Several weeks ago I wrote about wedding magazines up in the Periodicals and Electronic Resource Services on the 6th floor. Those magazines were so blond and white, I am embarrassed for them. They don’t look anything like the FIT students and industry professionals working in our reading room! So I set myself the question of “Where are non-Anglo Americans getting their wedding inspiration?”
We get several magazines aimed at specific ethnic/sociographic communitites. Several others we have tried to get, like Azizah, have failed, and some we just can’t find a distributor for here in New York.
But I looked in Ebony, Essence, and Vanidades for bridal tips, and found very little.
Flipping through the spring issues, when most bridal editorial is produced, I found very little. In the June 2014 issue, there’s an article on the “Secrets of Happy Marriages”. The Ebony website tells me that there was an article in February of this year reporting on the “Say Yes to the Dress” episode where WNBA stars Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson choose wedding gowns, but most of the talk about marriage in this magazine is about how to have a good one. Frankly, this is much more important stuff than the wedding itself, but we still want to look at pretty dresses.
This title offers slightly more of the “Oooh Aaah” effect by providing an article on an actual bride, radio host Shirley Strawberry, complete with details of her gown, headpiece and accessories. (April 2015 issue) But again, this isn’t coverage of either bridal fashions or less-famous real brides.
So where are African-American women of style going for information on bridal products? We know the bridal industry is huge in this country, so they have to be consuming in this market, don’t they?
Here’s where the internet is my friend. When I began to look online, I found tons of Wedding Industrial Complex aimed specifically at the African-American market. Here are a few of the more comprehensive sites I found:
But what about Hispanic brides? We subscribe to Vanidades, a title aimed at Hispanic women in America. But it doesn’t have much coverage of the wedding industry, either.
I found one mention of a fairy-tale wedding in the April 2014 issue. But even this article reads more like a paparazzi-fed celebrity report than wedding-industry romance about the dress, the shoes, and the tiara.
So where are Hispanic brides getting their wedding inspiration from? This question is complicated by the number of different countries of origin among Hispanics in America. But here in the library, we have all kinds of demographic records! A quick search through Statista (https://libproxy.fitsuny.edu/login?url=https://www.statista.com) produced the breakdown, by percentage, of country of origin among all Americans identifying as “Hispanic”. Once in Statista, I searched for “Hispanic population in the U.S., by origin 2010” (census date).
I discovered that people of Mexican descent make up the vast majority of the Hispanics in this country. Puerto Rican descent is the next largest, then Cuban, then Salvadoran, then Dominican. Since I know that a large percentage of those here in New York are of Puerto Rican or Dominican heritage, I focused on trying to find any websites devoted to weddings in these traditions.
And couldn’t find much. Lots of questions on larger wedding-planning sites from Puerto Rican and Dominican women, but nothing that was marketed directly to them. Here are some of the sites I found:
(shout out to https://www.theknot.com/ for embracing so many cultures!)
Ironically, both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic are popular places for American couples planning destination weddings.
Another culture found in the New York area is American-born Chinese. While we subscribe to several major Chinese fashion magazines, the language barrier makes it difficult to get information on the variations of Chinese wedding customs celebrated in the U.S. Fortunately, there are helpful sites with detailed instructions:
According to this article in Fortune magazine, August 8, 2014, “The average American wedding costs $29,000 and has 140 guests… The average cost of an Indian wedding in the U.S. is $65,000 with 500 guests,” says an planner who specializes in Indian-style weddings. This kind of ceremony has generated it’s own multimillion dollar wedding industry. Despite this, American bridal magazines don’t address this sort of ceremony at all.
Indian-American culture clearly embraces the colorful wedding ritual. Unfortunately, other than the recently-created Vogue India, we have been unable to find any American vendors who carry Indian-fashion magazines.
Yet again, the internet helps solve this problem. The growing network of wedding planners, venues, and suppliers who specialize in Indian customs can easily be found by the click of a mouse. I found many sites, all of which have lavish images of red and gold bejeweled brides and grooms wearing turbans or riding horses. Here are just a few, to inspire you.
We’ve only written about several ethnic-American cultures here, due to space concerns. Clearly non-Anglo Americans are finding the information and resources to plan the weddings they desire outside of traditional print sources. Thank you, internet! The bigger question remains, however: “does it matter to non-Anglo Americans that mainstream bridal magazines don’t reflect their presence in this market?” Unfortunately, it would take more resources than I have available to resolve it. In the meantime, enjoy all the pics of gorgeous gowns and decorated venues. And happy wedding season!