When we were first introduced to Beth Kramer and the amazing space she co-founded for the wedding industry, Altared, we knew we had found our people. Fighting against traditions that alienate and exclude people, doing whatever we can to support wedding vendors, and making this industry a happier place for everyone are all missions we stand behind.
Which is why we’re so excited to introduce you to Beth, Altared and the incredible ways they are working to change the wedding industry (and how you can get involved).
Without further ado, let’s meet Beth and learn about Altared!
Please introduce yourself! Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Elisabeth “Beth” Kramer (she/her) and I’m a wedding planner in Portland, Oregon. My mission is to fight the Wedding Industrial Complex.
That term is a shorthand that I use to denote all of the gross things that exist in our society and are also 100 percent a part of the wedding industry. Think: racism, ageism, homophobia — pretty much anything that makes people unsafe and unseen.
I do this through a newsletter, a consulting service, an event, a podcast, and my own writing (on my blog and at various publications), all of which can be found on my website.
I also wrote a book about how to plan a wedding that’s in line with your values, and make all of the resources I use as a wedding planner free to use on my site.
What is Altared?
Altared is a space for wedding vendors who want to change the wedding industry. This work has taken many different forms since Altared started in February 2020. As of this writing (March 2022) through May 2022, the two main forms are:
- a series of virtual classes. Each class is a paid partnership with an established educator on the topics of diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in the wedding industry for wedding vendors.
- a series of wedding vendor support sessions. Each 60-minute virtual session will be led by certified trauma support specialist Michelle Jalali and be open to seven wedding vendors.
The list of classes and sessions, including monthly themes, can be found on the Altared homepage.
How did Altared get started? How did it evolve into what it is today?
Altared started as a completely different event.
The Marriage Expo was hosted in April 2019 by Emily Sterling of Rooted & Wild: Spirited Ceremonies, Arielle Zamora of Small Yard Flowers, and me (wedding planner Elisabeth Kramer). The goal was to take the “traditional” wedding show and refocus the conversation on what really matters on a wedding day: the marriage.
The event was successful — eight couples showed up — but it was clear that the most dynamic conversations weren’t happening between couples.
They were happening between wedding vendors.
And thus, Altared was born.
The very first Altared was hosted in Portland, Oregon, on February 9, 2020. It featured three speakers: Kheoshi Owens of Empress Rules Equity Consulting, Jamie Thrower of Studio XIII Photography, and Arielle Zamora of Small Yard Flowers.
The event sold out.
Response was even more overwhelming the next time Altared was hosted: December 12, 2020. This event was virtual and had a very simple goal: Make wedding vendors less sad. Sixty-four vendors attended from nine states and two countries.
Next came a series of virtual classes hosted from February 2021 through June 2021, and a wedding vendor support care package sent in December 2021. Every month, Altared also sends a roundup of wedding industry news with a focus on resources for and by vendors.
Who is Altared for?
Wedding vendors who want to change the wedding industry.
Why does the wedding world need a community like Altared?
In my experience, it’s very easy to feel isolated as a small business owner, which nearly all wedding vendors are. I find it can also be particularly easy to feel isolated in the wedding industry, which historically has focused on societal norms that hurt and alienate people.
Altared exists so that wedding vendors can work together to be more inclusive, sustainable, mindful, and, ultimately, happy with what we do and how we do it. That’s needed because I believe it’s hard to effect positive change from a place of isolation; it’s much easier when you have coworkers and friends working alongside you.
I also want to note that Altared is NOT a membership group. This is a common misconception because there are lots of membership groups in the wedding industry. Altared is very intentionally not this; people can engage with Altared in whatever way serves them best, be that signing up for the free newsletter, joining a support session, going to a class. There’s no right or wrong.
How have wedding vendors responded to the classes and events Altared hosts?
Wedding vendors have responded very well to Altared! In the two years that Altared has been around — nearly all of which has been during the COVID-19 pandemic — Altared has grown from a regional networking function to an organization that serves wedding vendors throughout the U.S. and in several nations around the world (so far, Canada, Japan, and Germany).
A couple examples:
- The Altared newsletter serves more than 250 wedding vendors with an average open rate of 66. 5 percent and an average click rate of 11.5 percent. It’s a small and engaged group.
- Last year’s series of classes had an average of 22 students with representation from 22 states and three countries; we are on track for similar numbers for the 2022 class season.
Analytics aside, Altared folks seem to actually like each other! They make friends! I know this because I see them partner on projects, share each other’s work, and refer one another to their clients.
One recent example:
Every month for the 2022 class season, I’ve put out a call for vendors to sponsor other vendors to go to an Altared class. This is 100 percent a goodwill thing; sure, I give the vendors who sponsor a ticket the option to be called out on the Altared Instagram but it’s really just a “do a nice thing” thing.
Every month, Altared folks have shown up. For February’s class alone, we had FIVE vendors sponsor tickets so that other vendors, whom they’ve never met, could go to the class. I think this is the coolest thing.
What have been some of your biggest takeaways from your work with Altared? What work have you been most proud of?
My biggest takeaway from my work with Altared is that I’m not alone. That’s also a theme I often hear from vendors who interact with Altared in some way, whether it’s by subscribing to get the free newsletter or joining a $7 support session or coming to a $50 class. In nearly every situation, I hear from at least one fellow vendor who says, “Wow. I thought I was the only one.” or “This is really refreshing.”
What are you most looking forward to doing with Altared in 2022/2023?
I am cautiously optimistic that we’ll be able to host an in-person Altared in December 2022. This is something I was hoping to do in December 2021 but that I opted not to because of COVID.
I see this event as a coming together — in-person and virtually — of all of the amazing people who have entered the Altared universe since we started in February 2020. Many of those folks have been able to meet each other online through Altared’s various offerings so I’m really looking forward to providing a space where those relationships can deepen and grow.
After a tough couple of years in the wedding industry, what message would you want to share with your fellow wedding vendors?
You’re not alone.
I say this both as a co-founder of Altared who regularly interacts with dozens of vendors all over the world and as a vendor myself who has experienced extreme financial and mental hardship during COVID-19.
I make this joke a lot but it’s applicable: I don’t miss much about my former corporate life but I do miss coworkers so email me.
How can people get involved with Altared and get in touch?
The Altared newsletter is best. You can subscribe via this link.
Altared’s next class on April 19, 2022 is “Your Ableism Is Showing, and How It’s Hurting Your Wedding Business” with deafblind entrepreneur, disabled rights activist, and accessibility educator Erin Perkins. And Altared’s next wedding vendor support session is happening on April 26, 2022 for wedding vendors who are raising a child or children.
To find out about all of Altared’s classes, support sessions and events, visit our website.
I love to hear from people who work in weddings. I’m at email@example.com. If you’re emailing me specifically about Altared, you can also use firstname.lastname@example.org.