In October 2019, I got married on a rooftop in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and it was an absolutely awesome day.
(And, yes, Margo WAS in attendance.)
Zach and I tied the knot in front of 100 of our family and friends dressed to the nines in their best black tie Art Deco finery — remember crowds? sniff — my fabulous sister in law was our officiant, and there were neon signs, pink flamingos, and tropical greenery abound.
We danced the night away under the stars with the NYC skyline ablaze with lights all around us.
I was wildly fortunate, as I had a fiancé as invested in the process as I was, and as eager as I was to make the day our own, and turn it into the best party we’ve ever thrown.
Say Yes to the…Judgement?
While I can’t complain about my own day by any stretch… W H E W.
Folks. While it’s hard to fathom until you’re in it — the wedding industry. is. bananas!
I thought I was somewhat prepared after watching every episode of Say Yes to the Dress, but… I was wrong.
While overall I was a-OK, even eager, for some of the stuff that could be considered “old school patriarchy” (my dad walking me down the aisle, and taking Z’s last name for outside-of-business circumstances)…
… My engagement ring had barely settled on my finger before the judgement began.
Suddenly Everyone’s a Critic
Want a big, blowout wedding? Pfft, someone else got married for the cost of a bologna sandwich and is still married 1,000 years later. You clearly want a wedding and not a marriage.
Want a small courthouse affair, just you and two friends to save some money? What about all the other people in your life who want to celebrate with you? Don’t be cheap!
Keeping your own last name? What will your kids do??? You’re having kids, right?!
Taking your partner’s? Wow – are you even a feminist?!
You’re paying HOW much (or how little) for flowers!? Oh man, I could never imagine…
Want to get married by a man/lady of the cloth? A jedi? A family member or friend? “Well when I got married…”
Have I mentioned you also have to make a million tiny vital decisions about everything from decor to the way dinner is served, while ALSO trying your very best not to inconvenience anybody, ever, at any point????
But honestly, overall? I can’t even complain that much.
Tradition, tradition. Tradition!
I had a pretty easy planning and wedding experience — whereas queer and BIPOC couples are still hugely under-represented in the industry, and can face discrimination, obstacles, and challenges at every step of the way.
But perhaps this is no surprise to you — as the wedding industry is the last celebrated holdout of these outdated norms for a reason.
After all, after centuries of tradition, the marketing is STRONG.
Most little humans are already tapping into their wedding fantasies at a very young age. I know I used to draw pictures of my wedding dress in the 90’s (blessedly, the renaissance-style hand-covering triangles at the bottom of the long, poofy sleeves did not inspire my actual gown).
The judgement, the patriarchal traditions, the hodgepodge of beliefs around what a wedding is “supposed” to be have stayed strong — growing perhaps even stronger in the last couple of decades.
And, while there were and are excellent planners striving to push the wedding industry forward… it never really had to evolve.
It hasn’t, according to today’s freakin’ fabulous #HAMYAW guests, even really been forced to come online until very recently.
A Wake-up Call for the Wedding Industry
And then… Covid hit.
And the murder of George Floyd sparked the latest wave of Black Lives Matter protests.
Weddings were cancelled left and right…
The lack of representation in the industry was put under a microscope…
And all of a sudden….
The wedding industry faced a reckoning.
What happened next? And how would wedding planners begin to adapt?
We’ll let today’s guests tell you. And boy, do we have a lot to say about it.
We brought in a phenomenal pair of guests for our first ever mega #HAMYAW And Friends” episode to share all about what unfolded…
These Wedding Planners Are “All That”
… And without further ado, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Allison Davis and Jordan A. Maney.
They’re wedding-planners-turned-so-much-more, and we’re BEYOND thrilled for two reasons:
Allison (a wedding planner and curator of gorgeous inspiration, with a stunning new website) and Jordan, (also a wedding planner, now equity and joy coach for business owners, and creator of All The Days and White People Rehab) are two of the most delightful humans ever to grace the internet, and we can’t want for you to meet them.
We’re PUMPED to dive into, and learn about, how industry professionals in an IRL field rolled with the Covid punches, put themselves on the line to have hard conversations, and used both circumstances to actually deepen into their own values, and push themselves and the entire wedding industry forward.
Adapting to Culture and Core Values
Tune into today’s episode to find out:
- Exactly what happened to them, and their businesses, when COVID started getting “really real” How they’ve decided to adapt their businesses, and use this lull to explore more of what they’re passionate about
- The REAL insider look at just how antiquated the wedding industry remains (video calls were a new phenomenon????)
- Their experience during the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement, and what it was like to speak on daily panels for over a month (!!!).
- Their vision of what weddings REALLY can be, the new wave of the wedding industry, and, in Jordan’s case, the ways we can better learn to understand, include, and relate to one another
I won’t spoil another word of the episode for you — but if you’ve got your own thoughts about the wedding industry, and want to hear how these awesome women adapted and thrived in the face of the wild unfoldings of the world?
You’re not gonna want to miss this one.
Click here to catch the episode now — and dish your wedding thoughts in the comments, AS ALWAYS — and we’ll see you over there.
Okayyy IF YOU INSIST, I’LL SHOW YOU WEDDING PICS. ;) Our wedding went live on our photographer’s blog recently so that’s my excuse to share it with you now even though it happened in 2019 shhhh. ;)
I do have a question.
Yes. Hillary, I do have, like a really pressing question, like, I have been wanting to ask this for a very long time. Where in the fuck did you get your headphones?
Because I love them. Every time I —
…see something I want and I don’t know where they came from.
♪ Hey ♪
Welcome back marketing nerds of the world. It’s time for another episode of HAMYAW and today we are joined by the amazing Allison Davis and Jordan Maney and today we want to talk about the wedding industry.
Both Margo and I are married people, so we have some things to say about it, but it’s not nearly as interesting as what these two ladies have to share with us today. Obviously, there’s been a little downtime in the COVID pandemic for them to explore what they really want to create in the industry, to disrupt, to take a look at the traditional structures of weddings and marriages in general and how we want to transform what that looks like.
Enough with the plantation weddings people, but before we say another word, Margo, Allison, Jordan, how y’all doing today?
Pretty damn good here out in Texas.
(laughing) Margo, how are you?
I’m sitting on the floor. So, you know, again, we just moved, so like, no desk has arrived because COVID, all the things, so, you know, but I’m really excited for this conversation.
We scheduled a while ago and to frame this for viewers Jordan and I had been emailing, I said, we are pen pals. And one night when I had a few minutes I was like, “Oh, what’s in her signature?” And I’m like clicking and I’m clicking through and I found her step up pledge and I’m like, I watched the whole thing which if y’all have not seen it go watch it right now, link somewhere, we’ll find it.
And I was, I was not just moved beyond, I was bawling and I was rushing to every resource possible and I immediately was like, “Jordan, we are not just pen-pals, like, you have to be on the show, we have to talk more about this.”
On a few levels, everything Hillary aside, but also, you know, the wedding industry was also something I felt really uncomfortable with and wanted nothing to do with and went through my own like, whole wedding trauma and so when I saw Jordan speaking to the things that I was getting accused of being like, “You’re so sensitive, why to do you care about these things?”
And watching her, like, give them the validation and legs and foundation and just elevating them to the point of like, “People pay fucking attention,” I was thrilled. And so I was like, “We have to talk more about this. “I want to hear more about what you’re doing.” Why now? And I think we know why now, but like she’s been doing it the whole way and like,
Anyway, so that was sort of my introduction to Jordan, who then pulled in Allison. So maybe sets the stage for people. You both are in the wedding industry where you were putting on events and then COVID hit.
What? Dun dun dun! Oh that little thing, right, right. Well, you know.
Allison, do you want to jump? You should jump in, ’cause I feel like you have a much better like, story than I do when it comes to like the COVID of it all.
I knew it was coming in February, March. I was in New York at the time, currently in Charlotte with family, and it was kind of like a murmur among my industry friends who were like, “We should probably stock up on perishables and start like, doomsday prepping.” And I was like, “I don’t think it’s going to be that bad, but we should be paying attention.”
And then I had a meeting with one of my couples that was supposed to get married this May, it was actually a cake tasting. One of the most fun meetings in the process and we’re eating cake, we’re having coffee, it’s really nice. And then the groom who works in tech was like, “Hey, so the professional conference that my company was hosting just canceled for the summer. So do you think that we should be concerned about having our wedding?” And I was like, “Let’s see how it goes.”
Because at that point it was like, we knew, but we didn’t really know.
