As with many people, the first wedding I ever planned was my own. I married my husband in July 2014 at Golden Gate Park’s Shakespeare Garden and had our reception at Terra Gallery. It was one of the most JOYFUL days of my life. I’ll never forget the morning AFTER we got married, we woke up next to each other in our hotel room and the FIRST thing Jonny said to me was: “Gina and Jonny got divorced.”

I immediately gave my new husband a weird look, like “What you just say?” He quickly followed up with “So they could get married again!” LOL. It was honestly the most fun day we have ever had, with all our family and friends coming together, and we wanted to already recreate the joy. We decided in that moment that we would do another big party at our 10 Year Anniversary, which is coming up next year 2024 in fact!

Representation & Action Matters.

When I started planning my wedding, and later working in the wedding and events industry, I hardly saw anyone that looked like me anywhere.  I didn’t see them at wedding show events, as wedding vendors working the events, at venues on the venue staff, and not even on wedding websites or blogs. It was wild!

Every website and vendor I found during my wedding research was filled with whiteness – white dresses, white decor, white faces. This was not a new experience for me as I was used to always feeling “othered” in most spaces that I was a part of. But for my own wedding, it was unacceptable. I didn’t want to wear a traditional white wedding dress – I wanted to be a literal sparkling disco ball walking down the aisle.

When I founded Make it Mariko in 2015, and now POC Wedding Party in 2023, my goal has always been to CHANGE THE STATUS QUO.

POC Wedding Party is here to help course correct the lack of diversity in the wedding industry. 

We’re here to uplift people of color, small businesses, and actual creatives & artists. I’ve witnessed too many “Wedding DJs” disrespecting the art of DJing and turntablism by faking it using AI DJ apps that do all the work for them, only to then mess up the couple’s first dance song (“Your headphones aren’t plugged in homie.”). As a dancer who is married to a DJ, it personally hurts my heart every time.

Reframing the Wedding Experience

In 2022, I took a much needed sabbatical to take time to heal from the trauma of the pandemic and the constant pivoting of the events industry. When I came back to the work after 3 months, I considered canceling ALL our wedding services to simplify our offerings and reduce the drama. But I quickly realized I still LOVED planning weddings – I just only wanted to do them a certain way. 

  • I wanted to plan weddings for couples that were all about the FAMILY & JOY.
  • Couples that weren’t so focused on checking Pinterest for the latest “wedding trends.”
  • Couples that wanted non-traditional wedding experiences and that weren’t afraid to break the mold.
  • Couples that wanted to create their OWN family traditions on their big day.

Finding Our People

So we decided to LEAN IN to our Bay Area identity and curate our own personalized WEDDING VIBE. We’d curate the DREAM TEAM of wedding vendors who we could trust to always come through for our clients. 

We would do weddings OUR WAY. And whoever was down, was down. We’d find our people, and we knew they would find us. 

So here we are. I’m so excited for you to meet our Wedding Crew! They are some of the most HUMBLE, creative, kind, caring, funny, honest, and talented people I’ve ever met in my life. I’m so grateful to be able to build next to these people on a day to day basis and CALL THIS WORK.

As always, we are committed to curating creative, inclusive, and diverse spaces in the events industry, to challenge the status quo, and pave the way for a new generation of event experience curators.

We hope you will join us on the journey. Thank you for supporting the dream always.

– Gina Mariko

Founder & Chief Experience Officer
POC Wedding Party