Weddings are not a win for feminism. Traditions like wearing a white dress, being "given-away," and even seating arrangements have a history that are contrary to feminism and equality. So much of the industry promotes the image of the white, thin, wealthy bride and groom. How, in that environment, can I balance being a wedding vendor and a feminist?
It tears me apart
Yep. I've spent a lot of time with a sinking feeling in my stomach, thinking about whether or not I am setting women, POC and LGBT+ efforts and advancements backwards as a result of my willing participation in this industry. Fortunately, I am a person of action and optimism and not a person resolved to wallow in my own frustrations.
I can do something about it (and so can you)
Big weddings aren't going anywhere for a while (though elopements are very popular). And, as a vendor, I am in a place to DO something about inequality and the wedding industry. Couples, bloggers, and fellow vendors need to listen up.
Every time someone asks me about proper etiquette or a particular tradition, I can give them options. But, first you have to educate yourself.
Clients choice in addressing envelopes can be a choice toward equality. I encourage my clients to ask people what name they prefer. A same-sex couple, or a married woman who uses a different last name should be addressed the way they wish to be addressed.
The bridesmaids and groomsmen do not have to be equal or stay on the "proper side." We are no longer displaying the women as eligible bachelorettes for marriage. Nor, for that matter, are we using the men as back up protection in case a feud erupts into physical violence as a result of the face that the groom kidnapped the bride.
These are just some examples. There are so many. Let your clients (or yourself) have some options. If tradition is important to them, let them keep it. But, also make sure they know that their weddings don't have to be one way.
2. Act in support
This is two fold. Support diversity and inclusion within your own work:
I have to admit, many of the styled shoots and editorials I have participated in have included white, heterosexual, cis couples. That is not an accurate representation of people getting married. Feature a diverse arrange of weddings. Make sure you aren't being exclusionary.
But also be supportive within your peer group.
Lift up other people in your industry, don't knock them down. This goes for choices within their businesses and within their lives. I am not a mother, but I hear all the time about "mommy guilt" because someone chooses to put their child in day-care so that they can run a successful business. Every time, my heart breaks. Encourage others that they're rocking this world, and do not judge them. It's so easy to judge, but be self-aware and stop yourself.
If we can't support each other, how can we expect to move forward?
Whether its time or its money. You can support women's rights organizations through your business. Last year, House of Maya, a bridal powerhouse in my area, hosted an amazing fundraiser/90s themed party to support victims of domestic violence and abuse. That party was beyond fun and raised a lot of money. But it doesn't have to be that big.
Donate your time. When you're an entrepreneur, you can make time for other things during the work week. And, you can make one of those things volunteering.
Donate your money. Send a portion of your income to an organization.
Donate your services.
Do a limited edition service/product/event and donate the proceeds to charity. I went to one last year that supported women's shelters and domestic abuse victims.
4. Forgive yourself, and Each Other
We aren't perfect
We lead complicated lives. We're going to do things that aren't advancing our society. But we are going to do work hardest, do the best we can for everyone.