And then things started falling apart very rapidly in early March. Like, the week after we had the cake tasting and they picked the cake and they have their design set, everything was like done for this wedding and we had to make the call to move it to ‘21. And so I don’t take on a lot of weddings, my company is not big, and I felt like I didn’t want to run a wedding factory when I started.
‘Cause I come from the world of full-service catering where it’s like five events a week in the slow parts of the season. So I knew I wanted to like, get to know my couples know a lot about them, give them a lot of time and energy, make them feel like I was really accessible to them and not run myself into the ground, cause I didn’t start my own business to work every day, every weekend, every year (laughing).
And luckily my clients are very level-headed, very kind people and I had conversations with all of them along the way, like, “Look, I know this is messy, we’re all going through it together and it’s okay to feel sad about having to change your wedding plans or move your wedding or cancel your wedding, whatever it is you decided to do, it’s okay to feel sad.”
Obviously, there are larger things happening in the world.
That’s always going to be true.
And if you feel like you don’t have an audience that’s going to like, respectfully listen to you complain about having to adjust something that’s so important to you, you can always call me.
So it was an interesting year of moving and changing and adapting and just having to get really real with my couples but I appreciated the work that I’d done up to the point that COVID hit because I was really set up to not drown.
Because I have a lot of friends who moved 15, 20, 30 weddings into next year, who have clients who are doing all different levels of services together and so even though they weren’t responsible for fully planning the wedding they were only going to show up like 30 days prior.
They were still working with couples to like, renegotiate all of their agreements and maybe help them choose a new venue and just going way beyond the scope of what they had originally signed on for. But we get so attached to our clients, we don’t want to leave anybody hanging.
So it was hard, but yeah it’s been an interesting summer just trying to figure out how to like, stay afloat, but also stay relevant, but not be insensitive. Because there was definitely a period over the summer where it started to get bad everywhere and it felt really weird to just be posting like, old wedding photos from a year prior to being like, “We love flowers!” like it just didn’t feel right.
A hundred percent.
So it’s definitely been a challenge, but luckily I’m starting to feel and see optimism for the future.
Couples are coming through for mid-late ‘21, ‘22 even, which looks great from where we stand. Post vaccine, yes. Yes, we’re all getting vaccinated, we’re all getting vaccinated girl.
Yeah, right? One for each arm. Yeah, I’m just going to walk around with my sleeve rolled up just in case. Please, please. I’m ready. – For the next few months.
Yeah, bring it on. Just stab me with it, I don’t care.
My mom was like, “We’re just going to go stand outside of the hospital and see if we can get one.” And I’m like, “That’s not how it works, but okay.” It’s been a weird summer, but luckily I feel like we’re kind of seeing the dimmest of light at the end of the tunnel.
For sure. Absolutely.
My story was like much more like…Allison is so graceful and poised and I feel like Animal from the Muppets most of the time.
So I had one of my couples come down and they’re based in College Station area, which is, relative to whoever’s listening, not that far from San Antonio.
Texas native. I got you.
Thank you, thank you. And so they came in and they were like, “Look, this COVID thing, like, we really need to have a conversation about it.” And I was like, “Oh, I think we’ll be fine, everything’s going to be all right, but like, let’s make a plan just in case and we’ll have like a date where we’ll call it, you know, if it’s getting real bad, we’ll call it.”
Well, that date is in April. And then, you know, that Tom Hanks Instagram glove post and I remember like, looking at my mom and being like, “It’s time to go to the grocery store. (laughing) Like, we gotta go now.”
Yep. Tonight is the night that we go.
And Margo, you probably know about like, HEB down here in South Texas which is like, King Supreme of grocery stores. But we were in there like everybody was in there and it was all really based off (laughing) and it was like right before the toilet paper fights started happening and we were just like, kind of all looking at each other, like, “I don’t know you, but don’t get close to me.” (laughing)
“I’m sure you’re great, but six feet, please. You’re great.
Stay over there.”
But yeah, it was, it was very much that energy of kind of like, “Uh.” And then my early April weddings like, were having these really tough conversations about like, “Do you cancel? Do you postpone? Like, what do you really want?” And for each couple it was different. Most of the couples that I serve, I have the pleasure of serving, were same-sex couples and they were like, as one client put it to me, “Honey I waited 20 years for this, what’s another year?”
What’s another year? I was like, “Okay.” And for some other couples, they were very like, “You know, it’s more important for us to just to get married and get it on a piece of paper. Maybe we come back to do it later but for right now, you know, we’re canceled.” And I had one couple do that and it was tough, but it was like, okay.
But most of the other ones were postponed. And so once that happened, it kind of felt like this emotional slate clearing of kind of like, “Okay what do I do now? Like what comes next?”
Because I can’t, Allison will tell you this, I don’t do well when it comes to like sitting down and just like, chilling out, like I need something to do.
We don’t know anything about that. (laughing)
You know what I mean? Just, you might have an inkling of what that’s like.
So it was kind of just kind of like the sadness of being like, “Ugh, I can’t help people that I’ve cultivated this relationship with for like a year. I can’t help them have this really big, beautiful moment that they’ve been working towards.”
So like, trying to like, hold that space for them in that grief, like Allison mentioned, and then also kind of like, hold myself and kind of understanding like the bittersweetness of like, “Okay, I don’t get to do something that I’m really good at and I don’t get to help essentially clients that have turned into friends. How do I still act and work in purpose under this fucking dark cloud of grossness?”
How do you still, you know, want to wake up in the morning and do stuff? Like, how do you get that pep in your step? So that was kind of like the March, April, energy of just kind of being like, “I have no clue what to do.” And then as Allison will tell you, what ended up happening was I watched a lot of “Love and Hip Hop” and a lot of “Love After Lockup.” (laughing) Like, it was a bad time.
It was, for us, it was like “Tiger King” and “Love is Blind” and like-
“Love is Blind” happened right when it started and we were all like, “Well, that’s happening. We’re here now.” (laughing)
It became so relatable so quickly. (laughing)
That’s so weird. You’re trapped, we’re trapped. I would definitely do that. Basically the same. (laughing)
Would totally do that. Oh my gosh.
Talk to me a little about, I know Jordan and Allison, you perhaps, so you’ve sort of pivoted and developed a new kind of direction for both of your businesses as a result of this shift. Can you talk to us a little a bit about where you are now and what you’re working on?
One thing about the wedding industry that I think a lot of my couples feel as a pain point is that it feels very antiquated. People will ask you to fax them things. You get handwritten invoices. People will only meet you in person to give you a proposal.
(laughing) Yeah, you guys are like, “What?”
(laughing) This is like…Very real. In-person? That is very real. And so–
For my couples, I understood that most of them are in their thirties, forties, and that’s not really how they’re used to purchasing anything.
And so for me, when I was starting out it was so important to think about how I would want to go through a process like this or taking on a huge project that I never attempted before and putting tons of money and time into it and just hoping it came out okay ’cause you have one chance to get it right.
I was like, “I definitely would want to be able to communicate virtually, have video meetings, get digital proposals.”
Like, these things didn’t seem all that amazing or innovative in the grand scheme of things. But in the wedding industry, it was a relatively big deal.
Even now that we’ve been in COVID for so long there are still people who are like, “Good thing we learned how to do virtual meetings during COVID, we’re going to keep those,” and I’m like, “Really? You guys weren’t doing that before?”
They weren’t doing that before.
I tend to look to other industries to learn how to actually run my business. (laughing) Because a lot of people in the wedding industry do not have actual business backgrounds. It’s a lot of people who plan their own wedding and then started a wedding planning company or people who have only ever worked at, Jordan. (laughing)
I’m sorry, I’m crying, I’m trying to be good, I’m on my best behavior, I’m sorry.
No please, say it, do it. Worst behavior. Bring it on.
People who never worked in corporate backgrounds before, people who started their business 20 years ago and it’s always run the same way. And so, Jordan, Jordan.
Whoo, you’re preaching now Allison, you are preaching. (laughing)
So yeah, I tend to look to other industries because I feel like I just learn a lot more and I learn it faster when I’m looking outside of the wedding industry and not getting wedding industry-specific advice. If somebody doesn’t know how to plan a wedding doesn’t mean they can’t tell me how to run my business.
I knew for a long time when we started an email list, didn’t know what I was going to write about. Finally started an email list and started popping off immediately. “Sign up for my email list, it’s really fun and it’s not about wedding stuff completely.”
Done. We’ll include the link down there.
Yes, link down there.
I knew that I needed to create something that wasn’t just for people who were planning weddings because you’re planning your wedding for a very short period of time. And not everybody wants to know or read about like trends for spring or like color schemes you can use, like, a lot of my clients in particular do not care about that.
