Change The Wedding Industry | Progressive Wedding Suppliers and Allies
So for my final instalment as part of the Change the wedding Industry series, I wanted to elevate voices of wedding business owners in under-represented groups and also colleagues and allies doing great work to be the change they want to see, often without the need for credit or to be performative, but just because it’s the right thing to do and they care deeply about diversity in all its forms. They also provide great customer service and use their privilege to support the work of others and it’s a pleasure to introduce some of them to you today, many of them have been Nu Bride supporters from the beginning.
Olivia Knight, Founder Patchwork
Becky Bailey Photography | Photo from Nu Bride The Wedding Show
This spring team Patchwork were super proud to be part of the Nu Bride Wedding Show. Conceived and curated by friend, founder of Nu Bride and diversity campaigner Nova Reid, it was the first wedding event of its kind designed for modern multi-cultural couples. Born out of frustration with the lack of diversity in the mainstream wedding media and national events, the show was an entirely inclusive, joyful and empowering experience for everyone involved.
The show had been a long time in the making and came at great personal cost to Nova who produced it pretty much single-handedly. Supported by family, friends and a selection of committed suppliers, bloggers and journalists, the event did not find the mainstream funding or support from the wedding media that it deserved. So while we celebrate the success of the show and hope this really is the beginning of a change that we desperately need in the wedding industry. One event, even if we can persuade Nova to do it all again every year, is not enough.
I was asked to join the Nu Bride panel about ‘Why Diversity Matters’ on the weekend to put forward some practical ways that white allies can use their privilege to take personal responsibility for the change we want to see.
I’ve not spoken out against the obvious and offensive lack of race diversity in our industry because as a white woman I guess I thought it wasn’t my place. I now realise that is a huge part of the problem.
So I just want to share my experience working in the wedding industry and some things I’ve learnt to suggest a few ways that white people can usefully support the work already being done by BAME industry experts, entrepreneurs, influencers, educators and activists to promote diversity and inclusion in the wedding industry. (read the full incredible article by Liv on this subject here)
Photo by We Are Pure Light | Photo of Ananya Cards favourite client
“I believe there is not enough awareness of the cultural diversity in Britain reflected in the wedding industry. This means that the minority cultures do not have a wide enough representation and their needs are not always being catered to. Social media and magazines, for example, do not show enough images of couples from different ethnicities. More and more mixed race marriages are taking place, however there is a distinct lack of awareness of the dos and don’ts and preferences of different cultures. This also applies to venues that only offer limited menus and food options, thus alienating vegetarians, vegans, and those with other food preferences either for religious or personal reasons.
Britain is a melting pot of many cultures – each with its own rich heritage, customs and traditions. It’s high time there was a better understanding of, sensitivity towards, and representation of different cultures in the wedding industry.”
Photo: Tino Antoniou | Photo of Assumpta on her wedding day
One thing I would like to see changed in the wedding industry is racial inclusivity without it feeling unusual, tokenistic or once in a blue moon. I would love for everyone to feel important, valued and seen.
Photo: Amy Lewin | The photo is of my sister’s wedding
One thing I’d like to see changed in the wedding industry would be the lack of diversity in major mainstream publications in regards to visual representation. You still have to search much harder to find inspiration for things such as afro hair, darker skinned make up or underwear options which I’m sure makes ethnic minorities feel a little forgotten. There is also not much love given to the older or the plus size bride. We should ALL be showcased and celebrated in the many beautiful and different forms we come in.
The photo is of my sister’s wedding. – Her and her husband are my all time favourite couple simply because they are family and I love them. I was her maid of honour/wedding planner/singer and I loved every second of the part I played in my little sisters day.
