Stories are at the heart of what we do at Polka Dot Wedding. And we’ve got room for all kinds of them! As a blog and an online membership for vendors in our directory, we want everyone to feel represented and included in the weddings we feature. Today in a very special episode, two of the Polka Dot Wedding team sit down to chat about why we’re so passionate about inclusivity and the wedding industry.

In this chat, we discuss:

  • The humble beginnings of Polka Dot Wedding
  • The Polka Dot Wedding team
  • Inclusivity in wedding blogs
  • Changing the name “Polka Dot Bride”
  • Polka Dot Wedding’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity
  • How to be featured on Polka Dot Wedding
  • The perks of the Polka Dot Wedding membership

Polka Dot Wedding was founded nearly two decades ago. Before the advent of social media, there weren’t a lot of online resources to turn to. Dorothy turned to blogging as means to share her love and excitement for all things weddings.

Dorothy has always been conscious of showcasing diverse stories. But it wasn’t until she read about Zee Scott’s experience of racism that led her to re-evaluate Polka Dot Wedding’s commitment to inclusivity.

To make a safe, shared space for everyone, Polka Dot Wedding’s efforts include removing offensive words and inappropriate imagery and adding subtitles, transcripts, and image descriptions on all applicable forms of media. With a monthly target to keep them accountable, the team actively seeks out stories that represent all kinds of ages, sizes, gender, and disabilities.

If you would like to submit a story, head on over to Polka Dot Submissions. For vendors who are interested to be a part of our directory, join the Polka Dot Family here. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Links & Vendors Mentioned:

Talking Business: The Juggle Of Businesses, Passion & Life With Zee Scott

The Polka Dot Wedding Diversity & Inclusion Statement

Polka Dot You

Polka Dot Featured

Polka Dot Made

Find Dorothy & the Polka Dot Wedding team:

On Instagram: @polkadotwedding

On the website:

This podcast was produced by Polka Dot Wedding.

The Polka Dot Wedding team is honoured to conduct our work on the land of the BoonWurrung, WoiWorung, Eora and Kuring-gai people. We honour the traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders custodians of the land and pay our respects to Elders past & present.

Episode Transcript

Dorothy  00:01

You are listening to the Feel Good Wedding Podcast, a podcast by Polka Dot Wedding. My name is Dorothy and I am the founder and editor of Polka Dot Wedding, and I have been writing about weddings for over 16 years. In fact, I love them. I love everything about a wedding, but I know that a wedding is beyond the pretty.

I know that so much goes into every single one of those details that are chosen, the tips and tricks behind it, the couple’s stories, and the vendor that brings it all to life. So The Feel Good Wedding Podcast was born because we thought these are stories and conversations that we wanna have, and we are really looking forward to having them with you as our listeners.

Can’t wait to show you what we have in store

The Polka Dot Wedding team is honoured to conduct our work on the land of the BoonWurrung, WoiWorung, Eora, and Kuring-gai people. We honour the traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander custodians of the land and we pay our respects to elder’s past and present.

Welcome back to another episode of the Feel Good Wedding Podcast. Today, we’re doing something a little bit different. We’re going behind the scenes of Polka Dot Wedding because we figured you might want to get to know us a little bit better. We thought we’d have some chats with the team. Today, we’re talking to Mary, Ms Rose. We’re going to chat about something that’s really close to our heart. This week, we’re going to chat all about inclusivity and really, why a wedding blog should even care or does even care about inclusivity. We’ve got a little bit of an insight into the way that we work things that Polka Dot Wedding that we hope you’ll really enjoy. Hello, Mary.

Mary   01:54

Hi, Ms Polka. How are you going?

Dorothy  01:57

Good. I’m really excited to just dive into something that we talk about behind the scenes so much.

Mary  02:03

So much. Yeah, we do. It was really exciting to decide to do this podcast session because I think the idea is to take a lot of what we chat about and actually put it out there so that anybody listening, hello, hi, it’s us, you can get an idea of what we do behind the scenes, how our brains work behind the scenes, and very much about inclusivity and putting diverse content on the website for you. I’m really excited. Let’s start. I think the best thing to do to start is to introduce ourselves. Hi, I’m Ms Rose or Mary. I’m the specialty blog editor. It is me that will be reaching out to you in terms of if I want to create content for our specialty blogs, which are Polka Dot Wisdom, Polka Dot You, Polka Dot Honeymoons, and Polka Dot Made, which are fantastic blogs. I love them so much. Ms Polka, on to you.

Dorothy  03:05

Obviously, you may know that I am Dorothy, otherwise known as Ms Polka Dot. I am the founder and editor of Polka Dot Wedding. I founded Polka Dot Wedding and I can’t even remember now, 15 or 16 years ago, can’t remember which one.

Mary   03:19

I’m going to say 16. Let’s go 16.

Dorothy  03:21

We’re getting to the point where I’ve forgotten how old we are, from a little corner of our office at home in a little chair because I wanted to share everything that I loved about weddings. If you’ve read anything about Polka Dot Wedding, you know that I fell in love with weddings at a really young age. I would drag my dad to the library and make him help me photocopy wedding magazines because I loved all the bits and I would plan weddings at home and all that kind of stuff. That grew. When I started Polka Dot Wedding, there really wasn’t anything around in Australia, so I was able to share all the things that I really loved. Now, here we are.