That’s not what they’re focusing on.
So if I can put together something that is interesting to anybody and then throw in a wedding tip, just kind of like a little spice at the end of it, great, that’s what I’ll do. So I started doing that, I got people reading that who are not planning weddings, who are not in the wedding industry and they reply they’re having a great time, so am I.
It’s also something that I really look forward to writing ’cause it’s not just like, “What other wedding things can I find to put and make interesting in this newsletter?”
So what are you writing about?
I’m writing about just inspiration in general.
It’s like, “Here’s a song that I really love right now. Here is an article I read recently that was really interesting and then here’s just some kind of visual thing that I found inspiring.” So sometimes it’s art, sometimes it’s a performance, sometimes it’s a photo, like, there are just so many things that I find just like, creeping around the internet and like, being in a lot of group chats. (laughing)
And so instead of like texting each one of my friends individually, like, “Did you see this article about TikTok? I just put in my newsletter” (laughing)
Really clever strategy. Yep, super smart.
Like, don’t text Hillary, just put it in the newsletter.
I’m on the email list, my filters will eat it. I get in so much trouble.
Then I was like, “Well, the way I run my business, I only take on two clients a year and I do what people refer to as full-service planning.” I don’t do any partial day of coordination management, anything like that.
Either we’re playing this wedding together or I’m not the right fit for you. So my thought was like, “Well, if I start offering like, a little online course, this, that and the other, does that dilute my brand? Does that make me come across as being like cheapy over it?”
No it doesn’t. No it does not.
It took me so long, it took me so long.
And I get that fear. Yeah, I get that fear a hundred percent. What’s the membership about?
So I’m still working on it. Hopefully, by the time this comes out, it’s going to be like a whole thing with its own.
You’re accountable now.
This is me putting out into the universe that it’s going to get done and so it will be done, you can link to it below. It’ll be a thing. It’s going to be probably like, branching off from the newsletter.
So, hey, maybe you’re doing these single wedding tips that come in every other week. How about you join the membership where I talk about weddings all the time? And I send you like, a guide to the timeline of like, when you should be doing certain things in the wedding planning process, I send you a list or a database of all my favorite pros who I already have vetted for inclusivity. I send you like, an accountability email every couple of weeks or whatever it is that’s like, “Hey, did you do those things you were supposed to do?
“(indistinct), do the things, do them.”
Have a bunch of ideas around it and I feel like there’s an easy way for people to kind of get in at the ground floor.
Which I didn’t think was really a thing, but then of course, Jordan, who is like out in the world, going to conferences and like reading and listening to podcasts, she’s like all in the mix. She was like, “I have spoken to people who make $60,000 a month.” And I was like, “A month? (laughing) Dollars?”
That was a moment in time. That was a moment for me.
“American money? American dollars?” I was like, “Are you serious?” I’m like, “Not Monopoly money?” Like yeah, like, these digital offers, these products, they have like, the whole world of offerings and it’s people who do all this weird stuff. Like, there’s one lady who has a llama farm to teach people how to run llama farms, I was like… “Huh?”
I love the internet. I love it. I love the internet.
I didn’t know that was possible. I feel like I have had several points in the timeline of running a business where the ceiling that I thought existed got completely destroyed. Like, I didn’t realize that I could charge more than $10,000 to plan somebody’s wedding.
And then somebody said, “Oh yeah, like, one time, I had a client I really liked, I sent them my proposal and they said it was too low and their fiance wouldn’t take it seriously, so could they just make it higher so we can compete with the other people we were talking to.” I was like, “What?”
Like, added a zero to it basically and then sold it to the client. I was like, “Huh?
Oh, I got you, no problem. We’ll add another zero for his comfort.
Oh yeah, sure. Absolutely. If it helps you, I just want to make that sure we’re helping you. I’ll just add another zero.” I was like, “What?” Obviously, that doesn’t happen to most people, but like, if you don’t know that there are people out there doing those things then you are going to limit yourself in ways that you really don’t have to.
And so once I learned about that, I was like, “Oh let me take another look at my pricing because I’m working really hard and getting paid like I work at McDonald’s, let me fix that.”
♪ Ba da da da da ♪ (laughing)
Exactly. Not loving it.
Which sounds like a lot of money, but then once you learn how to run your business and you realize you got to pay taxes, you have overhead and you gotta pay for your website to run and stuff, it’s like, “Wait a minute. What happened to my ten thousand dollars?”
It’s gone. And then like, talking to Jordan, I feel like I like, in the new moment of revelation like, every six months, I’m like, “Wait, people do that? That’s a thing?” (laughing) Because sometimes I get too like, siloed into like, wedding industry worlds and I see so much of people kind of doing the same things that I forget that there’s so many people out there running businesses in ways that are so creative and smart.
And like, you don’t have to like, babysit every little thing you do. You don’t have to equate your time with dollars. Once I started like, understanding that, I was like, “Oh, interesting.”
I was kind of already in process of kind of having like, one foot in the wedding industry and one foot out.
It’s what excites me and makes me like super happy is being able to talk about how we relate to one another. So I was always more focused on kind of like the health of the relationship of the couple that I’m talking to. Like, how are you making decisions for your wedding in the best interest of your relationship?
And so like, I would, you know, go do coaching programs and come back and tell Allison about stuff where I’m like sitting, oh my God, I did this VIP day and like, one of the first exercises was like, “Hey, talk about, you know, how much money did you make last year, blah, blah, blah, blah. Now switch with the person sitting next to you,” and I said, “Hmm? What?
“You want me to give her the, okay, all right.” And earlier when we had done introductions the woman was like, “You know, I’m only clearing “like 60K a month and blah, blah, blah, blah.” And I was like, “I’m staying at the Best Western across from Popeye’s that I can’t even get into because the chicken sandwich just came back and traffic was backed up, but that’s okay. Yeah girl, go off.” (laughing) “I’m happy for you. That’s cool, that’s cool.”
“Good for you, love that journey for you!”
Yeah. “Love that for you. Wonderful.” You know you get into these moments and spaces where you realize like Allison said perfectly. I think Trevor Noah had a really great quote about oftentimes we build dreams based on the information that we have.
So we create, in some ways we create that ceiling where we think, “Oh, if I could just get to there, that would be everything,” and then you realize you’re looking at people who are building like, million dollar businesses based on fucking beans, well not, you know what I mean.
Yeah, yeah. Bean subscription?
Bean subscription, yes, the bean club. The bean subscription. Did you never hear about that?
People tweeted about how they had just gotten accepted into this bean club and I was like, “What?” It was a bean club.
They got accepted?
An exclusive bean club? There’s a waiting list, an exclusive bean club, there is a waiting list to get into a club where they mail you beans every month. Yeah.
No. No, no, no, I mean like, bean beans, like…like beans, beans, the magical fruit.
Beans, yes. Beans, beautiful package, they look gorgeous. Beautiful packaging. Beans.
The people want those damn beans. People love beans. People are desperate for the beans. I was like… it’s the (indistinct) in you. You got that bean thirst.
I wanted to share real quick that I thought I heard something crazy where I heard this lady sold not one but two 25K packages around what? How to raise giraffes in zoos.
Huh? In zoos? Like, how to, in zoos.
It was so nice talking to y’all, I have to go figure out giraffes real quick. (laughing)
Exactly, I was like, “I’m in the wrong industry, this is wild.” I want to get on the waitlist.
How long was the wait list for the bean club?
It is long. It’s long. Like, they were like, It’s very long. People on Twitter were freaking out. It was like the unicorn peanut butter story.
Yeah, the Tik Tok peanut butter?
Of people who like, “I haven’t gotten my peanut,” like, all of that to say, I’m on the advisory board for my local women’s business center, mainly women of color coming in, talking about like, “Oh my gosh, if I could just get to making like 50K on my business a year, like that would be a dream,” and then you see stories like that.
And I don’t put those in contrast to say one is more deserving than the other, but again, a lot of times like, the narrative that we build or like, how we do business is based on the information that we have at the time. And if like the concept of how high you can go and how far you can go has been like, limited by white supremacy, patriarchy, fun shit like that.
We get to think like, “If I just get to this one point,” and other people are like, “Man, I’m gonna sell beans, y’all want some beans?” (laughing)
Yeah, seriously. Turns out, yes, we do.
I’m only selling beans to some people though, only some people. Yeah.
Limited quantity of beans. Limited edition beans. Yeah, like it’s a great example.
