Why It’s So Important to See Yourself in Wedding Media

One day, a bride walked into my studio to talk about her wedding dress. She brought her mom. Everything was going smoothly until I asked the bride, whom I’ll call Kayla, if she was thinking about any kind of accessory. Specifically, did she want to wear something in her hair?

She said she didn’t know what a veil would look like with her natural textured hair. I looked at her and said, “right, because if you go on Pinterest and do a search for bridal veil, all you get is white brides.”

Lens: Amanda DeBusk

Black brides are underrepresented and undervalued in the wedding industry

If you’re a Black woman getting married, and you search Pinterest for wedding veils and add on Black bride to specify, you’ll get black veils on white models. Is it any surprise that Kayla hadn’t seen anything that inspired her? She couldn’t see herself in any of the options. Veils weren’t “for her.”

There are exceptions to what we so often see — or, more accurately, don’t see — on Pinterest or from big-name wedding magazines and popular wedding blogs. Valuable resources like The B Collective, MunaLuchi Bride, Perfete, and Catalyst Wed Co. show us examples of Black joy and Black love but I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know: Black brides are underrepresented and undervalued in my industry. It’s something I’m working to change.

Lens: Heather Sherrill

Finding Unity Through Community

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve likely seen me post in recent months about Black Lives Matter, my ongoing personal education, and vow of activism to be inclusive, equitable, and decent. These values aren’t new to me or my work but they’ve taken on a new dimension in 2020.

I also stand in solidarity with Unity Through Community, an initiative started by the wedding vendors Terrica Skaggs, Bron Hansboro, CeCe Todd, and Tammy Fleuch. The Unity Through Community badge is a visual commitment that I am, among other things, dedicated to ridding the wedding industry of racism, prejudice, and bias.

I keep circling back to the same question: “How can I be anti-racist as a wedding vendor?” There is no cookie-cutter answer, but we need to start with the dialogue. We need to start with being aware of the racist bias inherent within our industry, we need to connect with Black wedding vendors and Black owned venues so that we can give more inclusive recommendations, and we need to adjust our personal media consumption because it is our responsibility to make sure what happens to Kayla doesn’t happen to other clients.

Because I think about Kayla — a lot. I think about how her eyes lit up when I handed her a cathedral veil and said, “Try this.” I think of the joy on her face as she looked at herself in the mirror. I think of the way her mom teared up as she saw her daughter shine.

Lens: Bradley Michael Ferguson

Every person who decides to get married deserves a moment like the one Kayla had when she put on her veil. The wedding industry needs to change so couples can feel welcome, included, and seen as they plan what is meant to be a celebration of love. 

I want to change that status quo. I am changing that status quo. Won’t you join me?

Lens: Amanda DeBusk