Mary  04:03

Here we are 15 or 16 years later, and we’re thriving and having a really, really good time doing it and being able to show content to our vendors and our readers that we are really passionate about. Thank you for dragging your lovely dad to the library all those years ago and cultivating this love of weddings, which just shines through in so much of what you do. You really are this wonderful guiding light for the rest of us in terms of what we put on the website. It’s really fun to work with you to create this space for couples and for vendors. It’s super, super fun. Now, you’ve said you know how you started it. Not how, but why you started it? How did you start?

Dorothy  04:47

Look, back in the day, blogs were really connected. I started on Blogger, which was a Google blog platform. I was so horrible at anything tech I had to pay someone to upload our header, which I clunkily designed in Paint. It was awful. Everyone in the blogging community like Abby of Style Me Pretty and we had B from Weddingbee and Brooklyn Bride, all those original wedding blogs, we were all so connected and we would have blog rolls down the side of our blogs where we’d linked to each other. It was just such a different sense of community and it’s evolved so much since then, but we were able to connect and talk about different stuff and share different stuff. It just grew from that. I didn’t really do much because I wasn’t actively pursuing a business or pursuing anything but sharing my love of weddings. It just grew from the fact that there really wasn’t anything around back then. I know, everyone says, “Oh, look, there was a gap in the market. There wasn’t anything around when I started my business.” You roll your eyes and you’re like, “You just didn’t look hard enough.” Really, this was before Instagram and even Twitter and, really, Facebook. There was nothing around to share wedding stuff, except some wedding forums and physical wedding magazines. It was brand new to everyone at that point.

Mary  06:04

And for especially couples in Australia planning their weddings, if you were looking for inspiration, you would have to look at magazines, which are still beautiful, but I think online must have been really, really fresh and new then and would have been really exciting to be like, “Ooh.”

Dorothy  06:19

It was the cusp of when everyone was starting to realise that you could do your wedding your way. Everyone says that’s a trend now, but it really has been a trend for maybe the past decade, where couples were suddenly like, “Oh, actually, maybe I don’t have to do that. Maybe I could do this.” I remember early on someone emailed me and was like, “I want to advertise with you, but your content changes every day and I’m not comfortable with that”. It was that whole educating everyone, “Okay, this is what a blog actually is. It is dynamic, it does move.” Everyone was going, “What is this stuff? I can do my wedding my way or I could be a part of this website?” It was so different to what people were used to.

Mary  07:06

Yeah, exactly. Look at what we have now. So many platforms, so much narration, so much noise, which on one hand is really, really fun and I’m so glad that this is the journey of wedding inspiration online. But at that time, it would have been really, really confusing for a lot of people who are used to going down to the shop or going to the library, checking out a magazine, picking up a magazine and seeing it, but that’s it. I remember doing that for my wedding, was going on magazines and jumping online as well. You would read through them and that was it, which was beautiful.

Dorothy  07:43

That was all you had, wasn’t it?

Mary  07:45

That’s it and you had to pile them up and cut out things you liked.

Dorothy  07:52

Even when I started, there were five or six wedding magazines and I would go down every month and diligently buy them. I went to the newsagent last week and there were two. They don’t even stock many anymore. It’s so amazing to see how the world has changed in a decade.

Mary  08:08

Just that shift. Again, I think a lot of those magazines have gone online because in terms of paper wastage and that sort of thing, online platforms for wedding inspiration is just so the place to be and you were just, I think without even knowing, hitting the pulse of that so early on.

Dorothy  08:28

Look, I didn’t know anything. I was just winging it like everyone else.

Mary   08:31

Thank you for winging it.

Dorothy  08:33

I didn’t go into this wanting to start a business. I went into this because I purely adored weddings and was like, “Oh, my gosh, there’s these amazing cupcakes at this store in Sydney. I want to share them.” It was purely about that. It was never about business. I was winging it as much as everyone else.

Mary  08:48

Yeah. That’s the thing. I think when you hear people say, “Oh, I started this because I have a real passion for,” whatever it is. I have a passion for dogs. I have a passion for blah, whatever you have a passion for. You are so truly telling your absolute truth of ……. you just love them. Like you were saying, you had no view to going, “Oh, hang on. There’s not something like this for weddings out there. Oh, I’m going to tap into this.” You were purely doing it because you love it. I think that is something that you have so beautifully kept for 16 years on. You’re still so in love.

Dorothy  09:28

How do I still love weddings? How does that happen? How does anyone still love weddings after that long? No, I still do. I still pore over every picture. I will put like the song that they walked down the aisle to or the wedding reception song and I’ll get in there and write it and I still adore every moment of it. I should say I don’t do it alone and you and I don’t do it alone.

Mary   09:49

We do have a team. We do, we do. We do have a team and I was just going to say, in terms of the team, not just you, but if we’re writing about a wedding or we’re searching for a wedding or any of the details that really speak to us, we get a real kick out of sending it back and forth to each other. We’ll send it and go, “Look, how they proposed.” We get really chuffed with these stories, which is totally another part of what we’re going to say is the stories are huge for us, but you’re right. We do have a team. Can you run through our team please for me? Talk me through our team.

Dorothy  10:27

Fleur De Lys or Fleur is our amazing editorial assistant. She manages all our correspondence like my emails because no, I can’t. It’s too much. She also helps us out with a whole bunch of editorial tasks. She has a finger on the pulse. She knows what’s up all the time and I rely her greatly for being the go-between and seeing stuff before I see it. She’s amazing.  I feel like all my team at Polka Dot Wedding is so much cooler than me and I’m not worthy.

Mary  10:58

She’s so cool. That’s not true. That’s not true. Fleur is, I’m sorry, but just extra cool.

