"Colonial" Wedding Pictures Taken Down, Those Involved Apologize

Illustration for article titled "Colonial" Wedding Pictures Taken Down, Those Involved Apologize

Monday we saw photographs from the nuptials of Dave and Chantal, which was called a "Colonial Africa" themed wedding. Today, the images have been removed from the photographers' website, and they have issued a statement.


Statement: 15 July 2011

On behalf of welovepictures, we feel it necessary to respond to those who we have offended by the wedding titled Colonial African Wedding, posted on our blog recently. The images were maliciously taken out of context in a report by an American online gossip site.

We would like to point out:

- that the theme chosen by the couple was in fact based on Sydney Pollack's film "Out of Africa" and that it was not, in any reasonable interpretation of that term, a celebration of colonialism. By titling the blog post "Colonial African Wedding", we were naive not to consider the negative implications of using the word "colonial" in the blog title. In hindsight, we understand that this word carries a significant amount of hurt and pain. For this we offer our sincerest apologies.

- that the waitrons who served at the wedding, at the couple's request, comprised of all race groups found in South Africa, including people of European descent.

- that it was certainly not our intention to offend, belittle or in any other way cause harm to anyone through our work.

Nevertheless, we acknowledge that some of the images, when viewed out of context, could be misinterpreted and regarded as insensitive and offensive. For this we are deeply sorry and offer our sincere apologies to everyone who may have been genuinely offended or hurt by them.

Travis and Maike McNeill

It's worth pointing out a few things: It's entirely possible to enjoy the aesthetics of the film Out Of Africa, a vintage explorer/safari look without being racist. Obviously. Just because you like, say, '50s dresses, doesn't mean you want Jim Crow laws to return. But. Colonization and the oppression of people of color is very real, very widespread and in no way a thing of the past. As is white privilege. And from this black American's perspective, the images did appear to celebrate, applaud and glorify the "good old days" that were only good for the advantaged few. It is heartening to learn that there was no intention to offend.

Meanwhile, Amanda Hess points out that here in the U.S. we have our own racist nuptial issues to think about, since plantation weddings are fairly popular. She checked out some wedding blogs and message boards:

"I'd skip the Confederate flags simply from a sensitivity standpoint since it is a polarizing (albeit historical) symbol," one commenter advised a woman on her plantation wedding decor. "As for your original question, mint juleps may make a cute 'signature' drink," she continued. But eliminating explicitly racist details from your wedding doesn't make the venue any less racist. It's on a plantation.

Statement: 15 July 2011 [welovepictures]
Why Are People Still Having Weddings at Plantations Slaves Built? [Good]

Earlier: "Colonial"-Themed Wedding Included Authentic All-Black Servant Staff



I'm really torn on this. I brought up plantations in the comments of the original article. I appreciate that some light has been shed on it, but I feel like Hess' article paints only one extreme view. I have been to many, many plantation weddings. One of my good friends had one recently. Just this past year, her and her husband founded a nonprofit that took med students to work in African villages for free. She is definitely not racist. At these weddings, I have never seen a period costume, rebel flag, or remnants of slave quarters. And yes, I have seen black guests and white staff members.

I understand that plantations have a terrible, terrible history. Honestly though, that could be said of pretty much everywhere in the South. I've heard rumors that our state capitol building still has two water fountains. Our city's park used to have segregated pools. My grandmother can still remember when the first black person was allowed in my high school.

Should we tear down every building that ever held racial significance? You'd have to bulldoze half the South, honestly. I think people are racist in their actions, not in their choice of venue. I can see where people who don't live here would be shocked at the notion of a plantation wedding, but having grown up around them it's never been a big deal. I've never heard a black southern person say they were offended.

Of course, maybe some of them were. If that is the case, I'm happy to say I wouldn't go to one again.