As a member of lots of wedding planning groups and as a follower of many wedding blogs, i’ve seen the subject of diversity in the wedding industry come up on a number of occasions.
Time and again, brides in particular, share their experiences of not feeling represented by the wedding industry. Many report not being able to try on wedding dresses in their size in wedding dress shops. Lots of couples say they have noticed a lack of skin tones on many websites. For the topic to keep coming up, year on year, there’s clearly a problem somewhere.
But it’s not just size and race where the industry is failing to be representative. Same sex couples also report difficulty in finding suppliers. When you look at several websites and only see white faces, slim bodies and men kissing ladies, what does that say to you? It doesn’t necessarily give the impression that anything other than those characteristics are welcomed or accepted. It can, I imagine, make you feel unwanted; like that particular supplier is not interested in working with a same sex couple, for example.
Making sure everyone is represented
As a multicultural society, we expect to see people from all walks of life represented. The wedding industry is no different. As a white female in my thirties (just!), who’s married to a man, being represented is something that I completely took for granted when planning our own wedding.
In an industry that is supposed to be about celebrating love, why do so many couples still speak of the lack of diversity in the wedding industry? Having to look for suppliers for your wedding based not just on their skills, reputation and pricing, but also on their prejudices is surely an unacceptable burden.
Now here’s the thing. Our own website isn’t very diverse. The vast majority of the couples on our website are white, or pale skinned. The majority are of average build. All of the weddings we showcase represent individuals marrying someone who identifies as the opposite gender to themselves.
So how can this be? As a very liberal, very inclusive couple ourselves who welcome clients in every shape and form, why is our website so lacking in diversity?
The truth? I wish I knew. Perhaps it’s a vicious circle. It is very rare for us to be booked by a non-white couple. Similarly it’s very rare that we’re booked by a plus sized couple. It’s also very rare that we’re booked by a same sex couple. We have never been booked by a couple with a visible illness or disability. And of the couples who do represent something “different?” Almost exclusively they’ve asked for their images to not be shared publicly, which is absolutely their right.
We always endeavour to respect our clients privacy and their right to share the images that they wish to be shared. This in turn however means that we’re not always able to showcase our favourite images, or our best work.
Not being able to share the images that we’re passionate about, or that we feel best represents our brand values can sometimes mean we don’t appear to be as diverse as we’d like. We’re not looking to display content simply for the purpose of box ticking. We understand and accept that tokenism is a problem too. We’re mindful of the fact that not showing off the full range of wonderful people we work with, may be off-putting to some. Especially those who would like to feel confident that their sexuality or disability for example, won’t be an issue before getting in touch.
I suppose what i’m trying to say is that the wedding industry definitely needs to catch up and make a conscious effort to be inclusive. That doesn’t mean making one off token gestures. It means continually being representative and being fully aware of how our businesses are being viewed and by who. In the same breath, I also want to reassure couples that on the whole we are a massively inclusive industry. Whilst some of us may not outwardly show it, it’s not necessarily because we don’t want to. If you love someone’s work, or what they have to offer, I would encourage you to reach out. They may be able to show you galleries privately that they have been asked not to share publicly.
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