Wedding Pros: 10 Actionable & Authentic Ways to Be Diversely Inclusive in Your Wedding Business

Monday, June 22, 2020

In the heart of what we stand for when it comes to celebrating diversity in Coastal Virginia, we are taking a step back to have two of our blogger BFFs take the microphone as they share actionable ways the white-dominated American wedding industry as a whole can better support and amplify BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) couples and wedding vendors in their wedding businesses. Please allow us to introduce Shafonne Myers of Pretty Pear Bride and Kunbi Odubogun of Perfête as our guest editors today.

Actionable ways to be authentically diverse and inclusive in your wedding business for wedding pros

We are in the middle of an extremely important, emotionally-charged movement in the United States. The violent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others are a tragic symptom of deep-rooted discrimination and systemic racism in America. As millions have protested, not only in the U.S. but worldwide, people are demanding change. Silence is not an option. Black Lives Matter.

Companies, publications, and influencers have been responding to this movement in different ways. Some are posting statements. Some are donating. Some are posting their team diversity percentages. Some are being transparent about their white privilege and are re-evaluating their business policies and protocols. And others are silent -- and that silence is deafening.

The wedding industry has always been dominated by the same type of content and imagery – thin, white, heterosexual couples. At Pretty Pear Bride and Perfête, we have always prioritized representing BIPOC, size diversity, and inclusion of marginalized communities in our content. This goes for featured weddings, vendors, and other related articles. We are BIPOC-owned wedding and lifestyle publications, so it is important for us to view and share our content from a diverse lens.

Although we feel it should be obvious, it needs to be said: posting on social media or releasing a statement is nowhere near enough. Action to change the day-to-day mindset and biases of wedding businesses needs to happen. There is a lot of work to be done, so along with fellow wedding editors from around the world, we are sharing 10 ways you can be diversely inclusive with your wedding business. Our industry can be better. It needs to be better. We believe it.

- Kunbi and Shafonne

How to be a better ally for Black and other people of color wedding couples and wedding vendors

1. Look within. Do the work to identify your own conscious and unconscious biases. Your unconscious biases will be much more difficult to uncover since, as the name suggests, you don't realize you have them. There are multiple unconscious bias tests available online (Project Implicit and Tolerance) to help you identify these beliefs. Once you realize the biases you have, the next step is to actively work to dismantle them. When you put in the work for yourself, everyone in your wedding industry benefits.

2. Organize your styled shoot teams with intention, not convenience. Is your creative team diverse? If not, research vendors in your area/region who are good fit for the vision and can bring new perspective to your shoot. Never include someone just because of their skin color — white, black, brown, et cetera. That is disingenuous. Invite someone for their style, talent, and yes, to create a genuine connection for collaboration with someone different than you with whom you might not have worked before.

How to authentically be a genuine ally for Black and other people of color wedding couples and wedding vendors

3. Consciously try to think about the imagery you are using throughout your marketing. Brides and grooms come in all sizes, races, and religions. You need to represent them. Not only when it comes to featuring weddings and styled shoots you may have organised, but also with the stock imagery you may use in your marketing (i.e., brochures, social media, portfolio, et cetera). How can people of colour specifically identify with or want to use your service or product, when they never relate to or see people who look like them in your marketing?
- Rhiannon Downie-Hurst, Bride Club ME

4. Make an intentional effort to showcase your openness and commitment to inclusivity. Creating a safe welcoming space that promotes genuine diversity and inclusion is one of the first steps to connecting with Black and POC couples. Display relevant badges on your wedding business marketing materials that align with your core beliefs (such as Black Lives Matter, Human Rights Campaign, #UnityThroughCommunity, ACLU, and more). Make sure your website displays inclusive imagery that will speak to everyone regardless of their ethnicity. And above all, in your effort, avoid tokenism and be authentic in your interactions with not only clients, but other BIPOC wedding vendors as well.
- Daniella Floriano, Glittery Bride

How to be authentic and genuine in your small business support for Black and other people of color wedding couples and wedding vendors

