This Unnerving Wedding Registry Surprised Bridal Show Attendees With Artifacts of Abuse

'Broken Bride Registry' raises awareness of domestic violence

Featured at a real wedding expo, the 'Broken Bride Registry' contains ominous items with disconcerting backstories. Interval House

Cigarette-Burn Cream. Cried-All-Night Sunglasses. Jealous-Rage Bandages. A Don’t-Talk-Back Arm Sling.

You’ll find such “gift ideas” on The Broken Bride Registry, a darkly potent campaign from Canada designed to raise awareness of spousal abuse, which ranks as that nation’s top form of violence against women.

Each product corresponds to a real-life story of abuse. For example, the bandages symbolize the struggle of a woman stabbed by her husband just before Christmas, while Locked-Fridge Protein Bars represent the hunger and shame another wife endured when her spouse made her go without food for days at a time.

Though not actually for sale, the items appeared at last month’s Canada Bridal Show in Toronto, serving as props in an interactive experience developed by Union for Interval House, a center for abused women and children.

“Frankly, we didn’t think that any bridal show would agree to the idea, so we were thrilled when one of the biggest and well known in the country agreed to give us a booth,” says Union creative director Rica Eckersley.

“There was certainly an element of shock, and many people reacted very emotionally,” she recalls. “One woman recounted the fact that her sister had escaped an abusive relationship. One man shared his experience of abuse, saying that it was the first time that he was able to talk about this experience. Another woman wept openly, saying that the stories reminded her of the history of abuse in her family, as her grandfather abused her grandmother for years.”

During the show’s three-day run, Interval House staffers were on hand at the booth to provide comfort and counseling.

“At the shelter, we notice women will come to us after significant moments such as marriage, the birth of a child or holidays, “ says Rachel Ramkaran, annual giving and communications adviser for Interval House. “These milestone moments can be times of emotional and financial stress, and abusers will lash out under pressure. We see an increase in calls to our crisis line during these times.”

You can see the items and take deep dives into the stories of six abused women on the campaign’s website, which also seeks to generate donations. Couples are encouraged to add donations to the nonprofit to their wedding registries.

“The more we talk about this subject,” Eckersley says, “the greater chance there is of women reaching out for help and living lives free from abuse.”

Agency: Union, Toronto
EVP & Managing Director: Catherine Marcolin
Chief Creative Officer: Lance Martin
Creative Directors: Rica Eckersley, Adam Thur
Art Director: Adam Thur
Copywriter: Rica Eckersley
Account Director: Kristine Lafreniere
Account Manager: Beatrice Dauphinais-Bourque
Strategist: Maxine Thomas
VP, Integrated Production: Jennifer Dark

Production Company: HeydSaffer
Director: Kat Webber
DP: Julian Peter
Executive Producer: Kevin Saffer
Line Producer: Sarah Kravetz
Production Assistant – Matt Raitt
Sound Recordist – Ty Bertand
2nd Camera Operator – Pierce Desrochers-O’Sullivan
Editor: Jackie Roda
Post Production: Married to Giants
Online Artist: Sean Douglas, Wingman VFX
Colourist: Andrew Ross, SIM
Sound Design/Music:
Audio Studio: Berkeley Music
Audio Director: Jared Kuemper

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.
Publish date: October 3, 2018 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT