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LGBT wedding expo returns for fifth year, bigger than ever

By: Kayla Dimick | Southfield Sun | Published March 20, 2015

 Event coordinator Brandy Lane stands in front of her vendor booth at last year’s expo in the Southfield Pavillion.

Event coordinator Brandy Lane stands in front of her vendor booth at last year’s expo in the Southfield Pavillion.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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SOUTHFIELD — Same-sex couples dreaming up their perfect wedding can explore vendors, fashion, food and entertainment when the fifth annual LGBT Wedding & Anniversary Expo returns to the Southfield Pavillion March 21.

Although the state of Michigan currently has a ban placed on same-sex marriage, the state still recognizes the approximately 600 marriages that were performed in March of last year after the ban was struck down. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce soon whether it will hear an appeal on the ruling.

From 12:30-4:30 p.m., members of the LGBT community and supporters alike can explore over 100 LGBT-friendly vendors, from caterers, banquet halls and florists, to adoption agencies, attorneys and financial planners.

Jan Stevenson, co-publisher of Between the Lines,  a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender newspaper headquartered in Livonia and sponsor of the event, said the event has grown significantly this year.

“It’s going to be a blast,” Stevenson said. “This is the fifth year we’ve done it, and because of the excitement and enthusiasm with marriage equality, the event has kind of exploded.”

At 12:30 p.m., the event organizers are expecting around 1,000 people, doubling their number from last year, Stevenson said.

The event will boast a fully catered, complimentary champagne brunch by Jeff Zak catering. Sweet Dreams bakery, located in Warren, will unveil a wedding cake for attendees to enjoy in celebration of the one-year anniversary of Michigan’s declaration of the same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional.

At 2 p.m., local elected officials will hit the runway during a fashion show, sporting bridal wear and tuxedos from B. Ella Bridal in Plymouth and the Tux Shoppe in Birmingham. Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown, Southfield City Councilman Ken Siver and other elected officials are slated to work the catwalk.

Stevenson said a dance party and a DJ will cap off the event, featuring the Detroit Salsa Dancers and Motif, a metro Detroit pop cover band.

“We’ll be goofing around all day,” Stevenson said.

At 11 a.m., Robert Sedler, professor at Wayne State University Law School, will hold a seminar on the current state of the struggle for marriage equality in the LGBT community and the implications of the case going before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sedler worked on the DeBoer v. Snyder case, which challenged Michigan’s ban on same-sex couples’ ability to adopt children.

At the expo, Sedler said, he will discuss the case, as well as how the Supreme Court makes its decisions.

“I’m going to be talking about how it’s not the end, it’s just the beginning against fighting discrimination against the LGBT community,” Sedler said.

Stevenson said that, hopefully, the seminar will be able to clear up some confusion couples may have on the rulings, but the event will not be an overly political one.

“This is a very upbeat event. People are there to shop and talk about their weddings, and it’s not political,” Stevenson said.

Although the topic of same-sex marriage is a controversial one on the political spectrum, Stevenson said the event has run smoothly each year without any protest.

“Every year, we look out the window to see if somebody is there to tell us to go back to the Stone Age,” Stevenson said. “We haven’t had any protests, but we aren’t naive. We do have security, and we’re right next door to the Southfield Police Department.”

The event and parking are free and open to the public, but registration is encouraged. Tickets are available at www.btlwedding expo.com. Donations at the door will support the Michigan Marriage Challenge, a fund created to raise money for the legal fees and expenses in the DeBoer v. Snyder case, organizers said.

For more information, visit www.btlweddingexpo.com or call (734) 293-7200, ext. 15.

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