Justice

The Wedding Planning Industry Is Leaving These Groups Out

While wedding season is stressful for almost all couples, the marriage planning industry's lack of diversity only make things more difficult for LGBT and non-white couples. 

The U.S. population is becoming more diverse, and so are married couples. In 2013 a record-high 12 percent of newlyweds were interracial couples, and since a U.S. Supreme court ruling gave gay marriages federal recognition in 2015, same-sex marriages have increased by more than 30 percent, with 981,000 people in gay or lesbian marriages last year. 

However, both an industry watcher and a bride-to be told ATTN: that the wedding planning trade is still geared toward straight white couples. 

Liz Susong from Catalyst Wedding Magazine, an online publication dedicated to weddings for "feminists, the LGBT community, and woke folk," said that although the U.S. in changing,  the mainstream marketing fantasy of weddings still centers on traditional gender roles, white women, and heterosexual love. 

"In fact, traditional marriage models are dying in favor of egalitarian partnership models, but you certainly wouldn't know any of this if you glanced at a rack of bridal or lifestyle magazines," she said. "You'd probably think people who get married are young, white, fit, rich — well, Barbie and Ken."

Korsha Wilson, 29, lives outside of New York City and she's currently planning her own wedding. She said that mainstream wedding sites and publications didn't offer her many options. 

Korsha Wilson

"Wedding magazines and the big websites like Pinterest and The Knot are overwhelmingly white, but there are smaller sites and specialty boutiques that are run by or focus on serving people of color," she said. "When I first started searching I could only find blonde women in cowboy boots and it sucked because I'm not that kind of bride at all."

Instead, Wilson searched for businesses catering to black women. 

"I haven't used Pinterest since and have instead done Google searches for exactly what I need," she said. "I found a dress boutique in D.C. run by black women that's award winning and they're great. It takes it a little more work to find non-white vendors but they're definitely out there."


Susong said that the mainstream image of love we see constantly is damaging to the people who don't fit the mold. 

"The result of showing the same image of the white, young, beautiful bride over and over and over and over and sharing these same stories of love and romance from the time we are little is extremely harmful for everyone, as it sets completely unrealistic expectations for love, partnership, worthiness, and beauty, and this harm is increased for those who are invisible in these narratives," she said. 

 

Susong thinks the industry will have to evolve in order to meet consumers changing needs. She listed the factors that are changing the way people think about weddings. 

  • The legalization of same-sex marriage has helped expand the idea of what couples look like. 
  • The Do-It-Yourself Movement has encouraged people to express their individuality. 
  • Millennials are more willing to push back on traditions and expensive weddings. 

Susong said that the industry will have to catch up to survive. 

"Wedding media is lagging behind reality," she said. "It would only financially benefit companies to market to more people, especially as our society continues to evolve."

RELATED: This Black Event Planner's Facebook Post Reveals a Disturbing Trend in Weddings