A lot of the things that we think are out of reach are really not, it’s just a matter of like, kind of shifting your mindset.
But yeah, I really was more and am more fascinated about how we relate to each other. Like how can we create equitable relationships in an antiquated industry like the wedding industry, where like, weddings were about contracts and property and patriarchy and how to equate a woman, usually in a, you know, as a straight couples example, equating a woman’s worth and value to like, who she was getting married to.
And so like a lot of times you have this anxiety, you know, I hate calling it bridezilla ’cause it’s really just anxiety, where like, you are putting this pressure on a woman. And again, I’m just using this in a straight presenting couples idea. Putting this pressure on a woman, because like if the ring isn’t big enough what does that say about your value?
If the wedding isn’t grand enough what does that say about your value?
If everybody isn’t absolutely ecstatic and happy, what does that say about your value?
So it becomes less about like, the dream and more about performance. And that always fascinated me because it was like, shouldn’t it be about like, the nexus of all of that should be the relationship and then we build something out of this beautiful wedding, right? It shouldn’t start with like the wedding, the wedding, the wedding, the wedding, the wedding, the wedding, the wedding. And then I’m like, “Well, what about your marriage?” (laughing)
“My what? I’m sorry?”
And I think that where Allison and I, kind of met and became biz besties which is kind of like, this wedding industry, we love her, but also girl. (laughing)
Yeah. It’s work to be doing.
Get it together. Get it together, get inclusive, get a better understanding of what people actually want and what people are actually trying to build.
I think y’all talked about disruption earlier and how like, that’s something, I don’t even think disruption is the right word for the wedding industry, I think a reckoning is. It has to change, right? I’ve done those weddings before I started my business where the couple didn’t want anything to do with each other but this is what their parents wanted, so let’s give them that, right? Let’s just, let’s just give them that, you know?
And then you’re miserable, you spent money on a day that you absolutely don’t remember, you don’t care about, you don’t think about fondly. And really as one of my beautiful couples said this, when you send those invitations out to your wedding you’re inviting people into the rest of your life, right?
And so we don’t think of weddings in that context. We still think of it in the context of performance and the context of proof of value and the content of “I’m going to put on this grand day, and people are going to really care about me. I’m going to put on his grand day and people are going to finally see me and be impressed by me, right?
But it’s not like I’m giving them the opportunity to come into my relationship, I’m giving them that opportunity to come in and see like, what I’m trying to build.” And so I think we kind of both came from like that disruptive space.
I think you come from that space of just kind of like, how do we shake up an industry that is so consumed by like this really archaic structure of relationship, this really archaic patriarchal structure of how you celebrate and how do we bring in, as ironic as this is about to sound, how do we bring love into it? (laughing)
Right? I have a few questions, ’cause like my reaction to all of this, it was to opt-out. I was like, “I can’t with all of this.” And I was probably one of those people that was like, “Mom, have your wedding because I’ll have the marriage.” I mean little things, “little.” I don’t believe little things are little but I was being accused of that. I mean the fights people would have on like, “Mr. and Mrs. man’s name,” and I was like, “I don’t exist?”
You know, just all the patriarchy that was on and they’d be like, “Why are you freaking out about a napkin with a name on it?” I’m like, “How are you not seeing this? How are you not seeing what’s happening here?” Or, or the socioeconomics that’s built-in about like, “Well, do you want a plate under a plate or do you want just one plate?”
And I’m like, “Who fucking cares? You don’t care, you hate your mother,” and I’m like, “What? How are those connected?” What I was seeing in the process, wasn’t actually a wedding. It was some consumerism, but more what I saw was like generations of propagating and perpetuating oppressive norms that I didn’t want to be a part of.
And what I found so empowering about the work you were doing is that you didn’t opt-out. You were like, “We need the next evolution of this.” And I was like, “Oh, that never occurred to me as an option.” (laughing)
It’s not just you, it’s not just you who feels that way either. There’s a lot of us who are just kind of like, “All right, this is bullshit, like, let’s change this up.” Allison hit on such a great point to illustrate how antiquated this industry is.
Because like, there are people who will still do like handwritten invoices. There’s a bartender who I love here but like you have to call her landline to set up a meeting and like no. In-person. That’s not how you operate in this world anymore.
It’s really fascinating that we were talking about like processes that need to be updated but like mindsets need to be updated as well. Culture. Because, I mean, no greater example of how tech updates faster than human behavior is this pandemic, but that’s kind of, I think, where a lot of people, Allison and a bunch of other vendors are with like, trying to move in an industry that a lot of ways is unyielding to change. And not just like any type of social change, I’m just talking about change, period. Period.
Because there is that generational…I’m going to say something. I can, I will say it, Allison so you don’t have to, I’m gon’ say it. There’s like this three-tiered problem that comes from the patriarchal idea of weddings, right? So you get like a three-year-old four-year-old girl and you start putting ideas into her head about, first of all, we have babies playing with baby dolls, is that not (indistinct)?
Anyway, you don’t want to get me started on this with my two-year-old.
Do you have things to say about it? So we have three, four-year-old girls and we start telling them about like, your wedding day and I love fairytales, but it always ends with a wedding. Rescued. Look at every Christmas movie, a wedding, usually to a prince and how it’s like, you’re going to get rescued, you’re going to get saved and like, you’re gonna have this really big event that’s going to be about like your worthiness and your value.
And the reason like we put so much pressure from that age, we conditioned that much pressure is because usually, the wedding was like, the last day it was going to be about you. And then you were going to have kids, you’re going to be quiet, you were going to quietly support your husband’s legacy with little to no credit, but you go to have the wedding and that’s it, right?
And that was your worth, with a dowry.
Yeah. Which was still like literally your value. From your dad to the man. You were a tool and you, as a concession, “got” a wedding. You be the center.
Yeah, you got a big day. Yeah. That’s it. And so like, we have like that antiquated idea that we conditioned into girls and then those girls grew up and become women and they have all these anxieties as it gets closer to their date. And then there’s also this like, level of entitlement that comes under this because it’s like, “I’ve been dreaming about this day, it has to be this way.
Like, you have to be cost-effective for me because like, I want this and I want you and blah, blah, blah.” So you have all that integrated together. And then you have an industry that is mainly led by women and queer men. Right? (laughing) People who are in the margins trying to build businesses, sustainable businesses, and oftentimes they’re not pricing themselves sustainably.
So you have that coming up against each other. And there’s like, unyielding energy of like, “Well, we, I don’t know why we need to change anything. That’s just, you know, that’s too much, that’s like, too much change.” The fact that it’s what? You know, how many years after the SCOTUS ruling on same-sex marriages and they’re still like, companies were like, “No.”
Yeah, openly like, “No.” Openly, like Allison and I have both talked about how deplorable that concept of plantation weddings are. And there are still places that are like, “Nah, bruh, like we’re going to have “Gone with the Wind” fantasy. What?
So there’s so much of that mindset of being unyielding and unwilling and just like stuck and not wanting to change around weddings because then it would force you to have to think about how political you actually are. Right? Like if you start to acknowledge that you have to acknowledge all the other little bits of it. You’re tugging at this tapestry and you’re undoing it and a lot of people would rather…A lot of people would rather be comfortable in their misery around something, around a tradition than take the work to be uncomfortable temporarily to change it.
Yeah. They just gaslight you.
Why are you so being so difficult? As if you’re a child when you’re just asking questions. You’re asking the questions that people that you’re paying, you’re asking questions to people that you were like, asking to participate and get like, a free meal out of it, right? It’s like, “Why are you being so difficult?”
Can you just…
Jordan, can you tell us how you have moved this conversation forward?
Yes. I think for me, the pandemic hits, and I’m looking at all of my weddings being pushed into like, 2021, 2022, and I’m just like, “Well, mama needs to make money.” But more importantly, I felt this moment of like, “Mama needs to be in purpose, right?”
I need to feel that level of fulfillment and it can’t just be anything like willy nilly. And so what I realized was all of the advocating that I had been doing on behalf of like, let’s change the wedding industry, let’s get some perspective on relationships, let’s get some perspective on how we treat wedding vendors and like pricing sustainably and having businesses that last and not having like, wedding planners be burned out by three years and be like, “Man, fuck this, I’m out of this industry,”
There is a high turnover rate for a reason. High. Very high. And so in June, where it felt like, you have the pressure of this pandemic, you have the pressure of a Breonna Taylor…It was Breonna, Ahmad, it was like a bunch of people it felt like, one after the other, after the other after the other, after the other and George.
