By Gregg Hollmann, “Party Professional”
On June 26, 2015, the United States became the twenty-first and most populous country to legalize same-sex marriage as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case Obergefell versus Hodges. This ruling follows a trend that began in 2003 and legalized same-sex marriage to some degree in many U.S. states.
To learn how DJs can benefit from the legalization of same-sex marriage, I interviewed DJ Jodi Duston from DJ Jodi Entertainment of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Jodi operates a thriving DJ business that specializes in same-sex weddings and other events catering to the LGBT (“Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transsexual”) community. Jodi’s wedding DJ business initially focused on straight couples. It was only later, after forging relationships in the community and learning musical programming for LGBT couples that Jodi would develop her same-sex wedding specialty.
What are your thoughts on the recent Supreme Court ruling, and do you expect a dramatic increase in engagements and same-sex weddings in 2015-2017?
As a lesbian myself, I was thrilled with the decision! It’s a huge step forward for humanity. It’s also a “big OK” from above, and the law of the land that will prompt more couples to come out and make it official.
Yes, I expect a boom in same-sex weddings, particularly in those states where same-sex marriage wasn’t yet legal. Even in states where same-sex marriage was already legal, there were some couples holding out in solidarity, waiting for same-sex marriage to become legal at the national level.
Please tell us a bit about your own wedding practice, and if you cater primarily to same-sex couples?
I began my DJ career performing as a DJ in lesbian clubs. Prompted by a colleague who recognized my talent, I began working as a wedding DJ, but primarily spinning for straight couples. Over time – and based off word-of-mouth, my same-sex wedding practice expanded. Now, my business is equally divided between same-sex couples and straight couples.
Regarding same-sex couples, in general, when shopping for wedding DJ entertainment – how important is it that a vendor is an LGBT specialist?
Being an LGBT specialist is important to many couples when hiring a DJ. However, you don’t necessarily need to be a gay or lesbian to succeed in this market.
Just like straight couples who are getting married for the first time and are overwhelmed with all of the information, same-sex couples face the identical challenge. They are naturally drawn towards DJs who have expertise with same-sex weddings and can answer their questions better. They feel more secure with wedding DJs who do same-sex weddings all of the time. Same-sex couples also enjoy patronizing those who are members of or supportive of the LGBT community.
Just like straight couples, same-sex couples carefully consider a DJ’s price point and reviews. They are not afraid to hire from outside of the LGBT community.
Do you recommend having a special page for same-sex couples, or can images of same-sex couples be blended into the website?
I don’t recommend that DJs create a separate website for same-sex events. However, DJs should incorporate photos and other references of same-sex couples on their website. Optionally, create a page on your website elaborating on your services for same-sex weddings and showcase additional images there. Same-sex couples shopping for wedding entertainment feel comfortable and accepted when seeing that a DJ company caters to the LGBT community. Same sex couples need to believe that they fit your product.
In general, do same-sex couples prefer marketing materials that identify a same-sex specialty or do they prefer to be treated like everybody else as couples in love and shopping for wedding entertainment?
While separate marketing materials for same-sex couples are not expected, just like with websites, couples are looking for signals that you understand their unique needs. DJs may wish to consider adding an HRC Equality sign (a square with an equal symbol) on their business cards and brochures, or a rainbow symbol. (Note: HRC stands for Human Rights Equality).
Regarding color schemes, purple is a popular choice for women. Pink for men. You could also use a rainbow color scheme, but I recommend using softer hues.
Do you participate in same-sex wedding expos, and do you recommend them to other DJs?
Yes, I’ve participated in two same-sex wedding shows, both produced by The Rainbow Wedding Network. One was held in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and the other in Vermont. One show was well-attended, the other less so. I was able to book a hand full of events from these shows, but don’t necessarily recommend that all DJs pursue these specialty bridal shows.
