Where are all the black Offbeat Brides?

June 22 | offbeatbride
New Orleans meets pop culture meets foodie details at this Atlanta wedding
Photo by Peach and Oak photographer from this wedding we featured a couple of weeks ago.

Hi, I read an article recently (Excluded by the wedding industry, black brides turn to Instagram) and wondered what your thoughts might be on it.

I love your blog (it's the only wedding thing I'm subscribed to) but surely there must be more black Offbeat Brides out there somewhere.

-Emma

Hey, Emma! Thanks for sharing that article — super interesting. This is an issue I feel pretty strongly about, and have been writing about for almost a decade. Here's a post from way back in 2008, where I was like "Where the fuck are the Offbeat Brides of color?"

I can say that, in reviewing our submissions, we feature virtually every single black Offbeat Bride wedding that's submitted to us, because it's a huge editorial priority. In fact, we skew so hard toward trying to represent black brides on the site that sometimes we have commenters saying things like, "There's nothing offbeat about this wedding, it's totally boring, why is this even on Offbeat Bride?"

Our answer is always, "Because we're trying to ensure that our site is a place where folks who feel under-represented in the mainstream wedding media can feel seen."

We also heavily favor weddings that include people with disabilities, non-binary genders, and older couples, even though historically these posts don't perform all that well. As a publisher whose business lives and dies by pageviews, it's scary to say "Sure, let's pass up that pink-haired unicorn wedding that'll get 10k views, and instead feature this lower-budget backyard wedding of this older disabled couple that will probably only get 500 views" …but that's the kind of editorial decision we've made every week, for many years.

I don't mean to sound all OH I'M SO NOBLE, here — in fact, far from that, prioritizing content in this way can feel pretty awkward at times. There's an odd grey area where it feels like tokenism. I've wrestled with that discomfort for years, and wrote about that a bit over here in 2012… and five years later, I'm still not sure I have a solid solution.

To more specifically answer your question about where the black Offbeat Brides are: while we don't tag weddings specifically for black brides (categorization in this way can bring up complex issues around self-identification), we do have a couple overlapping archives where you'll find them: the couples of color archive, and our natural hair archive.

Now, as for that article you shared! Super awesome! …for the most part. I love love love that communities that feel under-represented in the mainstream media are using Instagram to get their stories out there and increase visibility… I especially love how I've seen youth dealing with disabilities and chronic illness using Instagram. It's a form of body positivity that's so needed, and I love that social media can amplify those voices that aren't getting heard.

That said, it's a bit weird to see that article give so much credit to Instagram. One of the Instagram accounts mentioned, Munaluchi Bride, is actually a website that's been online since 2009! This means the article is essentially the author saying "I found things on Instagram that I could have found on a website, but I like browsing via social media better." …And that's cool! I totally get that there are tens of thousands of people who follow Offbeat Bride on Instagram who never visit our website. It just seems a little weird to point to Instagram as some sort of new and exciting answer, when publishers like Munaluchi have been featuring the weddings of people of color since before Instagram existed.

But whatever: if Instagram is the tool that helps people find more inclusive content in the thick of their wedding planning, I'm all for it!

  1. Ariel, you're awesome. I cannot imagine how hard a line that is to walk and how agonizing the decisions of which weddings to publish must be because naturally you can't publish them all! I also think it's great and super refreshing that you prioritize diversity even if that means sacrificing page views. One of the reasons I love OBB, and OBH, so much is that it's obvious that you and your staff actually care about your readers and make sure that people from all walks of life can find content they can relate to.
    Keep being awesome!

    4 agree
    • Thank you, bb. It's an awkwarrrrd line to walk sometimes, and we don't always get it right… But it feels important to keep trying.

  2. I read both Offbeat Bride and Offbeat Home & Life (every week for the last two years) and love that you do make the effort to keep it diversified! I am a Spinal Cord Injury going on 17 years now and only on your sites have I seen anyone close to whom I would identify with. Thank you for creating the Offbeat Empire.

  3. Something about this article really rubs me the wrong way. There is already this widespread idea that things that people of color do aren't good/interesting/cool enough, and the only way they get acknowledgement is when "noble" people like yourself throw them a bone. As a black woman, I'm here to say we don't need that. If you don't feel our weddings are hip enough, or they don't fit the "offbeat" image that your website is trying to promote, don't feature us. I personally don't want you, or anyone like you, coming along acting like you're doing me a favor by giving me acknowledgement. As though you are gifting me with something I'm unworthy of simply because I am black.

    It's sad to me, because as a newly engaged woman, I enjoyed browsing this website. And then I came across this article, and now I'm ready to hit the "close" button and not come back. Feature weddings with black brides because they're beautiful, because they're unique, because you find value in what the couple has done to celebrate their day. Don't feature them just because they're black, and definitely don't go boasting about what you've done like some sort of white savior. I will be headed over to Munaluchi Bride now, thanks for the reference!

    1 agrees
    • Miranda, I just want to say that I hear you. This is why I wrestle with the prioritization of "increasing visibility" over "stringent editorial standards." I certainly don't think I'm a noble savior, and part of my motivation with writing this post was to make it clear that I'm not sure the choices I've made have been the right ones. Feedback like yours helps me think about how I might approach the issue differently. Thank you.

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