And if you’ve been, if you’re black (laughing), you are used to that quiet collective mourning where you are pretending like everything is okay to ease the emotional energy of other people, but secretly inside you’re like, “Could have been me, could have been my dad, could have been my best friend, could have been…” you know, go down the line.
And so like, it’s this acknowledgment that we’re all going through it, but then also this acknowledgment that it’s better not to say anything because we just don’t, we don’t want to open the flood gates. So I’m feeling that. And then I feel like this pandemic, and I’m like talking to Allison, I’m like, “I don’t know, I can’t, I can’t take this shit anymore. I have to open my mouth.” And she was like, “Go ahead, you know, like, if you’re ready to do something.”
That’s a good friend.
Yeah. All right.
She was like, “I don’t know if I should do it.” I was like, “Talk that shit Jordan!”
Allison was like, “Go do it! Get out there and do it. Make that video.”
She was really nervous.
And so I sat on the back porch. I was ready for it. And I was just like, “Whew, I’m going to make a video. I’ve never done anything like this before”. I don’t have a platform for people to really like care, right? Like I wasn’t really out here like that. And so like, I sat down and I kind of like, I had some notes ’cause I always have notes, I’m a note-taker. Always.
And then I just went for it and I posted it.
And I have this idea like we’re having this moment of reckoning as a nation, globally and as a nation of people recognizing like, “Oh this is a pattern of behavior. This is not good. It’s pretty bad,” like, “Oh, Black lives do matter, oh my God.” Like, when risk is putting out a corporate statement about Black Lives Matter, I’m like, it was also partially which (indistinct),
I could have imagined would be extremely frustrating. It was very much an energy I know from – yeah. A majority of my community of, “Why didn’t anyone tell me?”
(laughing) (indistinct) “Black lives matter? You guys should’ve said something.”
It’s like Buick, “Buick knows Black lives matter,” it’s like, “It’s so great that y’all are having a moment, but like, there were just a couple of things that we asked for and Mazda vroom vroom was not one of them, you know?”
I get on my own and I go on live on Instagram and I’m like, “Hey, big titans of wedding media, we need to be doing a better job of highlighting Black love and either show us when we’re alive and in joy.
Show Black queer couples because good God you never see them anywhere. And then do a better job of highlighting Black vendors. Because also if you’re not checking your implicit bias if you’re not checking that shit, then like, you will have preferred vendor lists at, you know, wedding venues that are 50K up that don’t have anybody of color on it, particularly black people on it. Damn sure don’t have any Black women on there.”
And so it was just like this thing that was in me. And I was just like, “I got to get this out or I will not be able to go to sleep.” And then I did it and then I was like, “Oh, okay, maybe that’ll hit like a hundred views and we’ll be good.” Then like, it started getting traction and I was like, “Huh? (laughing) Oops. Whoa, did I do that?” And I started getting calls from the people that I called out, oh. (laughing)
“Cool, hey Zola, hey The Knot Worldwide. Great, how are you doing today?”
Like pretending like I’ve been expecting your call!
But it was a very interesting moment because it made me realize again, that ceiling that, “Oh, well this is all the information I have. Maybe they’ll listen, maybe they won’t.”
Like, so you see just kind of like people being willing to have the conversation, which is great. And so like, it was a moment of reckoning, but it was also a moment of recognition. And so when you get to that moment of recognition how do we get into action?
Because there were a lot of panels. There were a lot of listening sessions. There are a lot of corporate statements. There were a lot of promises that were made, but like the accountability has to come, and Allison is laughing because, girl.
Thank you. We went to all the panels. Every day for over a week.
Like, over a month.
Over a month, yeah, you’re right. “We recognize that we haven’t done the best job in being inclusive and here are all the Black people we know to talk about…”
I told this to Allison, I’m going to say this now ’cause it still makes me laugh. It was like Titanic hit that iceberg and captain was like, “Emergency, emergency, all Black people to the deck, all Black to the deck.” They were creating lists that were like, “We found 50. We found 50 Black party planners, oh, here you go.” And it was reactive, it was very reactive.
A lot of very reactive. Yeah, “I’m not, I’m not like them, not like the racist ones over there. Here’s your 50.”
“No, we like you guys. We definitely like you guys. I love y’all, y’all are great.”
It’s very that energy of just kind of like, “We need the heat taken off of us, so here’s this.” And so it was very interesting to kind of see that aftermath of this pledge and petition, the Step Up pledge and the Step Up petition.
But after I was doing like, these conversations and talking one-on-one to like, leadership for some of these big media platforms, I was like, “That’s cool that we’re having this moment, but I also know if there’s no follow up to this moment, then there’s no follow-up to this action.” And so I was just like, “Yeah, I’ll get back in contact in like November and see how you’re doing.” And some of them were like, “Huh? (laughing)
Yeah, yeah, yeah, we would love that. We love that.”
And I’m like, “Mm-hmm.” (laughing)
Did you follow up?
Yeah, so we, I was a part of the summit, the “Ally to Advocate Summit” was we had this media accountability panel and it was a shiny example of how uncomfortable accountability can be, but how rewarding it can be when you stick to it and you don’t like find a way to kind of wiggle out of it, out of that discomfort, just dive into it, just lean into being vulnerable because accountability sucks for everybody, sucks for the person holding you accountable, it sucks for the person being held accountable, it’s not fun, right?
It’s not like, “Oh, we fucked up,” right? But if you can lean into it, you can lean out of it that much faster. And so it, it was a good example of kind of like what that looks like, but that was kind of like that’s been the last six months of just being like, “Okay, weddings, let’s change social reform. Let’s do that.”
Yeah. Can I just give more context around this too?
The wedding industry is not an industry where we call each other out. There’s no criticism of anyone in the wedding industry because there’s a lot of concern about stepping on toes, being like ex-communicated from certain circles, pissing off the wrong person who has too many connections and can blackball you. And so there is really not…
Really old school.
Hardly ever any calls for accountability in the wedding industry because people are afraid.
And so for Jordan to put herself out there the way that she did was really, really brave, because even though a lot of conversations like this one we’re having right now happen kind of in quiet, behind the scenes, in people’s group chats, they do not happen publicly. They do not ever happen publicly.
And so when she came out and said that, of course like dozens and dozens, hundreds of people were like, “I’m glad you said something ‘cause I was thinking the same thing, because we’re all thinking it, but no one will say it. No one will say it.” Nobody comes out and says, “This was weird, this was awkward, you guys did that wrong.
You guys put the same thing out every year and it sucks.” Like, nobody’s saying those things. Whereas in other industries, there are real criticisms that push people to get better. We don’t have that and I think that’s also part of the reason why the industry tends to stagnate because there’s no one who is willing to stand up and say, “Hey, you need to do better, you need to do better, you need to do better, and recognize you’re doing the best you can, but here’s where we’re falling short.”
We have no space for that in our industry.
Doesn’t it profit off of the traditionalism that it promotes?
Oh yes. Absolutely. The thing that I tell everybody, wedding industry or not, client or not, like, weddings don’t require all of the things that you think of when you think about weddings. If you want to get married, you need a partner, you need somebody who can hear you, you need a witness and you need a marriage license to sign, and you need a pen.
Like, that’s all you really need.
For you to be in a position where you need a wedding planner, chances are you are doing a lot more than that. You’re already in a space where you’re doing something that is at a luxury level. When you’re planning an event for several people that is a luxury. And so you need somebody to help you put all those pieces together, you are requiring a luxury service.
That’s not something that everybody is doing.
That’s also not something that everybody is entitled to.
That’s not how any luxury service works.
And so, yes, there’s definitely a huge segment of our industry that is profiting off of people wanting to do the same traditional things that they’ve always thought of doing that they’ve always seen in media.
But I really think that there’s also space for planners like me and like Jordan, who are like, we want to work with people who are very focused on making sure that their people have a great time, that it’s normal, that it’s personal.
It’s not about like, “My wedding has to be better than my sister’s.My wedding has to have the most beautiful flowers anyone’s ever seen. My wedding has to be the biggest. I have to have the biggest band that anybody’s ever put on a stage.” Like those are things I’ve heard people say and those people are not my clients.
Yeah. And also you have to ask the question of like, what is so important about impressing people? Right. Why do you need to impress people with your wedding? There’s one thing to like, have your style, have it be beautifully presented, have your aesthetic in there, right?
And entertain people.
Yeah, but then it’s just kind of like, what are you really trying to accomplish? Because if it’s impressing people then the question becomes, why?
What are you overcompensating for here? Like, you’re getting married to someone, first of all you found love in this fucking rock that’s in the middle of space. In a hopeless place. You know, like you’re doing all of that. And like you find somebody that wants to like, do that for the rest of their natural lives.
