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Queering the wedding industry with Love Altared, a Queer wedding show

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Alanna Francis as emcee — Photo by Fuck Yeah Weddings
Alanna Francis as emcee — Photo by Fuck Yeah Weddings

If, like many Queer people, you didn't know what a wedding show was, it's likely because they are a traditionally straight affair: an exposition showcasing various vendors to help plan your special day, featuring ads dominated by straight, white, thin, able-bodied couples in white gowns and black suits.

But what might this look like if it were Queer? On February 18, Love Altared's resounding answer took shape in its debut. Organizers Alanna Francis, Loren Shea, and Jake Taylor — themselves wedding coordinators and members of the Queer community — combined their professional experience and connections to bring to life, as stated on the website, "a love letter to the LGBTQIA+ marriers who dream of a wedding where they are fully seen as their full selves."

In pursuit of these aims, almost every vendor present was Queer-owned, with many of them specializing in serving Queer, Trans, POC, disabled, and fat clientele. Several colorful booths lined the room, hosting photographers, caterers, lighting technicians, florists, clothing designers, leather vendors, sex therapists, and of course, wedding planners.

Loren Shea — Photo by Fuck Yeah Weddings  

Representation and support
Shea, who got married last year, emphasized how difficult it can be, "having to explain to your vendors on your wedding day how to take care of you," and how having Queer businesses planning your event can remove that extra layer of labor and trepidation.

The vendors shared those same values of representation and support. Laura Brooks of Brooks Visual, an outdoor boudoir photography business specializing in fat bodies, shared how their experience being fat and Intersex translates into their work, which centers on celebrating and connecting with ourselves. Similar sentiments were echoed by SODO Garment Collective, a Queer-owned tailoring business specializing in gender- and body-affirming alterations. Even Edward Jones was in attendance with a Queer representative, citing how few financial avenues feel safe and viable for members of the community.

PNW Sex Therapy Collective — Photo by Fuck Yeah Weddings  

The event was also made radically accessible. The building (the Queer-owned Metropolist) had accessible entry points; wheelchair-friendly, gender-neutral bathrooms; and free street parking. Masking and proof of vaccination were required for attendance. A dry bar, seating, childcare, and a quiet space were provided. Attendees of all ages found themselves nourished by an array of charcuterie and mocktails, as well as canapes provided by Communion, a family restaurant owned by Chef Kristi Brown of That Brown Girl Cooks!

The most oft-repeated comment from the vendors seemed to be that while catering to everyone, they'd love to have more Queer clientele. Some, like Wags Down the Aisle, a dog-care service for those who want their furry friends at their special event, have had trouble getting exposure in the community. Others, like Modern Aisles, a Queer wedding planner duo, pulled themselves through the pandemic by conducting several ceremonies over Zoom. Still others, like Aisle Less Traveled, attract Queer marriers with its nontraditional planning services, such as haunted house and burlesque-themed weddings.

Models walk the runway — Photo by Fuck Yeah Weddings  

In the spirit of nontraditional weddings, Francis emceed a fashion show at the midpoint. She opened with a rousing reflection on Queer kinship and resistance, as well as a land acknowledgment, inviting the audience to join in Love Altared's donation to Real Rent Duwamish. Rainbow of Soul Chains, whose Y2K-style jewelry was featured on many of the models, then led attendees through a manifestation exercise, at which point that the love among the families, friends, and couples in the room felt palpable.

"We built this," Francis said, "to expand the thinking outside of what marriage can look like, to help heal ideas of how marriage feels for many of us." Shea echoed this: "It's our time. We've seen that, we've done that, and now we get to show up, we get to celebrate and do something different."

Taylor added, "It's about being able to choose what you want. We've all seen a skinny white lady in a white dress, and her able body walking down the aisle...so we're gonna take up space and make room for us."

On which note, models of all bodies, skin tones, and gender expression began to grace the catwalk, flaunting designs made by local Queer artists, as well as the gender-expansive clothing line Wildfang.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Queer event without dancing, so the fashion show featured a choreographed dance between Francis and her partner, followed by a group dance.

Not as many attendees were prospective marriers as the organizers were hoping, with most being family and friends of vendors. The team hopes that more Queer people considering marriage will be drawn to these services, and they have plans for future shows.

"I'm not ready," said Taylor, laughing, "but I do think it'll be an annual event, and we do have ideas for other things."

It was important to the organizers that this be "Queer and not just Gay," and to that aim, this celebration of what's possible succeeded in every sense.

To learn more about Love Altared and its vendors, visit https://www.aqueerwedding.com