• Models Leena Allure (left) and Deanna Koscik. Courtesy Frankie Photography.

Dazzling Diversity: Inclusive Vendors Join Forces to Create a Beautiful Depiction of Inclusivity

By |2021-05-07T09:46:14-04:00April 28th, 2021|Art, Entertainment, Features|

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but when that picture comes from a carefully crafted photo shoot, you can bet the result is a combination of at least a thousand ideas, choices, details, inspirations and skills — not to mention many hours of work, preparation and coordination. And when everything falls together, the results can be dazzling.

And who wouldn’t want a little dazzle on their wedding day? But in order to create the right mood and combine the right elements, you have to hire the right people.

A group of Michigan vendors want to show LGBTQ+ couples that they have what it takes to make their special day spectacular. Their evidence? A “Garden Glam”-inspired styled photoshoot.

The idea came about when Michael B. Anthony Floral & Event Design got LGBTQ+ certified by the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce last year.
“I came up with the idea to feature a shoot that broke away from traditional gender norms,” says owner Michael Bak. “The inspiration for this shoot started by thinking about visibility for LGBTQ+ couples getting married. It’s so important that love is the main focus here. This team of inclusive and LGBTQ+ certified vendors wanted to break away from traditional gender norms when it came to this styled shoot. It’s so important as businesses to be inclusive, evolve, and stay relevant in the 21st century.”With that in mind, Bak says he “knew exactly what inclusive vendors to contact.”

With Bak handling flowers and design, he contacted Megan Westers, the owner of Shoreline Event Design. It’s a full-service wedding planning and event coordination company based in West Michigan.

“Michael knows I’m a huge supporter of the LGBTQ community and wanted me to be able to showcase that I’m open and welcoming to the community,” Westers says. “The whole shoot was a really awesome collaboration of really talented vendors. We don’t see a ton of local vendors creating something like this and we wanted to create something unique to showcase this side of the wedding industry.”

Welters coordinated the shoot and contributed some design elements.

“We added a textile backdrop that I created,” she says, “which was a mixture of using champagne tinsel and iridescent tinsel and raffia.”

The intention was to combine “natural springtime-in-Michigan elements with kind of disco-esque unnatural elements.”

Westers also provided the fungi. Or, at least, her husband, who supplies restaurants with gourmet mushrooms, did.

“All the mushrooms you see in the shoot are real,” Westers says with a laugh.

The main ingredient, however, was “inclusivity,” according to Bak.

“We want all couples to express who they are and showcase that on their special day,” he says. “Also we want this editorial photoshoot to let all couples know they are in a safe space with us, and that diversity and inclusion is so important when choosing a vendor for your very special day.”

The other vendors participating were Frankie Photography; Team Glam Detroit, handling make-up; Renee Austin Wedding and Bella Bridesmaids Grand Rapids, providing the attire; Paper Petaler, creating paper flower elements; Thyme and Honey, providing charcuterie and brie cake; and the two featured models are Deanna Koscik and Leena Allure.

“Everyone who was part of this shoot played a huge role in what we did. I just hope that everyone is super happy with the results,” Westers says.

Bak is not shy about how he feels about the finished project.

“We slayed it!”

About the Author:

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D'Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.