“We believe that all women are the same and should not be made to feel different and would like to see more inclusivity with bridal fashion. We are seeing positive changes in the wedding industry. Offering more and more for brides of all shapes and sizes each year. I would also like to see the end of mass-produced cheap wedding dresses with no soul. Sometimes when you see the volume of those kind of dresses at trade shows, it brings it home to you how much of it there is out there, when you’re in your bubble producing and supporting a home-grown business. A wedding dress should be something you want to hold onto forever, put on and dance around in at your 10 / 20 / 30 year anniversary and show off to any future family. The industry is so vast now it can feel very impersonal”
Its time to look at Change as an Opportunity. Difference is Welcomed. Why would you want to have the same wedding ceremony that everyone has had for years when you have the opportunity to have your own unique personalised ceremony? If you are willing to just take a little time and look around you will be amazed at what and who you can find. As an Asian Female Toastmaster and Ceremonies Celebrant I look forward to bringing you fun, laughter, smiles and a unique, special, memorable day
I would change WHAT wedding businesses prioritise when building or growing their brand. I would push inclusivity and diversity to the very TOP of every single wedding businesses’ business plan (including those that teach wedding businesses) and long-term business building goals. Diversity & inclusivity will be considered before branding, website design and development, marketing, careers coaching, contracts, booking forms, networking, advertising, and recruitment so that it becomes a fundamental principle and ethos of the business at the outset, a core value, a necessity, an uncompromising business priority that is as much a no-brainer as an email address and so that it can underpin every single business decision and output from DAY 1, not when you fancy finally engaging with it. (Nu Bride: Say it louder for those at the back!)
In this changed industry, we would see less tokenism, less homogeneity, less privilege allowing this crucial work to be ‘optional’ and forever on a person’s ‘to do list’ whilst potential customers are currently being excluded, offended, and underrepresented, and we’d see more people of colour and/or LGBTQ+ people being spared the burden of gifting free emotional labour educating others about their lived experiences for the financial gain of those businesses as and when they come across them – the work would already have been done and the investment a natural one much like legal fees, marketing courses, and website design.
Rita Colson, Designer
Photo of one of Rita’s favourite style conscious couples: Eloise and Jamie – Image courtesy of Rita Colson
‘I would like to see the wedding industry welcome EVERYONE at the table. I would like to see the industry better embrace style and individuality. Style celebrates and takes into account the individual, I would like to see our imperfections celebrated, so flaws become an asset rather than something to hide.’
I’d like to see couples from all cultures, sexual identities and economic backgrounds realise that they really can have a ceremony that expresses their own intentions for their marriage – that they can create an environment for their rite of passage that is truly reflective of who they are and where they come from. I’d love couples to know that a humanist ceremony can and will incorporate things which mean something to them and that will welcome all of their guests. Focusing on what everyone has in common, not the things that perhaps make them different.
Sophia and Ayo another favourite couple of Zena’s
I’d love couples and their families to understand the inclusivity of a humanist ceremony and that it is not an alternative religion, simply a medium for the couple and their celebrant to work out what means the most to them. I’d ultimately love all couples to know that the ceremony can be the absolute best part of their day and the reason for the feasting, dancing, congratulations and partying that follow!!!
Nova, Diversity Campaigner and Founder of Nu Bride
And I guess the final words should be from yours truly.
Our wedding day remains one of the most surreal and joyful moments of our lives. What made the day so special was having all of our friends and family in one room. The togetherness and the diversity was palpable.
I still recount the words from my Dad’s speech. He wished for Mr Nu Bride and I to be rich. Not rich in money (though that would be nice lol), but rich with friendships, with the relationships and the people we choose to surround ourselves with and have in our life.
That to me is the essence of diversity and inclusion.
It being part of your every day. It being intentional, consistently and it just “is’
Not to tick a check box. Not to be performative.
But because having wonderful people from all walks of life around you is incredible. Not only are they there cheerleading for you on your wedding day, being there to support with business and personal decisions, but showing up when the shit hits the fan, and being their unconditionally even when you’re in a normal rhythm of life. Your network is your net worth. Diversity adds such value. Even stats show our economy does better when we are more diverse and connected and less segregated, communities and systems and industries thrive.
So the one thing, I would change is for more people to realise the power of diversity, to stop denying the need for it, to recognise its value beyond a tokenising check box. To put it priorities it, consistently. To think about diversity beyond having diverse imagery in a portfolio. That is not enough.
For people to move out of a place of fragility and defence and into action. To self-interrogate individual racial bias, look at who is in your team, who are you casting? Whose voices are you elevating, supporting and representing? But mostly, to remember all of this is to better serve couples from all works of life, they deserve to be represented – not just because diversity is on trend right now. But because to be seen is to be humanised and simply put, it’s the right thing to do.
“Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without” William Sloane
Nova Reid Diversity Campaigner and Founder of Nu Bride.
Hop on over to the Diversity page to keep update with educational articles and for a list of some of our favourite suppliers in BAME and under-represented communities and if you’re a business ready to put your money where your mouth is, hop on over to www.novareid.com for more information on diversity consultancy services.