Months after marriage equality was passed in New York, couples gathered at Brooklyn’s historic Borough Hall for the Empire State’s first LGBT wedding expo. The event, sponsored by the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, featured over 70 vendors.
“As a business owner, this is a wonderful opportunity to fit into this niche market,” says Marvel Allen, co-owner of Desserts by Michael Allen. The Brooklyn bakery has already teamed up with a lesbian couple for a wedding in the spring. "At the end of the day, everyone just wants an amazing cake."
After forty years together, Deidra and Luisa’s relationship has stood the test of time. “Our friends are just dancing on air,” says Deidra. “A lot of them unfortunately are no longer with their partners, so they’re happy they can experience marriage equality through us.” The brides-to-be are having a small, intimate wedding at their friend’s house in Connecticut later this year.
“I’m recently out, I’m an athlete and I’m from the South," says Eddie Robinson, founder of Quantum-FM DJ services. "Being a part of this event allows me to put myself out there a bit more, date a bit more, feel comfortable with myself a bit more…and see what happens.”
Michelle Brides has been serving the LGBT community for about five years. But double the brides hasn’t meant double the drama for this chic downtown boutique. “We cater to a particular woman,” explains owner Michelle Fields. "She wants to be the bride without being over the top—and she’s definitely not a bridezilla.”
With no wedding bells ringing just yet (they have only been dating four months), Victoria and Cam came out to show their support. But that hasn't stopped the couple from sampling the cakes and cocktails. “It’s great to actually know what’s being offered in the neighborhood," says Victoria, who already has her eye set on some jewelry.
Iris Lingerie, located in downtown Brooklyn and conveniently nestled downstairs inside Kimera bridal boutique, offers expert bra fitting. “When it comes to lesbian and transgender women, a lot of lingerie shops are uncomfortable fitting them,” says Ria Ferreria, a store assistant. “Iris Lingerie is more sensitive to that and we set up special times for women to come in.”
Sharon and Silvia have been together eight years and are planning on getting married on their ten-year anniversary. With plenty of time to prep for their nuptials, Silvia is leaving most of the planning to her partner. “I’m just looking forward to sharing our union with family and friends,” Silvia explains. Sharon, however, is all about the details. “I like things on point. You won’t see bridezilla but you’ll know you got to do it right,” she says laughing.
As wedding planners, Traci and her cousin Candece came to the expo to get ideas for their most important client yet: Traci's sister. “We’ve planned lots of weddings before but this one is close to our hearts," says Candece.
What brings Bruce Brickus and his fabulous collection of fascinators to the wedding expo? “My people,” he responds matter-of-factly and with a slight smile. "I knew marriage equality was going to happen sooner or later – thank God it’s now.”
Words by Kimberley McLeod. Photography by Charla Harlow.