That’s beautiful, that absolutely deserves to be celebrated but why would you need to put in any other dynamic of like, “Oh why, but it has to be like worthy.” It already is, you are.
So yeah I would argue that you’re putting a lot of assumptions in right there. Like, it assumes someone found love, it assumes someone found partnership, it wasn’t just chasing like, the approval of their parents or getting married because it was quote “time.” And that’s always the strangest thing I hear from friends who are like, “Well, it’s about time.” And I’m like, “For what? For misery, to like sign up to hate yourself?”
Like, why it’s self-denial, and self-loathing, that’s how we got here in the first place y’all.
I think what is so powerful to me about the work that is being called out here is that the wedding industry’s so clearly not about the wedding industry and that it is the thread in a bigger tapestry. And when you start to pull on it, the whole facade comes down and I can see why it’s so challenging.
I mean, it’s why it’s such a trigger point for me as well, because like, if people want to talk about weddings I have to put on my fake face, ’cause I’m like, “Are we talking about weddings? Are we talking about like, your approval needing and like, you’re judging me and now I have to care about your-
Sorry for texting you every day about my wedding. (laughing)
You’re not the same.
We should actually talk about Hillary ’cause she’s taught me a lot about like, what you guys have talked about, she personified.
I had never seen that model before, so to your point on transparency, like, by the time I got married, I had been to 35 weddings, I’m not even kidding, so like I was a seasoned vet and I just looked at my husband, I was like, “I want to elope.” And we were both like, I don’t think, we didn’t even, we couldn’t go there, it’s not about me.
The point is transparency.
When you were saying about like, there’s a small piece here that you don’t realize, there’s more, I think that’s what’s so powerful about what you’re doing, like, I didn’t even know. I didn’t even know we could go here and it’s so nice to watch you pull that thread.
I don’t hope it tumbles down. I do, I do. I hope it burns down, but I hope that what comes from the reckoning is honest conversations is piece one.
I think we need awareness, I get that, I think that’s important. I think that’s work that we can do behind the scenes. And then there’s just the following through of action and what that looks like, that you’ve mentioned.
I don’t know what it looks like when you’re not in the industry. Like what it would look like for me who’s not getting married, but like ’cause other than the flow of money, but it needs to be had. And the fact that y’all are at the forefront here and having this conversation, like I have to tell you I was just like, I watched that video and I just bowed down. (laughing)
Carry on, just carry on. How can we facilitate?
We often mirror in our own lives what gets modeled to us. Well if it’s always been, whew, 35 weddings, Jesus. Oh my gosh.
I don’t even think I know 35 married couples. (laughing)
(indistinct) so much.
But when do you see the same thing over and over again? It’s like a thought becomes a belief because it gets repeated.
You know what I mean? So like things are getting solidified and you don’t even know that. You’re absorbing things about like, how a wedding is supposed to be and how a marriage is supposed to be and how things are supposed to be done based on how often like, they get repeated. So it’s like, “Oh, everybody’s miserable at their wedding, I guess that’s just kind of what I have to do” or, you know, develop an eating disorder.
Yeah! Want to talk about it? Yeah.
For real, like, the messages that get sent again and again of like, as soon as you get that ring on your finger, “Well, oh, you’re going to make that choice? Is that really the best thing that you need to be doing?”
And you have 50 fricking people in your head about like, “Well, you know, it’s really not about you. It’s really not about you,” who are confirming that, but also saying like, “Well why can’t you seem to make a decision?” So there’s all that energy around it, but I think what makes me so happy about the work that Allison is doing, what makes me so happy about the work that a lot of her friends are doing in the industry to disrupt it is that they’re always more people in line with your values than you think.
And so I see that you’re more and more couples who are like, “No, I want to do it this way. You know, I want to have fun. Sure, I want to, I may want to drop a check on here. I want to drop some money on this thing but it’s going to be what I want because I’m bringing people into our relationship. I’m bringing people into the next chapter of our lives together.”
It’s a commencement in a way, right?
Like I’m saying goodbye to the old, you’re saying hello to the new.
And it’s not about carrying on this generational understanding of how it has to be done because the generation before did it, it’s, that’s kind of like our generation in general.
How can we honor ourselves in this?
If we’re going to do something, it needs to have some tie to our value, it needs to have some tie to who we are as people and who we’re trying to become. And so if you want to have a wedding that’s officiated by a drag queen and it’s going to make some people uncomfortable, fuck em! (laughing) Do it. Maybe they’ll come —
…into your life. If you want to have a wedding where you do some witchy shit in the woods, great, like whatever it is. If you want to have a wedding that’s like a six-day carnival with a Ferris wheel…
That’s one of my friend’s dreams.
Awesome. Go off and do it. If you want the ballroom wedding where it’s just like very like, Southern cotillion, do it, whatever it is you want that you want as a couple to actually get accomplished to actually invite people into, beautiful, go do it. But the notion that it has to be done in a specific way in order to make other people happy at the expense of your own happiness, no marriage should start that way.
I just, I wanted to jump in there while Jordan you were talking about like how people can like change it up and make it their own.
I think one of the toughest things that we bump up against in the wedding industry is the idea that it’s a binary.
Like either your wedding is super duper traditional and stuffy and very like, ballroom classic or it’s like all the way off the rails, like people barely realize that it’s a wedding, totally just madness and there is not a lot of, kind of in-between space and then they’re like, assumptions that if you don’t want to have a super traditional wedding, you want to be fully DIY and you just want to like, have a picnic in the park and be done with it, but there’s so much in between.
There’s so many cool things going on. There are so many planners, designers. Just all kinds of people in this industry who are doing really cool stuff that has elements of tradition but also kind of like turn things upside down.
And they’re not DIY weddings, they’re still really lavish, beautiful celebrations but they don’t feel like stuffy and non-personal.
And so taking up that like, in-between space is tough too because people, a lot of people whether they realize it or not are either thinking, “Okay, either I want the wedding planner who’s going to give me that like, classic blush pink wedding, or the wedding planner that’s to give me a rave,” and there’s nothing in between, but that’s not enough.
No a rave! I’d go to a rave wedding, shoot. It would be pretty fun.
I would too. That sounds like a blast.
And I think that what’s so beautiful about the steps you ladies have taken in the pandemic when business was sort of down is Jordan, you focused on like inclusivity and equity and trading relationships. And I see you have these beautiful programs. One of them was called “White People Rehab,” which I particularly love.
With your membership, you’re working on creating a space where you can actually like share the joy that you have in the wedding and the wedding planning process and how cool things can be and articles and ideas that people never would have thought of.
So even if they can’t afford to hire you, you can come in and just enjoy the wedding process and make it your own.
And I know in your case, Jordan, you’re moving a little bit away from the weddings and I’d love to talk about that in a second, but for you, it’s about the relationships as well, like how do you deepen those relationships? How do you create equity in your marriage and also your interpersonal relationships?
And I think that both of you have really kind of burrowed deeper into what sparks the love you have for the industry and using it in other ways, in Allison’s case the creativity of it, the cool stuff that you can do, like imagining the possibilities and in your case how can we bring in more togetherness?
How can we see each other more? How can we create, plan, not just for, you know, this beautiful event, but also a beautiful life together and in your case, beautiful friendships too.
And outside of just romantic relationships and from the sound of what you’re sharing with me as well it’s more about encouraging people to think deeper about what you want in your life and your wedding. How do you want to bring that creativity out? And I just think that’s beautiful that both of the ways that you two are coming at that.
Yeah. Yeah, and as a planner, I think a lot of times, my couples are just looking for somebody who is an expert to give them a go-ahead to dump certain traditions altogether. Or to re-imagine and to create new ones. Most of the things that happen at so-called traditional weddings, you don’t have to do them.
So if you and your partner are looking at I don’t know, like having (laughing). If you’re looking at having your wedding party and having women on one side and men on the other side you don’t have to do that. You can bump that altogether. You don’t have to have a wedding party at all. For me, a lot of the times, when my couples are like, “Oh, we don’t know about this. We don’t know how to do this,” or “What should we do about that?” I’m like, “What if you just didn’t do it?”
Not to be like the person that says like, “Forget it, whatever, we won’t do anything,” but at the same time, like if I can tell that people are having a hard time getting their brains around something, or they’re just not really comfortable with something, I love being able to say to them, like, “We don’t really have to do that, we don’t have to do any of that.”