5. Take note of which publications are non-exclusive so you can resubmit your BIPOC weddings to help better representation throughout the entire wedding media industry. This also helps your future clients be reminded that you have been trusted by BIPOC couples in the past, and that it's more than just business to you. It's a matter of societal importance to see your BIPOC couples in an influential media spotlight. If you're a publication, consider loosening your exclusivity policy when it comes to weddings with people of color, Black vendors, or couples to ensure your content is as inclusive and representative of our diverse wedding industry.
- Jessica Bishop, Budget Savvy Bride

6. Listen. Making the right changes is birthed from truly listening to your wedding community. Have you ever heard your fellow BIPOC wedding pros feel underrepresented at networking events or wedding shows? If so, listen to their concerns and take them seriously. Don’t just dismiss them. Don’t perpetuate a racist or hostile environment where your fellow colleagues feel unsafe, disrespected, undervalued, or ignored. Listen to what BIPOC are saying. They are giving you a guidebook on what to do and how to change right now.

Ways to be authentically diverse and inclusive in your wedding business for wedding pros

7. Think beyond the traditional mainstream wedding media. When submitting your events or styled shoots that feature BIPOC couples and/or vendors, think beyond the biggest mainstream publications. Consider submitting your diverse events to your local wedding magazines and smaller or medium-sized blogs. It is important that your clients and partners see themselves reflected in all the wedding resources available for them. By submitting to smaller publications, you not only contribute to the diversification of our industry as a whole, but you are also supporting small businesses who might already be actively eager to better represent inclusivity and equality.
- Alejandra Baca-Rodriguez, Belle the Magazine

8. Elevate and celebrate the marginalized. The default in the wedding industry is to elevate/celebrate the voices and work of the privileged. It is your duty as part of a community-focused wedding industry to not keep contributing to that standard. Do your part to make space for the marginalized or underrepresented in your local wedding community. If you know a BIPOC vendor who is better suited for a certain wedding style, make the steps to help introduce that person to your couple. It’s not an issue of doing it for performative reasons but because you know that the vendor is perfect for the job.

Ways to be authentically diverse and inclusive in your wedding business for wedding pros

9. Revisit your wedding packages to accommodate weddings that may have different traditions and needs. Most pricing is based on a "traditional" ceremony or four-hour reception. Consider researching the needs of couples from different cultures and backgrounds to see what is most appealing when looking for a venue or vendor.
- Anna Coats, Marry Me Tampa Bay

10. Open space and spotlight BIPOC colleagues on your platforms. There are a lot of amazing BIPOC wedding creatives doing incredible work in their respective specialties. Show them some social media love in an organically intentional way so prospective clients might consider hiring them for weddings or photo shoots. Once you take a stand to showcase and elevate BIPOC colleagues, you are holding the space for others to be a part of a bigger ripple effect. That ripple effect is where the true impact of diversity in the wedding industry expands and multiplies.

MEET SHAFONNE MYERS
As a long-time cheerleader for plus size brides and wedding business owners, Shafonne inspires self-love for brides of all shapes and sizes since 2011. She also helps wedding and small biz professionals sell online with ease and scale their business with digital products. You can find Shafonne at Pretty Pear Bride and on her website: shafonnemyers.com.

MEET KUNBI SIJUWADE-ODUBOGUN
As an attorney and publisher with over 10 years experience in the creative industry, Kunbi has the privilege of knowing how life is on both sides of the creative spectrum and believes it is part of what makes her a great business owner. She knows first hand what it means to launch that big idea, what it means to put sweat and tears into your business, and how badly you want it to succeed. You can find Kunbi on Perfête and on her website: kunbio.com.


Ways to be authentically diverse and inclusive in your wedding business for wedding pros

Support BIPOC-Owned Niche and Small Business Wedding Publications


If you've been in the wedding industry for awhile, you will have noticed some of your favorite wedding blogs and magazines have either closed down or have had their content acquired by large corporations over the years. With an ever-changing industry and online advertising shifts, the wedding blog and magazine media world as a whole has been tough to financially sustain. It's also what makes us small business editors, publishers, and owners a close community because we have to rely on each other for collective industry insight and we understand how challenging it can be to have to constantly pivot in a digital space.

