Updated: Jun 20, 2020
My husband and I got engaged on January 8 of 2017. It was one of the most magical moments of my life, and I’m not one to use that word loosely. It was perfectly us, and of course happened in San Francisco, a city that we had spent nearly every anniversary in. For his proposal, Dom surprised me and took me to a lounge that we had noticed from the distance while exploring the city years before. I truly had not been expecting him to propose and was completely stunned!
The next evening, we went out for dinner and drinks with friends and family to celebrate and everybody played it cool. It wasn’t until the next day that all of the excessive questions began:
“Have you guys picked a date? Are you going to have it in a church? Do you want a spring or summer wedding? How many people are you guys thinking? Am I a bridesmaid? Will you have the ceremony in Santa Cruz? If I pay for it, do you agree to sign your life away? Do you need my address? Is my mom’s fourth cousin that you’ve never met invited? Her dog?”
WTF. Who knew?!!?! And why didn’t they warn me? One of the most exciting moments of our life quickly became not-as-exciting and more about how our day would pan out for other people. Considering I had never even envisioned a wedding for myself, I was stressing out!
Growing up I never fantasized about my dream wedding, dress, venue, or song. Navigating through wedding pages and blogs that had an endless sea of white couples definitely didn’t excite me much more. Don’t get me wrong the pictures are stunning, but that isn’t an accurate representation of my world. I wanted a white dress, not a white wedding. Suddenly it hit me and I realized why I had never envisioned my own dream wedding growing up. I had never seen it, outside of some exuberant reality TV special.
If I wanted to find inspiration from brides of a diverse background I had to tailor my searches to say “mixed”, “biracial”, “black” or “African American”, instead of just seeing a diverse feed of brides to begin with. In other words, I had to turn to the labels people so harshly try to suppress and/or tell us to leave behind in order to find other brides that looked like myself. Otherwise, my searches oftentimes would come back looking like the photo below.
If these search results look like you, then consider yourself lucky. It’s more than likely that you haven’t had many experiences feeling mis- or underrepresented in the media. It’s not your fault. You just probably have never even had to consider the possibility of not finding results that look like you. While it may feel minor, this is an evident example of white privilege.
It’s discouraging that when searching for inspiration and trying to find a page that has couples that look like us we always have to edit the search to insert our race or skin tone. This is one of the reasons why the representation of minorities, such as POC, LGBTQ, people with disabilities, and many more, are so important within mainstream media.
Pinterest Leads the Wedding Industry
Up until recently, Pinterest didn’t have a way to help POC better navigate through their website. However, thankfully the company caught on and in January of this year they released their skin tone range palette. The palette was a direct result of their commitment to becoming a more diverse and inclusive company, both internally and externally. The company’s research showed that over 50% of beauty searches related to skin-care was coupled with a skin tone search, such as dark or fair skin.
Features such as a skin tone palette show Pinterest’s commitment to bridging our differences and creating an inclusive site for all. Pinterest recognized that it shouldn’t be up to customers to sort through searches in order to find more suitable results. It should be up to them to ensure their results accurately reflect their customers.
Here is an example of a search on Pinterest before and after the skin tone range filters are applied:
Ahhh, much better.
It is safe to say that Pinterest is extremely influential and plays a huge role in the wedding industry. In 2017, the company found that over 40 million people turn to Pinterest each year to assist them through their wedding planning process. With influence like that, Pinterest’s commitment to ensuring their customers are represented will hopefully have an influence on the industry.
Aside from Pinterest, there are still other wedding sites that do deserve credit such as Black Bride Magazine, The Knot, David’s Bridal, and Wedding Wire. All three of these brands have shown a commitment to representing their diverse customer base and fostering a sense of inclusivity. However, it is still safe to say that the wedding industry as a whole is lacking. Majorly.
Working with Diverse Vendors
Do you think I am about to give all of my hard-earned dollars to an industry like that?
The fact that I already have to ask vendors if they have experience working with naturally curly hair and hear that they don’t, but are willing to try for cheaper, is exhausting enough. I shouldn’t have to ask if you know how to work with naturally curly hair. I should be able to expect it given that you’re a professional stylist.
This is one of the reasons it was so important for me to work with a diverse team of vendors! I will definitely write a blog on the group of wonderful women I worked with on the most special day of my life because I truly adore each of them.
All of these other factors aside, I’m not even into testing hairdos, dresses and different makeup looks for any reason. Let alone just one day. I think it’s fly, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just really not me. So the idea of a day that places such an emphasis on all of those things was really stressing me out.
Taking A Leap of Faith
My parents eloped on a trip to New York and always claimed it was the best decision of their lives. The idea of eloping and making the day solely about us was extremely enticing from the jump. It eliminated layers of planning and the drama and stress that comes with it. Let admit it, weddings are intimidating, expensive and the industry ain’t all that worth supporting. Ultimately, we took a leap of faith and made the executive decision to do our day, our way and we would not change a damn thing!
We only had two requirements: that we get married in San Francisco and that we still do a formal celebration with our family and friends. Now it was just a matter of figuring out how we could go about getting the best of both these worlds. After doing a ton of research, we opted to elope at SF City Hall because it’s stunning, duh. Then we followed it with a reception party in our hometown the day after with our closest friends and family.
It was the best decision of our life!! I personally think how we did it was perfect, but obviously I’m biased. It was the most ideal way for us to take elements of exactly what we wanted and ultimately do our day, our way. Look out for more blogs in the future about our elopement details, why hiring diverse vendors is crucial, and how to deal with the backlash of eloping!