I have to start this week's feature with a profound thank you to everyone who has spread the word about this series and/or donated to fund its continuation. Your support (whether monetary or verbal) means that I can pay the artists featured and dedicate more time and resources to continuing this work. Thank you.
As a fellow Filipina in the wedding industry, meeting Saria of Rue Anafel in Portland felt like a breath of fresh air. There is an undeniable burden to being a woman of color in a predominantly wealthy, cis, white hetero industry. Blogs and magazines perpetuate an image of lavish and often wasteful celebrations catering to one specific kind of bride. Equally disheartening, the businesses we work with are rarely POC-owned and further enable an industry that doesn't prioritize inclusivity.
But the art in weddings can be more meaningful; they can be more representative; and they can challenge the norm. I first saw Saria's work during The Woke Wedding, a wedding shoot dedicated to inclusivity for both vendors and clients, and I knew we needed to continue speaking up about the lack of diversity in the wedding world. This photoshoot reminds us how important it is to intentionally make space for underrepresented voices in an industry that's supposed to be centered around love.
Name: Saria Anafel Dy
Background: Born in the Philippines, moved to the US when I was two years old, and grew up mostly in Salt Lake City with my big Filipino family. I moved to Portland in 2009 by myself to study Sociology at PSU.
Medium of choice: I’m a floral designer, and I lean towards specializing in seasonal flora and foliage that grows in the immediate area, as well as dried flowers.
Karaoke jam: Usually Johnny Cash or something along those lines.
Tell us about one of your favorite Portland memories: I think many of my favorite memories in Portland didn’t take place in Portland, but moreso happened over the course of me living in Portland. They mostly include being in nature in the surrounding areas, without people around, and lazing by a river or mountainside somewhere.
Please share a time it was difficult living in Portland: I have a love and hate relationship with Portland, and I always have. Even when I first moved here, I was wanting to jump ship. And as time went on, I acquired an immense affection and longing, as well as despise for this city. Initially moving to Portland, I was happy to find a place where so many other people had similar taste and interests as me. Coming from Salt Lake City, it was rare to find others who were interested in counter cultures, which used to be dominant here in Portland. But the longer I was away from my family, the longer I began to feel lonely and disconnected to my culture, or any other culture at that (other than white culture), because well, Portland is just so white. This has been one of the driving factors of the difficulty I have had living in Portland. It feels stifling, stagnant, and isolating. Both personally and professionally.
How do you stay inspired in Portland? Honestly, I stay inspired by traveling or searching through the internet, learning about what other artists are doing in other countries. Not a lot of my inspiration comes from Portland itself. I would say the most inspiration I get from Portland is finding self empowerment by believing I deserve to succeed in a creative field, to carve a space for myself as a WOC and others like me, and to set an example for other WOC, because there are so far and few within my industry.
How can Portland support you and/or your community? White Portland can support me and my community by first listening and not becoming defensive as soon as the term “white people” is said by a POC. For Portland as a whole, there are obvious ways, like hiring POC, putting POC in leadership positions, and seeking to collaborate and work with other POC businesses and professionals who are already doing amazing work. In almost every instance in regards to companies I’ve ever worked for or collaborated with, I’ve been the only non-white person.
Rue Anafel has been featured in the Portland Mercury and A Practical Wedding for inclusive wedding collaborations. Find more of Saria's work on Instagram, Pinterest, and www.rueanafel.com.
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