Mara Mazdzer’s success can be attributed to years of hard work and an uncompromising sense of dedication to her community. Her strong character and commitment to inclusivity and helping others–from clients to local non-profits to community organizations–is one of the many reasons her business is so special.
This commitment to inclusivity landed her a gig as the planner for one of Utah’s first same-sex weddings, just before they were legalized across the country. That very couple was the first same-sex couple to be featured in a Utah bridal magazine, right here in Utah Bride & Groom. And, although Mara is proud to have been a part of that, she doesn’t see it as anything out of the ordinary. “My job is to tailor the wedding to the couple – whether they’re gay or straight – it’s a celebration of their love.”
“This wasn’t a gay wedding,” Mara explains, “it was a wedding. Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you need a gay doctor. They’re just weddings. They’re people.” As simple as you may see that statement today, it made waves in 2013. Which, in Mara’s opinion, is what being an ally is.
Mara is steadfast when it comes to creating a safe space for any and all clients, from the vendors she chooses to work with to the people she hires.
“Do you remember that cake shop in Colorado in 2012 that wouldn’t make a cake for same-sex clients?” Mara asks. “People were so shocked because it was being brought to their attention, but to be honest, that wasn’t all that unusual. I related to the couple. I’d had couples come to me claiming they’d never anticipated having a wedding planner but because they kept meeting dead-ends, they didn’t feel like they had a choice. They needed an advocate.”
As time went on, Mara dedicated herself more and more to allyship and advocacy. “I knew that being a champion for all members of my community meant rethinking core components of my business,” she explains. “For example, when I looked at the paperwork I was having clients fill out, I started to see all of the missed opportunities for inclusivity.” Mara immediately sat down to neutralize the wording to ensure that regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, no one felt alienated or left out.
To businesses that wish to be more inclusive, Mara suggests seeking out ways to make potential clients feel heard and accepted. “For me, being a good ally really comes down to listening. I pay attention to people that know more than me and take notes,” she says. “One of my favorite resources for that is Equally Wed.”
Clearly Mara’s listening skills have been paying off. This year, the Equally Wed Awards, which honor the best LGBTQ+ inclusive vendors and venues in the wedding industry, awarded her the top spot for the Equally Wed Award in the “ Planner Category.”
“It’s the seemingly small things like that that add up to make the difference,” Mara explains. “It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being authentic.”
Equally Wed is an international online LGBTQ+ wedding magazine, book and education resource for LGBTQ+ couples and LGBTQ+ inclusive wedding professionals. “Within our inspirational content, we focus on wedding planning, real weddings and engagements, marriage equality news and spotlights gay-friendly LGBTQ+ inclusive wedding vendors.”