Dorothy  11:11

Yes, really fun. We have brand new, who is just coming into this role the past couple of weeks, Julia, who is Ms Peacock, who is our submissions manager. She manages all the weddings and features and styled shoots across Polka Dot Featured, which is our main title. Sources a whole bunch of weddings, focuses a lot on our diversity, which we’re obviously going to talk about.

Mary   11:33

Yeah, and she’s really lovely. She’s very warm, really warm, so is someone to really be able to speak to.

Dorothy  11:41

She’s a food blogger as well, so we’ll have to share her food blog at some point because it’s amazing because it’s all about sentimental stories. It’s just divine.

Mary  11:48

She’s super sentimental. Yeah.

Dorothy  11:51

She fits in well with me then.

Mary  11:52

Doesn’t she?

Dorothy  11:54

We have Ms Stripey or Carolina, who does all our membership management for all our wonderful members who are our beautiful vendors that just are so talented. She helps out managing all of their subscriptions and all of that kind of thing. She also considers herself quite bitter, so she would go, “Oh, Mary” and laugh at you.

Mary   12:19

And she’s so not. She’s so not. She’s so dear and thoughtful, and so the perfect person for that role because she cares so much about our vendors and anyone in our directory and anyone writing to her. She puts in that extra bit of effort to really make everyone feel really seen. You can’t teach that. That’s definitely inherently her.

Dorothy  12:41

You’re good at selling us. I’m no good at this. I should just let you introduce everyone. Finally, we have other people that do play a significant role. We’ve got people like Miss Honeycomb, who is Nicola, who if you’ve ever looked at Polka Dot Made, does the most amazing tutorials. She’s got this eye and this skill that just is incomparable. We’ve got other people that we’ve called in. Our developer’s called Sadik and he has made magic happen with all of our tech. We have a whole bunch of other people that dabble in and out and do things like writing or tech and bits and pieces for us. We’re all across the globe because we are completely remote as a team. We all work from home. In fact, I haven’t met Julia yet. Often, it takes us a year or two to even meet.

Mary   13:29

We’ll have to fly her in for cocktails.

Dorothy  13:31

Exactly. She promised she’d come down for bubbles.

Mary   13:33

How long did it take us to meet? I can’t remember how long it took us to meet. That was in 2015, I started, and it took us a few months to meet and I was very excited.

Dorothy  13:43

We always talk so often, so I never feel like I’m missing much because we’re always talking constantly with each other. I don’t really feel like it’s a bit of an issue. We all work remotely. I couldn’t do a single thing that I do without our team and I’m just so thankful for them every day. Like I said, I feel not worthy for them every day because the work that they put in and the effort they make to understand my vision for Polka Dot Wedding, and embrace that is huge for me. I’m going to do a different theme for each one of our behind the scenes episodes.

Mary 14:19

Today, I thought it would be really fun. When I say fun, I can say fun and important, to introduce us a little bit, like the team, which we’ve done. Now, I would really want to merge into something we talk about a lot, which is the absolute beating heart of Polka Dot Wedding, which is inclusivity. It is incredibly important to us. How it became important to us, I think, is something that we touch on a fair bit whenever we’re having our meetings or talking about a particular feature. Inclusivity – I hate the word labels or anything like that, but is something we thought it would be really fun to get to know the Polka Dot Team, the pattern people, a little bit more and who’s behind the scenes. A lot of the time we’re creating this content with you and for you, so we thought we’d say, “Hi, it’s us. This is who we are and now, I think we should talk a little bit about what we do and what’s really important to us think.” Inclusivity is the absolute beating heart of what we do and is the most important thing to us. At what point through creating the website, did you start to really see that this could be an angle that needed to be looked at, needed to be touched upon, needed to have a real space with the wedding blogging industry?

Dorothy  15:52

Firstly, I should say that we’re using inclusivity as an umbrella term because we do in the work that we do talk inclusivity, diversity, equality. We understand that it’s not just one point. I was always, “Oh, well, of course, I’ll feature every wedding.” I’ve been featuring LGBTQ weddings probably since year one or two and Canadian ones since then. I always was conscious of I have to work to make sure that our content reflects diverse stories and it’s not all a Caucasian heterosexual couple.  But it wasn’t until the Black Lives Matter movement where Zee Scott who I talked about in this podcast (so you should go and listen to that one), is a member of Polka Dot Wedding, but she’s also a BIPOC woman, had this incredible story that she shared on Instagram. She probably didn’t think much of it. She probably thought she was just sharing her story, but it really changed everything about how I viewed inclusion and the stuff that we were doing on Polka Dot Wedding. It was all about this experience she’d had at the supermarket with racism. The difference between people that were like, “I’m not racist,” and just was silently watching on and someone who was actively anti-racist and supported Zee in that moment. For me, it really crystallised the difference between saying, “Oh, I’m inclusive. Of course, I accept LGBTQ weddings. Of course, I look for plus-size weddings,” and actively making changes in the business and actively seeking out that content and actively being anti-racist and inclusive, and how that would change in our business. The way that we then thought about things shifted because it was less about, “Well, of course, we accept everyone” into “Okay, what do we need to change in the business? What do we need to change in our submissions and everything else to make sure that we are actively making a difference in the world and actively making a difference in weddings, so that everyone can see themselves?” It really shifted and it was all from that moment.

