Historically, the wedding industry has been massively lacking in areas of representation and equity, especially across race, gender, and sexual orientation.
The fact that interracial marriage wasn’t fully legal in the U.S. until 1967, and same sex marriage wasn’t legal until 2015, has been reflected in wedding industry practices and imagery since its beginning. And to this day, it’s painfully clear just how racist, sexist, homophobic, and generally prejudiced the industry still is.
It’s up to wedding vendors and industry leaders to correct this. We have a responsibility to create spaces and content where all people feel seen, safe, and valued.
It’s important to me as a wedding business owner to not only implement policies that address these issues, but also hold myself accountable to those policies. So, I’m sharing this document publicly as one part of my own efforts to do better and be better. This not an “arrival”, but rather part of an ongoing process that will evolve and change over the lifetime of my business as I learn and iterate to create more inclusive, welcoming, and safe spaces for all folks.
These are the specific actions I commit to taking as integral parts of how I do business moving forward.
Most recent update: January 25, 2023.
LISTENING + AMPLIFYING
Listen to and amplify the stories and experiences of marginalized groups in the industry, and out of it. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Promotion of diversity-and-inclusion-minded vendors in my social feeds and blog
- Sharing love stories from underrepresented folks in my social feeds and blog
Use my privilege, and speak up when witness to problematic statements, situations, and practices.
Own my own mistakes when - not if - I make them, make reparations, and do better next time.
REGULAR AUDITS OF WEBSITE AND SOCIAL MEDIA FEEDS
Quarterly for website:
- Ensure representation of underrepresented groups in imagery across website, including blog
- Ensure the use of inclusive language (e.g. gender neutral terms) across website, including blog
- Ensure Diversity + Inclusion (D+I) Policies are up-to-date and accurate based on ongoing work and evolving best practices
Monthly for social:
SUBCONTRACTORS, PARTNERS, + CLIENTS
- Ensure representation of underrepresented groups in feeds, across all platforms (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest)
- Ensure the use of inclusive language extends to all social posts
Interview second shooters, editors, and any others I work with to ensure inclusive practices and the comfort/safety of all my clients. Questions subcontractors + business partners will be expected to answer include:
- What are the D+I policies for your own business? Do you have them written down? Can you share them with me?
- In what ways do you show support and acceptance for love and partners of all kinds, including folks belonging to the LGBTQIA+ community and interracial couples?
- Have you ever refused service to a couple because their partnership conflicted with your personal values?
- If someone were to make a racist remark while you were working with them, what would you do?
Client contracts to all include an Event Behavior and Liability clause, which states:
In the event that Photographer identifies any inappropriate, threatening, hostile, racist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, misogynistic, or otherwise hateful or offensive behavior directed at them or their employees, contractors, agents, or other, Photographer reserves the right to end photographing of the event, retain all fees paid by the Client, and hold no further responsibilities to the Client.
Photographer agrees to notify the Client of any of the above listed behaviors, and give them an opportunity to correct such behaviors, or remove the offending individuals from the venue prior to ending event photographing.
Minimum two paid workshops a year hosted by and/or focused on marginalized groups, particularly those negatively affected by the wedding industry.
Before participation in any styled shoots, workshops, or other events, inquire into their own D+I policies. If D+I policies are nonexistent or do not align with VEA's own values on the topic, I will start a conversation to recommend the addition or amendment of a set of D+I policies. If efforts are not made to implement or amend said policies, I will not participate in, promote, or financially support the event.
NETWORKING + REFERRALS
Regularly and consistently seek out, work with, and refer underrepresented vendors. This includes:
ADVERTISING SPEND + OUTREACH
- Maintaining a vendor referral list that is made up of at least 50% underrepresented folks.
- At least once a year, attend networking events focused on and/or hosted by underrepresented groups in order to connect with even more folks working in the wedding industry.
Spend at least 50% of directory advertising dollars for the year with organizations that are focused on social justice and equity, cater to underrepresented groups in the wedding industry, and/or who make D+I a public part of their business practices.
I also commit to updating these policies as I learn and as the industry changes.
I’m one person, one very small business, in this massive ever-growing industry, but that doesn’t make my responsibility any less. These are the promises I make to my clients, fellow vendors, and anyone who may be affected by my work.
Thank you for reading, and if you have any concerns, suggestions, or other comments, please don’t hesitate to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org