This section is dedicated to our long-time or new BIPOC-owned niche wedding publication friends who make it their mission to highlight a diverse range of love in every color, so couples can see other couples like them represented in wedding media when dreaming of their special days. It's not an easy way to make a living, but the passion behind your favorite wedding blogs and magazines is a fierce one. Consider reaching out to these women to ask how you can support their niche publications and heart for a truly inclusive wedding world.

Amor Latino Unveiled
// Marirosa Anderson
Online Latin wedding inspiration and informational resource

The B Collective
// Eliana Baucicault
Print magazine focused on diversity in life's celebrations

Belle the Magazine
// Alejandra Baca-Rodriguez
Online wedding fashion inspiration for the sophisticated bride

Black Bride
// Mary Chatman
Online and print wedding publication that celebrates, inspires, and uplifts women of color

Black Nuptials
// Ash Renee
Online wedding and lifestyle publication for multicultural couples

Bride and Breakfast
// Janna Simpao
Online wedding inspiration committed to style and beauty in the Philippines

Bride Club ME
// Rhiannon Downie-Hurst
Online wedding information resource for engaged couples in the UAE

Catalyst Wedding Co.
// Amber Marlow
Online wedding advice and inspiration with an intersectional feminist lens

The Coordinated Bride
// Juliette McKay
Online wedding resource for the sophisticated, fashion-forward bride

KnotsVilla
// Gianna Asaam
Online wedding inspiration for stylish Canadian celebrations

Marry Me Tampa Bay
// Anna Coats
Online wedding planning resource and inspiration for Tampa Bay, Florida

Munaluchi Bride
// Jacqueline Nwobu
Print and online wedding inspiration that promotes positive imagery of multicultural weddings and vendors

Our Color in Love
// Shareea Woods
Print and online wedding inspiration celebrating Black brides and fine art photography

Perfête
// Kunbi Odubogun
Online wedding and lifestyle inspiration for all of life's moments

Pretty Pear Bride
// Shafonne Myers
Print and online wedding inspiration for plus size brides and positive self-image

Southern Noir Weddings
// Elana Walker
Online wedding publication dedicated to sharing Black Southern weddings and vendors

Style to the Aisle
// Michelle Davis
Online wedding resource devoted to wedding fashion and beauty

The Wedding Scoop
// Leana Sadasivan
Online wedding inspiration for Singapore and Malaysia

World Bride Magazine
// Myrdith Leon-McCormack
Print and online wedding publication celebrating diverse global celebrations

At time of this article's publication (6/22/20), the above wedding blogs and magazines are currently actively publishing on their respective websites that are written in the English language. There are some amazing BIPOC-owned publications that are sadly no longer publishing or not currently publishing, and therefore are not included in this list since there isn't available information on how you can support them with wedding submissions or wedding-related advertising. If there is an active wedding publication not listed above that we might have missed, please email chelsea@tidewaterandtulle.com so we can update!

Actionable ways to be authentically diverse and inclusive in your wedding business for wedding pros

Further Reading About Diverse BIPOC Wedding Traditions & Histories


Juneteenth: An Ode to Black Weddings via Perfete
Free Guide to Latino Wedding Traditions via Amor Latino Unveiled
Modern Heritage: Indian Wedding Traditions told by Sidra of Rubies and Ribbons via Tidewater and Tulle
Planning Your Nigerian Wedding in North America via KnotsVilla
Modern Heritage: Mexican Wedding Traditions via Tidewater and Tulle
5 Wedding Traditions & Customs: African and Asian Weddings via KnotsVilla
Spanish Wedding Dictionary via Amor Latino Unveiled

How to be a better ally for Black and other people of color wedding couples and wedding professionals

PHOTOGRAPHY/VENDOR CREDITS
Venue: Historic St. Luke's Church | Photography & Videography: The Vacation Channel | Styling & Production: Chelsea LaVere for Tidewater and Tulle | Florals: Palette of Petals | Makeup: This Sunkissed Life | Hair: Hair by Emily Dami | Rentals: Hampton Roads Event Rentals | Wedding Attire: Truly Yours Bridal | Officiant: Just Married by Christina | Catering: The Twisted Fork | Lighting: Stage Right Lighting | Calligraphy: J. Jennaé Studios | Cake: Kadi Bakes | See more from this classic modern styled shoot on Tidewater and Tulle.

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