If you are an “Expo type” of DJ who presents well at bridal expos, then you should consider these shows. However, just like with straight couples, much of the vendor research has shifted online to sites like WeddingWire and The Knot who offer special gay wedding sections. In fact, WeddingWire just recently acquired the www.gayweddings.com.
Are there any musical taste tendencies for gay (male) and lesbian (female) couples that we as wedding DJs need to be aware of?
For gay men, club mixes with big vocals and high drama are popular. Artists like Whitney Houston, Taylor Dayne and Cher are favorites.
For lesbians over 45 years old, the musical sweet spot is disco, the, 80s and classic rock. Melissa Etheridge is another favorite. Some lesbians are also avid feminists, and therefore disdain music with misogynistic lyrics that belittle women as sex objects. DJs are wise to have a detailed conversation with couples about their musical tastes and boundaries. For example, I once had a lesbian client who was offended by some of the lyrics in Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.”
For younger same-sex couples, musical tastes gravitate towards popular artists like David Guetta, Rihanna, Pitbull, as well as Latin, hip-hop and reggae, and Motown/Soul influenced acts like Bruno Mars and Pharrell.
Regarding online advertising portals, are there any sites that have been effective for you? How about for print publications?
Let me start with print publications. In general, print is dead. I once placed an ad in The Pink Pages. Over the course of a year, I only received two phone calls and one booking.
Online advertising has been particularly effective for me. I currently advertise on The Knot and receive a steady stream of inquiries and bookings there. I do not currently advertise on WeddingWire but may consider it in the future.
Regarding online, I recommend that DJs check on their current search engine optimization for searches like “gay wedding” and “LGBT wedding” in their geographic area, and see how they fare. Small changes in one’s website can catapult a DJ website to the top of the search engine results page.
What are your top tips to DJs looking to grow their same-sex wedding business?
First, place images of same-sex couples on your webs
Second, create separate paperwork for same-sex couples. Spend an afternoon revising your wedding planning forms creating one set for lesbian couples and one for gay male couples. Let your prospective clients know that you offer these customized forms.
Third, get educated on the different traditions and announcements at the same-sex wedding, particularly for the ceremony, wedding party introductions, and Parent Dances. For example, consider a lesbian wedding. Do both brides get walked down the aisle by their fathers? If both brides are wearing a dress, this may be the case. In other cases when one bride is “butch,” she may dress in a suit and tie and take more the role of a traditional groom and will be waiting at the wedding altar with the officiant. DJs should be armed with lots of information and options for their same-sex couples!
Fourth, be where they are. Of course, you want to be online where same-sex couples are researching wedding vendors – sites like the Rainbow Wedding Network and gayweddings.com. DJs should also research local community events. In particular, DJs can purchase a table at “pride festivals” – large gatherings for the LGBT community that are less formal and lots of fun!
Fifth, volunteer for causes important to the LGBT community such as AIDS walks or LGBT youth programs. Remember, the community is quick to support those who support them.
What’s the top mistake that DJs make marketing to same-sex couples?
The top mistake that DJs make in this regard are not incorporating images and content related to same-sex couples on their websites. Also, using outdated terms like “civil union” and “commitment ceremony.”
At consultations and performances with same-sex couples, is there a politically correct way to address them?
That’s a great question! Actually, for a consultation, I initially refer to them as a “couple.” Later, I ask them “how do you prefer to be addressed at the wedding?” Some possible answers are “brides” “grooms” “bride and broom (butch)” “newlyweds” or simply by their first names.
Sometimes we coin new terms unique to their event. For example, at a recent gay wedding, to avoid awkward terms like “bridesmaid” and “groomsman” – we created “Team Justin” and “Team Brian.”
For More Information
DJ Jodi will be presenting a full-length seminar about how DJs can increase their business by catering to same-sex wedding couples at the DJ Times International DJ Expo being held the week of August 10, 2015, at the Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City NJ. At this seminar, she will be going into detail on the different variations and options for wedding ceremonies, wedding party introductions, and Parent Dances.
To connect with Jodi online, visit www.djjodi.com.