Are You Doing Enough to Support Multi-Racial, Multi-Ethnic, Multi-Faith,
Multi-Cultural & LGBTQ professionals fairly?
The Wedding Industry is segregated, racist and homophobic in many places still to this day. The subtle or not so subtle gestures, clues, inferences facial squints and unwritten policies that usually ends up with the inevitable “No” that people (who are different) will endure needs to be recognized. The impact is felt financially, emotionally and in some cases legally. It is sorrowful for us even as a Premier Wedding Event Production Company, that we too are relegated and pigeonholed when getting referrals to only those ”Ethnic” Events and clientele. Sure, we have built a reputation and a following of being able to bring cultural authenticity and that unique touch of specialism and panache to places. Thereby, we regularly and for the sake of our business, find ourselves having to take on the role of educators and cultural ambassadors. While conversely seeing our other less talented white counterparts thrive and get bolstered in this environment. It breaks our hearts to have also seen some of our colleagues falsely accused and even imprisoned because their services needed to be filled by one of their own. Perhaps it was because the replacements were less expensive or that the heavy lifting was already done. But, at the end of the day, their race was weaponized and fed into a system that was all to willing to buy in.
Who Decides who gets referrals and jobs in the Wedding Industry?
Why are these social norms being perpetuated? Who owns these “higher end” hotels and venues? The good ole boy's club of hoteliers is the answer. Whether it is J. Willard, or C. Hilton or any of the wannabees that have kept plugging away, the status quo is alive and well in corporate America. It spills into almost every facet of what we do and who we are to them. Like most organizations, the racial pyramid is full of diversity at the base, bu the higher up we go, the cream is on the top. And who do they usually hire and get to intern for them? For what ever justifiable reasons they make for themselves: People want to feel comfortable by nature and they inevitably end up hiring a Sales force that is hardly diverse. Most of the time, most referrals come from the Sales and Catering Departments of these Venues and Hotels. Who typically ends up filling those thousands of jobs demographically? Where do the tributaries come from that are feeding that river? 9 times out of 10 or more, those positions are filled by white small town, home grown women without any stamps on their passports.
It is a delicate dance with us, because we know that it would be detrimental to our business if we were labeled as ungrateful. The word itself congers a deeper meaning that goes back to servitude and how dare us want more! How dare us minorities want a fair shake? As a real minority owned business*: Should we stay in our lane and be happy eating the scraps? We produce Award Winning work. Images of our work is in almost every Wedding publication in our area that we open. Frequently, we see our work when it is used by a venue showcasing how beautiful their place is. However, there is never a caption giving us credit for our work being responsible for making that very feature or advertisement possible. After all those hours of sweat, hard work, preparation, storyboard planning, on the spot modifications, specialty goods we had to import/procure and the creative, artistic intellectual property that we poured out to make that plain ballroom look Magazine Ready. How is it ungrateful for us to ask the question of why we hardly if ever get referrals to do those All American traditional white weddings? Is it disrespectful for us to question that while we are put on the list of Preferred Vendors at most venues, but when inquiries are made at those very venues whose list we are on, it's usually met with: “oh yes, they do a lot of our Multi-Cultural Events”. Which ends up being type cast Code Words for “Yeah, No...” It seems that though we are being served up, it is seemingly with a schmear.*Statistically, there are more women than men on this planet and there are more Caucasian in America than other ethnic groups. Therefore, white women who own businesses should not be considered as minorities in our opinion. We feel that we should make another classification as Female Owned instead. This would enable real minorities to get those bids more fairly.
So What can You do? What should be done to help fix this problem?
Is it just idealistic thought to ponder: If we are going to be judged, why they don't just direct inquiries to our website, our social online showcase of design talents, our experience, the sumptuous images that our work has created and consider our services based on that? It would become apparent that we pride ourselves in being able to cook visual feasts for all walks, regardless of their tastes. backgrounds and budgets. If we were served up fairly, they would potentially find that we actually do lots of All American white weddings. For us, it would simply mean that they need us to not cook it as spicy, something well within our purview. We can cook that visual feast extra spicy, medium or mild. We are proud to have done work for couples who are same sex, various faiths and multi-racial. This is Our World to us. Seven Continents and Seven Seas and we have loved being at the forefront of being one of the First and Finest in the fight to let our voices be heard, to render our services. Truly we are Stronger Together! So, let's have an honest conversation and make smart inclusive gains that elevates us all.
