Women of the Wedding Industry Wednesday, Amy Carroll of Amy Carroll Photography
Too loud and they call you shrill.
Too cool they call you a dude.
Too interested and you're easy.
Too uninterested and you're a b.
Too proud and you're a brag.
Too humble and you will truly be overlooked.
Too vulnerable and you're weak.
Too strong and they'll say you had it coming when you fall.
Too pretty and you'll make them feel less than.
Too ugly and you'll never even make it through the front door.
Too skinny and you're a waif.
Too fat and you're a shame.
Too good at business and you're a shrewd.
Bad at business? Well hunny what did you expect. You're a woman.
Exploring what it means to be a women in business is what drives this blog. And sometimes, I can't pass up the opportunity to get a little snark in when snark is due.
But I have a hard time feeling good about March. And every time it rolls around, I have thoughts of escaping the final leg of the Midwest winter that is second nature at this point but never really settles into the bones like you think it should by this point in our evolutionary biology.
And when cheerful propaganda about it being Women's History Month starts showing up, I really have to sit with the implications of such a designation. And try to keep my chill. Because it's a good thing. But kind of of a weird dynamic.
Because it seems like a relic. And it is.
Created as a celebration in 1981, lengthened to a full seven day week in 1982, and by golly since 1987 we've got a whole month to ourselves girls! Enshrined as an opportunity to commemorate women's vital role in the shaping of American History, this designation honestly gives me a case of the LOLs followed by the ROFL followed by a long, drawn out, exasperated eye roll and shameless sigh.
Because the rest of the 11 months out of the year are there. And in comparison to this month, they glare sometimes in how passive they are. That celebrating women is so niche, it needs a title, and a month at all is what irks me.
I live in a world and exist in an industry that celebrates women, a lot. And celebrates entrepreneurship. And creativity. And bold art and bold personalities. In fact the thing I love about this industry is that every damn week feels like a lady holiday.
So the because bothers me.
Because even after the historic midterm election of 2018, women still only make up 1/5 of Congress. 20 years ago, 1 in 10 leaders in Congress were women. If it's gonna be another 20 years before representation in our most fundamental branches of government slides into the 50/50 territory representation territory I'm gonna need more than a stiff drink. I'm gonna need a campaign website.
Because 5 of the richest 50 people in the world are females (sorry to bust your nut, but Kylie Jenner isn't in the top 50). Because the poorest households in America with the greatest income disparity are made up of single moms.
Because the national female to male earnings ratio still hovers at around 80% and all that time I spent in progressive classes challenging this issue while earning a liberal arts degree didn't solve it.
Historically, the most expensive vendor services in the wedding industry were dominated by male professions. The most costly services, traditionally are venue, catering, live musical band, and the photography.
And until very recently, an event that was orchestrated almost entirely (let's just say it) primarily by our lady brides and their mommy dearests, was handled almost exclusively by male vendors. From the caterer to the florist to the printer to the baker.
As more women have found their way to the industry, the dynamics of the industry have changed.
And so I want to point out a simple fact. The wedding industry, that thing we love to hate, was historically shaped by male dominated enterprises.
Now, before I get pegged as Northern Michigan's Most Feminist Wedding Planner, I want to take a step back and say that this series isn't meant to exclude the men we work with all the time. Collaboratively and happily and joyfully. They work hard. They support us. And we depend on their services just as much as they depend on ours. It's a truly balanced and functional relationship, one I haven't really seen in either the corporate sector or public sector where I worked prior. Here, we all feel like equals and the power structure is really horizontal. Here in wedding land, we are all at the service of our clients, they are the bosses and the holders of our paychecks.
But the changes you've noticed in the wedding industry over the past 10 years, they aren't a mistake, and they aren't an anomaly.
They are specific to the balance achieved by more females starting and establishing and running reputable businesses as owners/operators. Not partners. Not the wives club. As owners.
And the wholistic feel that many weddings have these days, the storytelling component, the personalization and connection, I feel is a direct reflection of the female energy that has infused the industry. Not only are women driving the trends, but they are delivering on them as well.
To be honest, I can't imagine what it would have been like 20 - 30 years ago, as a wedding planner, working with an exclusively male vendor team. You walk a fine line as a planner. You have to be flexible, but ensure that services are fulfilled on behalf of your client. You have to be firm, but kind. You have to maintain the dreaded like-ability, otherwise your job as the 'fixer' is blown. Being a confident woman had gotten me into some trouble in my past life, yet its required here. So stepping into the role has been such a growing experience for me.
Anyways, this month we are exploring our women in photography.
The International Society of Professional Wedding Photographers 2018 list of the 100 best photographers in the world included 10 females. 10. Out of 90. Harper's Bazaar list of the Top 40 Wedding Photographers does a little better at 15. Likely this is because experience and years in the trade are tied to achievement, and rightfully so. That work matters.
But our work here isn't done. And don't let this bubble fool you. Every time a woman starts an Instagram photography account with some photo of her baby that you think is oversaturated with the caption"Friyay!" #photog and you want to start judging her, think again. The pendulum shifts slowly.
Let's talk about my wedding photographer.
Amy was the first person I hired as a vendor for our wedding day. I saw her work on Instagram and experienced something that I know can have a profound effect on who you hire for your wedding: I was moved. Her vision of weddingry was what my vision was. And I contacted her. So dumb and so naive about how to do this. And she just kindof big sistered me through a year long engagement.
I'll be honest, at that stage of wedding planning, it set us up for unrealistic expectations of our vendors.
After Amy, I expected everyone would just get us.
I expected I wouldn't h