BREAKING NEWS: Not all brides are white.
We know, it's a fact easily missed - when was the last time you saw a woman of colour in a styled wedding shoot? Or as a real bride on a designer's Instagram? While there are absolutely people posting more than blonde, white women, without seeking this kind of content out, it can be hard to come by.
And let's just get this straight - we're not saying that we DON'T want to see ANY blonde, white brides, we're just saying that a little diversity never hurt anyone - but lack of diversity did and does.
We're sure you'll agree, this isn't just a problem in the bridal industry, but it does feel like we're running a little behind the mainstream.
Image by Dawn Derbyshire Photography. Bride wears Mae gown by Chantel Lauren.
Nova Reid has been working to bring us up to speed since January 2012, when she founded Nu Bride, an inclusive wedding blog that offers advice and guidance on all aspects of planning a wedding - and happens to be written from the point of view of a (totally awesome) black woman.
When Nova was planning her own wedding, she found herself feeling unexpectedly excluded by the lack of visual inclusion of black and other ethnic minority brides in wedding magazines and the wedding industry in general. This feeling led to the creation of Nu Bride, and to Nova appearing in various publications and on various news segments sharing her wisdom, and sheer passion for weddings, with us all.
Nova & her husband on their wedding day. Image by JK Photography
We've wanted to collaborate with Nova for a long time and couldn't pass up the opportunity for her to feature in our Love ROCKS campaign! So, we spoke to Nova about Nu Bride, the wedding industry and what needs to change...
Nu Bride has been around for nearly seven years now! Tell us a little about the journey of your amazing brand...
Crikey- has it really been almost seven years. Wow. That has gone super fast.
The journey to Nu Bride simply started with my own engagement on Southbank in London in November 2011 (my poor husband, I think he was expecting the wedding neurosis to end after our wedding day in November 2012).
It started as I was frustrated as a British woman, who is black, being completely ignored by the wedding industry. My hubby and I had money to spend - and there was a pre-conceived perception that we didn't. I got fed up of not seeing black women in look-books, on catwalks or magazines and I was exasperated by being met by make up artists saying they couldn't do make up for my skin tone and I was sick and tired of being given tanning products at wedding shows. It was like people weren't expecting black women, or couples, to be walking through the door and spending money - which is ironic since weddings in the Afro-Caribbean (and Asian) communities spend, on average, more than double the cost of a quintessentially white British weddings. Go figure.
Because of such a void of representation in the UK wedding industry, I ended up seeking most of my visual inspiration from America (this was before instagram and Pinterest really took off), which didn't make sense to me given I was marrying in the U.K, so I started my own blog on News Years Day 2012.
I also just wanted to rant (lol) and document my own wedding planning, I found it quite therapeutic. I wasn't expecting anyone to read it (other than forcing my family and hubby-to-be) and a few weeks later I had a 1000 followers and brands asking to sponsor me and it snowballed from there. (I'll be honest, I was totally winging it when I started and didn't turn it into a proper business until 2.5 years after starting and I am still learning every day.)
Image by Sanshine Photography
How much change have you seen in the wedding industry since you started Nu Bride?
I would be lying if I said it wasn't a slow burner and incredibly frustrating. So many people claim to want to diversify their brands without wanting to put any effort in, without wanting to invest and simply wanting a quick fix or free advice. People cut corners and it's frustrating as hell. It's superficial and it just ends up tokenising underrepresented couples, or jumping off a latest trend or what I like to call The Meghan Markle bandwagon.
It's worth remembering, we don't just have a problem with diversity in the wedding industry - it's rife in society. You just need to pick up any news article, read a book, or switch on the news. This is a societal issue - it's not going to disappear overnight, but there are some encouraging changes. I've been involved in some great projects, working with magazines and online publishers to improve their brand diversity. I'm delighted to see people being more conscious with their casting choices for their shoots and campaigns.
