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Coalition forms to help KC businesses be more inclusive within wedding industry

Wedding and events coalition helping businesses become more inclusive
Posted at 8:59 AM, Jun 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-25 16:27:50-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Making the wedding and event industry more inclusive is the goal of a new coalition in Kansas City.

The Wedding & Events Coalition formed last year, and since then, they’ve helped countless businesses, vendors and suppliers become more diverse in planning weddings for the LGBTQ+ community.

The coalition was founded in part by Josh Volland-Burns who admits his road to "I Do" wasn't the smoothest.

He says he felt a lack of inclusion while preparing for his wedding. His partner is gender fluid, and Volland-Burns says some of the vendors they met with had language geared toward heterosexual couples in their contract, leaving the couple feeling isolated.

"For me, it's like coming out to every vendor I work with to see if they're comfortable with me, and so it's building that inclusion for the couples and having, you know, authentic vendors," Volland-Burns said.

The couple decided to tie the knot in 2018 at a small intimate ceremony, with no vendors and self-catered.

Volland-Burns owns a wedding officiating business and is a member of the Mid-America LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Last year, he along with other members decided to take action and form the Wedding and Events Coalition where businesses affiliated with the chamber can be trained on how to make their businesses more inclusive within the wedding industry.

Jeff Dutzel also helped form the coalition and says as the owner of catering businesses, including Dutzel Catering, he saw a need to form the coalition first-hand.

"Being inclusive is the right way to do business, and as an LGBT-owned business, we do believe that and we want everyone to feel welcome so when they view our website, we're not saying bride and groom, we're saying couple," Dutzel said.

Businesses that have gone the extra step with the coalition say they are noticing the difference.

“I have had more couples come to me and say, 'This really meant a lot to us,'" said Jill Davies with Striker Travel Group. "When someone's traveling to a foreign country, I think about: Are they going to be culturally accepted? Are they going to be able to be themselves in that environment?"

The coalition plans to have a wedding and events expo later this fall.

Here is a list of vendors who the coalition has vetted.