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We don’t make change by staying silent on issues that matter.
We don’t make change by doing things to way they’ve always been done.
The wedding industry for too long has been complicit in enabling inequality and not actively reflecting the amazing human beings who are lucky enough to find their soul mate and get married.
Despite people protesting and maintaining that it does. Look around. It does not do diversity well.
Today marks the start of #changetheweddingindustry campaign that I am proud to be involved in founded by husband and wife duo Hakeem and Jasmine who I have had the pleasure of interviewing to find out more about the campaign, why it matters and what you can do to get involved.
I am also getting REAL over on Nu Bride instagram all day sharing challenges, videos, educating and answering diversity questions. I will also be elevating voices from others and encouraging you to prioritise diversity, have uncomfortable conversations and lead by example to improve diversity in the wedding industry and give couples a current and relevant experience they deserve without persecution, without tokenism and with suppliers who want to authentically engage with them rather than just to make their portfolios look good. I’ll also be sharing our never been seen panel discussion at Nu Bride The Wedding Show last month, having a strident conversation on diversity and being the change in the industry. Snippets are already on instagram a full video will go live at 3pm (BST). Stay tuned!
Without further ado. Over to Jasmine and Hakeem to tell you more about the campaign, why it matters and how you can take part!
How can couples or non-wedding professionals get involved with the campaign?
We want as many folks possible to get involved with the campaign. Since vendors have a large control of what images are shown throughout social media and publications, we really want them to utilize their platform to bring this discussion around lack of diversity in the wedding industry to the main stage. When we engage with vendors we expect them to find real couples who are impacted by lack of representation to amplify their stories.
For couples who are not attached a shoot, we ask that they share an image of their love on social media with the hashtag to say why the campaign is so important to them. I think it is really important that the campaign is driven by the stories of real couples.
What motivated you to start the change wedding industry campaign?
Planning our wedding was one of the biggest influences. I spent a long time researching hair and makeup and the default was always straight hair and Caucasian skin. I would have to type direct identifiers to have anything come up on Pinterest and even then it would be the same handful of recycled images. (Nu Bride: This sadly resonates 7 years ago I had a similar experience)
Beauty continued to be an issue when we started wedding modeling. I would leave the makeup chair feeling worse than when I got in the chair (Nu Bride: YUP) with my skin colour incorrect and my curls ruined by the hands of a Hair and make up artist that claimed to know how to work with people of colour. Although those times were not my wedding day, that is what weddings look like for many brides.
The final motivator was really just becoming active in the wedding industry. Getting on Instagram every morning became so toxic to me. because I hardly saw anyone that looked like Hakeem and I. Even though we had met so many amazing folks, they were contributing to a feed that only depicted non-minority (POC, LGBTQ, disability etc) couples.
As a black woman I have a love hate relationship with the industry. What do you love and hate about the industry?
What I hate about the industry is often feeling like diversity isn’t truly celebrated and it is instilled in us as media consumers. A simple look at large industry Instagram accounts will show you that cis, straight, white, slender couples pull in a vast majority of engagements.
I love the vendors and artists we have met through being involved in the industry. It is a very special group of folks who spend time making love their career and I think it shows when you engage with the community. Even with its downsides, we have made friends from all across the country just from being in the wedding industry.
What do you hope the #changetheweddingindustry campaign will achieve?
I hope the campaign will elevate stories that never got the chance to be shown. I want those planning weddings to feel like their love is valued and there are vendors / suppliers out there willing to work with them without fear of discrimination. All couples’ love is valuable and I don’t think the current industry projects that message.
Tell us about your love story? Any stand out suppliers who made you feel included and represented?
Hakeem and I met in college 5 years ago. We had a class together about 8 years ago actually and I had a love at first sight moment. It took me three years to get up the courage to talk to him and after blurting out “I’ve had a crush on you for three years” we have been together ever since.
During our wedding those who made us feel valuable were our photographers Luke and Mallory Leasure (@lukeandmallory) and my HMUA artists Olivia Hawthorne (@ohawthornemakeup). Both made me feel so true to ourselves without having to compromise anything.
Any thing else you want to add?
We just wants folks to engage with the campaign as much as possible. The work doesn’t end May 22nd. We must continue to create spaces for minority couples to be elevated day after day within our work and lives.
Thank you so much Hakeem and Jasmine!. So if you could change one thing about the wedding industry, what would it be?
Follow Hakeem and Jasmine here
Follow the hashtag #changetheweddingindustry to get involved and share your love stories or stories of your favourite couples and your own business journey in how you are committing to better diversity.
Hop on over to Nu Bride instagram to see how Nu Bride is contributing to the campaign, unedited conversations, free training and stories . Stay tuned on the blog for two more posts today as a campaign special and if you’re a business owner, don’t forget to visit our diversity page.
If you want to prioritise diversity in business but you aren’t sure how and are ready to invest in your business with proper diversity and inclusion training email firstname.lastname@example.org or find out more about my online diversity and courses.
Photography: Luke and Mallory