SUPPORTING ANTI-RACISM & DIVERSITY IN THE WEDDING INDUSTRY
Hello to all our readers, old and new. I cannot tell you how wonderful it feels to be back writing for our lovely little blog again. The saying really is true that ‘you don’t know what you have until it’s gone’. When we closed at the end of March, we didn’t know how long it would be for and if we’d even have a business to come back to. The past few months have been concerning to say the least and the world has had to face up to the fact that not only do we have a pandemic to deal with, but a virus of a different kind.
During the months we were away, the world witnessed the tragic deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks and many more. What did all these young people have in common? They were all black.
Being honest, as a wedding blogger, in a small town in the UK, I didn’t really acknowledge, nor did I understand just how big a problem racism was? It’s never been something I’ve had to experience and so again being brutally honest, it was never an issue that was at the forefront of my mind. But boy oh boy, were my eyes about to be opened.
To show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement, two young local women (one of whom is black) decided to host an event in our local park to raise awareness. Being the sheltered small town girl that I am, I was inspired by their quick thinking and didn’t hesitate to show my support by clicking ‘going’ on the Facebook event they’d set up, as I thought other locals would. In fact quite the opposite happened, the event was instead met with a barrage of hostility, blatant racism and threats. Suddenly racism had become an issue in my town. Or so I thought? In fact, the truth is, racism had always been there, I just hadn’t seen it. Or perhaps I’d chosen not to? Since the BLM event our small town of about 9000 people has become a town divided and racism is becoming ever more apparent.
You might be wondering why I’m telling you this? After all, what does a small town like Lydney have to do with a wedding blog that has an international following?
Recent events, have led Jess and I, to seriously question the part we might have inadvertently played in the issue of racism, not just as individuals but as a business too? The truth is, the wedding industry has long suffered from a lack of diversity. I’d like to blame this all on mainstream media but as wedding bloggers, I think we might have dropped the ball a little on this to?
I’d always thought Bespoke Bride was good at being a diverse wedding blog, so as someone who likes to quantify all information into data, I decided to investigate just how diverse we really were, the numbers were quite frankly, disappointing.
Of all the real weddings we’ve posted on our blog since our launch in 2011, just 2.5% featured a couple from the BAME community. Only 1.5% featured a LGBTQ couple and even more shockingly only 0.5% featured someone with a disability.
The stats for our styled shoots weren’t much better, with 7% featuring a couple from the BAME community, 2% featuring a LGBTQ couple and again just 0.5% featuring someone with a disability.
And it wasn’t just ethnicity and sexual orientation that was an issue. Just 2.5% of all real weddings and styled shoots, featured someone that would be considered as ‘plus size’.
It’s hard to argue with those facts and it’s glaringly obvious Bespoke Bride has to do better.
As owners of our own media outlets we are in the unique position to have full editorial control, something most mainstream media doesn’t have. Being confronted with the truth has made us even more acutely aware of just how much work we have to do to ensure we are representative of our diverse readership. Can we really call ourselves an ‘international wedding blog’, when we aren’t being inclusive of everyone that reads us?
We have been back at work for 2 weeks (albeit part time) and we are looking forward to making Bespoke Bride a platform where diversity is celebrated, no matter age, sex, religion, ability, socio-economic background, or sexual orientation. We welcome all couples here because that’s what being ‘bespoke’ really is all about. We pride ourselves on helping couples create one of a kind weddings that reflects their own unique personalities. And we certainly aren’t going to achieve that if we continue to share the same ‘types’ of weddings.
We briefly addressed our pledge to commit to and support anti-racism in the wedding industry on our Instagram during lockdown, but since returning, it felt a little weird not addressing it here and we also want to be held accountable:
- We will develop a diverse board of wedding suppliers and professionals who can help us advocate for diversity. We aim to meet with the board at least twice a year to ensure we continually review our action plan and are inclusive of underrepresented couples.
- We will actively find a way to reach out to couples and suppliers in the BAME community to ensure we are taking part in the relevant discussions and events to widen our network and cultivate new, long-lasting relationships.
- We aim to develop a balanced content calendar that covers a range of topics inclusive of all races, cultures and religions. As well as ensuring that this is represented in the real weddings and styled shoots that we feature.
- We will continue to ensure that every real wedding and styled shoot that we feature is void of anything that is racist or cultural appropriation.
- We will continue to do our due diligence and ensure that every supplier that we feature on Bespoke Bride is inclusive of all couples including couples from the BAME and LGBTQ community.
- We will strive to keep learning, keep listening and keep talking about the issues affecting those in minority groups.
I’m not going to lie as a small business we are faced with big challenges. We rely heavily on real wedding and styled shoots being submitted but we understand that if we’re going to continue to share this type of content that it’s our responsibility to ensure we receive representative submissions. We are still only working part time and with much of our time being spent on designing and creating, these won’t be changes that happen overnight. But rest assured we are committed to ensuring we make a start and we will be forever committed to supporting anti-racism.