Over the last few years the wedding industry (like many others) has made diversity, equality and inclusion a top priority. Businesses have committed to increasing representation across their marketing campaigns and day-to-day functions. Yet representation and accessibility are not always synonymous with inclusion. Brides visiting your boutique are going to come from different backgrounds, incomes, needs and abilities, and it is important to think about all customers while being careful to avoid tokenism by taking action – of course, the risk is virtue signalling… We concede that it's so difficult to get it right! In our endeavours not to offend and to be as inclusive as possible, we often find ourselves at risk of exactly those things.
Therefore, we applaud our good friend Rebecca Baddeley - of renowned Birmingham boutique TDR Bridal - for calling and directing this beautiful shoot, and we chat with her about what inspired her to work with these models, on this challenging concept…
Rebecca: "Frustration… that’s the word that springs to mind when I think about how this shoot came about… Frustration and, if I’m honest, shame. I have a wonderful brother Chris, who happens to be disabled. His disability does not define him and it doesn't stop him from doing whatever he sets his mind to. He excelled at school, he got his A-levels, he went to university, he has an excellent, high-flying career, he is married and a father to two gorgeous girls. Then there's beautiful soul Paige – a Senior Stylist at TDR who has worked with me for over three years. Paige once said to me: 'This is the first place I’ve worked where I feel I can be myself!' For context, she was referring to racism. I have known for some time that I wanted to do something; NEEDED to do something, to address the elephant in the bridal world room. I remember around eight years ago questioning why there were no black models at a trade show. Don’t get me wrong, things are improving but the diversity shown in the aesthetic we offer out to the world of engaged couples is seriously lacking and, as uncomfortable as it may be, we the collective bridal industry, need to take a long hard look in the mirror, and see what we are portraying. At the moment, that looks like a world where only straight, young, white, able-bodied females, buy wedding dresses. This isn’t real life and I am sometimes ashamed of this stereotypical, somewhat archaic representation of brides. My frustration at finding images representing diversity on my social media or on my website was considerable… I couldn’t find anything, anywhere. So shoot day arrived, and I knew the moment the first model came out of the changing area, that this would be something special. The atmosphere was electric, emotional, celebrational and united. Every person in that space got it. They could see something incredible evolving – there were many tears of joy, lots of clapping and many words of encouragement for every single model – each look was greeted with excitement and enthusiasm. It was like a breath of fresh air!
I am immensely proud to know them all and humbled to have worked with these incredible, beautiful people. I hope these beautiful images get shared far and wide, that they are celebrated and championed, and I hope, above all, that these images elicit change. And it is also my hope that people’s perception of what a bride should look like is challenged and may be changed, so that we can all as a collective, ensure that diversity in all its forms is represented in the bridal industry."
THE TEAM TDR Bridal Birmingham @tdrbridalbirmingham Bohemian Rose Photography @bohemianrosephotography Through the Lens With Marvin Marius @throughthelensmm Eyes to Pixels @eyestopixels The Wedding House Droitwich @theweddinghouse_droitwich Bridal By Artists @bridalbyartists
Keziah @keziahnkounkou Poppy @popular_vipfuturestar