In the past 18 months I have trained over 300 small business owners and luxury hotel chain employees who want to lead as progressive and equality-minded brands, or those who simply want to do better at providing a service for couples in blended, LGBTQ+ relationships, or different cultural backgrounds. This year I also had the pleasure of being invited to attend the Royal Wedding as a media expert for BBC News and BBC Radio and was featured in a documentary with Sky News about race. It's been a fantastic year. There's definitely been a positive shift and there are waves of business owners and online publishers who are committed to making changes within their own business and moving the industry forward and that's great to see.
Nova speaking to Sky News before Meghan Markle's marriage to Prince Harry.
What is it that frustrates you about (the lack of) diversity within the wedding industry? Is there anything you've been talking about since the beginning (of Nu Bride) that is still a problem today?
What I've come to learn and accept is that there are people who are none-the-wiser, people who care about diversity and want to make changes and move the industry forward and there are people and businesses who really have no desire. At all.
We still haven't managed to get a black bride on the front cover on a mainstream magazine for a start. But with fashion giants making a stand for diversity in their September 2018 issues by choosing to have a black model on their front covers (the fist time this has EVER happened in the editorial history in the UK - Yes. Let that sink in for a moment). Magazines like Elle, Porter and Vogue U.K. are starting to shift - the latter Vogue, U.K who is leading the movement, has seen an increase of 1000% in revenues since appointing Edward Enninful and introducing diversity, not just in their content and offerings, but in their staffing. I'm sure magazines in the wedding industry will start catching on when they see the very real benefits of diversity (and I'm not just talking about race) and not just catering to one dimensional women. Money talks and consumers care about where they spend their money now more than ever.
September 2018 covers. The month has been coined 'a celebration of black girl magic'.
Once the traditional magazines catch up, no doubt it will have a knock on effect and give suppliers, like designers who are worried about getting coverage, to finally have the courage to widen the aesthetic of their brands too.
There are still myths openly shared with me in the wedding industry that 'black is seen as risk and won't sell'. These views are not backed up by any up-to-date stats and sadly stem from outdated racist ideologies floating around that black women are less desirable. As a black woman, to hear this stinks. We need to do better than this.
It's easy to see from Nu Bride that you're still in love with weddings - how do you keep that passion going?
Nu Bride has always been more than a wedding blog. It's a great platform for other projects and most of my work comes from public speaking, educating about race diversity and diversity consultancy.
Before Nu Bride, I worked in mental wellbeing as a therapist and I still work privately with some clients and offer bi-annual self-care retreats. These seem to be popular amongst business owners and women - far too often we burn ourselves out in pursuit of perfection - especially in the wedding industry.
All of this is what keeps my passion going - helping people and making a tiny difference to world.
Image by Dawn Derbyshire Photography. Bride wears Mae gown by Chantel Lauren
And how about your passion for Nu Bride? It must be rewarding to know that you are provided something to brides-to-be that wasn't there for you, when you were planning your wedding.
Most people are surprised to know 40% of my readership are men - oh yes they are. They like to linger on Nu Bride. :) Whilst the blog is in my voice and from my perspective as a black woman - where possible I include people. It's not just brides getting married, it's men and other wonderful humans. That's the one thing that sometimes stops me in my tracks about the wedding industry and how homogenous it still is. Love is the opposite of homogenous. It's universal and rich in diversity, we should be celebrating love in all its glorious forms.
I am very proud of creating an inclusive platform. Inclusion is something that has been in the ethos of my blog and the work I do since inception - I often get heart warming feedback from readers and sometimes suppliers thanking me for creating a platform that includes them. When you belong to a minority identity in western society, representation means more than most people will realise and I am humbled that I have been able to be part of some exciting changes and create what I didn't have, for others.
Image by Sanshine Photography
Thank you, Nova, for speaking to us and for the work you do! You rock!
Check out Nu Bride now, for planning advice, inspo & general greatness.
If you want to join our mission to represent REAL brides, get in touch!
And if you want to be a Rock the Frock bride, then book your appointment! We can't wait to meet you!