This year has opened our eyes to the lack of diversity in the wedding industry including the representation in both print and online images. Our founder, Shannon Tarrant, interviewed Central Florida wedding planner Rebecca Lang of Live Love Laugh Events to learn what couples can do to find and hire wedding vendors that celebrate diversity.
S: When we say celebrate diversity, what does that mean to you?
R: Celebrating diversity means more than acknowledging diversity exists. A true celebration means that you acknowledge, educate yourself, and implement ways to celebrate the many forms of diversity within your company. Diversity also isn’t based on race. Celebrating diversity is celebrating different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc.
S: I totally agree with what you said above. While many companies have gotten involved and are in support of the current movements, they may not be thinking about the bigger picture of celebrating all people.
S: How can engaged couples get started with their search?
R: When searching for diverse companies — set aside plenty of time. You have to deep-dive search because on the surface, there is a chance that with a quick look, they may look like they celebrate diversity. But when you dig deep, you may find that their website, where they are featured, and the couples they work with are not representative.
S: What a great point. If hiring wedding vendors that celebrate diversity is important to the couple, they should know up front that the research takes more time. Why do you think it’s important for couples to consider diversity in their vendor team?
R: We live in a diverse world. There are event professionals that are AMAZING at what they do. But you may never know if you don’t take the time to open yourself to other possibilities. A black hair and makeup artist doesn’t have to only be booked by black brides. I say, if anyone can handle the vast crowns of a brown skin bride properly, then they can handle any hair properly!
S: What can a couple look for to see if a company prioritizes diversity and inclusion?
R: There are plenty of companies that have statements celebrating diversity rather than show actual evidence. When researching a vendor, take a look at their website. Read their mission and vision statements.
Head to the about page and review what their team looks like. Because, if the team that helps make decisions about the company and its customers lack diversity, then how can you really celebrate diversity? You have to practice what you preach.
S: For really small companies in the wedding industry like a solopreneur or two-person team that is a couple, it may be hard to show in the team they have working with them. What other elements can a company do to showcase diversity?
R: The company’s social media accounts can be a big tell-all indicator. Do they support and celebrate diversity on their feed? With their content? On their blog?
S: How do couples make sure to choose vendors that share their values?
R: My recommendation is to start by hiring the vendor that is most important to you. It could be a wedding planner (hint* hint*), photographer, venue, etc. The best way to learn their values is to ask deeper questions when interviewing vendors. If they do not want to answer or avoid the question in their reply, that is okay. No need to judge. Just move on and find someone who does. After you hire your most important vendor, then take a look at their preferred vendor list. If the vendor says they love promoting diversity, then their recommendations should lean the same way. If they do, then now you have an advantage in finding more diverse vendors!
S: Any other suggestions on where they can gather more info?
R: Read the company’s current reviews. See what their clients say about their experience working with them.
S: What should they look for in a vendor’s portfolio?
R: I’ll answer this with another question. Do you see yourself in the work that they show? This question can be applied to any vendor category. Representation matters. You are more likely to buy a product or service if you can see yourself in it or others who look like you using the same service.
S: Are there specific publications that celebrate diversity?
R: Look for specific diverse online networks such as https://nationalsocietyblackweddingeventprofessionals.com/
S: Thank you for sharing that resource! I see that they have a member directory organized by state. If it’s important to their search, where can couples find minority-owned businesses?
R: The easiest answer is still google. Just depending on what words you use to search. Funny enough, if you are more of a social media researcher, hashtags can help you find minority-owned businesses.
S: Are there any red flags that couples should consider when trying to intentionally choose inclusive wedding vendors?
R: Red flags can be seen if the vendor you are interested in refuses to answer any questions. In the end, if that vendor doesn’t match your values – don’t take it personally – there’s plenty more out there to choose from.
S: How should couples ask vendors if they are inclusive – should it be direct or indirect? Any suggestions of questions they should include?
R: I think being direct is the best way. Think about what is important to you, about what your values are, and then ask questions to each of your vendors. Also, as a couple, be open. A gay planner can plan a heterosexual wedding. A black hair and makeup artist can handle straight, blonde hair. Or a Spanish DJ can handle a primarily country wedding.
S: When you asked your audience if they specifically look for wedding vendors who celebrate diversity, what did they say?
R: One shared: “Yes because we believe in diversity.” Another mentioned: “I wasn’t always intentional with it, but when I saw it, it increased my interest in them.” The same way I looked for vendor partners to refer, one couple said “Yes, because I want to work with people whose values align with mine”. My favorite response was, “Yes! Because diversity brings new ideas, experiences, and an opportunity to learn and grow.”
S: That leads us right into a conversation about your recent wedding photoshoot. What were you trying to accomplish and how did you choose the vendor partners?
R: The vision behind this shoot was to reveal to the world how gorgeous brown skin women are in all shapes, styles, shades, and sizes. Many of my clients – both past and present – have said it’s hard for them to see a representation of themselves in the wedding industry, especially in bridal wear.
This shoot was the first step to shatter that ceiling. Thanks to an EPIC vendor team that believed in the vision as well. Honestly, that was the primary requirement.
Creative Design: @BrownSkinBrides
Flower Wall: @orlandoflowerwalls
Neon Sign: @orlandoneon
Balloon Garland: @skyesthelimitballoons
Thank you so much, Rebecca, for continuing the conversation on how to find wedding vendors that celebrate diversity.
Want to see more diversity on WeddingVenueMap.com? Sadly, most of our submissions are not representative of all types of people.