Lesbian couple denied services by venue

Newly engaged couple Estefanie Echevarria and Aubrey VandenBosch encountered discrimination when looking into Post Family Farms in Hudsonville as a wedding venue.

On Oct. 20, Echevarria and VandenBosch became engaged. The couple then started looking for possible wedding venues, including Post Family Farms.

Post Family Farms is a favorite fall farm for Calvin students to visit. Calvin College Nite Life organizes at least one student event there every fall that includes hayrides, donuts, cider, getting lost in the corn maze and smores.

Upon being informed that Echevarria and VandenBosch are a lesbian couple, Post Family Farms expressed how they weren’t comfortable with hosting a same sex wedding, and that they would have to limit the space, set-up and tear-down of wedding supplies. Post Family Farms also specified if the couple wished to pursue their services, the two women would have to find their own wedding coordinator, because the one that Post Family Farms has is only for brides and grooms.

“They knew they couldn’t say no,” said VandenBosch, “so they said it in many other words making sure we wouldn’t host our wedding there [at Post Family Farms].”

While VandenBosch and Echevarria have faced discrimination before, VandenBosch said, “For us, this is the first time we’ve ever had a situation where we had to be open about our sexuality in fear of getting denied. … To actually have a business limit what services we can have, is out of the norm. If a business is going to offer a service, shouldn’t it be available to everyone?”

VandenBosch believes that while Michigan has come a long way with LGBTQ+ rights, the LGBTQ+ community is in need of more protection. The couple hopes that by sharing their story, they can help raise awareness and support members of the LGBTQ+ community that have had similar experiences. Several weeks ago, Chimes covered a similar story of a lesbian couple being discriminated against when searching for a farm venue in the West Michigan region.

The couple hopes that their story can help leave people with a sense of open-mindedness and acceptance.

“I think we’re fairly lucky to be around very open-minded people,” said VandenBosch, “but we also understand that everyone is raised differently. We all have different backgrounds, and beliefs. We don’t want to change anyone’s beliefs, we just want to be accepted and have the same rights as everyone else.”

VandenBosch and Echevarria are now planning to have their wedding at a barn venue in Monterey Valley.

Post Family Farms did not reply to Chimes for comment.