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‘Rock N Roll Bride’ Is The Glittery Punk Wedding Mag Of Our Dreams

Culture
Photo by Lisa Jane Photography

Talking with Kat Williams about the allure of the “anti-bride”

I’m not getting married anytime soon, and I’m not the type of person who dreamed up the perfect wedding as a child. Watching Say Yes to the Dress was the closest I got to that craze, but that had more to do with my obsession with reality television and less to do with dreaming about my “big day.” But, after a tattoo artist I follow on Instagram shared a digital feature of her wedding on the Rock N Roll Bride, I fell down the bridal blog rabbit hole and never looked back. 

Based out of the U.K., Rock N Roll Bride's founder, Kat Williams, wanted to build a platform for weddings that didn’t fit the archetypal matrimonial model. Heading to Rock N Roll Bride feels like all the satisfaction of biting into that corner slice of wedding cake, but without the tired bridezilla tropes attached. There’s glitter, smoke, elopements, sometimes no brides at all—what’s not to love? Today, Rock N Roll Bride celebrates its 11th birthday, so NYLON chatted with the founder herself about everything alt-bridal.  

It all started when Williams was planning her own wedding back in 2007 and began the blog as a way to talk about it. “That’s when it kind of exploded,” Williams says. “After we got married in 2008, I kind of carried it on, but, obviously, at that point, I was already married. So my blog changed from talking about our wedding to sharing other weddings I found online and talking about things that I liked that I’d seen... It just kind of naturally progressed into being an alternative kind of hub,” she explains, “because that’s the kind of weddings I was really interested in.”

She didn’t see herself in the wedding magazines that littered the racks at bookstores when she was looking for her own inspiration. “You would open any wedding magazine, and it was like, ‘You know, you have to spend £30,000, and you have to have a horse and a carriage and blah blah blah.’” What’s original—or realistic—about that? “I remember when we were engaged, we had no idea what we wanted, but we knew we didn’t want that.” So the blog became a platform for her search for out-of-the-box ideas. 

“People sort of gravitated toward it,” she says. It makes sense seeing that she was filling such an obvious gap in the wedding industry. When they had nowhere else to look, brides- and grooms-to-be could look at Williams’ blog and, later, magazine, to find brides dressed in black, venues that didn’t cost a thing, and queer couples. While in 2018 there’s a lot more representation in the wedding industry (and beyond), Williams still notices a lack of representation for couples that don’t fit the norm and makes sure to feature a diverse roster of weddings in each and every issue. 

Luckily, she doesn’t have to do a lot of searching to find gorgeous events to showcase—they come to her. Approximately 99 percent of the weddings featured are pitched by the wedding party or photographers themselves, according to Williams, but she does keep her eyes peeled for others. “I do follow hashtags on Instagram, and we have a Facebook group that has, like, 13,000 brides in it.” 

By “a bit of an accident,” Williams created a hashtag to unite alternative weddings in one place. #AntiBrideTribe was originally thought of as just a way to have weddings that maybe didn’t fit the site, but were still really cool, have a place to exist amongst the others. But in it, “anti”-brides found community, and the hashtag now has nearly 3,000 posts to scroll through. 

With all the colorful, creative weddings to choose from, it’s hard to pick favorites. Williams points to a few that were quite memorable, including a wild Vegas elopement with a pink-haired, sequin-donning bride. “I was just the coolest fucking elopement you've ever seen,” Williams exclaims. “We featured it, and it got picked up by quite a lot of mainstream press, it went kind of viral. So I always loved that one.” While love doesn’t always last, like in this couple’s case—the two split last year—the wedding inspo remains tough to beat. 

Williams has a penchant for Vegas elopements that she features on Rock N Roll Bride, gushing over one featured just this past week. “[The groom] also wore a wedding dress, and it was the same dress as her. I was like, ‘Oh my god! I love you!’” Not only did their dresses match, but the two both wore red pumps, dramatic curls, and cowboy hats. 