Mary   18:18

Yeah. That’s a really poignant, really, really heavy moment, isn’t it? Like you were saying, Zee shared it without the thought of it doing anything specifically. For the fact that it changed your, and our as a team, view on how we ran our business so that it could become, and still is becoming, a place for diversity. That’s one trajectory changing to a certain way. You make these little posts on it, like these posts on Instagram or Twitter comment or something like that, you don’t know who you’re touching and in a good way too. I think something that we are doing, hope it’s a good thing that we’re doing all the time, is that like you said, where they’re going, “Of course, we are. Of course, we’re inclusive,” but it’s saying, “Wait, we can learn all the time. We can still be learning how to do this. We do not have all the answers  -and I think that’s something that we constantly say throughout our content and through anything that we share is that we’re still learning. We’re reaching out. We’re trying to find a path in this to make it so much easier for these stories to come to us as well. That’s something I know that we struggle with is that we’re searching for these stories of all different types of people in different types of walks of life who are getting married or who are in the wedding industry. Yes, we actively look for it, but it’s also about the fact that it needs to be actively shared as well, which we struggle with because I find everything’s very White, everything’s very straight.

Dorothy  20:01

Yeah. By saying, “Oh, well, of course I am. Of course I am,” what I have found personally, I’ve removed myself from the responsibility that comes with, I don’t know, being a White woman in the wedding industry and having that privilege because it says, “Oh, well, of course I’m inclusive. If I don’t have to do anything more, I’ve said it. What else do I need to do?”

Mary  20:23

It’s just not enough.

Dorothy  20:24

Because the active work that we do do in the way that we have changed our name, which I know we’re going to talk about, and a whole bunch of changes around the site and a whole bunch of stuff we still need to do, takes work. It takes reflection. It takes being really uncomfortable with the beliefs that you have shown up with, but also on top of that, I think when you are a White woman or someone with a lot of privilege, you get blinded and you think, “Well, that’s all fine,” and then nothing changes because you’ll like, “I’ve done my part, I’ve said that I’m inclusive, what else do I need to do?” So then nothing shifts.

Mary  21:00

That’s it. That’s something that I really am proud of with our team is that we talk about inclusivity and diversity so much behind the scenes. I’m saying this in terms of we’re really open and honest altogether, we call each other out, we ask each other, “How do I word this? Is this the correct way to do this? What am I looking for? How can I shift this to make this better?” None of us are above asking each other questions, doing the research, reaching out to who we need to reach out too to make sure that it’s not our narrative being told. We’re doing that for a team in a really comfortable place.

Dorothy  21:49

While still getting very uncomfortable with the realisations that we’ve had.

Mary  21:52

While getting uncomfortable. Yeah. I find them really comfortable with our team to pull each other up is what I’m saying and say, “Hey, no, that’s not right.” We’re not afraid. We’re a comfortable team. Together, we work beautifully, but we’re not afraid then to say, “Oh, hang on. You’ve got that wrong” or “We said that wrong. It doesn’t fit.” That’s what I mean by I think we have uncomfortable conversations, but we do them quite often too, which I’m really, really proud of us for.

Dorothy  22:25

The only way I think you can actually do it is to actually have those conversations where you sit with yourself and you go, “Oh, that doesn’t feel good. Why doesn’t that feel good?”

Mary  22:34

Honestly, you feel a bit crappy about yourself because there’s a reason you do. If you’re feeling not good about how something’s come across or what you shared or how you spoken to someone, gut instinct. There’s probably a good reason for it. You’ve probably really gone off board with offence or what should or should not be shared. I think in terms of the name change, I think that’s a really good point in terms of, “We’re not afraid to change things. We’re not afraid to go, ‘All right, on a business angle, what’s working for the business? What isn’t working?'” We have those conversations. In terms of being inclusive, what doesn’t work and what do we need to change? Those are conversations we have really often. When did the name change start to niggle at you?

Dorothy  23:30

It started probably four or five years before we even changed it. In fact, probably longer. When I started Polka Dot Bride, it was like I was Polka Dot Bride. I’m Dorothy Polka, I’m Miss Polka Dot, it’s like my voice. It’s like Brooklyn Bride was always the editor’s voice – and it was all about me as the voice. It didn’t really occur to me that there was anything not inclusive about that. As a team, we started fumbling about, talking about it many years before we even did it. We started the process of rebranding with our beautiful rainbow wonderful logo which I adore and I did a reader survey. I started to understand from that that if I was going to actually embrace this feeling that I had about being inclusive and diversity and pushing this as something that was really key important to us, which it was, I couldn’t do that called Polka Dot Bride. I couldn’t do that with a name that was excluding people, so we changed it. Three years on, I’m still finding things I need to change. It was not a small task.

Mary   24:39

It’s a process.

Dorothy  24:40

It was a process. We’ve written a guide that is going to come soon actually on helping other businesses on how to do it because it was intense and scary and terrifying. I’m not talking about putting it out there to the world. I’m talking about the tech side which is what held me back for so long. It was never about the fear of putting it out to the world. I was always excited about that. It was the tech because on a site like ours, we have hundreds of thousands of images, thousands and thousands and thousands of posts, so much tech that if we got this wrong, it could literally close our doors overnight. It was really, really hard to get our heads around that and all the steps that had to come into play with it and the fact that like, “Oh, well, we couldn’t change the website at the same time as the name.” We changed our name in like October and we launched the new website in February because Google gets really confused if you do both at one time, because it’s like, “Where has the actual site gone? What have you done?” There are all these technical steps that basically, it kept me from changing it for a long time because I was so overwhelmed by it. Three years in, I am 1,000% grateful we did it and thankful and I love it so much more than Polka Dot Bride.

Mary   25:51

Well, it just isn’t all-encompassing, isn’t it? It was necessary. Like you were years ago saying, this is a necessary thing that has to happen.

