Creating inclusive spaces is never an afterthought for me; it’s the foremost thought when I go into any situation. As an activist, founder of ACTIV-ISM–an anti-racism wellness company–a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant, and student pursuing her masters in Human Rights Studies at Columbia University, seeing marginalized folks represented and included is paramount. When my fiancé, Richard Roman Jr., and I got engaged in the summer of 2020, we immediately knew finding diverse vendors for our 2022 wedding was important. Still, it was harder to execute than expected.
I identify as Afro-Latina, my dad was born in the Dominican Republic, and my mom was born in Puerto Rico. Richard’s dad is Puerto Rican and Korean, and his mom is Chinese, both born in New York. When we started searching for vendors, we knew we wanted to see ourselves represented by those working to build our special day.
First, I took to Google and found it pretty challenging to find what I was looking for. While there are many more blog posts and even tools on wedding websites like WeddingWire to filter vendors by demographic today, a lot of these resources didn’t exist during my initial search. I eventually had the most success on Instagram, getting recommendations from friends and acquaintances.
The first vendor we hired was our photographers from Love Framed—a husband and wife duo based in Williamsburg. For years, I’d worked with Ambe—one half of Love Framed and have always loved her work, so this was an easy choice. They took amazing engagement photos of us in Brooklyn and will be by our sides for our wedding.
Next up, we searched for a florist and found another husband and wife duo, Stephanie and Paul of Carmen & Co. We were immediately attracted to their aesthetic and had a few friends share their website on Instagram. Once we (virtually) met them, we knew it was a perfect match.
When tackling music, we knew we wanted a string quartet for the ceremony and a DJ for the reception. After several different recommendations and meetings, we found DJ Reach and immediately connected to his energy and vibe. Sterling Strings was also an easy choice for our ceremony as a diverse group of highly trained, professional musicians.
I recently had my hair and makeup trial with Nicole Palladini from Palla Beauty and secured her for our wedding day.
For us, finding vendors who were Asian, Black, Latinx, or members of the LGBTQAI+ community was crucial. Though not all of our vendors are members of a marginalized group (like our venue, for example), it was important to us for many reasons. The most important was that we wanted to support these companies and individuals by investing in their services, especially because this industry does not always elevate all vendors equally. As we go into the final stages of wedding planning for our August celebration, we’ll continue looking for individuals and businesses that align with our values.
Truly uplifting these businesses means valuing their work with real dollars and influence. Having a team aligned with us socially and culturally helps us feel safe, supported, and excited for our wedding day.
If you’re looking to create an inclusive team, talk to your community to find local recommendations, use the new features on wedding planning websites to sort companies by demographic, and spend time getting to know the folks who will be creating your wedding celebration. It can be challenging, but it is worth it.