North Texas Daily

Denton photographer creates LGBTQ+ wedding friendly network

Denton photographer creates LGBTQ+ wedding friendly network

Denton photographer creates LGBTQ+ wedding friendly network
April 09
12:00 2021

Chevy “Chey” Gil took a leap of faith moving to Denton six years ago. Little did she know, she would end up being a professional photographer who focuses on inclusion with the LGBTQ+ community, especially through weddings.

Born and raised in Burkburnett, Texas, Gil knew she wanted something bigger for herself, so she worked multiple jobs for a year to gain financial stability to move to Denton.

“I love everything about Denton,” Gil said. “I feel like I’m welcomed and not like shunned or anything like that. Moving to a bigger area, especially Denton where it’s very art-oriented, I love that — it leaves room for creativity in so many ways.”

Gil is a self-taught photographer, but has taken workshops to expand her knowledge, including courses in Miami, Las Vegas and Houston. Her interest in photography and videography grew during her time at Full Sail University where she earned her associate degree in graphic design and learned new software and techniques.

“I feel like every photographer has their own unique vibe, and I feel like mine is on that playful side,” Gil said. “I have some goofy groomsmen [who] are crazy fun with their groom, and I have couples [who] can be comfortable with me and know that as they’re walking down the aisle after they finally kissed the love of their life, they can let loose and have that big dance-off walk down.”

As her photography career continued to grow, Gil was also involved with wedding groups when she stumbled upon a post from a same-sex couple who were struggling to find wedding vendors after being turned down by many. She eventually noticed that there were not any groups supporting the LGBTQ+ community in wedding planning, so she started her own.

Gil founded the North Texas LGBTQ+ Wedding Network on Facebook in November 2019, which helps LGBTQ+ couples feel safe and welcome in finding vendors during their wedding planning process.

“From that moment until now, we have 805 members of vendors and couples,” Gil said. “I never even dreamed that it would have gotten as big as it is now. From that point, couples have just been able to find friendly vendors and have advice from other couples, there’s all this knowledge being shared between each other, and I just think it’s just so awesome.”

Gil hopes the North Texas LGBTQ+ Wedding Network provides LGBTQ+ couples the opportunity to feel comfortable enough to ask questions, seek help if needed and feel heard.

India Bastien, a member of the North Texas LGBTQ+ Wedding Network and Fort Worth resident, created the North Texas LGBTQ+ Wedding Network logo and originally had a difficult time finding vendors for her wedding.

“I boldly posted in the North Texas Bridal Network […] because I could find vendors’ websites or their Facebook pages, but there was either no representation or I couldn’t tell if they were LGBTQ+ friendly,” Bastien said. “I was terrified to reach out to them and get rejected or I would reach out to them and they would ghost me, or we would be halfway through like, ‘Lets draw up a contract’ and then they’d ask ‘OK what’s the grooms name?’ and I’d go, ‘There’s no groom,’ and things would get awkward.”

Bastien was able to use the Facebook group to find vendors and a sense of community. She will be getting married in December 2021.

Seph Maldonado, 35 and Vernon resident, got married in 2017 to his husband Jason Duckwort. Although Maldonado did not use the network to find wedding vendors, he said he wishes he had access to it while planning his wedding.

“Doing everything online and not really knowing if the vendor was going to be LGBTQ+ friendly was always a gamble,” Maldonado said. “Since I don’t have a normally conventional sounding [man’s] name, they assumed I was the bride which later led to confusion.”

Maldonado now uses the network to help family and friends find vendors who want friendly and unique components for their weddings and events.

In the future, Gil hopes to put together an LGBTQ+ Wedding Expo to add to the annual one in Dallas. She wants the expo to start small and occur as a couple of venues throughout the year.

“I would love to have people know me more and they know that I’m a big advocate for the LGBTQ+ community,” Gil said. “Even if they’re not in the community and they’re just your traditional couple, [they can] know that they can still feel like themselves around me and not feel pressured as to what society tells them they need to do.”

More information about Gil’s photography and the North Texas LGBTQ+ Wedding Network can be found on her website, chevycheyphotography.com.

Courtesy Chevy Chey

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Mirella Mendoza

Mirella Mendoza

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