A month ago I was over the moon to be selected by ‘an alternative wedding directory’ dedicated to helping ‘non traditional couples’ connect with hand selected vendors with a creative and contemporary style. They promised a big marketing push and I was delighted to be amongst some truly incredible photographers whose work I admire a great deal.
I wanted to add this new partnership to my brochure because I was so proud of the affiliation. While on vacation I sat down one evening with a glass of wine, and started my brochure update. I wanted to make sure I got the wording just right and so googled the directory. The third result down was an article saying that this group discriminate against the LGBTQ+ community. I was, I hope you will agree, rightly, horrified. How could this be true? After all, this was a directory aimed at ‘non traditional’ couples, it couldn’t be true, could it? Could ‘non traditional’ really just mean straight couples who want a donut wall instead of a cake?!
I read the article in full and then scoured the directory’s website for any further information. I found a rather ambiguous statement. I wanted to believe I hadn’t paid $350 to be part of such a organization, and I also know how rhetoric can easily be twisted online. So I reached out directly to the company. While they refuted many of the accusations against them, one statement hit me in the stomach “We do have some members who wish to not shoot LGBTQ (and we respect their decision completely)”.
Confusion turned to shock, turned to anger. Another glass of wine was ordered. I twisted the statement around in my head for a while. I discussed it with my husband and a few close friends. They presented a few different viewpoints. Since the company did say they also respected the rights of those members who wanted to work with LGBTQ+ couples could I continue doing what I do and milk them for their marketing clout? It was an option, one I considered briefly. In the end though I know that I cannot affiliate my business with one who ‘completely respects’ the decisions of any of it’s members to discriminate against an entire group of people based on the fact that they are different to them in some way. Whether that difference is race, gender, religion, politics or sexual orientation, discrimination is discrimination.
My head told me to go quietly. I knew that many people in the US have conflicting views on this matter, I knew that I would lose followers, that I would potentially lose business. I also wondered if, as someone who identifies as a straight woman, married to someone who identifies as a straight man, I had any right to jump into this particular fight. Honestly I didn’t wonder for very long. I am not looking to spearhead a fight or a movement, although I am willing to do whatever it takes to change the wedding industry, in whatever small way I can.
Having spent the last 6 years of my corporate career at Apple, where Tim Cook, the CEO, himself part of the LGBTQ+ community, drives a culture of diversity and inclusivity, this insight into the wedding industry was shocking to me. Throughout my career I saw discrimination swiftly and harshly dealt with. To have any company say to me, in writing, that they ‘completely respect’ it, was simply too awful to just let go.
Within a few hours of me posting on instagram about my decision to leave the group, dozens of messages of support came through from others in the industry who were equally disgusted at the fact that this kind of attitude still exists in our society. Many of them suggested I start my own directory. From there, the concept of The Collective was born. I do not want to recommend vendors to any of my clients who discriminate against a whole group of people, whether or not that particular client would be affected. The collective 100% supports the LGBTQ+ community but moreover we support all communities. We are not targeting any particular minority, we are simply saying, hey, we’re not afraid to stand up and say, we do not and we will not discriminate and we do not and will not condone others who do. You hear a lot about ‘the ideal client’ in this industry. People will say things like ’she shops in Nordstrom, she likes blush’. This experience has made me realize that my ideal client is so much more than where they shop. They are people who agree that love is love, that all people deserve to be treated with respect and that all couples deserve to marry if they choose to. So if speaking out on this topic loses me some clients, I know they will not be my ideal ones and that’s a trade I’m more than happy to make.
We’ve already had an amazing numbers of vendor sign ups across the industry. The first wave of registration will be open for another few weeks and we are accepting applications from all vendors including other planners. If you would like to join us please click here. The Collective will launch on 07/01, sign up to our newsletter for details of a very special launch party!
In the meantime you can follow our new Instagram page here.