In a special edition of her blog, European photographer Anete Lusina promotes diversity and equality in the weddings industry
As a photographer, who works in the wedding industry, I find it to be my mission to ensure all of my clients feel that they have been treated fairly and with respect. It’s also important that they feel they are receiving a personalised service, regardless of who they are, what they look like or where they come from.
From florists, to make-up artists and venue stylists, as wedding suppliers our job in this industry is to make your day special, and the only way to do it is to have a good rapport with you and an understanding of who you are as a person. Unfortunately, there are still 'bad apples' in the industry, who do not follow the same understanding, and either disrespect the couple through bad customer service or willingly disregard them as clients on the basis of their gender, age, skin colour, ethnicity or other.
A modern British society is very diverse, and so are the couples. If you’re getting married or just thinking about it, you want to feel included in the wedding planning, and that also means that diverse representation of our vibrant society is important, whether it’s blogs showcasing real weddings that feature couples from all walks in life, or whether it’s bridalwear magazines displaying their products with different types of couples as models. Today, there is no room for discrimination and there is no justification for it. Whether it’s same sex marriages, transgender or mixed race couples, our job as wedding industry professionals is to make everyone feel as included as a traditional Caucasian couple.
To explore this more, I photographed and briefly interviewed a mixed couple, Lorna and Junior. Lorna, a young Caucasian student, explains: “My grandparents come from a generation where they have grown up with the change of migration, so they have very different views on interracial couples than I do. When I first told them about me being with a guy of a different race, I could tell they had their own opinions on it. They are happy as long as I am happy, however they are worried that I will experience prejudice from other people. I've reassured them that times have changed and as a country we are protected against racism but if anything is to happen we will cross that bridge when we get to it. When I have been in different countries with a mixed race group of people we have had many passing comments, such as 'Why would you hang around with her if she's white?’. We expressed our views and moved on. In the UK I have not experienced any offensive or judgemental comments about our own relationship, just concern about how others may treat us.”
Junior, Lorna’s other half, adds that sometimes he has experienced the 'occasional odd look from people' as they see Lorna and Junior holding hands, walking through the town. When considering prejudice amongst certain wedding business suppliers, it’s important to remember that the change must come not just from those few 'bad apples' who may give us, other suppliers, a bad name through their actions against 'non-traditional' couples, but it also has to stem from society itself.
While the change cannot be implemented in our society as fast as we’d like to, we can still pull our weight by injecting acceptance and diversity in this business, which essentially is all about happiness and love. It’s not that these couples, whether mixed race, transgender, same sex or other, aren’t getting married, but their wonderful wedding days are simply not as widely advertised and shown, unfortunately.
When discussing the wedding industry, Lorna commets: “From most professional wedding photos that I have seen I have noticed that they are usually Caucasian couples. I know many of my friends have also said there should be more diverse models in the media whether that's race, gender or weight. We are now growing into a world where interracial couples are widely accepted just as same sex couples or transgender couples. I think this would be a great idea to promote the change.” Junior added that diversity should certainly be promoted more amongst wedding businesses, and he does not see that unless he looks out for specific magazines or blogs based on diversity. “It’s never front page material”, he concludes.
So, our response, as people who are passionate about the wedding industry and personal service, should be to ensure that we do our bit in promoting diversity. It’s not just about making our current clients feel satisfied and appreciated. Our job is to constantly raise the standards of the wedding industry and let everyone feel as equally included when organising their wedding day, because planning the big day is stressful as it is. By raising our own professional standards, we also ensure that everyone else entering the business will be required to reach the same level to obtain loyal clients, and if they don’t, then they’ll lose against those who do. Love cannot be confined to one specific set of characteristics, because love does not discriminate, and neither should wedding suppliers.