You can do the things that are speaking to you, that you feel are important to you and who you are as a couple, but you don’t have to take everything, to pick up everything and run with it. I think that’s one of the best parts about what I do is having those conversations with people, people who are like hardcore, feminist, progressive people who suddenly get into the wedding planning process, and they’re like, “Oh my God, like my dad has to walk me down the aisle and give me away, that’s so weird, but I guess that’s just what you do, right?” And I’m like, “No. Not necessarily, you don’t do that, forget it.”
If it’s what you want.
Yeah and they’re like, “Really, I don’t have to do that? Thank God!” I’m like, “Yeah, no, you really don’t have to do that, I promise,” and if anybody has anything to say about it, it literally doesn’t matter.
There we go.
That’s the lesson at the end of the day I would love to ask both of you ladies, just, if you were to think about the wedding industry ten years from now, what if in the work that you’re doing, I know, again, Jordan, you’re stepping away from the industry a little bit as well, but when you think about what you would love the industry to look like in ten years, what does that look like for you?
I feel like when I’m talking to people who have like, weird feelings about their weddings or maybe aren’t sure they want to have a wedding, the one thing that I like to remind people of is your wedding is usually one of the only times that you get everybody that you love together in one room to celebrate you and talk about how great you are and how much they love you while you’re still alive.
They give speeches about how awesome you are. Yeah.
Like, milestone birthday parties are a thing for some people, but not for everybody. When you graduate, sometimes that’s a thing, but some people don’t graduate. I’m trying to think of other occasions that happen in your life. There aren’t really many, like, for you to get everybody that you love in the same place at the same time to celebrate something positive.
We don’t really have that many occasions like that in our society.
And so I feel like as much as people like to hate on weddings in general, I feel like people are always gonna want to get together and celebrate something positive and feel that positive feeling that you get when you’re at a really great wedding and it’s super fun and the music is really good and the food is really good and you’re just having a blast, the time of your life.
And you know everybody and the people you don’t know, you still feel like you know them like, there’s, that’s the best feeling. And so I really want our industry to do a better job of focusing on that and how we can make that really accessible to people.
And we can remind people that this is about doing something that’s really special and gathering in a positive way and just do a better job of showing people that there’s more than one way to do it and there’s more than one type of couple that is doing it, that’s experiencing it.
We just have to do a better job and so I hope that ten years from now we’re kind of bringing more people into this circle and we’re focusing more on how to be great hosts and have awesome parties and less on the Pantone color of the year. (laughing)
Let ’em know. I wanted like (indistinct).
When the Pantone color of the year comes out, every single year, every wedding planner, designer, floral designer posts on Instagram with those colors and says, “We’re so excited about the Pantone color of the year. Here’s a wedding that we did that had that color.”
So what I’m hearing is more imagination as well in ten years, think different.
Yeah, because I know that when I’m speaking to my clients, they don’t care. (laughing)
I’m really proud of myself for doing a great job of reaching the people that care about the celebration. My clients do not care about the Pantone color of the year. I don’t know if anybody really cares about the Pantone color of the year, except for the wedding industry on Instagram.
Like OPI. (indistinct)
Yeah, it’s like we just have to do a better job of like finding ways to convey the emotion of a celebration and getting creative about what celebrations are really about and make it less about the visuals and the stuff. ‘Cause I love the stuff.
You don’t care about the type of chair, I care about the type of chair, I’m going to pick one that’s great and you’re going to love it. It’s going to match, it’s going to be comfortable. I know you don’t care about picking and sitting in six different chairs, but I do, so here we go.
That’s why we pay you.
We’re working together. But yeah, if we could just get people excited by talking about all the fun that’s coming and, “Oh, the cool wedding that you can make it interesting and special and reflective of who you are,” our industry would be so much better.
It’s subversive and it shouldn’t be, like, what you’re recommending.
Yes. Yeah, right?
That’s the part that’s crazy. Shouldn’t be.
Yeah. Doing what you want to do is always subversive.
You brought up a really good point like you always bring up really good points Allison. In ten years I would really like to see greater understanding of the emotional context and emotional labor. We were talking about pulling the thread of this tapestry. There are so many powerful narratives about who gets access to money, who gets access to power and then who gets access to happiness.
And so if you continue to not see yourself represented in publications that are talking about love, but they’re really talking about weddings, but they’re talking about love, right? Then you’ll begin to think that that’s not available to you. And so like, of course I would like to see greater representation, but in ten years, I hope we’re having conversations about this, about marriage, about relating, about childhood traumas, my favorite thing to talk about, like… (laughing) I want it to be fun.
I want to come to a wedding and be able to be seen and celebrated, right? In the fullness of who they are and I really want there to be a greater redefining of what a wedding, what a celebration like that can look like and what it can be about and how so much of it now, and how it’s been for the past like, 30 years, has been about like, glossing over who you are to give other people what they want. Right? It was just like, “Okay, well, like, you become a template.”
You become like, this little like, “Oh, well it’s not really about you. The family needs this blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” And I can understand that to an extent, but for the most part, I would have really liked to see what it looks like to have an industry as concerned with the people getting married as with the celebration and the details. I don’t know what that if that will happen in ten years but I’d love to see it.
Go ahead, Margo.
No, I just want to sit with that statement. Yeah. That was really powerful, like I hope there’s an industry that cares about the people getting married as much as the wedding. ‘Cause that is the tapestry, right?
We’re seeing people enter into relationships that they either don’t want to be in or kicking them off on a leg of how did you say it? Glossing over who you are to give others what they want? I mean, that is the root of narcissism. That’s the root of entitlement because you feel invisible. I mean this is the martyrdom complex that afflicts so many women that get taken out on their children and their children’s children and like (indistinct)
It goes, it goes, it goes, it goes until like this is the starting point or probably the middle point it started before. But like, I love this idea of thinking deeper and calling things out. I was struck Jordan, when you said that you were doing like coaching classes and I, at first I was like, “Wait,” and then it makes so much sense to me as I like to pause to think about it because so much of what you do… and it clicked when Allison said something about giving permission and being one of first people that says, “Oh, you can opt-out, like, you don’t have to do that.”
That is in so many ways, it is the first time someone’s hearing that, it is an emotional moment, right? Like something that should be solved in therapy is basically being worked out in the wedding planning. (indistinct)
Oh, you just said something right there. Oh my God.
And so nobody, but even what you’re describing like I’m thinking of all of the discomfort I’ve had in having these conversations and y’all know like I will have conversations but with my friends, I realized that we weren’t talking about the same thing. They’d ask about colors and they think I was judging them when I would challenge them.
And I’m like, “I’m not judging you, I’m just asking you to think deeper, or asking why this fucking matters.” And so it became a source of, like, cantankerous contention where people didn’t want to talk to me about their weddings, so they thought I was on a high horse or they thought that I would hate them because they wanted something traditional where I’m like “I don’t give a shit what you want. I just want you to be honest and like, truthful and be who you are and I’m on your team.”
And I think what you guys are showing is that like that’s a role planners can play and they actually have a powerful position in the market that has been diminished and dismissed as, “Let me pick you some flowers,” like flowers are not about flowers, right? Like it’s about so much more.
Oh my God, you’re preaching, yes.
I mean, I’m hearing it in, in what you’re saying. And I think also the shame work, like eradicating a lot of that shame, I’ve heard also arguments on the other side, a few of our same sex couple friends have showed me like, “The traditional things that you hate like, I’m fighting for them.” And I’m like, “Oh yeah.”
Gotta sit with that for a second.
So there’s so many ways to parse out this conversation that I think really, really matter.
I want to end on a note to share with you guys that’s something a friend said to me…how did she say it?
So a woman met my husband and was like, “Oh, tell your wife she can call me and we’ll talk all about childcare stuff.” And he told me saying, it was like a sweet thing. Yeah, that face, that’s the face I had. And he told it to me being like, “Oh, she wants to get to know you.” And I was like (yelling).
(laughing) Like raging raging. And I called one of my friends and I was like, “Why am I, like, having this reaction? Like this woman was just being nice, very Southern, very traditional.” And I couldn’t get over this. And I was like, “I hate mom groups.” And she looked at me and this is the corollary to weddings. She goes, “You don’t hate mom groups, you don’t hate moms, you hate misogyny.” And I was like, “Oh!
That’s it.” And that’s what I feel like is happening with weddings and the way that you’re talking about them, it’s like we don’t hate weddings. We don’t like consumerism, well, that’s part of it, but like we hate oppression.
We hate racism, misogyny, we hate patriarchy, we hate white supremacy, like, these are the things we’re fighting and the wedding is like the iceberg, the tip.
