Love holds no boundaries and neither should your service. Is your wedding business fully inclusive? Just stop and think about what that means. As a school governor my role focuses on Inclusion, in the U.K. we have to provide an inclusive education. In private and public sector work places it is a legal requirement that there are policies to ensure inclusion in the work place. In society we celebrate our rich diversity and strive for a fully inclusive world. So, where does the wedding industry fit into all of this? It doesn’t! We desperately need to catch up with the rest of the planet. My own industry grates against my own personal ethos and the service I deliver in both my business and voluntary roles and the life I chose to live as a Mother and individual.
It has taken years for diverse relationships to be accepted and even more years for marriage to be legally inclusive for all but on a regular basis I am still hearing from couple’s about how frustrated and angry they are with the industry. It is simple; two people fall in love with one another, they fall in love with an individual, a living breathing beautiful human; a human that makes them happy and fills their days with joy.
Most wedding suppliers and venues will say they are fully inclusive and declare they provide an equal service to all. But are you? You may well accept all couple’s with a smile and deliver your goods to fit their brief but inclusion needs to run throughout your entire business, even the small print is significant. Please, every single business that provides a service within the wedding industry … change your processes, change your forms, change your communcations, change your marketing, adapt your understanding!!
What I am talking about? Well, whether we like it or not the wedding industry still believes they have one market; the non-disabled 30 year-old Bride and Groom from the same ethnic, racial, class culture. For example, a couple will receive forms, such as the following, from most suppliers:
Just look at that form, how many times does it say ‘Bride and Groom’? It’s ridiculous, from contact forms to Terms and Conditions, it will read on every page ‘Bride and Groom’. I don’t have forms and I always use the term ‘couple’, through friendly chats I learn about a couple’s needs which includes noting essential information such as their names, address and telephone numbers. I understand the needs various businesses have to manage their service but please ensure every detail meets the needs of an inclusive world; it may take a little while to correct the admin, adapt processes and change thinking but it is crucially important and in the best interests of everyone.
Emma Solomon of Emma Bunting recently wrote a blog on her experience as a mature Bride and how difficult it was to find enjoyment in the planning process due to the industries attitude and blinked vision towards Brides over the age of 35. Peter Darrant of Pride Media Centre, Pride World Radio and Out & About TV spoke to me about his experience recently. He explained how he and his Fiancé would become excited to discuss their day with a venue or supplier but then become so frustrated when presented with one reference, ‘Bride and Groom’. Ian Atkinson of Empowerment Consultancy and Training contacted me as he had found great difficulty when planning his wedding due to so many limitations; he explained they couldn’t find a venue to accommodate the fact that he and his wife are wheelchair users along with a number of their guests and that most suppliers he encountered had no experience and understanding of how to manage their needs and provide an equal service. A BBC documentary in 2018 highlighted the very low percentage of interracial relationships. This documentary was created because of the union of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex; just think for a second the judgement this couple are experiencing.
I hear from couple’s regularly about a supplier being very friendly on email but on meeting them, because they don’t fit the industries stereotype, they are presented with a different attitude. This results in couple’s turning away many suppliers. If you alienate a couple, they won’t book your services. But more importantly and quite upsetting is that all these couple’s have lost the opportunity to enjoy their wedding preparation. The excitement has given way to frustration, anger and upset. All those special moments gone. It is heartbreaking. We as an industry are doing this, we have control over it and we can do something about it.
In 2019, people are still being judged by an industry that is meant to celebrate love. It’s not a lot to ask, to treat every couple with respect and fairness, a couple who love on another honestly and openly, who wish to commit to one another in marriage and celebrate their love. It’s a simple request.