5: Bernadette Smith of 14 Stories and the Gay Wedding Institute

We talk to Bernadette Smith of 14 Stories, the first wedding planner (we know of) to specialize in serving the LGBTQ+ community. In addition to wedding planning, Bernadette is the founder of the Gay Wedding Institute, which educates wedding and travel industry professionals on serving LGBTQ+ clients.


We talk LGBTQ+ wedding statistics! Did you know that only 6% of same-sex couples read wedding magazines and only 5% read wedding blogs?

Meet Bernadette Smith of 14 Stories and the Gay Wedding Institute

Bernadette details the trajectory of her career, from a film degree to Americorps to non-profit events management and how she moved into wedding planning after its legalization in Massachusetts.

We discuss the evolution of culture and the wedding industry over the fourteen years she’s been in the business. Society has become more accepting; the LGBTQ+ community has changed; and the wedding industry has become more personalized than ever.

We talk about how LGBTQ+ weddings are different, especially when it comes to family relationships.

The Shittiest Thing She’s Witnessed Happening to LGBTQ+ Couples

We all agree that the worst thing that can happen to an LGBTQ+ couple with regard to their wedding is when they are rejected by their family. And we explore how that sort of family dynamic can change the wedding planning process and flow of the wedding itself.

Bernadette’s Favorite LGBTQ+ Wedding Moment

We also got Bernadette to share a favorite moment from her LGBTQ+ wedding planning career. She tells us about a bride who came out as transgender in her early fifties, who asked Bernadette to help her “become the bride I’ve always dreamed of.”

Gender Roles and the Patriarchy in the Wedding Industry

Bernadette gives us some hard data about how adherence to wedding traditions varies between straight and gay couples and along gender lines. And even in LGBTQ+ weddings, gendered expectations persist.

The Gay Wedding Institute

Lastly, we talk about the Gay Wedding Institute, Bernadette’s vehicle for training wedding and travel pros on serving LGBTQ+ clients. It’s a win-win when she gets to help businesses be more successful and couples be more safe.

LGBTQ+ Wedding Advice from Bernadette:

  • Be Yourself. You’re going to hear lots of opinions from everyone else, but at the end of the day, it’s your wedding. Let your personalities show!
  • If you don’t want to follow traditions because so many are based in gender roles, then don’t.
  • BUT if you decide not to follow traditions, Bernadette cautions that your wedding might be boring! Those traditions add structure and flow to the event, so she advises that for everything you take out, you add something in their place.
  • Keep the momentum going. Give your guests something to do. Give your photographer something to shoot. Create a memorable experience while still expressing all of yourself.

Where to Find Bernadette:

14 Stories (wedding planning) – http://www.14stories.com/

Gay Wedding Institute – https://gayweddinginstitute.com/

Bernadette’s books:

Gay Wedding Confidential

The Lesbian Couple’s Guide to Wedding Planning

The Business of Gay Weddings: A Guide for Wedding Professionals

1 thought on “5: Bernadette Smith of 14 Stories and the Gay Wedding Institute”

  1. Hello! I want to offer my support! I am a lesbian wedding officiant who specializes in LGBT weddings. The love stories and struggles of gay couples that I have had the privilege of seeing over the past 4 years has been the single best time of my life!

    Thanks for all you do!

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