcing your estranged cousin to be in your bridal party, expecting your family to wear shit-eating grins for the entire day and not start World War III during the toasts.
I want every wedding to end up like Rachel’s: I want the decorations to come together hours before the ceremony and the vendors to be on time and the guests to party all night because they all want to be there regardless of the distance from home and I want tears of joy after seeing two people choose each other for the rest of their days. I want that for every wedding. But I have to tell you, it takes work to find the people who WANT to make that happen.
Unless you are Beyoncé, you are not special enough to get up in arms over vendors who don’t want to work with you. It is your fault that you are offended by a wedding vendor who turns you away. If they do, move on, it’s highly likely you’ll find someone better. Why do you fight so hard to force the entire industry to fall over themselves to get your business? The principle of the thing? It’s your MARRIAGE… believe it or not, how you act when planning your wedding will greatly reveal how you will act when you are married.
Your only interest should be in having wedding vendors who WANT to make your day amazing and who WANT to celebrate your commitment.
You will find them. I promise.