As a wedding and event pro, it’s important that all clients who are seeking your services feel both seen and heard. In fact, a report from McKinsey & Company revealed that a business is 35 percent more likely to be outperformed by peers if it's not diverse. It's not surprising given that the United States is becoming more diverse with each passing year and diverse experiences and ideas are what allow us to grow as a society. According to the Pew Research Center, at least 19 percent of new marriages in the U.S. now involve spouses from different ethnic or racial groups. In addition, 4 in 10 are married to someone in a different religious group, almost 6 percent of adults in the U.S. identify as LGBTQIA+, and 1 in 4 adults has some type of disability. Read about how you can be a wedding and event-based business that honors both diversity and inclusion with these 8 business practices!
1. Normalize Pronouns
Start by taking a step back and thinking about what you truly value. Your values should be genuine and not just a method of getting more business. If your values and business practices don't actually align, that will be evident. Be socially aware and respectful of your client's identity by asking them to share their pronouns. You can do this via the 'Contact Us' form on your website, offering a text field for pronouns, as well as sharing your own pronouns and values around diversity and inclusion in the 'About Me' section of your website.
2. Use Inclusive Language
The words you use on your website, in your emails, and on your social media pages matter and they should send the message that you value inclusivity as a wedding professional. That means getting rid of gendered terms in all of your communications and replacing them with inclusive terms. Some examples include:
- Replace Bride and Groom, Husband and Wife with Individual Names or Partner A/Partner B, Spouse or Partner
- Toss Bridesmaids, Groomsmen, and Bridal Party in favor of the Wedding Party
- Get rid of Bachelorette/Bachelor Party for Bach Party
- Exchange Maid/Matron of Honor, Best Man for Person of Honor
- Switch out Flower Girl for Flower Child
- Change up Ring Bearer for Junior Attendant
It doesn’t stop at gender. For example, you should also replace terms like African American, Mexican, Asian American, or Indian, with Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous, or BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color). You should never assume someone's ethnicity. Also, don’t assume everyone is getting married in a church, so swap it out for the term “place of worship,” and replace priest or preacher with religious leader, officiant, or celebrant.
3. Make Your Website Accessible
Don’t forget about couples where one or both have a disability. You can make your website more accessible by using alt-text on images to describe the content in your photos, as well as rich text to make your site compatible with text-to-speech tools. This is especially important given that there are about 1.3 billion people who are vision-impaired and 466 million people who are hearing-impaired.
4. Diversify Your Images
Marketing thought leaders say that web visitors quickly navigate to the photos. Create a portfolio of photos that showcase representative weddings of couples who are biracial, disabled, BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, of all body sizes, etc. If you haven’t worked with couples who identify with underrepresented groups, consider what you can do with imagery that aligns with your inclusive values. Photos are worth a thousand words, and it’s a simple way to continue to promote your brand through an inclusive lens.
And when planning your own styled shoots to showcase your work, pay close attention to the people you hire to represent the couples in these photos. As Kirsten Palladino, co-founder and editorial director of Equally Wed, points out, many vendors often go the typical route of featuring thin, white, heterosexual, cisgender couples. “My first suggestion for anyone planning a styled shoot is to consider representing society at large, not just repeat what the industry tries to feed us,” she explains.
5. Surround Yourself With Diversity
Your employees—as well as the other vendors you do business with—reflect how committed you are to diversity and inclusiveness. Put together a talented team that reflects the values you want to present to potential clients.
Make it a point to reach out to other like-minded wedding professionals on social media to go over ideas, and experiences and figure out how you can all work together. Networking with vendors who often serve a diverse set of clients is a great way to simultaneously build industry relationships and your portfolio. Peruse the member list on the directory of the National Society of Black Wedding & Event Professionals and photos on Equally Wed’s Real LGBTQ+ Weddings to find inspiration. When you’re planning styled shoots in the off-season, consider featuring real couples who identify with an underrepresented group or culture to showcase the diversity you want to promote and celebrate. This practice extends to your social media photos, too.
7. Educate Yourself
You’re not expected to know everything about diversity and inclusivity but you are expected to care and try your best to do better. Don’t be afraid to be uncomfortable that you have some growing to do. Ask other vendors who you admire for their inclusivity for their advice or insight. It is your responsibility to educate yourself and improve your business practices so they're ethical and help make the world more inclusive and kind.
8. Encourage Your Clients
Go a step further and encourage your couples to be more inclusive when it comes to replacing outdated wedding terminology and traditions, as well as asking their guests for their own pronouns for invites, place cards, and more.
Always remember that you have the power to make a positive impact in the wedding industry by educating yourself, your team, vendor partners, and clients. Love is beautiful and there can't be true love and freedom without diversity, equality, and justice.
Hero photo courtesy of Heather Kincaid Photographer