Racism, like in life, is not new to the wedding industry. There has been a severe lack of representation of Black people, be it couples or businesses, across the glossy pages of magazines, the screens of your iPads and smartphones, and at industry level; be it at award ceremonies or diversity within the many supplier directories. We have not done enough to change this. And today we pledge to you that we will do more.

Increasing Representation

Back in September 2019, we were called out by two planning brides, one of mixed heritage and one Black, about the lack of diversity on our pages. About how they couldn’t see themselves represented in our content. Representation was something the team had been aware of but we had been shortsighted in waiting for wedding submissions to come through that featured Black people. And quite frankly ignorant in thinking that would be enough. We have always featured Black, Asian, minority ethnic, and multiracial couples, but resting on our laurels and expecting them to come flooding in was naive and lazy on our part.
 
Prior to being called out in September 2019, in May 2019 we had been approached to publish a styled shoot with a powerful message called Black Brides Matter which was arranged by venue owner Kesri Smolas and photographer Leesha Williams Photography. The shoot was due to be published in September 2019. We can honestly say that reflecting on the message of this shoot and the conversations we had with the two brave women who called us out was the catalyst for us to make a change at Rock My Wedding. 
 
We accepted accountability and made a plan of how we could move towards being actively inclusive and representative of all minorities. We realise that we are in the midst of a civil rights movement for Black people and our intention is not to detract from that. However, as a team, we couldn’t speak on the topic of inclusion without acknowledging every minority that we could be better at representing. We had to look at the full picture to make change happen.
 
As of September 2019, we held extensive meetings to acknowledge where we had gone wrong up to that point and how we could be better. But discussion is useless without action. So we made the following changes:
– We improved the messaging on our submissions platform to actively encourage photographers to submit their diverse weddings.
– We rearranged 6 months of scheduling to include any diverse weddings we had in the hope that any Black, Asian or minority ethnic couples could see themselves in our content without having to endlessly scroll.
– Likewise, we increased our representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people on our Instagram feed with an emphasis on Black Brides. 
– We actively approached photographers who post beautiful diverse weddings on social media to submit them to us for publishing.
 
Where we could have been better:

We feared using language that we weren’t sure about. We didn’t ask for weddings featuring Black couples. When in fact, that is largely what we meant. The Black Lives Matter movement has made us bolder. It has made us aware that we can use our voice; not to speak on behalf of anyone but to speak up for everyone. It is still ground that we find tricky to manage a times. Recognising diversity needs, requesting certain imagery, making that content easy to find whilst at the same time avoiding divisive sentiments.
 
In order to help us improve without relying on our own assumptions of what is right, we will be hiring a diversity consultant. It may take us some time to find the right person but connections are being made as we speak so we’re hoping to have someone on board as soon as is possible. (With that in mind if we have said anything here that doesn’t feel right to you, please know that everything is coming from a place of peace and is based on what we have learned thus far. We are happy to be corrected where we may still be getting it wrong.)

Our Commitment to the Black community

Our efforts from September have helped us improve our representation in the following ways:

For the 9 months prior to being called out in September just under 5% of our weddings and inspiration posts featured Black or multiracial couples. Since that date up until the end of May, this has increased to 9%. With overall diverse content increasing from 17% to 23%.

We promise you we are dedicated to this and want you to know this is an ongoing strategy for us. It isn’t something that started two weeks ago.

Our commitment to improving, both on our pages and operationally ‘behind the scenes’, will be ongoing for as long as Rock My Wedding exists. The commitments we make to you below are the starting points for more action:

1. We are aiming for a minimum of 1 in 5 posts you see on Rock My Wedding to feature Black, Black multiracial or other BAME couples.

2. We are aiming for a minimum of 1 in 10 posts you see on Rock My Wedding to feature couples from the LGBTQ+ community.

How will we do this?
By creating new connections in the wedding industry. By being transparent about the content we would like to see submitted. By speaking up when we get styled shoot submissions that feature only white models. We will be continuing our strategy for proactively asking for Black and Black multiracial weddings to be submitted to us. It may take us some time to build these connections and we’re hoping suppliers can be patient with us whilst we look at rearranging our existing schedule in order to meet this pledge.

Diversity features will be reviewed more frequently. It has been 9 months since we actively reviewed the levels of representation at Rock My Wedding. This will now be reviewed quarterly to make sure we are on track with our goals and meeting the expectations of our Black, Asian, minority ethnic and LGBTQ+ communities.

How can you help?
Are you Black and recently married? Please ask your photographer to submit to us. Have your Black friends or family members married recently? Let them know about Rock My Wedding and ask them to submit to us. We are actively looking for you and we’d love for you to let us know about your weddings. Please email us at submissions@rockmywedding.co.uk with your submission details.

3. Having a more diverse selection of recommended suppliers on our supplier directory.

How will we do this?
By openly reaching out to suppliers of Black-owned businesses and encouraging them to apply to join. We encourage you if you are Black and have a business in the wedding industry to get in touch with us, let us know who you are.

How can you help?
We’d like to encourage those of you who know of Black-owned businesses in the industry to tell us about them. Who are your wedding suppliers? Who have you worked with so far that you want to promote?

4. Having a more diverse voice across our features.

How will we do this?
Going forward we will be actively seeking Black voices to contribute to our features. That includes Black brides, grooms, and members of the wedding industry. We will also elevate the voices of our couples and honour their wishes in terms of how they would like to identify and be represented. We are updating our couples questionnaire to make sure you can identify in any way you so wish. It’s a priority for us that you have autonomy over hashtags that should be associated with your wedding and how we make your celebrations searchable on our site.

How can you help?
As above, if you’re a Black supplier or if you know of any Black-owned businesses in the industry please let us know. When we get connected we can talk then about if and how you’d like to contribute your voice to content.

5. Increasing antiracism within our team.

How will we do this?
Each member of the Rock My Wedding team is doing their own independent learning around antiracism and how they can better become allies to the Black community.

As a business, we have made inquiries into employing a diversity consultant to help us improve future hiring as well as improving on unconscious bias within the workplace and helping us with unlearning and becoming a business that beyond its individuals, is an ally.

This is just the beginning. We are 100% behind elevating Black voices and representing Black people within the wedding industry. And by extension of this process, we are also revising our diversity strategy across the board to ensure that every bride or groom who look upon our pages can find themselves in them. 
 
We realise that was all pretty serious stuff, and it’s a bit heavier than our usual tone. But that’s because we really feel this. We know we have more work to do. We will be keeping you up to date with our progress towards our starting targets.
 
Our community is incredible and we really believe with your help that we can continue to impact change in the industry.
 
Please send us your weddings. You can send submissions information to submissions@rockmywedding.co.uk. Please encourage the Black-owned wedding businesses you have worked with to make themselves known to us. We will continue to actively request weddings and suppliers to be involved in Rock My Wedding and call out industry peers if we feel that they could be doing better.
 
And please, if you ever have any suggestions for how we can do better, let us know. We are here to listen, to unlearn, to do, and to stand in solidarity with the Black community. Now and always.
 
Team Rock My Wedding.

Author:

Your Day Your Way!





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