//D. Fritz in the Colorado mountains. Photo courtesy of River + Root Photography.
In an industry built upon centuries of tradition and gendered rituals, wedding photographer D. Fritz offers those in the LGBTQ+ community a way to reimagine how to tie the knot in a safe, inclusive space. As a Denver-based queer wedding and elopement photographer, Fritz helps couples craft their own way to the altar.
“It’s really important to me that the photos you see on my website show every body, every person, every relationship, every love,” Fritz said. “To be a queer wedding photographer and a part of the LGBTQIA+ community means that when couples are coming to me, they don’t have to worry about not being asked their pronouns or being misgendered or not feeling included in what is supposed to be the happiest and most amazing day of their lives.”
Fritz offers wedding, elopement and boudoir photoshoot services through their business, River + Root Photography. Started in 2018, Fritz is self-taught and a mostly one-person team.
Fritz’s boudoir, or “steamy” as they call it, offering is their new favorite for its ability to allow couples to express themselves intimately, a concept commonly underrepresented in the wedding industry especially when it comes to LGBTQ+ couples.
Fritz has seen the same type of couple featured over and over again in mainstream wedding magazines. To them, “steamy” sessions help break the barrier for couples who may not fit the white, heterosexual mold of a “traditional” union. Further, Fritz’s decision to showcase the sexuality of LGBTQ+ couples embraces sex-positivity within marriage.
“For me, body and sex positivity is just about being as inclusive as possible and putting that on my website and my Instagram and saying, ‘These are the people that I work with,’” Fritz said. “This is what deserves to be seen.”
Same-gender marriage has been legally recognized in Colorado since 2014. Since the United States legalized same-gender marriage in 2015, wedding spending by LGBTQ+ couples boosted state and local economies by $3.8 billion. Today many couples travel from out of state for Fritz’s progressive elopement and photography packages. Fritz’s goal is to travel to more states in the future to expand their offerings to couples who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it.
While Fritz conducts more traditional wedding photoshoots and is growing their bookings for boudoir and other creative sessions, elopements are at the heart of their work.
One 2018 study revealed that 74% of LGBTQ+ people surveyed said they paid for most or all of their wedding; many reported that it was due to a lack of family financial support. Elopements prove to be a great option for any wedding budget, but Fritz argues they also offer so much more.
“When you have your big weddings with your huge budget, when everything trickles down, when you take away the tent, the six-piece band, take away all this stuff—what it comes down to is feeling at home with this person and feeling like you’re ready to be with this person for the rest of your life,” they said. “Elopements take that and then you can just add whatever the hell you want because it’s your day.”
Some couples choose to go fishing, hiking or camping on their special day. Fritz has had a couple do their first dance at 11,000 feet in a vast mountain basin. They’ve had another cook a delicious breakfast together at sunrise. River + Root provides an elopement guide that offers suggestions on how couples can plan their special day with queer-owned vendors—from flowers at Rowdy Poppy to custom cakes at Make Believe Bakery. Location suggestions are also listed for clients, but Fritz prefers to keep those specifics private to preserve the natural spaces.
Fritz hopes their business model, built upon inclusivity, can inspire other local businesses. For example, River + Root avoids the terms “bride” and “groom” on its website, opting for terms like “lovers,” “couples” or “partners” instead; contracts are gender-neutral to support an inclusive environment for all couples.
“It’s really easy to make some tiny changes that can go really far,” they said. “I think we’re now coming into a time in which asking for people’s pronouns is super important for everyone. The simple act—even if it’s not your norm, even if it feels uncomfortable for you because nobody asks you your pronouns—asking somebody else their pronouns says to them that you care and that they’re valued and that you see that and include them.”
Reinventing the queer wedding is not a one size fits all approach, but whether couples choose to say their I do’s in the mountains with friends and family or completely alone, Fritz hopes their clients know however they declare their love, Fritz is ready to capture it.
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