We want to share some sage advice with you, that we have learned over our many years in the businesses that will help you make informed decisions that save you time and money.
- Pick a planner that can give you access to everything you need to make your vision come true. They should have experience, cultural knowledge and be well versed in the area where the event is to take place
- Do not settle for a watered down version of your vision unless your budget is the main determining factor. Pick a Pro with integrity that you can trust. Read their reviews and go with your gut. If they do not have any reviews let the Buyer Beware. You do not want to be part of an experiment or the first one they are doing. This could lead to a potential fiasco.
- Recognize when you are being routed to a vendor that may not fit your needs and watch out for and listen for code words that might get dropped in order to influence your decision detrimentally.
- Each planner should be able to give you a minimum of three referrals to any of your need areas. Such as photographers, DJ's, Venues, etc.
- Most importantly, pick someone who has good chemistry with you and your family. The Wedding is a process and you will want a person by your side that you feel comfortable with that will represent your interests with the utmost good faith, loyalty and fidelity while not weakening your position when negotiating.
- Make sure that there is a confidentiality clause in their hiring agreement. This protects you and them from people wanting to know your personal business, what you paid and other personal details that should not be made public. Make sure that their contract spells out everything you are getting.
- Stalk their social media. Make sure that the images that they are posting are of their work and not hijacking other people's efforts while fronting as if it were their own. It's okay for them to showcase other people's talent, but they need to disclose that in the post and not leave it open for misinterpretation.
- Bundle when ever you can. If your vendors have a track record of being able to do more than one thing, use them first. We pride ourselves in being the one stop shop. It cuts down on the amount of people that need to be interacted with and with the amount of times you will have to explain things. In the long run, it will save you thousands of dollars too.
- Keep everyone safe. While in the midst of this pandemic, many of you will have to make the hard decision to reschedule, postpone or modify your Wedding dates. At the end of the day, we strongly urge you to take every precaution available to protect the lives of your loved ones. It is supposed to be a celebration of life. Let's do our part in keeping it that way. If that means handing out PPE and observing social distancing during your event, then make the rules clear. Make everyone aware of the seriousness of policing each other. You don't want your Wedding to be remembered as the place where a hot spot was created and another outbreak began. If you must gather, do it responsibly and safely. No buffets, servers with PPE and gloves. Protect the most vulnerable. Observe the CDC guidelines not necessarily the individual State Mandates. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html
- Find alternatives should your big day not be possible and seek out people and professionals who have answers and choices for you even if they compromise your original dream. You can always get married now in a small intimate elegant way, get those professional images and have your big party later. Life must go on and we don't know how far up the road you will have to kick this can. Make sure your vendors will be flexible with your rescheduling if needed.
- Pay their worth. We know that it's hard out here. Many restaurants have gotten a lot of press that are going under because of the current state of affairs. There are GOFUNDME sites all over. But, this industry is sink or swim and you get what you pay for. So go with an established company who will be around to weather the storm ahead. By beating them down in prices, you end up creating a toxic environment that benefits no one in the long run. People show us images pulled from the internet of Million Dollar Weddings. Needless to say, their budgets are not that lavish. Nice things cost money and if you cannot afford them, fill your cart with things or the version of those things that you can afford. Listen to these experts, they want to serve you.
- Be Honest with them. Tell them your budget upfront so they can use their skills to help you make that dream come true. This transparency greatly benefits you in the end. It saves you loads of time and going back and forth. It saves you from frustration and unnecessary meetings after meetings. Get on with it and make the hard decisions early in the process.
- Enjoy your special day. Though the process may seem daunting, at the end of the day You should be able to Celebrate Your Love for One another responsibly without embarrassment, without guilt and with a Pride that will last for many years to come. The images from this day will out live us all and we want you to be shown in your very best light.
These are not political issues, they are human ones. We want you to be your Best and even though we all will probably make mistakes, please make your intentions error on the side of RIGHT. Seek out professionals from all walks of life because of their Diversity. Look at their work and be cerebral about your decisions and give people a fair vetting in your decision making process. If you use this formula eventually you wont have to ask yourself : “What can I do about making it better?”
Let LOVE win!
The Team at Big Bow Events