Modern Rebel & Co. Brings Activism to Weddings

Wedding Coordination by Modern Rebel & Co. Photo by Kamila Harris Photography.

Wedding Coordination by Modern Rebel & Co. Photo by Kamila Harris Photography.

Amy of Modern Rebel & Co. is an alternative event planning company that gives back to local New York City non-profits that serve survivors of domestic violence, provide homes for the homeless, prevent suicide, and bridge education and art. She recently planned an immersive theater experience in a cemetery. She also happens to be a delightful person, and her website is the bomb.com. 


One Halloween when I was a little girl, I told my mom I wanted to dress up as a bride. So, I went around in my suburban neighborhood dressed up in white with a long veil asking for candy. This didn’t seem odd at all to me at the time but looking back, the pictures make me cringe a little bit.

Maybe it’s partly the overdone outfit (hey, style and taste change), but I think it’s more the idea that “bride” seemed like a part to play, a beauty ideal to achieve, and not an active experience in committing to stand beside one person for the rest of forever. Now, in adulthood, I wonder if that little girl had any idea that as a wedding planner and coordinator in New York City, that particular Halloween choice would offer slightly more insight into this crazy industry she calls home.

Wedding Planning by Modern Rebel & Co. Photo by Alicia Swedenborg Photography

Wedding Planning by Modern Rebel & Co. Photo by Alicia Swedenborg Photography

Given that couples will spend roughly $30,000 on their event, it’s about time that weddings aren’t just about one person (bride: it’s YOUR day!), but about the community two people’s love will serve, grow from and alongside. Weddings can involve social activism — if we just allow them.

The wedding industry is seemingly always met with eye rolls, yawns, or maybe a swear word or two in almost every circle. This disdain has reached new heights with “wedding trends” stealing the spotlight on blogs and Pinterest, absurd pricing levels, and the pressure that one must not only experience perfection on their wedding day but embody it. These pressures are primarily directed at straight brides, but even same sex couples experience a certain amount of pressure to uphold a perfect love and look ideal, given that they fought so hard for a seat at the table. Even with a few changes here and there to make your event more modern or accessible, it’s hard to escape the feeling that if something goes wrong — or worse, if you look somehow wrong, awkward, or uncomfortable — that you’re somehow not living up to your role as bride or groom.

Especially as we enter into a tough year politically, it seems that now more than ever we must evolve the terms bride and groom so that they carry a little more weight. Given that couples will spend roughly $30,000 on their event, it’s about time that weddings aren’t just about one person (bride: it’s YOUR day!), but about the community two people’s love will serve, grow from and alongside. Weddings can involve social activism — if we just allow them.

Wedding Coordination by Modern Rebel & Co. Photo by Sam & Adam Photography

Wedding Coordination by Modern Rebel & Co. Photo by Sam & Adam Photography

How do we do this? Sustainably sourced rings? Gender non-conforming parties in lieu of bridal parties? No name change? I don’t think it starts in any singular space or with any singular choice. You and your partner have to make the right decisions for your future selves, family, and community. But I do believe there are avenues that we can take as we guide one another through each choice that creates a social activist intention.

Here are three helpful questions to come back to in your planning process:

  1. Are we serving or amplifying a cause we care about through this choice?
  2. Does this have intent or are we just aiming to impress?
  3. As a whole, does our day and overall approach reflect courage and vulnerability in place of a perfect ideal?
Wedding Coordination by Modern Rebel & Co. Photo by Sam & Adam Photography

Wedding Coordination by Modern Rebel & Co. Photo by Sam & Adam Photography

So often, we encourage brides and grooms to be selfish and think about themselves on this important day, but what if through thinking outside of oneself, your love is amplified and carries even greater meaning? Maybe that’s what I’d share with that little girl in a bride’s gown on Halloween. Ditch the dress. You’re not achieving some ideal by putting it on. It’s the choices you make in the dress (or pantsuit, etc.) that reveal true beauty and depth underneath.


Amy Shackelford is the Founder & Lead Planner at Modern Rebel & Co., an alternative event planning company that gives back to local NYC non-profits.

Planning a wedding? Want to learn more? Check out modernrebelco.com and/or email Amy at hello@modernrebelco.com.