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.
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!