The ABWB would like to offer a response to an Open Letter by Ofe of Studio Oudizo and Noire Wedding Edit, and Ava of LGBTQ Equality Weddings.
Dear Ofe and Ava,
Thank you for your detailed open letter. We agree with the valid observations and aim of the solutions you have proposed towards our shared goal of ensuring diversity and inclusion is at the heart of ABWB. It absolutely reflects the communications we have already shared with members and the many excellent thoughts and ideas they have already been sharing with us. We thank you for your time to evaluate and provide this detailed feedback to the ABWB and can assure you they will form a part of our future planning.
The ABWB is a young organisation, launched just 7 weeks ago, by industry individuals who are all 100% volunteering their spare time and effort to support the industry during the COVID-19 crisis. As mentioned on the ABWB website and in emails to the founding members, the association is a work in progress. Launching an incomplete association in the midst of a crisis is not ideal, but we did it anyway to support our industry during this terrible crisis, knowing that it would take more time later to fully set it up properly, and to define its role beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. We do plan to follow a more formal process to establish the association's governance, a code of conduct, the website T&Cs etc but have not done so yet due to the focus of our volunteer time and efforts on lobbying the Government on several COVID-19 issues badly affecting our industry. However, we fully acknowledge that this needs to be done carefully and thoughtfully.
The efforts made by the ABWB to date have been in full support of and fully focused on restarting our diverse and strong industry. These include:
- Fighting for the wedding insurers to pay out their fair dues
- Getting the Government to recognise all the jobs and livelihoods our industry represents
- Getting MPs to help venue viewings restart, so the whole industry can restart
- Helping ensure Government authorities are well informed about wedding refunds
- Helping educate the Government on how weddings might be reintroduced safely
These are valuable endeavours during this crisis that many hundreds of volunteers have come together to help write letters and selflessly support. We have also been delighted to work unitedly alongside other groups, associations and third-parties.This shows the power for positive change that collaboration as an industry can create in the future.
You are correct that the interim founding board has not been elected, but instead is comprised of early volunteers who have pitched in for free during the pandemic to work with the Government on a variety of issues, with the full acknowledgement that the board will be phased out and an elected and longer-term leadership should take the lead in the future. Since launch, we have emailed all our founding members emphasising that this organisation is in its infancy and will take time to establish properly. We recognise that not all of this messaging was on the website so we have recently updated the website to reflect sentiments that were previously shared via email with all founding members. We completely agree the board should be elected by members, should be representative of the industry as whole, and should be as diverse as possible. We have been growing the board iteratively, and have invited recognised diverse voices to join previously but unfortunately they have been unable to join for various reasons. We still seek others. As such, the interim founding board will be stepping down for now until a more representative and diverse board can be formed or a revised leadership/governance structure can be found. The COVID-19 focused efforts of the ABWB, that are already underway, will continue in the meantime, as they are greatly needed to aid the industry’s recovery as a whole.
We noticed that neither of you had joined the ABWB and therefore have not been receiving the email communications that have mentioned some of these issues you raised. We invite you to join the ABWB to begin receiving the emails that provide updates on our progress in different areas. Membership is completely free and open to everyone in the industry, and we would love for you to join. You may join at ABWB.org. You can view our latest email from 17th June here.
Thank you for your insights on the Equality Committee. We apologise sincerely if the creation of the Facebook discussion group came across as problematic and unsafe. As we've had many members email us to express interest in getting involved in this committee, following our recent email about it, we thought a Facebook group would be an accessible way for interested members to start engaging in conversations and share their valuable feedback that would help explore the formation and direction of an Equality Committee. Members of this group have joined by their own goodwill and we therefore significantly object to anyone being referred to as “perpetually harmful individuals” or being made to feel uncomfortable on their personal social media. This group is not the committee itself, but purely a starting point and a place for initial open discussion. If you'd like to become involved as a member, we would welcome your input to ensure that the Equality Committee and the ABWB overall are promoting diversity and equality as best they can.
As mentioned above, we are 100% volunteers, working hard to support the industry during this pandemic. We look forward to continuing evolving into an association that is led by a diverse set of elected members that supports industry progress in as many ways as possible.
The Association of British Wedding Businesses (abwb.org) is an industry association that aims to support members of the British wedding industry. Our mission is to support our industry with insights and advice, advocate for growth, and serve as liaison between the industry and government.
Founding memberships are free to all industry members and we encourage everyone to join. Wedding businesses can join the ABWB for free here.