No, I think what’s fascinating about that though is, when you, when you have a conversation with somebody and you start off the jump and it’s why I’ve pivoted in the direction that I’ve pivoted because that was the realization for me.
It was never about weddings.
Of course, I’m good at it, great at it. I can plan the fuck out of somebody’s wedding. I love it.
But what lights me up is how we relate to each other.
And if we’re going to have this conversation about equity, what needs to shift in how we relate to one another?
And so like the first layer of that has been when you approach somebody and you’re like, “Hey, how you doing? You doing good? Let’s talk about white supremacy.”
Well, most people just like, dissolve into the ether. That’s not how you approach that type of conversation.
But when you look at it from the conversation that you just had about like…To assume I can’t talk to the father about child care, “I’ll talk to the mom,” right? “I don’t need to bother you. I’m sure you’re busy, but let me talk to,” you know what I mean? Like that, I think those contexts of how these systems get put into everything.
So when you hear people say, “Not everything is about race,” and I’m like, “In a nation where it was based off that, yeah, it is.”
It kinda is, you know? So like what I wanted to —
Or gender, or the, all of the things. Gender.
All of the things, all of the identity, right?
And so what I really wanted to do and what I’ve been fascinated by and what I was doing before I even came into the wedding industry was understanding how we relate to one another and how all of these systems come into play in every dynamic.
In every fucking dynamic that we have with each other.
So like, if you can have that instance of like, “Oh shit, this is patriarchy at play,” in a one-off conversation, if you can get people to kind of like take a step back, especially with White People Rehab, take a step back, ditch shame, ditch guilt, because they are just, they’re just forms of procrastination.
Guilt is just a really fancy wrapped-up form of procrastination.
Like, “I feel so bad, so I’m not going to do anything. I feel ashamed so I’m just like, not gonna, you know, I’m just going to be ashamed.” What a waste of time, waste of time.
Just getting people to understand like, “Okay let’s break it down. Let’s look at how you have related to other people, people who are passerbys, people who have played significant roles in your relationship, but understand how that comes into play so that you’re able to manage it, right?”
Versus just kind of like, “Oh I don’t want to think deeper. I don’t, I’m just going to gloss over those things and pretend that they’re not in action,” when they absolutely are.
And so that’s always just been really important to me to understand, like, how do we relate to one another under the context of white supremacy? How do we relate to one another under the context of patriarchy? And it’s not until you have those types of interactions with people and you have these touchpoints that you really get to see shit that’s in your subconscious that you didn’t even know was there.
Yeah, so true.
That implicit stuff that just like pops up and you’re like, “Whoa, where did that come from? I don’t feel like I harbored those types of beliefs.” And you don’t know what you harbor until you unpack it. You don’t know what they are until you look at it.
So anytime people are like, “You know, we’re not going to change anything. I don’t want to be disruptive. I’m just going to do it the way it’s always been done.” Unless you can challenge a thing, you can’t change a thing.
You can’t change what’s not challenged. You can’t change what’s not unpacked. You can’t change what you don’t put a light on.
To assume that like, if we just ignore it, it’ll go away, that’s what happens with mold, mold grows in damp, dark places, you know what I mean? Like, completely like, if we just leave it over there, it’ll be fine.
No, it would continue to grow. And so this concept of like, we need to get it together. We need to understand how we relate to one another, not just in the context of our romantic relationships, but before we even get there, right?
How do we interact with each other based on business? Like having conversations with white business owners and hearing them come to these realizations of like, “Oh fuck, I didn’t realize my preferred vendor list was all white, I was just like, going off of these things.” And it’s just like being that toothless four-year-old asking “Why? Why? Why? Why?” And like, it’s annoying, but it gets you to that —
It’s not annoying, it’s inconvenient for people to do work and think.
Yes. Yeah, there we go. It’s inconvenient. And so like, you get to that place of being like, “Oh, that’s where that came from. Oh, that’s where that came from.” So I really feel like it’s just a matter of getting people to recognize on one end with White People Rehab, like the places where that bias, I just love saying the name.
Sorry, it’s just good.
I’m so prepared for comments like it on IG to be like terrible and for me to just respond with like, “Thank you for validating the name.” So like yeah, on one hand, like, understanding like where that is like, unearth that monster, unearth that thing, that inheritance, that like, you don’t even, you haven’t fully recognized, unearth that look at it, challenge it, change it.
And I’m like, and on the other side of the equation for like women of color, particularly Black women, understanding all the impositions and all the limitations, so when we dream, we create these like really tiny, tiny little, baby little dreams down here because we think, “Oh, it’ll never, it’ll never, it’ll never, it’ll never,” but like on my maternal side of family I’m four generations removed from enslavement.
The idea that I’m just kinda like, “Man I don’t know if I should charge like 10K like 5K this weekend or what.”
You know what I mean?
It’s relevant. It’s relevant. It’s relevant.
All of that to say it but in a really nice, pretty bow, weddings and enmeshment and relationships and how we meet one another and how we celebrate one another are so crucial to understanding ourselves, are so crucial to understanding our relationships and are so crucial to understanding how we can change things for the better.
And so, like, I’m really excited just because I feel like this year was a year like, I cracked myself open and a lot of us had to crack ourself open, like eggs. I’m really excited by these types of conversations, and I’m really hoping that people will begin to, as Margo puts so beautifully, think deeper. Think deeper.
I have like 50,000 more questions but, we are on time. Such a powerful conversation here. I have my page of notes.
I want to wrap things up for viewers.
One powerful note I took away was the transparency we have when we use our voice and share with each other. It doesn’t necessarily need to be in a public forum. Hillary and I talk often about creative allies and one of the reasons both for encouraging your creative process but also for this level of transparency.
I think it was Brian Koppelman had a good podcast on this where he’s talking with some female writers and they were like, “We need to talk about numbers, like you didn’t know you could get this for that script. You didn’t know that these were things you could ask for in negotiation.” And I think all of us can remember, I remember the first time a woman told me what she made from an online business and it was like, and I was like, “What? That’s a thing, like, that we could do?”
And I was like, “Now I understand ads.” But I think that the more that we can share and de-stigmatize a lot of what you’re talking about both business-wise so we can expand the dream and also more tactfully on weddings and expansion of like yourself, right? But this idea that it all is about what is possible if we are allowed to think bigger, if we’re allowed to think different, if we give ourselves that permission, because society is probably not going to give it to you.
So we are having to do that work, but we can hold each other’s hands in that regard, as friends, as colleagues, as just people in frickin trenches. So allies and friendships, transparency, reckoning. Reckoning. I think that this is a long time coming for the wedding industry.
I am so glad that you’re part of what’s spearheading it. I think the work that you’re doing is so, so powerful, so important and I said this to Jordan already, but like, I’m just so sorry I didn’t meet her when I was planning mine.
Yeah. Allison, you too.
Yeah, both of you.
Like the way you (indistinct), the thoughtfulness at which you are choosing your clients. I mean, it’s a masterclass, y’all, in how to —
–build a business that serves your life and serves the world, like, just amazing.
The last thing I will add is I think the work that y’all are doing is deeply personal both to your clients and to yourselves. You are doing the work, it’s a Trojan horse, right?
‘Cause like on the surface, you’re doing performance, right? You’re doing superficially things that’s actually about so much more. And I just love what you had to say about that focus on the bigger picture of wanting to celebrate life, to celebrate love, for appreciating life and love and all that it has to offer and recognizing the way in which that operates within systems that we do need to dismantle and challenge and question and evolve.
But the manner in which you’re doing it with such grace, it’s a gift to the world. And I, for one am thrilled that you were on our show and that you’re sharing this work and that you are using your voices and just carry on.
Yeah, we’re so honored to have you both, thank you for blessing us. Truly truly, thank you.
For everyone who’s watching, if you liked this episode, please like it below. Subscribe to our channel and leave a comment. We want to know your wedding stories.
What did you learn from your wedding?
When did you realize it’s actually therapy?
What, where were you performing?
Where were you not?
Tell us where maybe you challenged norms or were terrified not to and where you played small and if that’s self-corrected or not. We’d love, love, love to hear it.
Allison and Jordan we’ll invite you to comment as well. And as always, this has been Hillary and Margo Yell At Websites.
I’m Margo Aaron.
And I’m a Hillary Weiss.
And we have with us. Allison Davis. (laughing)
Jordan Maney. Yeah!
All right. Allison and Janey, thank you so much for being here. We’ll see you in two weeks. Bye for now guys.
♪ Hey ♪
Photo by Juliet Clare Warren