Challenging Diversity in the Wedding Industry
Updated: Jan 15
I saw a photo recently that made me forget to breathe for a while. It was of a gay couple after they had got married. It was the simple fact that it was two guys (handsome, black, dressed in sharp suits, sharing a joyful kiss) but one was wearing the most incredibly beautiful long veil attached to his suit jacket which cascaded down the stone steps of the building – think Princess Di but circa 2040. It looked beautiful and totally natural and ‘normal’. So, why was I so taken with this picture? It was the fact that it made me question the wedding industry. It made me consider the choices that couples have if they aren’t straight but want a wedding which is unique to them without the cliché or stereotype. I questioned why I hadn’t seen anything like this before, I mean, it can’t be the first time a groom has worn a veil can it?
I was reading an article recently on ‘How to plan your gay wedding’ and I must admit that I felt a little uncomfortable. Whilst I think it’s great to have advice available which breaks down the process of planning and styling your marriage (whether you are gay, straight, trans, whatever) I just felt it was so….well…boring. It made me consider whether there is enough choice for gay couples as there may well be for straight couples for example.
Being a Wedding Planner and stylist, I have to stay abreast of trends and changing attitudes in the industry. It’s great that laws are changing and giving everyone more opportunity to marry in whatever way they want, however, I just feel that what is available and on offer to couples need to have a bit of a shake-up.
Do men generally have the same experience when getting married as the bride does? I asked this to Rob and Jason from Dapper & Suavea while ago whilst we were working together on another shoot. It was clear that, whilst they and some of their friends had personal touches and weddings which they loved, they still felt that there wasn’t the choice available to gay couples. I saw the way they attended the Grooms on the shoots – suggesting styling ideas, tying bowties and generally making the boys feel just as special as anyone else on the shoots. The fact that they did the same for the straight groom and the gay grooms didn’t matter. Men these days like to be pampered and often have a skin regime to rival the women, so why is there not the choice or styling availability for men on the most special day of their lives regardless of whether you are straight, Bi, gay, Trans or anything else? We are living in a time when there is so much freedom to take creative risks. Your wedding experience should be tailored to you, not picked from a shelf in the Wedding Supermarket.
This shoot was all about giving men the same experience as the Bride. It didn’t matter that we chose a gay couple (and looking back to the planning process, I don’t actually think it even came up in discussion). The fact was, the more men we had, the more we could try different ideas. When I found Steven and Arron however, we realised that this shoot had the potential to be amazing - we had a real couple who were more than happy to try out all the styling ideas we all brought to the table and embraced the festival vibe we were going for. The concept was to take the traditional – suits and tux and add elements of the feminine. We were clear that this should in no way resemble some fancy-dress scenario or create images which just looked like we were playing around with some camp cliché. This was a way to make the couple feel and look amazing and use expertise from amazing creatives to push some boundaries and shake up the choices given to same-sex couples. During the day, it was clear that we had something really interesting. There were moments when the atmosphere was tangible, and the concept took a different turn – making it apparent that it wasn’t solely a photo shoot, but one which affected all who took part in a different way. We all noticed magic moments: when the couple were larking around and almost fell and suddenly Steven physically supported Arron from falling; when our wonderful Celebrant, Nikki Wood, conducted the ceremony as if for real and Arron actually became overwhelmed with emotion; the simple way that the boys complimented each other on how gorgeous they looked in their festival make-up and then toasting marshmallows on the open fire as the sun set. This shoot felt real - not in some cheesy way – but actually REAL. We, as onlookers, felt the ‘specialness’ of this day and the palpable way that we all invested and supported the uniqueness of what we had all created. The couple themselves commented afterwards things like, “I never knew we could have a wedding like that” and “I got emotional because it all felt so real” and “Now I know what I want my wedding to be like”.
The Wildflower Elopement Shoot, I hope, opens the door to discussion. It should raise questions and I hope, spark debate. There is a great movement, and it is a great moment, to turn the spotlight onto the issues of diversity and inclusion in the Wedding Industry.
#changetheweddingindustry focuses on celebrating just this and aims to bring together like-minded professionals to inspire a new wave of acceptance in a prejudice-free and respectful way. If you take a look, you will see a range of genders, colours and religions being celebrated with no hint of the dreaded tokenism. The shoot took place because of that first image of the groom in his magnificent veil and I think the outcome provokes a valid discussion of what we can offer as professionals to the couple who want to tailor their day without feeling that they need the stuffiness of the traditional.
You will see from the images, beautifully captured by the incredibly talented Jasmine Andrews, that same love and passion ooze through and, I hope, make you realise that you CAN have what you want on your day without fear of judgement or lack of respect. We want this shoot to be a celebration of uniqueness, of diversity, of empowerment, but most of all spark debate and help to change the Wedding Industry.
Blog soon to feature on https://equallywed.com
Full list of suppliers:
Venue: Wildflower Tipi Events | www.wildflower.events | @wildflowertipi_events | FB: @WildflowerTipiWeddings&Events
Planner and Stylist: Sally Gallis – Events By Design
www.events-by-design.co.uk| @events_by_design3 | FB: @EventsByDesign3
Photographer: Jasmine Andrews – www.jasmineandrewsphotography.co.uk|@jasmineandrewsphoto | FB: @JasmineAndrewsPhotography
Celebrant: Helen Jubb - www.hjceremonies.com|@hellsbells_celebrant | FB: @HelenJubbCeremonies
Props/furniture Hire: Events By Design | www.events-by-design.co.uk| @events_by_design3 | FB: @EventsByDesign3
Florals: Sussex Florals | www.sussexflorals.co.uk| @sussexflorals | FB: @SussexFlorals
Hair & MUA: Totally Flawless | www.totallyflawless.co.uk| @totally.flawless | FB: @ClaireJane’sTotallyFlawless
Men’s Attire and accessories: Dapper & Suave | www.dapperandsuave.uk|@dappersuave| FB: @Dapper&Suave
Stationery: The Lovely Little Details | www.thelovelylittledetails.co.uk| @thelovelylittledetails | FB: @thelovelylittledetails
Models: Steven Flynn - @_stevenflynn | FB: @StevenFlynn and Aaron
Veils: Ashley Wild – www.ashleywildbridal.co.uk| @ashleywildbridal | FB: @ashleywildbridal
Rings: London Victorian Ring Company | www.london-victorian-ring.com| @london_victorian_ring_co | FB: @LondonVictorianRingCo
Cake: Caked Away | www.cakedaway.co.uk | @cakedawaykelly | FB: @cakedaway1