Dorothy  26:00

I was uncomfortable with Bride, so when we’re talking about uncomfortableness, I was starting to get really cringey about using the word Polka Dot Bride and then saying, “Look, we will include everyone.” I was like, “Oh.” That’s when I knew. I was like, “I have to do this. It has to change.”

Mary  26:05

Like you’re saying, something like that is uncomfortable. So many wedding vendors have been around for quite a long time and have names that they started with or particular details about their business that they’ve had since they’ve started. I was really really excited for our name change and I really hope that that can give a bit of a glimmer of like, “Come on, you can do this too.” It’s not necessarily like you’re saying scary about changing it and what that means to anyone else, but the absolute behind the scenes, clunky tech stuff, it can be done and it should be done. It should be a real priority. Everybody needs to be able to see this.

Dorothy  26:21

For most wedding businesses, it would be a much easier change because their websites are a lot smaller. When you’ve got a 10-page website, it’s a lot easier to change it. You’ve obviously got to change your branding, you’ve got to change your Instagram, all that kind of stuff. I’d say that because I don’t want you to be scared off by the fact I’ve said it. It’s so overwhelming. It’s really not if you’ve got a smaller website. It’s just for us. The sheer volume of stuff we had to change from 15 years and thousands of posts.

Mary   27:31

It was so full-on.

Dorothy  27:33

It was just a lot.

Mary   27:36

I’m laughing because it’s like a “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry,” but it’s done now. It’s still in the process of things being shifted over, but it’s done and it’s so amazing. It is.

Dorothy  27:46

The bulk of it is done and look, we didn’t die, the traffic didn’t drop, we’re okay, and I’m proud of our business name now, which is the main thing.

Mary   27:55

That’s it. If you’re proud of it, you took the uncomfortable feeling of it and went, “Well, hang on. Why am I uncomfortable and what can I do about it?” You’re not sitting there and you’re uncomfortable. You’re going, “Right. How can we be better? How can we do this better?” I think we’ve had a lot of lovely positive feedback about the name change as well, which is not why we do it, but it’s nice for that to be noticed of, “Hang on, we are trying to include everybody,” which is what we love about what we do. Everyone’s stories, it’s the absolute reason we do this, so there’s a name change. What else do you think we’re doing, to make creating a space for diversity of focus?

Dorothy  28:32

I actually have a post written about this I’ve been working on for probably, I don’t know, six months, actually, since late last year about all the things that we have done. There is a hell of a lot more we need to do. Our website is not nearly as accessible as I want it to be. There is a lot of content that you and I have talked about that we want to produce that we have not yet had the capacity to do. Basically, this is always my problem. It’s capacity, but we’ve done so many behind the scenes things. Our submission schedule is one that is really important to us, and so we have some plans around that and planning around that that we ensure that we do, to ensure that we have great diversity across the publication.

We have done little tiny things, like changing in our colour book nude pink to beige pink. Nude pink if you think about the colour of nude and the colour of nude pink is always Caucasian. We’ve done these enormous things and we’ve done tiny things. With our podcast, every single guest gets a whole sheet before they come on to chat with us. All our inclusivity guidelines, it talks about the way that we want to use verbiage, the way that we want to make sure that the podcast is accessible, so every podcast is published with a full written transcript for those people that can’t make use of the volume and hearing, and then there’s other little changes like on Instagram and Tiktok. Every single time that there is a voice on a story, we make sure it is captioned. On every single Instagram post and it takes Ms Rose and I so long, but we do it, we write an image description. What we always want to try and do is make sure that we’re not looking at one segment of a community. We don’t just make sure that “Oh, okay, we’re ticking a box and we’re making sure that we’re including LGBTQ weddings.”

We also make sure that we’re inclusive of disability, we’re inclusive of plus size, we’re inclusive of different ages, and there’s a whole bunch more there that we really are conscious of to make sure that we’re not focusing on one section of the community. There are big changes and there are tiny changes, and we have so many more to go.

Mary  30:46

Even with the tiny changes, I think tiny changes build up. I think they’re just as important because it could be that one little thing that you go, “Well, that was an easy change. I don’t even know if anyone noticed,” but it’s not even about anyone noticing. It’s for us to go, “No, that didn’t feel right.” It’s a little thing, but little things add up.

Dorothy  31:12

It’s the activeness of those little things, right? There is a word, and I don’t want to use the word because A, it is a slur, but B, it is also used by some businesses in Australia, that I made sure that I went through the whole website and I pulled out of everything, except for the business name, unfortunately, because I need to credit the business, but there’s tiny little things like that.

Mary   31:32

Just credit, credit, credit.

Dorothy  31:36

Crediting is the bane of our lives, but we are so committed to credit. This is the thing too, in the last 10 years or 15 years, there are words that we used to use that now are considered slurs are considered problematic. Unfortunately, some of those words have been used a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot in business names. For me too, it was also important that I went back and made sure that some of those words or most of those words, all of those words were removed from our physical content as well. And imagery, so there was a story, for instance, where we featured a styled shoot and the bride had a Native American big feathered headpiece on which, of course, I removed and I have rejected shoots in the meantime now that have had that because it is cultural appropriation. For me, it’s also been, as I’ve learned stuff from the amazing people that I follow who do so much of this for free, I understand that, that we do pay some of them because I think you should pay for labour, but as I have learned more, I’m able to make those changes. I never knew that a cultural appropriation factor was wearing a feathered headdress and how inappropriate that was on a Caucasian Australian White bride, so now I’ve removed that. There’s tiny little things that we’ve done behind the scenes.

