Correction appended, May 10, 2015
Brides and grooms come in all races, sizes, sexualities and ages. Unfortunately that diversity doesn’t typically translate to the glossy pages of wedding magazines — which studies have shown often depict lithe heterosexual brides in big white gowns, and rarely showcase any type of diversity.
Tired of the stereotypical couples and content (from dieting to decorating advice) found in between advertisements in traditional bridal magazines, progressive wedding planner Liz Susong and feminist wedding photographer Carly Romeo decided to join forces and create an alternative. The result is Catalyst, a feminist magazine due out in May that celebrates love but takes a critical look at weddings.
Romeo, 29, started shooting weddings in 2013 somewhat reluctantly after moving home to Richmond, Va., and realizing it was one of the only ways she could make a living as a photographer.
“I have a lot of capital ‘F ‘feelings about weddings in general, as an industry and as a social item,” says Romeo, who has an academic and activist background in feminism. “I believe that your wedding is a great day but not necessarily the best day of your entire life. I care more about people who want to have a great marriage and not a great wedding necessarily.”
And so, despite fears of isolating her potential clientele, she wrote a manifesto explaining the importance of being a feminist wedding photographer.
Susong, who had recently walked down the aisle hand-in-hand with her husband and had feminist readings at her Washington D.C., ceremony, strongly identified with the message and reached out to the Romeo.
“As all good relationships begin, we met on the internet,” Susong, 27, tells TIME.
But Susong and Romeo soon realized they weren’t the only ones who felt as if there was a progressive void in the reported $51 billion wedding industrial complex. After holding a successful “un}convention” for wedding professionals with similar ideologies in November, they decided to take their message out to those who have felt marginalized by the wedding industry.
In less than a week and a half, Susong and Romeo raised the $13,490 they needed on Kickstarter to fund printing their magazine. The duo are funded for two issues, but hope to continue if the first volume is a success. As of now, Catalyst is available online and at select bookstores.
Apart from celebrating diverse couples and offering fun horoscopes and DIY tips, Catalyst also features articles that critique everything from diet culture to monogamy to the idea that a feminist wedding can even exist.
“We don’t have a shortage of content at all,” Romeo says. “The demand and interest has been so encouraging. It is going to keep growing.”
Correction: The original version of a photo credit in this story misstated the name of the photographer. It is Betty Clicker Photography.
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