There’s a ridiculous gender-normative stereotype that says all little girls grow up dreaming of their wedding day and that each and every one of us has visualized that magical journey, from the ring on to being carried over the threshold by their new groom. Totally absurd.
While it would be foolish to believe that all women share such a fascination…I, Jamilah Isoke Lemieux, have been planning my nuptial extravaganza for the better part of two decades and I’ve been putting “Mrs.” Next to my name during boring classes and meetings since, at least, 1994. I actually had a subscription to the now-defunct Modern Bride and a great collection of bridal mags and pictures that I regrettably chucked in my move last fall (I was afraid The Beau would find them and get scared). I can’t afford cable, but if you leave me in your house holding a remote for more than five minutes, I’m undoubtedly gonna be looking for wedding shows. And we won’t talk about the amount of time I can spend pouring over Facebook wedding albums, even if I don’t know the couple that jumped the broom.
I think a lot of my wedding-fanaticism comes from the Jet weddings page, which I excitedly looked for every week as soon as the magazine left our mailbox. My mother couldn’t even think about reading her copy of Jet until I had seen those happy couples (and then checked how Kriss Kross or TLC was doing on the music charts). Not only did we get to see the bride and groom in their wedding day best, but there was also the mention of what schools they had attended (so many HBCUs!) and where they would settle down. It just made my little heart sing!
In the future, I’ll likely submit my nuptial deets to local newspapers, but Jet is so important to me because it’s ours. When Black brides didn’t have a chance to see their faces in the New York Times or any other society page, we had a fab place to share our special day…nationally at that! While some could point to the “classist” idea of highlighting a couple’s profession and academic background, it should be known that Jet weddings aren’t hardly restricted to middle-class-and-up couples who had big, extravagant ceremonies; in fact, a number of those highlighted said their “I do’s” at the local courthouse!
I wasn’t excited by the idea of what these people may have had in terms of money or status; instead, it was (and still is) inspiring to me to see images of Black folks in love. I was too young to have a concept of a “marriage crisis” when I started reading Jet. I just appreciated seeing happy Black people. Now that Ebony and Jet have put their archives on Google Books, I can relive those great 90’s nuptial moments and peep brides from way back in the day as well. Viva Black elegance!
I’ve already put in my plea to the fabulous Mitzi Miller, the new Jet editor-in-chief, for the continuation of this glorious old Negro tradition. I’ve been considering old R&B song titles to serve as the headline for my wedding snapshot (I’m leaning towards “Always and Forever”) and I’d be pretty hurt if I never got the chance to have a picture of Mr. Mine and I to post up in the vestibule of our home and in our children’s bedrooms (with the words “Black love brought me here!” underneath it) and on our Kwanzaa cards.
I don’t feel any shame about my wedding fetish, because I know that I’m far more vested in the concept of a happy, healthy marriage than I am attached to the idea of having a big, Jet-documented ceremony. However, I just don’t see any harm in having a fabulous (and budget-conscious…I won’t go broke going down any aisle, trust me!) celebration of love and family building. More power to those who choose to wed more modestly or to eschew marriage all together, but I’m content with my life-long dream and I’m gonna make it happen!