Mary  32:57

Now, we know, but it’s something like a styled shoot, for example. Can I just say, the actual shoot, I remember that one. The actual shoot was beautiful. The headdress was incredible. It’s beautiful, but that doesn’t mean that it’s right. That doesn’t mean that it’s okay.

Dorothy  33:16

In the end, you can intend not to harm, but it doesn’t matter if you do cause harm. Your intent doesn’t matter if there is harm caused. I want to make sure that as we’re learning, we are doing better and we are making changes. Like I said, we have a lot to do. Our website needs to become a hell of a lot more accessible. There needs to be a lot more content around the stuff that we have talked about with inclusion, but we are  making changes slowly.

Mary   33:42

It’s also about how we find and produce the diverse content as well. I think I said it before that we are, all of us, all of the team really actively searching for diverse content. This is not a woe-is-us point. Because we’re constantly looking for it. We’re scouring Instagram and scouring photography and websites, but a lot of the diverse content does not get shown. It is getting better. I’ve noticed it is getting slightly better to see different cultures, different abilities, or members of the LGBTIQ+ community, but it’s still very White and straight-washed, and that makes it hard.

Dorothy  34:34

We really believe that it’s our responsibility as a publication to seek out that content and not just say, “Oh, look, that stuff doesn’t get submitted to us. What do you want us to do? We’re not going to publish that stuff.” No. For us, we actively go and seek this stuff out. On the same token, I should say that one of the reasons that we actively use hashtags, so if there’s, for instance, a wedding where a bride is in a wheelchair, we will use the hashtag #wheelchairbride, etc. The reason we do that is not necessarily to tag and say, “Oh, hey, look. Did you notice she’s in a wheelchair?” It’s more about the fact that we want our content to be easy to find. If there is someone else, and I’ve talked to photographers about this who have said, “Look, I’m shooting a couple where the groom is in a wheelchair and we cannot find any examples” and he really wants examples of wedding photos where the groom is in a wheelchair because he can’t imagine how their photos are going to be taken, and I couldn’t find anything. I’ve built a whole Pinterest board on it for them. Also, we hashtag our features like that because if you are a groom in a wheelchair, I want you to be able to go ‘wheelchair groom’ into Instagram and find a wedding where you can see yourself.

Mary   35:45

And find inspiration from that exactly

Dorothy  35:47

Before we even get into the submission part, I wanted to clarify that as to why we point this stuff out because we want that content to be easy to find.

Mary   35:55

And you’re right. I agree in terms of it’s our job to find the content we want to produce. I’m so on board with that because it’s our publication, we get to choose what’s on it, and that’s what we want to represent.

Dorothy  36:10


Mary   36:11

But I think it’s like you’re saying tag it so that if you are a vendor who has been involved in a wedding or a shoot or in a proposal or some type of wedding event where there has been more representation, tag it, tag it, tag it because we want to see it.

Dorothy  36:27

It gets a bit tricky around some sectors of the community. If you’re looking at plus size, for instance, and a couple might not identify as plus size, so something that we really rely on is self-identification. If the couple identifies as plus size or identifies as gender fluid or whatever it is that they identify as, that’s what we’ll take our lead from. We don’t just go, “Oh, clearly, they’re plus size,” etc. We’re taking our cues from the couple themselves.

Mary  36:52

And that’s another thing in terms of how you identify. Something that businesses can do is when they’re getting all the information from couples that they’re working with, ask them what their pronouns are, ask them how they’re identified, just so that it’s so clear, you’re not deciding that for them, we’re not deciding that for them. That’s their narrative and their identity. Again, it’s one of those examples of it’s a small thing, but gee, it’s a big thing. It’s really, really a big thing. That means that then, when you’re talking about content, if you want to do the tagging, if you want to label it a certain thing, title, a blog or a gallery, a certain title, you’ve got the permission to do that. You’re not just deciding that it is so.

Dorothy  37:43

I think that’s something that’s really easy for vendors to do on their forms as well, making sure that they’re not referring to bride one and groom, and instead doing partner one, partner two, etc. These are tiny changes and they’re changes that we’ve made and we want to make more of in our backend and in our submissions from just for that reason. I have to understand, was there a bride? Did they wear a dress? What did they wear? We’re trying to fix that wording all the time to make sure that we aren’t exclusive of people.

Mary   38:12

Exactly. We actively search for diversity. It’s a fun thing to do. You get to sit there on your computer and you look at Instagram, you look through all the Australian wedding vendors and you look on Facebook, you do a big search. We then also reach out and actively ask a lot of vendors for this diverse content because it’s so important to us.

Dorothy  38:43

Something we do do is we’ve set targets. I know, really, they could be called quotas and quotas get a bad name, like, “Oh, the corporate who has a quota for females, etc.,” but the reason we also do it is what we found was we go, “Right, we need to make sure that our diversity is up this way. We need to make sure,” etc., etc. Then, we’d go for this big sprint of finding beautiful LGBTQ+ weddings and then we would realise we haven’t featured any BIPOC. We haven’t featured any disability. So really, we were causing the same issue. I think that sometimes when you get really busy, and you’re like, “I’ve got to get weddings scheduled and I’ve got to get stuff in,” you become blind to the things that you’re not used to see or you should be seeing. I think sometimes you unconsciously exclude because we generally as White people have grown up with inherent racism, so we don’t think about this stuff. It keeps us consciously understanding and planning in our calendar that we need to make room for these features and we need to consciously be ensuring that those stories get told because otherwise, we just get a bit too lazy in our laurels and we go, “Oh, we’re busy. We’ve got to do this. We’ve got to do that,” and then suddenly we have no diversity or that diversity skewed one way. We do have quotas or targets, as we call them, a plan.

