How I was Able to Use Primarily Black Owned Vendors at my Wedding
A few months ago I wrote something urging everyone to support Black owned businesses. Within the post I tried to explain the importance of supporting Black owned businesses especially those within the Black community. Some of you also might know that shortly after that post I began to seriously plan my wedding. At the start of planning my wedding, I noticed one thing-- the wedding industry is extremely WHITE. Every venue has a preferred vendors list and I’m willing to bet that most of the companies on that list are not minority owned. At that time, I made it a goal to have most, if not all, of my vendors for my wedding Black owned.
First, I’ll start by saying that my venue is not Black owned. It was extremely difficult to find something within our budget that met our style and vision that was Black owned. Which only means that we (POC) have plenty of room to grow in the field of wedding venues. In addition, my production team/bar tending services were not provided by a Black owned company. This is not due to a lack of supply but because of the preferred vendor situation at the venue. The venue mandated that I use a company that was listed on their list for the production services and this company. That being said, we found ourselves using them for both the production of the wedding (flipping the room between the ceremony and the reception and clean up after the event) and bar tending. These two companies are the only non minority owned companies used during my wedding planning.
I must admit, using majority Black owned companies in a space that is driven by non minorities is extremely difficult. I didn’t realize the extent to which White people damn near owned the wedding industry. I should have gathered some clues from the amount of pinterest post related to weddings that didn’t have a single black face in the picture. Knowing that the industry has very few people of color in addition to the preferred vending lists, we knew that we had a task on our hands.
My first bit of advice is to find a venue that has a relaxed policy about vendors. If you attend a walk through and they start talking about an in house planner, special catering companies, etc. it’s probably not the venue that will suit your needs. Thankfully, my venue owner was very relaxed with her policies. With the only service required by a special company being the production, you can easily find Black owned companies to do all of the other work.
Also, use your network. I found my photographer through a conversation that I had with my nail technician. In the same way, I mentioned to the office assistant at my job that I was in need of a Black owned florist and she led me to the perfect place. Be sure to ask around and let me people know that you’re planning a wedding and in search of a photographer, catering company, makeup artist, etc.. The squeaky wheel is often the one that gets the grease. Make some noise and someone is bound to help you out.
In wedding planning there will be times when a company lists a price and you’ll know very well that the price is well out of your budget. When this happens, be sure to ask for referrals. I was referred to my catering company because the initial company that we found was out of our budget and didn’t specialize in the type of food that we desired. They were more than willing to point us in the right direction.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to use a little common sense. My husband found his tailor through Yelp. He scrolled and stumbled upon the name “Maurice Hood”. Just by the name, he guessed that the tailor was Black. It’s okay to make an educated guess by using the photos on a website or the name of a company. If they do it to discriminate, we should be able to make these assumptions to promote our community.
Below are a list and a short review of the companies that I used for my big day. Feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like more information on any of these vendors.
Cleo’s Southern Cuisine
Chef Krissy is an amazing person who owns her own catering company. Young, Black, and beautiful… and she can cook! She specializes in southern cooking and she gets it right! She helped us make our day come to life with her chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, shrimp boil skewers, hush puppies, red beans and rice, and spinach salad. All of the items presented well and most of all tasting great. Click HERE to learn more about Chef Krissy and Cleo’s Southern Cuisine.
I found this place while chatting with the secretary at my job. I mentioned that I was looking for an affordable florist in the Chicagoland area. She led me to this flower shop that has been providing my office with fresh flowers every week for ten years! Great service and they deliver!
Chuck! This dude is amazing! Don’t you love it when a person manages to be super professional yet super chill? That’s chuck. He’s responsible for capturing the amazing engagement shots that can be seen on my engagement site and I can’t wait for the final shots of our wedding.
My husband is a strange person. He LOVES sweets, but hates cake. He will literally eat every assortment of sweets… except for cake. That being said, he demanded that we have doughnuts at our wedding. So, we went with a doughnut cake-- something that also happens to be a new trend at the moment. I’m not huge on sweets, so I don’t have an honest opinion about the taste of the doughnuts, but I’m going to assume that they were tasty because he manages to eat TWO dozen leftover doughnuts within about 48 hours. It was super quick and easy to order these doughnuts too. Just call in your order and have a card ready at the end to pay for them. Simple. Or you can visit them at their location on the southside of Chicago. Click HERE for more info.
Candy Drop Berries
My maid of honor told me about this place. I was in a bit of a crisis because I’d arranged for someone else to decorate the five dozen plain doughnuts that I’d planned to order. However, that person went MIA. Luckily, I was able to find Candy Drop Berries and they came to my rescue. Super cute decorations for the doughnuts and extremely helpful in my mini crisis.
I’ve mentioned my nail tech on my site once before. She’s Black owned, appointment only, and located in the heart of Pilsen. Erin is responsible for my nails that are featured on my “Feyonce” post. Needless to say, I wouldn’t have trusted anyone else to take care of my nails on my big day. We worked together to grow my nails to the longest they’ve ever been and it paid off. She came to my venue to give me “day of” service. Just bomb!
Makeup by Danielle Rochon
I am extremely selective about makeup artist. I like my brows to look like eyebrows and not paste on stickers and I don’t need to shine bright like a diamond every single day. Knowing this, I took my time finding someone that I was comfortable working with. I found Danielle through a Facebook group and decided that I would give her a try-- best decision ever! If you’re looking for a nice wedding glam, be sure to book her on styleseat to ensure you’re flawless on your big day or a night on the town.
This is another referral. While mentioning to my aunt that I was in a little crunch attempting to find a stylist that was willing to work on Sundays and travel to me, she mentioned that she had “a girl”. Immediately, Ebony was very understanding that it was my big day and I wanted to eliminate the stress of traveling for services that day. The process of booking her was extremely smooth and simple. She’s a very sweet and kind person that I personally can’t wait to work with again.
Designs by Chee Chee
I am not a person that is big on home decor or design. So, I knew that I would need to call in and use a lifeline for that part of the wedding. I told my godmother about my struggles and she told me that she knew a good friend that would be more than able to assist me. With three months left of my wedding planning process, Chee Chee and her lovely daughter were able to transform my venue into something that fit my vision exactly.
Maurice Hood’s Custom Tailoring
(This portion is written by my husband)
Maurice was great! I brought in my suit one week prior to my wedding for it to be tailored. It was ready within a couple days and fit perfectly. I was going for a modern look and he was able to customize exactly how I wanted it. The price was more than fair too. Oh, and Maurice is very jovial and welcoming. I’ve found my new tailor.
I hope this was both helpful and inspiring to someone that is planning their big day. Remember that like finding anyone to assist in planning your big day, it's difficult. So, be determined and focused and you'll reach your goal. Again, feel free to reach out to me with any questions about working with majority Black owned companies.
Afros and Ovaries
Find me some place over using the phrase "my husband"