Ah, Florida. The wiener of America and birthplace of the Florida man memes. Lately, Florida’s been in the news for its slew of anti-LGBTQ+ bills, which has many wedding vendors and queer soonlyweds questioning the state of LGBTQ-friendly Florida weddings. Who can blame them? Even Disney, which historically leans right, pulled the Mouse gloves off to brawl with Governor DeSantis when he introduced the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Here’s what one concerned Florida vendor asked us:
Is there anything else you might be able to provide as insight to the wedding market in my area (central Florida)? I know Florida hasn’t been super kind to the LGBTQ community lately. I think many are relocating, but I don’t know about people coming for destination weddings.
As a Floridian myself, I took this as an opportunity to ask our some of our Floridian members of our Offbeat Wed vendor community what they thought! Interestingly, some of their answers were on opposite sides of the spectrum.
Let’s get into what these wedding vendors had to say about how the latest anti-LGBTQ+ bills affect queer weddings, plus their advice on how to support soonlyweds planning an LGBTQ-friendly Florida wedding
How have Florida’s recent laws affected your wedding business?
Tiny House Photos says that their Florida weddings have slowed down significantly:
85% of my couples were out of state couples having a destination wedding in South Florida… but my business has suffered. Last year I photographed 30 weddings and elopements, whereas this year, I’ve barely had 10. I only have two weddings left this year and two next year. Last year I had FIVE weddings in October alone.
Tiny House Photos
Interestingly enough, Offbeat Wed vendor Uniquely Inviting had a different response:
It’s a mess, and as a member of the LGBTQ+ community myself, it’s personal too. Luckily, I haven’t noticed things having too much of an effect on weddings. I guess the one upside is that all of these draconian policies don’t directly have anything to do with people getting married.
On the other hand, I’ve definitely seen stories of trans people looking to move out-of-state to places where they aren’t being legislated out of existence, so there’s that.
What trends have you been noticing with LGBTQ-friendly Florida weddings?
I think couples are also more budget-conscious this year and spending less — many have told me I am too expensive, and I haven’t raised my prices since 2018.
Tiny House Photos
This is so fascinating to me, and I understand why. The cost of living in Florida has skyrocketed thanks to the amount of conservative Northeasterners and West Coasters (ahem lookin’ at you, New Yorkers and Californians) who flocked to the Sunshine State to avoid mask requirements during the pandemic. You can’t throw a rock around here without hitting a newly constructed luxury apartment building, which in turn has caused groceries, rent, and merely existing to become unaffordable for most Floridians.
Looking to do a budget-friendly LGBTQ+ Florida wedding?
The options are as unlimited as the sunshine here! LGBTQ+ soonlyweds can opt for a beautiful beach elopement or a micro-wedding at a nontraditional location, like your favorite bar, bookstore, coffee shop, state park, or even someone’s big backyard.
What do queer folks need to know when planning an LGBTQ-friendly Florida wedding?
1. Keep reading the news
The best advice I can give is to just stay on top of what’s happening. Right now, I know that the law restricting drag performances has been blocked by a federal court, so you should be in the clear to have a drag show at your reception if you desire. Which, let’s be honest, would make any reception 1000% more fun! So for now, at least, feel free to have a super-gay wedding.
Personally, I don’t believe LGBTQ-friendly Florida weddings are ever going away. One of the reasons being that Floridians LOVE doing the opposite of what society expects from us, from wrestling alligators to having a loud and proud queer wedding in the face of anti-LGBTQ+ legislature like this lesbian couple. Here’s what one of the soonlyweds had to say:
As a queer person living in a conservative state, I have long been subject to laws denying my rights. Other LGBTQ+ people have chosen to move away, rightfully worried by the lack of care and concern from our lawmakers. It is a precarious and destabilizing way to live…
…I want to fight for the home that I love, and that means staying here, regardless of my exhaustion. Clinging and sticking like a sandspur into Florida’s side. I don’t see this as a burden, but rather a chance to wake up every day and work on our collective future. It’s also a privilege; not everyone can afford to take this kind of stance.
Kristen Arnett, an excerpt from their Times essay “We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Getting Married in Florida”
2. LGBTQ+ friendly cities DO exist in Florida
It probably also depends on exactly where in Florida you are. Central Florida, where we’re based, is really liberal and gay-friendly. Finding LGBTQ-supportive vendors and venues is probably not going to be a problem.
If you’re out in a more rural, conservative area between the major cities, you might have more problems. In that case, you might want to source vendors from whatever bigger city (Orlando, Tampa, Miami, etc.) you’re near.
Anti-LGBTQ+ folks live everywhere. BUT if you look at a political party map of Florida with red representing conservative voters and blue for liberal-leaning voters, you’ll find that the latter dominates Florida’s biggest cities (Tampa, Orlando, and South Florida like Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, and of course the Florida Keys). These cities are also home to vibrant, queer communities!
3. Support the queer community in Florida
If you’re having a Florida destination wedding, you can show your support by working with local queer wedding vendors! They’re everywhere and can connect you with the right LGBTQ-friendly Florida wedding vendors and venues.
Need help finding one? Check out our Offbeat Wed-approved Florida vendors who are LGBTQ+ friendly. Many of them will travel, too!
You can also get your wedding guests to help too! In lieu of wedding gifts, you can ask for donations to a local LGBTQ+ charity, like Zebra Youth.
Final thoughts from a Florida woman
It’s easy for people to think all of Florida is a hostile place for LGBTQ+ soonlyweds when the headlines coming out are “Here’s another shitty thing Florida just did!”
But what the headlines aren’t showing you are the massive communities of Floridians, from artists and academics to activists, who are working tirelessly to make Florida a safe place for the queer community to exist and love freely.
A location within itself doesn’t make it a great place to live, it’s the communities and the people who shape it.
…How do we think Brooklyn got its boho reputation?
You don’t get a reputation like Florida Man unless you’re wildly resilient in the face of adversity. So, if you’re thinking of having an LGBTQ+ wedding in Florida, you’ll find an army of queer folks and allies in flip-flops ready to help you celebrate love in all of its forms.