Wedding diversity is something we've always championed and celebrated here at Bridal Musings because, bizarrely, it's something we just don't see in mainstream wedding media often enough. And that makes us sad, not to mention frustrated.
Thankfully there are some wonderful publications taking leaps and bounds in this space. More on them, and one particularly inspiring blog editor, in our second post in this series. But first I (Elizabeth) wanted to take this opportunity to briefly share my perspective on this issue with you all.
What's Wrong With This Picture?
About a week after Zee and I got engaged, back in August 2010, I excitedly stocked up on wedding magazines from my local WHSmith. Flicking through them, the first thing I thought was “Wow, there are a lot of wedding dress ads.” (Ha!) My second thought was “Why is nearly every couple featured and every model in every shoot and every advertisement white?”
It wasn't just the issue of ethnicity, there were no Asian or Jewish weddings, no gay civil ceremonies (the UK hadn't legalised gay marriage by that point), no models bigger than a size 10, no people with disabilities…the list goes on. It just wasn't representative of the diversity of modern Britain.
As an early years teacher at a multicultural school (and having grown up in a multicultural part of London) perhaps I was more acutely aware of this issue. An important part of my job was to foster a learning environment where every child felt special and included – to create a space where diversity was actively celebrated.
Needless to say, I was shocked and disappointed by what I saw, and more notably, what I didn't see, in those wedding magazines. Especially when I came to realise that the issue wasn't restricted to magazines. It seemed that the UK and US wedding industry, in general, was geared towards (and only really visually representing) a small subset of brides and couples – mainly white, slim, heterosexual and western. It was as if I'd stepped back in time. The images and content used in magazines and on wedding blogs and websites (especially dress designers websites and ad campaigns) didn't seem to reflect the variety of modern couples and brides.
To me, it seemed like even fashion magazines, and catwalks, which are notoriously unrepresentative of a variety of women and body types, appeared to be doing a better job of providing diverse imagery and content.
So why hadn't the mainstream wedding industry got its act together yet?
A Quiet Mission
As a result, when I started Bridal Musings, I was on a mission to feature a diverse variety of couples from all walks of life, cultures and backgrounds and their beautiful weddings. As well as shoots and content that appealed to a wide variety of readers. But it was a quiet, personal, don't-rock-the-boat-so-as-not-to-offend-anyone, kind of mission. One that I didn't really talk about on the blog (apart from in my submission guidelines) and a goal that turned out to be much, much harder than I thought to actually achieve.
So here I am finally discussing wedding diversity (and the lack of it) after four years. I've written and re-written a version of this post many times since I started Bridal Musings in 2011 but I never actually hit ‘publish'. I wasn't sure I was the right person to talk about this issue or that I had the right words to explain myself.
I'm still not sure that I do and, thankfully, things have come a long way in the last four years but we're not there yet by any means. This lack of representation is something I feel incredibly passionate about, as does Bridal Musing's Editor Claire, so we thought it was high time we wrote about it.
Everyone Is Welcome Here
At the very heart of Bridal Musings is our commitment to being an inclusive wedding blog.
What that means, dear reader, is that no matter where in the world you are based, whatever your culture, nationality, sex, race, religion, clothing size, abilities, socio-economic background (read: ‘wedding budget'), sexual orientation, whether you're planning a ballroom or a backyard wedding (or anything in between!) we want you to feel welcome and, where possible, represented on our blog.
After all, weddings are about celebrating love and love comes in a wonderful variety of beautiful colours, shapes and sizes.
(Also, we're kind of greedy and want to feature all the beautiful weddings from all around the world all the time!)
But unfortunately, the reality is that the majority of submissions we receive are not representative of all the many and varied couples we are writing to and for. So, we can't help but worry that, despite actively trying to be more inclusive, inadvertently, we could also be part of the problem.
We understand this is a controversial issue and a sensitive topic for many due to a myriad of cultural and religious reasons too complicated to cover in one blog post but we feel we need to be open and honest about our stance on it, just so that you know what to expect on Bridal Musings. While we respect everybody's right to their own opinions and beliefs, we are pro marriage equality.
Fittingly, today is the same-sex marriage referendum in Ireland, which Claire has flown back from London to her hometown of Dublin especially to vote ‘yes' for. How awesome is that?
Here's what Claire said when I asked her to share why it was important to her to return home and vote:
Love is love.Everyone should be free to marry the person that they love and it shouldn't really be something that even needs to be voted for. That said, it's an exciting time in Ireland, and I'm hoping with all my might that the whole country gets behind our same sex couples and votes yes. I can't wait to welcome lots more Irish brides or grooms-to-be to the blog!
And I couldn't agree more.
In the first four years of Bridal Musings, we only received a total of five gay weddings and civil ceremony submissions. Five. Out of almost 1000 real wedding submissions! And, out of those five submissions (each beautiful in their own way) we only actually featured two of them on the blog because the photography or style of the other celebrations wasn't in line with our submission guidelines. (While that number has increased in the five years since this article published, we still don't receive nearly as many as we would love!)
And, I hope it goes without saying, but, just in case, we will never feature a wedding or shoot simply because it fills some sort of diversity quota! We only share weddings, celebrations, shoots and content that make our hearts skip a beat, and, most importantly that we believe our readers will find inspiring and helpful.
Gay couples and gay-friendly photographers and wedding vendors, please do get in touch. We'd love to hear your perspective on how we can make Bridal Musings more welcoming to the LGBT community so we can start receiving more gorgeous gay submissions!
Send Us Your Diverse Submissions!
Speaking of submissions…
We do our best to hunt down gorgeous and varied weddings to feature but, truth be told, we just don't have the man-power, or the time to search through hundreds of photographer's blogs/FB pages/Twitter streams/Instagram feeds etc. (Our inboxes and ‘to do' lists make us want to cry a little bit on a daily basis!) Which means we rely on talented photographers, videographers and couples, to share their beautifully diverse big days with us.
Please don't think we're complaining, or making excuses, we're just letting you know our current situation. Like any blog or business, Bridal Musings is most definitely a work in progress and, of course, we'll continue to work on this area. We think this is an important issue so we are keen to actively showcase more diversity on these pretty pages.
But to do that effectively, we need your help!
So if you are reading this thinking, “Hmmmm…that reminds me, I recently photographed, filmed (or had!) a wedding that was chic, stylish, creative or utterly beautiful, and just so happens to feature a rather cool couple that could very well inspire other couples looking for a little more diversity in their wedding inspiration” then please do get in touch.
And, if this post has resonated with you, or you'd like to share your perspective on this issue, please do leave a comment below. We'd really, really love to hear from you!
And if you'd like to read more from our series of posts on the matter we spoke to the woman who inspired us to be brave and finally write about this topic, the wonderful Nova of Nu Bride (and since have chatted more with Nova about incorporating culture in your wedding day!). Plus, in our third and final post, we introduce lots of brilliant niche blogs representing all kinds of couples that you'll want to add to your bookmarks!