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Wedding Planners

Wedding planner fights for racial justice in North Carolina’s “divided” industry

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) – The wedding industry is a billion dollar business driver in North Carolina. However, with major events stalling due to COVID-19 restrictions, the industry is struggling.

A wedding planner takes advantage of this business break to make changes in the state’s 1,500 or so venues.

Elana Walker doesn’t do so many grandiose gatherings these days. She estimates her income will be cut in half due to the pandemic.

She continues to work to fill the racial gap in the wedding industry.

“The triangle wedding industry has long been very divided between white and black vendors,” said Walker.

Walker called and contacted venues. She is pushing for more fairness on supplier lists.

When a couple selects a place, they are often given a list of preferred providers.

Walker said that these lists often have little to no representation. Until now, that is.

“I’ll say the response has been tremendous,” said Walker.

She is also a founding member of the recently formed National Society of Black Weddings and Event Professionals.

Walker has hosted a number of online forums sharing ideas on how to improve the field of play. More than 700 people took part in the virtual meetings.

People have used these meetings to highlight the injustices they experienced in bringing a couple’s big day to life.

“A photographer who was talked about on a wedding day is often mistaken for the assistant to his assistant, who happened to be white. Or what it feels like for a black salesman to be celebrating a wedding on a plantation,” Walker said.

Walker expects weddings to look and feel different when the celebrations resume.

She hopes they will be more inclusive and welcoming to fit in with our diverse community.

“I have really high hopes that this will change in the triangle,” said Walker.

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