For quite some time now, Williams has been offering her own personal way of putting an official Rock N Roll Bride touch on your wedding, through collaborations with clothing and accessory brands. She teamed up with Sophie King of Crown And Glory, first for a collection of flower crowns before, later, diving into veils. “We both know my audience inside and out,” Williams says of King. As far as weddings go, their offerings are priced on the lower side and still available today, making them ideal for any bride looking to put an alt touch on her look. 

Recently, Rock N Roll Bride has collaborated with The Couture Company on a collection of embroidered leather jackets. Whether you’re a bride-to-be who wants a killer layer to throw over your gown, or just an everyday fan of the magazine, there’s no mistaking that these are the coolest way to scream, “I’m rock 'n' roll!” 

Now, Williams is putting all her knowledge of pulling off the ultimate alt wedding into a book, which will cover everything “from getting engaged to setting your budget to dealing with the guest list, literally everything... You could just buy that book, and hopefully, it will answer all your questions.” 

“I have wanted to write a book for a very long time,” she adds, “and I kind of put it off for a long time because I was scared of getting rejected.” But what most writers dream of happening, happened to Williams—the publishers came to her. She says, “My publishers came to me in the end, and said they’d been following me online and were like, ‘We love what you do. Would you be interested in putting it into a book?’” It was fate. 

Even as we move into the digital age, Williams realizes the importance of physical publication when it comes to wedding planning. “It’s really nice to offer people something they can hold in their hands,” she says. “You could literally plan your wedding using the internet and spreadsheets. But brides still want to buy those notebooks, and still go buy the magazines and rip up the pages. It’s still a very tactile thing.”

Through the ups and downs of starting a blog and magazine from the ground up, Williams has remained open and in touch with her audience—quite a unique trait for the publishing world. “It is very much me at the forefront, and you either like me or you don't. And if you don't, that's fine, and if you do, that's awesome,” she said. With fluorescent pink-green-and-blue hair, and the most enviable collection of rainbow-colored garments, and a bright personality to match, it’s hard to imagine an audience that wouldn’t fall for Williams' charm. 

Whether you’re knee-deep in planning a wedding, or would just love to fawn over pages upon pages of tulle and glitter and cake, Rock N Roll Bride: The Ultimate Guide for Alternative Brides is available for pre-order now

NYLON uses affiliate links and may earn a commission if you purchase something through those links, but every product chosen is selected independently.

Nail polish is for novices

Fashion label The Blonds is known for its high-intensity looks that you'd only wear if you wanted to stand out (and who doesn't?). For its runway shows, wild press-on nails are the beauty step that can't be missed. So, since the brand has partnered with CND since it was founded, we thought it best to get prepped for the show with Jan Arnold, CND's co-founder.

See why you should take your nail look from a zero to a 10, in the video above.

Credits:
Shot by Charlotte Prager
Edited by Gretta Wilson
Produced by Alexandra Hsie
Production Assistant: Polina Buchak
Featuring Jan Arnold of CND Nails and The Blonds

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Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

It would've been nice if someone said the word "fat"

Back in November, Rebel Wilson claimed to be the first plus-sized lead in a romantic comedy when she appeared on Ellen to talk about her role in Isn't It Romantic. Wilson was not only wrong, but she was—even if inadvertently—erasing the work of Black plus-size actresses like Queen Latifah and Mo'Nique, both of whom have expansive resumes that include romantic comedies.

Wilson's comment isn't the first example of white women taking up a little too much space in the fat acceptance ethos. It's actually quite common. But there is a reason why women like Wilson—women who are blonde, pretty, successful, and white—get put front and center in calls for body positivity. In the same way that feminism—the movement from which body positivity was born—has often failed to address how gender intersects with other identities like race and class; so, too, has body positivity been championed as a cause for otherwise privileged women. And that's why it's no surprise that Isn't It Romantic, which aspires to be both a spot-on mockery of rom-coms and a celebration of body positivity, is actually a perfect example of how very white both the movie genre and the body positivity movement tend to be.