Mary   40:08

A plan, and also with that plan, like you said before, we’re not ticking boxes.

Dorothy  40:15

It’s keeping us accountable.

Mary   40:16

It’s keeping us accountable, but because we’re so much about the stories, we’re not just going to throw on any wedding just because, say, someone is in a wheelchair or because they are a gay couple. We’re not going, “Oh, yes, throw that in, tick that, that’s that box done.” We read the stories. We read the stories, we hear all about it.

Dorothy  40:40

Make sure it’s hitting all the targets and make sure it’s hitting all the notes. The amount of time I spend on Instagram and scrolling feeds, and unfortunately, like you mentioned earlier, the diversity is rarely there. It is a lot of Caucasian heterosexual couples, which is great and fun, but that’s only part of the stories that need to be told and the stories that we want to tell. We spent an inordinate amount of time seeking out that content. If we didn’t, that our content would be all White heterosexual couples and that’s just not the stories we want to completely tell. We want to make sure that we’re telling everyone’s stories.

Mary   41:24

We make sure that when you jump onto our website with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, you do a lovely scroll and you see yourself, you read about yourself.

Dorothy  41:37

It’s so hard to find yourself because there’s lots of weddings of people that are like you.

Mary  41:43

Exactly. That’s our whole through line. That’s what we want all the time. Our Featured blog and our Polka Dot You blog are our wedding stories about couples. With the Polka Dot You specialty blog, this is a really special specific place for couples to write about their wedding day for us. Now, they get sent a questionnaire to fill out so you have some guidelines, but really, it’s what you want to say about your day and you as a couple, your family, and your vendors. That’s really couple-led, which is really really, really exciting and I love reading those stories. That’s one of my babies.

Dorothy  42:22

They get to tell them the way they want to tell them. Us editing this and that editing that, of course it’s edited, but when we tell a story, we tell it in a very different way than when someone else tells the story.

Mary   42:34

We tell it in our tone of voice too. Send it to us for Polka Dot You, especially if you’re someone who really loves to write. We’ve had a few couples recently who just really love to write and they just wrote really beautifully for Polka Dot You. If this is something that you love to do, write about your day. We want to hear about it. It’s definitely your story to tell.

Dorothy  42:59

And we never ever say no to anything for Polka Dot You, by the way. We accept every single story that is couple-submitted.

Mary   43:05

We don’t. It’s just really fun. Yep, absolutely, which makes it so beautiful. Also, if you’re not a writer, it doesn’t matter. You could write two lines but it was really special to you, we want to know about it. Our Featured weddings, which is where Ms Polka and Miss Peacock shine. Submitted to us or we find them, we write them in a way that is in the Polka Dot Wedding tone. While we have the information, it’s still us writing them. There are the differences between those two. I think that can sometimes get a bit confusing about which is which.

Dorothy  43:41

I should say too that we have had weddings featured or shared in the past where a photographer has not been able to get in touch with a couple unfortunately, and so there’s been no story that like, “Oh can you still share it?” Unfortunately for us or maybe fortunately, the story is one of the key parts because the details combined with a story is what tells everything about that day that big picture and it just, for us, we need those stories because they’re so crucial to telling “This is how the couple did it and made their day theirs.” Without the stories, we’ve got nothing.

Mary   44:14

That’s it. We don’t look at and go, “Well, those are pretty pictures. Let’s throw it up.” Don’t get us wrong. We love beautiful, beautiful photography, but like you said, if there’s no context or depth behind that, we just don’t do it. If you’re going to submit any weddings or proposals, etc. to us, get the story because that’s pretty much a sure thing.

Dorothy  44:40

The story is what makes us get out of bed.

Mary   44:44

They just do. Honestly, that is what we totally live for. We open up our computers and start reading all these beautiful stories that get sent to us and it’s so special. It just really makes the job doesn’t it? That’s what to submit to us. If you’re a vendor sending through a wedding for us, for example, make sure that you get a story from the couple. If you’re not sure how to ask them or in terms of what to ask them for, reach out to us. We have a questionnaire.

Dorothy  45:17

Yeah, we have a wonderful questionnaire system too. We have all the questions you need. We can even email the couple. If you really don’t want the couple, we will do that too.

Mary   45:27

We can do that. Look, we just love to hearing the stories. We can absolutely send that to them or send that to you to send to them. You can jump on our website and get that going. We need photos, surprise, surprise. High resolution photos, please. If you’re aiming to be on the Featured blog, a lot of details, so the couple, their family, but a lot of the details, like dresses or suits or tablescapes or flowers.

Dorothy  45:56

Often, someone will say, “Oh, look, the wedding isn’t full of detail. You’re not going to like it,” but it’s not really about that. For us, it’s about the way that it is shot. For instance, it’s getting a good shot of the venue so that we have some context about the venue. It’s getting some shots of perhaps the rings or perhaps the detail of the dress or the detail of the different elements. It doesn’t have to be a detail-filled wedding. It has to be a wedding where there’s lots of little moments and things that are captured, so that we can easily tell that story. We’ve featured elopements. We love elopements. We love casual weddings as much as we love the weddings full of everything and every bell and whistle, but it has to be captured in a way where people can understand the story that is being told.

Mary  46:39

Exactly. If you’re not sure, send it to us. If you’re not sure, submit it. If you’re not in it to, I don’t want to say win it. If you’re not going to send it through, it’s definitely not going to get through.

Dorothy  46:54

100%. Like you said, you got to be in it to win it, you’ve got to be in it for a chance – but also don’t forget vendor credits because we need those vendor credits.

