Dear Branches & Vine Readers, Vendors, and Brides –
Let us first start by saying, we believe the wedding industry is deeply flawed. It is not representative of the colors and cultures that so beautifully construct our world in any way shape or form. Both in the incredible vendors that build weddings and in the wonderful couples that celebrate them. And Branches & Vine is at the forefront of that flaw. Because it isn’t simply posting a photo of a Black man or woman or a same sex couple on an Instagram feed and feeling like you have checked that box. A bandaid to which has long been the wedding industry’s – and Branches & Vine’s – response to the cry for more diversity. And that doesn’t even come close to being good enough.
It is our responsibility as a leader in this industry to champion a true change, as Branches & Vine is a company where racism and prejudice have absolutely no place. We are committed to cultivating a community, in the wedding industry and beyond, where diversity, equity and inclusion are of the utmost importance. And let’s be clear – the word “diversity” to Branches & Vine means: different races, sexual orientations, cultures, religions, gender identities, ages, body types, and abilities. Above all else, our goal is for every single person who visits Branches & Vine to feel represented, loved and at home.
We feel it’s important to mention that in light of growing public awareness around the issue of plantation weddings and the sensitivity we feel is needed to address this issue, Branches & Vine has ceased publishing plantation weddings and styled shoots since May 2017 – as we feel it is our duty to examine anything we feel may be harmful or offensive to our readers, vendors, and wider wedding community before moving forward with publication.
As we move forward in our efforts to improve Branches & Vine by becoming a better ally, we kindly ask our employees, readers and industry friends to do the same. Together we can create a future that is entirely a more just, inclusive and welcoming place for all.
Our Promises to Champion Anti-Racism in the Wedding Industry
Promise #1: Champion Black vendors and ensure their work is regularly celebrated on branchesandvine.com
Our team at Branches & Vine is committed to showing consistent support of Black and POC wedding professionals both publicly on our social media & site and behind the scenes. We want to celebrate the amazing work that is done by talented vendor teams in a way that feels meaningful and that drives real revenue dollars for the Black wedding community. We promise to work harder to identify these amazing individuals and give them the acknowledgement they are so worthy of.
Promise #2: Undertake a diversity audit of all content posted in 2017 to date
Our second promise takes us back into the past, while helping to hold us accountable for the future. We have appointed an analyst to work through every editorial we’ve posted in 2017 and determine what percentage of the couples featured are diverse, whether that be in ethnicity or sexual orientation.
We’ll be making this information publicly available to give our community full transparency, and have also set benchmarks for ourselves to meet, based on the population of the US. Moving forward we will be measuring ourselves against these on a monthly basis.
By digging deeper into the data, we’ll create a clearer picture of just how far off we are in this area, and can more effectively task our staff to move the needle. We know that regularly featuring Black and POC couples in our content is just one small part of the solution but we are committed to making it a focus for 2017 and beyond.
Promise #3: Actively seek out and feature more weddings of BIPOC couples
Following on from our promise to audit our content and share the results, we promise to do better. Our overarching goal with this promise is to ensure that every man and woman, no matter the color of their skin, their culture, their sexual orientation, gender identity or their religion, feels comfortable, at home and inspired when they read Branches & Vine.
As part of this, we are committed to actively searching for, and even more regularly featuring the weddings of Black, biracial, and other minority couples. We want to ensure that our readers regularly see themselves in the content of our site and on our social channels, and so realize the need for our content to be more representative of the different ethnicities that make up the population around us.
We are also calling on the wedding industry to work together in this initiative! When it comes to real weddings, our main priority moving forward is to publish more diversity on Branches & Vine, specifically Black and biracial couples. Although this is something we crave desperately, weddings featuring Black brides or grooms are rarely submitted to us.
With that being said, we know there are so many gorgeous weddings featuring BIPOC couples out there just waiting to be published, and we sincerely encourage wedding professionals and couples alike to please submit more of these weddings to Branches & Vine to help us in our goal to better represent this community.
Promise #4: Educate and empower our staff to take action against racism in our industry
We believe that change begins with us, not just as an organization, but also as a group of individuals who represent Branches & Vine. We know it’s incredibly important to educate ourselves on the systemic racism faced by Black individuals, and use both our individual and collective voices to take a stand.
As part of our internal commitment, we’ve opened up the conversation within our team to discuss how we can be a true partner to the BIPOC communities, and created these 6 promises together as a pact for us to all do better. We’ve encouraged every member of our team to be part of this movement by taking time to do their research, engage directly with Black members of our community and attend diversity panels and webinars so they can make changes within their day to day processes that have previously reinforced the inequality within our industry.
Promise #5: Develop a diversity panel with our vendor partners to keep the conversation top of mind
In our final promise, we commit to keeping the conversation going and ensure we don’t just speak about change but actually make it happen. We have formed a diversity panel, representing BIPOC voices and views within our industry, who can hold us accountable for the promises we’ve made.
In partnering with and representing minority business owners and makers in the wedding industry we will ensure that Branches & Vine isn’t simply checking a box, but that we are a leader in combating racism within our bridal community.
We are actively reaching out to our members and other vendor partners to ensure our commitments align with their needs and hope to build a task force that can continue to foster this conversation into meaningful action. We are asking for their feedback, just as we are asking for yours – we welcome your comments or criticisms and we stand before you ready to support in any way we can.