Wedding planning sites to stop promoting plantation-style content

Chelsea Ritschel

Two popular wedding-planning sites, The Knot and Pinterest, have announced they will no longer be promoting wedding venues or content that romanticises former slave plantations.

The change, reported by BuzzFeed, comes after both sites were contacted by civil rights advocacy group Color of Change.

Under The Knot’s new guidelines, vendors will be required to avoid language that “glorifies, celebrates, or romanticises Southern plantation history,” chief marketing officer Dhanusha Sivajee told the outlet, meaning that vendors cannot refer to a “history of slavery” with language such as “elegant” or “charming”.

“We want to make sure we’re serving all our couples and that they don’t feel in any way discriminated against,” Sivajee said, adding that the guidelines will apply to all vendors so plantations can not be resold as “manors or farms”.

Any vendors that do not comply with the new guidelines will be removed from the site, according to The Knot.

On Pinterest, new policies that turn off search recommendations, autocomplete and email notifications are being implemented to limit the distribution of plantation content, the site told The Independent.

In addition to working to de-index Google searches for plantation weddings on Pinterest, the site said that users who search for plantation-related content will see an advisory warning them that some of the content may violate the site’s policies.

Pinterest will also ensure that no ads are shown on search results for plantation content so the company does not make money from them.

“Weddings should be a symbol of love and unity,” a spokesperson for Pinterest said. “Plantations represent none of those things. We are grateful to Color of Change for bringing attention to this disrespectful practise.”

But, according to Rashad Robinson, Color of Change president, there is still more work to be done to educate people about the accurate history of the wedding venues.

“More work has to be done, so people recognise what these sites are,” Robinson told the outlet. “They aren’t tributes to innovation and hard work and agriculture. They are sites of forced labour, beatings, and rapes and so much more and some of the worst human rights abuses the world has seen. To have your celebration there is to give clear celebration to this.”

Plantation weddings have been a controversial yet popular choice for couples in the US for years, despite their dark history. Searches for plantation weddings show venues described as “romantic” or having “Southern charm”. In 2012, Blake Lively married Ryan Reynolds at a plantation in South Carolina and in 2016, Southern Celebrations Magazine including the theme in its round up of top 10 wedding trends.

Current searches for plantation weddings on Pinterest result in a notice that states: "People have reported Pins from this search. Let us know if you see something that goes against our policies."

The Independent has contacted The Knot for comment.

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