In the film, Wilson plays Natalie, an architect based in New York, who is single and plus-sized—the archetypal rom-com underdog. Very early on in the movie, she endures the double humiliation of both being hit by a runaway food cart and then accosted by its owner for not stopping it with her "cement truck"-like body. At work, Natalie is similarly disrespected: The office manager hands off troubleshooting tasks to Natalie; another colleague always tasks Natalie to throw out his trash; her assistant Whitney (Betty Gilpin) won't stop watching movies (rom-coms, naturally) while in the office; and Natalie is so afraid to present her ideas for more innovative parking garage designs that she isn't even widely known in the firm as an architect, and is treated like an intern.

But is Natalie just a doormat? Or is it that she isn't asking for what she wants? And isn't very nice about not getting it? If Natalie's life is any example, the bar on suffering is set pretty low for white women. In her personal life, Natalie lives alone with her dog, and seems to be pretty well-off, financially; her best friend is actually her slacker assistant, Whitney, and she's close with another coworker, Josh (Adam Devine), who gives Natalie constant emotional support. She's decidedly anti-romantic, having been told by her mother from a young age that there's no such thing as real-life fairy tales; she's level-headed and practical. But also, she's filled with self-loathing. This leads her to be crass, sarcastic, and disconnected from people. And it was this last part that was hard for me. As a fat Black woman who grew up broke, does not have an assistant, and would get fired if I didn't do my job well, it was hard, if not impossible, to root for her.

For Natalie, though, everything changes when she bangs her head while fighting off a mugger. Her mundane life is tinted through rosy rom-com glasses. Suddenly, all the things that sucked about her life are gone, and everything is beautiful and perfect. But was her life so bad before? It didn't really seem to be.

And yet, looking around the theater at the mostly white, female audience, I accepted that my feelings didn't seem to be shared. But that almost seems to be by design; this feels like a movie for a white, female audience. There is only one person of color in the movie who even has a name: It's Isabelle (Priyanka Chopra), who shows up about halfway through the film—after everything has been rom-com filtered—as a yoga ambassador and swimsuit model. But a name is all Isabella has. A supporting character at best, she doesn't have any connection to anyone other than her white boyfriend, and is sketchily drawn. We learn nothing of her familial or ethnic background, and, even when she is shown at her wedding, there is nobody from her family celebrating with her. This huge oversight is particularly bizarre, given that Natalie has already bemoaned the lack of diversity in romantic films.

Another huge oversight? The presence of the word "fat." I don't think I heard it used a single time. Natalie only references her weight indirectly, by commenting on the appearance of straight-sized women; when talking about her own body, the word "fat" is replaced with "girl like me." But by ignoring this aspect of herself, and refusing to address it head-on, Natalie is succumbing to the same fatphobia that shapes her world, whether she identifies it as being a problem or not.

Before her life becomes a rom-com, Natalie feels invisible at work and in the world. Some of this is certainly her fault, but fatphobia is also at play. Fatphobia chips away at the humanity of fat people from different angles. It means that Natalie gets used to being dehumanized; she doesn't expect others to have empathy for her when she's physically hurt, because they don't value her body. And it's no coincidence that Natalie's fantasy world includes a magically bigger apartment with unlimited clothing options, because discrimination against fat people isn't just a matter aesthetics and preferences—it affects everything from our ability to dress ourselves to our ability to make and save money, since there's a price to pay for being fat, even if it's just having to pay more to travel. Just as much as gender and race intersect with fat bodies, so, too, do economics and class.

I knew I could count on a plus-sized white comedian to take down a genre of films that prioritized thin women. But I ventured to see if Wilson could go further than that, and challenge what it means to be white and well-off and fat in the process; it isn't just about taking down rom-coms but about doing so in a way that isn't just a mouthpiece for white feminist values. But, in the end, that isn't what happened. Isn't It Romantic is fine, but it needed to do more than target an audience of girls who are 10 to 30 pounds overweight and still too jolted by the word "fat" to ever apply it to themselves, so they go for acceptable alternatives, like curvy, plus-sized—or thicc, if they're hip. But I'm not afraid to say I'm fat, I'm just disappointed I will be waiting even longer to see a realistic reflection of that experience onscreen.

Isn't It Romantic is in theaters now.