Mary   47:03

We do, we do. It saves a lot of back and forth. If you have everything ready to go for us, like a filled-in questionnaire, like the high-res image selection, like the credits, it’s very rare that we’re going to have to get back to you and be like, “Hey, we need some more.” Usually, we’ll get it. If you send us all of that and we get it and it’s everything we need, we will be praising you and be, “Oh, my God. This is amazing,” and it’s ready to go. We’ll fit it into our content calendar and it’ll be set.

Dorothy  47:33

We can’t tell you the amount of time we spend on that vendor crediting. We want to make sure that every single vendor is rewarded for the work that they do, so we will tag them on Instagram, on stories, on Facebook because we believe every vendor needs to be credited. We need that full vendor credit list. We haven’t been to the wedding. As much as people have gotten  very angry at us in the past for leaving off credit, we would never do that unless it’s not given to us. We need those credits to make sure that everyone is rewarded for the work that they’ve done.

Mary   48:03

Exactly. Look, you don’t need to be one of our directory members to submit to us. We accept submissions from anyone, from couples, from any wedding vendors, preferably within Australia and New Zealand.

Dorothy  48:16

We need our stories to have an Aussie link because we are Australian.

Mary   48:19

Yeah, exactly, but Ms Polka, what else do we offer our members?

Dorothy  48:24

Look, our vendor members, I’m so passionate about them because I just think they’re amazing people. One of the caveats or one of the mission statements of our directory is that we’re helping you find vendors that suit you, not us. Our directory is not invitation only. As we were building this new directory, and even our old directory, it never really sat well with us that we had some criteria that members had to pass in order to be worthy of spending money with us. Having said that, we do have caveats. The dress people that will rip off Australian designers, we will not accept. We will not accept anything to do with weight loss or cosmetic surgery, etc. because of course, we believe you’re beautiful the way you are. You don’t need any of that stuff. So, we do have caveats, but we welcome everyone and everyone to our directory because we understand that businesses are at all different stages, but also that people have all different tastes. We offer annual and monthly subscriptions where you get to be a part of our directory, but not only that. You get access to a whole bunch of amazing content marketing stuff. You get access to Ms Rose, for instance, who will help you produce amazing evergreen content that stays on our site forever and promotes you as less about just being, “Oh, look, here I am, sell my stuff,” and more about, “I’m an amazing expert in my field.”

Mary   49:45

That’s it. That’s where our specialty blogs come in. They are perfect for this sort of marketing.

Dorothy  49:50

Exactly. You get a voice across all our sites. You also get things like a weekly business-related newsletter. You get opportunities to be on our podcast. Our podcast guests are purely Polka Dot members because we believe that we probably should be asking them first, the people that pay us and work with us more than any other vendor at the moment. We are offering those exclusively to our members on top of a whole bunch of more experiences and opportunities that these members get. Our membership program is a lot more than just set-and-forget advertising. We really ask our members to get involved with us to make the most of the content marketing that we provide to them.

Mary   50:29

That’s the thing about content marketing. We don’t just throw your work up and go, “Book these guys” because we’re building trust with our readers and we want you to do the same and we want our readers to know about you. We want them to hear your voice. We want them to see your talent and see your genuine love for the industry and figure out who they’re going to gel with. That’s part of that marketing plan there. That’s something we really, really focus on and really make an important part of our jobs, is reaching out to you guys to create this with you. We love our directory members, you are all incredible. Super fun to work with as well, which is just a perk.

Dorothy  51:12

If I was picking all our directory members based on my personal tastes, it’ll all be one little segment of the community, whereas I love that our members, there’s all different photography styles and all different floristry styles and all different price points and budgets and personalities because there are all kinds of people in the world and it should be like that.

Mary  51:31

Exactly. Exactly. Look, I think that we’ve had a good old chat.

Dorothy  51:40

I’m surprised it didn’t go an hour longer, to be fair.

Mary   51:43

I know, yeah, which tends to happen to us when we have a meeting. We’ve really reined ourselves in here. Lucky for you and I, we are going to do some more of these.

Dorothy  51:52

We are, with different things every time, and hopefully, the other Polka people will join us.

Mary   51:59

We do. We want you to hear from our other team members as well, so please send us that feedback. We would like to hear from the other team members as well. Let’s get them on here, but we do have some other episodes planned, ready to go for some more behind the scenes with us. We just want to really talk about what we love and why we love what we do and why we love who we work with. It’s fun and we love doing the podcast.

Dorothy  52:26

I love this chat because we know how much work we have to do, we know we get it wrong.

Mary   52:31

We know we’re learning.

Dorothy  52:34

We know we’re learning. We know this whole Inclusion, diversity, equality journey is one that is really tricky and hard for the wedding industry. We know that it has a lot of fear around it. If we’ve been able to expose a little bit about the things and thoughts that we’ve had over the years, hopefully that will inspire someone else to make some changes in their business.

Mary  52:54

Exactly. Well, Ms Polka, thank you for chatting to me today.

Dorothy  52:59

Thank you for chatting to me.

Mary   53:01

My pleasure. I look forward to doing it again soon.

Dorothy  53:04

Thank you so much for joining us for the very first episode ever behind the scenes of Polka Dot Wedding Podcast. You can find a full written transcript of today’s show of course over on We have all the links there as well. Now, this is a new one for us, so we definitely want to hear what you think. Make sure you hop on over to email, DM, Instagram, wherever you want to message us and let us know what you think. We are looking forward to sharing more of these with you. We’ll be back in another two weeks with another episode.