A non-profit wedding planning resource for the LGBTQ+ community and beyond.
Back in June, I met up with Jenn and Randi Green from Safe Spaces Weddings in Jacksonville, FL. While we sipped our coffee on the cafe patio in what felt like 1000 degrees (why didn’t I get iced coffee?), we chatted about dogs, weddings, and food allergies. You know, the usual. I learned all about their amazing wedding business and why it is they do what they do. I am so excited for Safe Space Weddings, it is such a needed service in our community and the wedding industry in general.
Jenn was kind enough to answer some of my questions so I could learn a little more about the business and share with all of you lovely people.
Tell me a little about Safe Spaces Weddings. How did Safe Spaces Weddings get its start?
“In January I left church work behind after 14 years. I wanted meaningful work, something that would be a new ministry, not just a job. I have a passion for social justice and the gay community, but Safe Spaces Weddings was really my wife’s idea. She’d been thinking about the need for a while, but never thought we’d be in a position to help fill it.”
What services does Safe Spaces Weddings offer and who are they for?
“Despite our obvious targeted demographic with the queer community, we are really a service for all people. We recognize that people may fear discrimination based on race, color, religion, age, abilities, etc. And we know that there are allies of all of those communities for whom it’s important to support local businesses who are like-minded.
We are a multi-faceted non-profit corporation. We offer services for individuals, couples, vendors, venues, and businesses. We offer coaching on how to be a Safe Space and referrals free of charge to vendors, venues, and businesses. I am in the process of writing an inclusivity and diversity certification course for businesses to purchase to train themselves and their employees to be a Safe Space for clients and employees.
For couples, I am an ordained minister, so I offer marriage preparation sessions and officiant services. We also offer a free referral service to Safe Spaces who will make their dream wedding become reality or if they’d like us to plan their wedding or accompany them to their appointments we will do that for a fee.
Lastly, we have “After Spaces” for any individual who would like to know all the Safe Spaces in Jacksonville for daily life. Need a Safe doctor, dentist, dog park, restaurant, realtor, adoption attorney, etc.? We know them all and will refer you to them free of charge.”
What can couples expect when working with Safe Spaces Weddings? How are you different from other planners?
“I pride myself on relationship building. I meet with every Safe Space owner or manager and I match personalities as much as I do services. No one is listed with us because they paid to be; they are all personally vetted and I know them to be Safe Spaces. The same is true for our couples- I meet with them (virtually or in person) repeatedly so I can come to truly know them, their relationship, and their dreams. This is especially true if I am officiating for them. I want to know them so their ceremony can be truly about them and a celebration of their love.”
How do you choose the vendors you work with?
“Oh gosh, I started out reaching out to small businesses that I knew from personal experience to be Safe Spaces. Then, I made cold calls via email and social media. The response has been phenomenal! Now I have vendors and venues referring other vendors and venues to us. We likely have over 250 Safe Spaces listed, but honestly, I’m a bit behind and have lost count!”
What is the number one thing couples should be looking for in a planner?
“Someone they like who listens to them.”
What advice would you give to LGBTQ+ couples that may not have the support of their family or friends?
“It depends on the situation. Generally speaking we encourage them to invite everyone and allow them to not come if they choose. That way you have no regrets, they do. However, if you’re certain they would make a scene or ruin your day find another way to include them- wear something of your mom’s, or carry a photo of your dad, or incorporate a family tradition into your ceremony or reception so that you are holding a good memory of their spirit with you on the day and not an ugly one. Does that make sense?”
Any last words? Encouragement, advice, a funny story you want to share?
“A wedding, just like a marriage, should be a reflection of you and your love. Do what makes you happy- life is too short not to! PS Randi is the funny one in the business, but she’s out solving crimes, so check out Randi’s Ramblings on our website!”
Photo courtesy of Jenn and Randi Green
To see what Jenn and Randi are up to (or to get in touch to plan your own wedding), head over to their site to say hello!
And as always, if you’re still looking for the perfect Jacksonville wedding photographer, send me a message. I’d love to hear what you’re dreaming up!