At the close of 2020, this Black is King inspired bridal campaign went viral—Viola Davis even shared it on Instagram! Of course, we had to get all the details behind this beautiful representation of diverse bridal beauty.
After being in the industry for many years, wedding and events planner Rebecca Lang tells Brides that she, and her clients, noticed a lack of diversity and representation in the wedding industry. So as a WOC in the event-planning space, she stepped up.
She decided to launch the Brown Skin Brides campaign—an editorial shoot that would feature brides of every shade, size, and shape. The inspiration behind this shoot? Who else but Beyoncé Knowles? Lang tells us that Beyoncé’s visual album Black is King and song “Brown Skin Girl” gave her the idea for this concept.
"I always wanted to do something creative like this,” Lang tells Brides. “However, after watching Black is King, I knew exactly how I wanted it to look. In Beyoncé’s “Brown Skin Girl,” she showed how important representation [is]. She had dark skin, light skin, bald, braids, weave, natural, Albino, South Asian—everyone! So I took that same concept and recreated it.”
See the touching and inspiring video below. Be prepared for chills!
In creating this shoot, Lang knew it was important to recruit vendors—from makeup and hair to the actual production crew—that felt as passionate about this matter as she did. The stunning photos were shot by REEM Photography (Who was also just named one of Brides best photographers of the year) and the BTS video was filmed and created by KEJ Productions—both Black-owned businesses.
“I committed to partnering with specifically BIPOC vendors,” she says. “Everyone but the venue met that criteria. With that much Black and Brown skin love in the room—it was a tangible, transformative presence that I will never forget.”'
Elaine Jiminez, co-owner of KEJ Productions, told Brides that after her own wedding, she knew there needed to be more "multi-ethnic inspiration" out there for other brides-to-be. "When we started our business, I wanted future brides, no matter what their heritage, skin tone, or size, to see themselves represented beautifully and authentically in our films," she says. "When Rebecca reached out to me about her vision of Brown Skin Brides it was an easy and enthusiastic 'Yes.' The vision for her editorial fell completely in line with the heart of our company."
Kareem Virgo, founder of REEM Photography echoed that sentiment saying it was magical to work with so many diverse and amazingly strong women all at once.
"I have worked with brides of different shapes, shades, and skin, but to have them come together in one space—each of them glorying in their uniqueness, and eager to tell the world that there is beauty in diversity was a privilege," Virgo tells Brides. "Every woman on the team brought their A-game to the shoot and it was such a delight to capture them in their elements. I couldn’t think of any better representation of beauty, and I would do this all over again."
The models wore dresses from designers Isabella Talya, Gemy Maalouf, Kenneth Winston, and Yolan Cris—the designer responsible for Kim Kardashian West’s bridesmaid's dresses and Queen B’s 2016 MTV Video Music Awards dress (which was actually a wedding gown)—all provided by Something New Bridal Boutique in Florida.
A BTS video shot by Virgo of the models singing together about how badly their feet hurt to the tune of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” soon went viral—garnering over 600,000 views before it was shared by the incomparable Viola Davis.
"I had no idea the clip would have a wide reach, and to have Viola Davis repost it was a great honor," says Virgo. "In a world where brown skin is often misrepresented, it is important we showcase the beauty in its variance at every given opportunity."
“The clip was nothing rehearsed but just a result of spontaneous brown skin magic,” Lang says. “We were almost done shooting and some of the girls were talking about how much their feet started to hurt in those high heels. It is definitely a theme song for all ladies who've ever had to be in heels for a long period of time,” she jokes.
And Lang isn’t finished yet. She has since created an Instagram page and website to give Black and Brown-skinned brides a platform for inspirational creative content and offer representation in the wedding industry.
All joking aside, this shoot finally brings some representation to the wedding industry. Lang says the response to the video and shoot has been amazing and everyone agrees: “This shoot was necessary!” she says. “The photos capture each spirit of the women perfectly while the video showed you how magical brown skin women truly are.”
“I created the IG page and website to give Brown Skin Brides a safe space to see themselves represented in the best way,” she says. “And to also build a community where brides can find vendors (and not just black or brown vendors) who support black and brown skin. That is what diversity is all about.”
Keep scrolling to see some photos from the powerful shoot.