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I'm going to start this post where I usually end — with the question of what our sponsor wants our readers to think and feel after reading about them. When I asked Kendall Shea of Fuck Yeah Weddings what they hoped for, they told me, “I would love for them to know that I care about weddings and that I'm pushing for intersectional feminist, inclusive trends to become the norm. And to feel like they know me a little bit!”
Meet Kendall Shea and Fuck Yeah Weddings
Kendall has always loved photography and from a young age knew they wanted to be a photographer when they grew up. In college, they took gender studies and learned to look at media with a critical eye to see how people are — and aren't — represented. Documentary photography called to them and they started working for another photographer, eventually opening their own portrait business.
Eventually, they planned their own wedding. Knowing nothing about the industry at the time, they recall having “the wedding that I was supposed to have.”
Looking back, they realized that it was awash in mainstream wedding musts and they wondered why they wasted so much money on a thing that wasn't true to themselves.
After their wedding, friends started asking Kendall to document their own weddings. They decided to give it a try and fell in love with the chaos. Weddings fill their need for documenting what's happening and creating the visual story of an event. Plus, they add, “Love is awesome!”
That feeling shows through in their photography. “There's a lot of personality and joy and brightness that comes through in my work,” they note. “There's been a trend for serious wedding photos, and I kind of go in the opposite direction. I want to show all of the joy and the excitement, first and foremost.”
Your slogan is, “Wedding Professionals Who Give a Fuck.” What does that mean?
“That I really truly care about my clients and I really truly care about weddings in the sense of looking at it with critical thought. I'm not just there to take your money. Especially working with people who are marginalized in different ways, I really want to show up for them.”
For Kendall, giving a fuck means many different things.
It's making sure people are using the right pronouns. It's showing up for folks who really don't want a wedding but do want to get married, and protecting their view of themselves. “Maybe we are in a bubble,” they say, “but this seems to be a trend: don't let anybody shit on you.”
It's ensuring that any vendors they work with and recommend have that same belief — that a wedding is not one idea that everyone must subscribe to, it has to be specific to that client. Beyond that, Kendall is a staunch advocate for feminism and the LGBTQ+ community. “I make sure that vendors I work with are all intersectional feminists and queer-friendly.”
There are some vendors who have the attitude of, “I don't really believe in gay marriage, but their money is green” — and it's something Kendall just can't stand. “It's not just money; it's the whole history of being left out of this tradition, excluded from marriage, kept out of hospital rooms,” they say. “It's not just about a wedding, it's about a whole relationship and what it takes to get this point.”
Weddings Uphold the Gender Binary — and the Wedding Industry Makes it Worse
Recognizing and validating each person's identity is critical to their core beliefs of feminism and equality. And the super gendered, binary nature of weddings? It really pisses Kendall off. I asked them what they thought were the most gendered things about the wedding industry, and here's what they told me:
1. Venues with “Bridal” Suites
“One thing that has come up a lot this year is that so many wedding venues say they support LGBTQ+ couples, but still have gendered getting ready spaces,” they pointed out. A large “bridal suite” and a smaller room designated for the groom, or no room at all for the second party, are unfortunately still quite standard. Venues, are you listening? Let's have some equality here.
2. No Gender-Neutral Alternative to “Bride” or “Groom”
This is another big frustration that a lot of inclusive wedding vendors share. “There are no terms other than these that really have the same connotation of 'person getting married.' Especially for genderqueer folks who don't identify with either term,” says Kendall. “It's hard to find a word that captures this feeling that isn't 'bride' or 'groom' — we need a single word for 'person getting married imminently.'”
3. Bridal Shops That Don't Carry Suits/Pants Options, Which Is Pretty Much All of Them.
“I really dislike that bridal shops do not have suits for female-identified and genderqueer people,” Kendall says. “It's so difficult to find clothing for a wedding that is not a dress for female bodies.”
4. Most Wedding Traditions
Let's be real, almost every wedding tradition is really gendered. Bouquet and garter tosses, a father “giving away” his daughter, wedding parties, first dances, and on and on. Kendall tells their clients, “if you understand where it comes from and you want to do it, great! But think critically about it first, because there is a lack of critical thinking around wedding traditions. People just do what they are 'supposed' to do and it doesn't serve people anymore, especially marginalized folx.”
In short, Kendall would like to see the wedding industry shift towards gender-neutral language and inclusivity instead of all the heteropatriarchal nonsense it is currently peddling. And we here at Catalyst enthusiastically support such a change.
Are You Looking for a Queer Feminist Wedding Photographer Who Gives a Fuck About You?
Then you need look no further. Head on over to Fuck Yeah Weddings to check out Kendall's work. They're based in Seattle and travel within the lower 48 states is included in all of their packages.
Cindy Savage is the assistant editor of Catalyst Wedding Co. and lead wedding planner and owner of Aisle Less Traveled, based in St. Louis. She helps independent, feminist, and LGBTQ+ people plan meaningful weddings while keeping their budgets and their sanity intact. She firmly believes that everyone who has found love deserves a great wedding, no matter what size their budget is — and to make that a reality, she invented Choose Your Own Wedding, an internet-based wedding planning subscription to offer comprehensive planning support at an affordable price.
When she's not planning weddings, she can usually be found living her best introvert life: reading books, crafting, talking to her internet friends, drinking wine, wearing stretchy pants, and exercising complete control over the remote!
Photo by Amanda Summerlin Photography