We believe in equality. Our vision is a world where no child grows up without opportunity and choice - so we stand strongly against discrimination and in favour of inclusivity, both in weddings and in the world at large.
We’d be the first to say that traditional wedding dresses - and ways of buying them - aren’t the only valid dresses, and the same applies to traditional weddings. The image of the traditional wedding is increasingly at odds with reality: we live in a society that is increasingly secular, diverse and supportive of individual choices.
Every June, LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) communities come together to mark Pride Month: a vibrant, defiant and inclusive celebration of love across the world. This year, we wanted to explore what inclusivity means in the context of weddings. We asked individuals from under-represented communities to tell us what they think - about the state of the industry now, and how it should change in future.
‘The world today is full of ‘should’s,’ says Crayola The Queen, one of the UK's few full-time professional drag queens, who identifies as non-binary. ‘You shouldn’t do this, you should do this, your relationship should look like this. Life is full of shoulds. I relate to that because it took a long time for me to become the non-binary person that I am. We’re now waking up as a society I think, and shedding all those toxic ‘should’s that push us into paths that maybe we don’t necessarily want to be on, or believe in.
‘I think brands are also starting to wake up to the idea that there’s a lot more possibility – and the world is a lot more fun – when you ditch the ‘should’s, show up and see what’s what’s possible. Non-traditional weddings challenge people’s notions of what they should and shouldn’t be doing, reconnecting them to their actual desires and instincts.’
Images © Brides do Good
Gubs, who married his partner Gary two years ago during Pride month, feels that ‘non-traditional’ should be replaced with the word ‘diverse’. ‘I want the industry to talk about organising weddings that represent the experience, background and culture of the couple getting married,’ he says. ‘Be it a Christian, taffeta-ballgown, top-hat-and-tails wedding or a mixed-heritage, Nigerian-Bangladeshi LGBTQ one. Inclusivity means creating a safe space for people of all backgrounds, religions, socio-economic groups, abilities and so on.’
‘The space right now is still very hetero-centric,’ says Tara, the co-founder of Dancing With Her, a digital and print publication that empowers women who love women to celebrate their union as they choose. ‘Which is a fancy way of saying it's bride and groom focused. This is particularly true when it comes to the language that we see being used, from client intake forms that say 'bride and groom's name' to stereotypical assumptions being made about their gender.’
‘Companies need to be intentional in their inclusivity,’ says Crayola. ‘It’s not enough to just say you’re ‘inclusive’ and then do nothing to demonstrate that. It’s important to listen to the community you are trying to serve – really listen – and figure out what all kinds of people might want. And these won’t all be the same! No two people are the same, and remembering that is the key to true inclusivity.
Images © Brides do Good
Nova Reid, a diversity consultant and wedding industry expert who specialises in modern and diverse weddings, says, 'Diversity and inclusion aren't just buzzwords. Many people feel they are 'inclusive' without taking any consistent action to include people in minorities and hoping they will just flock to them. It is important to remember that people in LGBTQ+ and overlapping minority identities (race, gender, disability, age etc), regularly face discrimination in their day-to-day life, and that includes during their wedding planning. Business owners should be intentional with their language and messagging and be bold in letting people in under-represented groups not only know they are skilled and can provide relevant services for them, but most importantly that they are a safe space for them.'
‘Every single wedding professional has the opportunity to help move the industry forward,’ says Tara. ‘Everyone from the single mum at home that makes wedding stationery to the wedding attire designer, right through to the photographer and officiant. The most important thing you can do towards being a more inclusive vendor is to take the time to learn about the community. Learn about the LGBTQ+ community from LGBTQ+ identifying people; learn about the struggles that being a part of the community brings, and the joy that it brings to be themselves.’
Images © Brides do Good
‘It's not enough to do a couple of styled shoots, or to cast straight models to pretend they are same-sex to show 'diversity' in a portfolio,’ says Nova. ‘That’s tokenism.'
‘If inclusive language makes you nervous, if you are worried about saying the wrong thing, or tokenising, if you don't know how to better reach couples in the LGBTQ+ community or don't feel you know enough about different communities or types of weddings, stop 'winging it'. Take is seriously, invest in processional training, workshops for staff or diversity consultancy to see where you can improve. Do your research, ask questions, read books, expand your network of suppliers and connect with those who are already reaching these communities. Couples deserve to be intentionally included, all of the time, not just as an afterthought.'
‘One of the easiest things for me to do when organising my wedding was to get rid of photographers, florists, caterers and so on who only showed white, heterosexual couples,’ says Gubs. ‘The industry needs to be empathic, open, kind, learn the vocabulary and how to speak to members of the LGBTQ+ community and create safe spaces for LGBTQ+ couples and families.
‘Simply being able to hold hands as you say ‘I do’ is a powerful act of defiance in a world that denies LGBTQ+ so much. Be a service provider that provides that safe-space for couples to only think about their love in that moment, and not worry about who might get offended at their expression. Dare to be open and brave!’
’You have to be ready to take some kind of risk in order to take the most reward, says Crayola. ‘But there is nothing more rewarding than allowing people to just be who they are, and own it fully.’
Crayola the Queen, aka London’s America’s Sweetheart, has been storming the London scene with her unique brand of campy, cute, cartoonish comedy, excelling as a host, lip-syncer, and parodic singer. While she may be an immaculate entertainer, she’s far from doughnuts for dinner - smart, inventive, and politically engaged, this queen is on a campaign to spread compassion within the queer community and beyond! Follow @CrayolaTheQueen to keep up with the cray.
Dancing With Her is the world's leading wedding resource for lesbian women. However, it's more than that. Dancing With Her is an online blog of real love stories, a journal of wedding planning ideas and an online directory of some of the worlds leading wedding vendors. Follow @dancingwithher or head to dancingwithher.com for more.
Nova Reid is a diversity consultant, wedding expert and the founder of Nu Bride, a multi award-winning wedding blog and show dedicated to adding diversity to the UK wedding industry. Follow @nu_bride or head to nubride.com and novareid.com for more.