My Big Black Gay Wedding

My Big Black Gay Wedding
18/10/2017 Stacy Martin

The proposal

They say every girl dreams of their perfect wedding day. For me, I dreamed of meeting my soul mate and spending a life of happiness together. I proposed to my girlfriend on a dreamy isolated beach in the Mediterranean. We couldn’t wait to go home and share the exciting news with our friends and family. For the rest of our holiday we spoke excitedly about our big day, bouncing ideas off each other. Reality soon kicked in when the planning started and I swiftly realised that our wedding planning journeys would differ…greatly.

There are hundreds of bridal magazines in the UK published both as hard copies and on the web. As a gay woman, I knew that my wife and I would never find images of couples like us in any mainstream bridal publication, this was to be expected. However, I was not expecting to not see a single person of colour.

As I scrolled and flicked through the endless pages of “tips and tricks for the big day”, I grew more frustrated and asked myself….do people of colour not get married? A friend of mine even recommended looking at the American website www.blackbride.com. As much as our friends across the pond tend to do a much better job at representation (well, they have features for black brides), I immediately noticed that the brides on this website mainly wore straight, ‘Europeanised’ hairstyles. I even spotted an article suggesting the “perfect wig to wear for the big day”. I just knew this site was not for me.  

My colour is not the only thing that fails to be represented in mainstream Bridal Magazines. As a big curvy woman, I struggled to find bridal stores that catered to my size and the look that I strived for. Brimming with joy and excitement, my sister took me to her local bridal shop to try on dresses. None of the dresses in the store would go past my knees and the largest dress in the store made me look like a big puffy balloon. The whole experience felt exceptionally awkward and embarrassing. I left the store tearful, convinced that I would be an ugly bride. Following a series of disappointments, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Finding my dress

Upset and disheartened, I sought comfort in my fiancée who quickly got her laptop up and found me links to plus size bridal shops in the area. I came across Heavenly Bodies Bridal Store in Catford and immediately e-mailed Patricia, the store owner, who expressed her apologies for my experience adding that stories like this were the reason she decided to start her business. Right away I felt she understood the frustrations I had been feeling. I showed up to my appointment still feeling slightly apprehensive and nervous, but I immediately felt relief when I realised that Patricia was a woman of colour. She then proved her skills even further during the consultation; she makes it a point to lock her shop for every client, encourages each client to try every dress and gives them a one-to-one consultation. She also worked with a fantastic dress fitter who offered a custom/bespoke design service and together we created the perfect dress.

I drew inspiration from my favourite singer Jill Scott’s wedding day look, she inspired me to have lace and my boobs out; after all, us curvy girls have got to work with what we’ve got. We then added a light chiffon material that draped nicely over my hips. Of course, I had to incorporate the Tomboy in me, and decided to go for a pair of fresh white Nike kicks for the big day – style is everything!

Instagram MUA

Since taking off in 2010, Instagram has provided an exceptional platform for aspiring professionals in the hair and beauty industry. As the founder of Afrosource.co.uk, I wanted to stay true to my beliefs and have my wedding glam done using make-up with only naturally based products. I came across Helen Leonards Creative Studio (helenleonard.co.uk) after flicking through several UK black make-up artists. Helen and I instantly hit it off; I knew that she was the one after reading her tagline as an MUA that only uses cruelty free & vegan products, and where possible natural and/or organic products too. This embodied the whole ethos of Afrosource.

Janelle Monae

 

During my trial I spoke to Helen about wanting to play around with colour around my eyes; I had been inspired by Janelle Monae’s makeup for the cover of a W Magazine issue, where she had a pop of electric blue right underneath her eyes. Subtle yet effective. The trial was a success and I immediately booked Helen in. I was making progress! For full details of my makeup look check out Helen’s blog post.

Don’t Touch My Hair.

My frustrations began to kick in again when it came to my hair. I got asked so often So what are you going to do with it? This question was usually followed with suggestions of putting my afro hair in an up-do, straightening it or even, as one person suggested, relaxing it. I began to get pulled in to what a “perfect bride” should look like, I started to believe people and pictured myself with these suggested styles. I have been fully natural for a little over 3 years now; for me being natural is a sign of my journey to self-acceptance, it is more than just a hairstyle, it is me. With this in mind, I politely nodded away these suggestions and carried on with my search.

Type in “Afro bridal hairstyles” and you will be graced with several images of beautiful black women sporting natural hairstyles adorned with an array of flowers and jewels; stunning looks but none which appealed to me. Then I saw Solange. What a beauty. She reminded me of something that brides forget. Something I feel so passionately about and had forgotten while getting caught up in the wedding mayhem. Black female empowerment! I am known as someone who promotes natural black beauty, helping people break away from the notion that European beauty standards are the epitome of beauty, Solange reminded me to BE MYSELF! I drew inspiration from Solange’s simple bridal look and decided that for my big day I would wear my natural Afro crowning glory exactly as it is, no gimmicks, no flowers, no diamonds, just me.

The Finishing Touches

With my dress, shoes, hair and makeup sorted, there were two small details left to think about – nails and earrings! 

Anyone who knows me knows that I do not leave the house without my big silver hoop earrings. I wanted statement pieces for the wedding and, as I could not really wear my beloved hoops for my big day, I decided to treat myself to a pair of Dior Barbell Earrings, inspired by the ever-stylish Rihanna.

I have always been a rebel at heart and decided to break the bridal rule by wearing my signature black nails on my big day – why not I say!

My wedding experience taught me valuable lessons in self-acceptance and self-exploration. There were some low points which made me appreciate the highs and breakthrough moments. The day itself was perfect, and one that will stay in our hearts and minds forever. Forget about bridal magazines, forget about your stereotypical wedding blogs, your big day is about you, your partner and no-one else. Stay true to yourselves and you will not regret it, I promise you.

 

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