When my spouse and I got married in October, we broke with some wedding traditions.
We chose to say we'll be married not until death separates us but until we decide it should end.
Our wedding ceremony was as unique as we are, both as individuals and as a couple.
On October 1, I married my best friend, my intellectual equal, and the sexiest person alive, Atlas Akeem Ali.
We decided to get married to represent our commitment to each other, formalize our partnership, access the legal protections that marriage provides in the United States, and bring our families together over the course of an absolutely splendorous wedding ceremony and reception.
As we negotiated our discomfort with certain aspects of weddings and marriage, we found ourselves realizing — with the help of our wedding planner — that if the only people involved in our marriage are Akeem and me, there was no reason to fulfill anyone's expectations but our own.
We planned a wedding that fit who we are
From white dresses to diet culture, blood diamonds, and exorbitant — and near extortionate — markups that wedding vendors can get away with, it's all, as the Gen Zers say, a bit cringe.
Fortunately, I was raised by a practical and frank feminist; I was never made to feel as though my wedding day was compulsory or the highlight of my life — matched only by giving birth and fulfilling my patriarchy-dictated purpose as a woman, of course.
Unfortunately, the lack of wedding-centric socialization and my inherent desire to be a social contrarian meant that by the time I was planning a wedding I had no "dream wedding vision" or Pinterest board to draw from.
Fortunately, I married an artist who graduated with a degree in performance studies, so manifesting an eco-friendly, pro-Black, art-deco-themed ceremony and reception was a breeze.
Akeem wore a corduroy suit, I wore a rose-gold custom haute couture gown, and our officiant, Stephen C. Finley, seamlessly incorporated the political history of marriage and the anti-Black history of the United States into our ceremony. One part wedding, one part TED Talk.
Our family found out we were dating when we got arrested during a protest
All of this was to be expected — especially from Akeem and me. Most of our family learned we were dating as our arrests during protests in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, were broadcast as B-roll during the July 2016 coverage of America's spate of racial uprisings.
If you ask my parents, Akeem and I do things just to push the envelope and make everything just a little more complex than it needs to be. And I'll admit it's true.
As we joined hands in the decked-out lobby of an iconic St. Louis opera house, I felt fulfilled and relieved. We had made our wedding — and, by extension, our marriage — our own.
We married not "until death do us part" but "until or unless we determine that our flourishing would be more greatly enhanced through dissolution."
Each year in the US, hundreds of thousands of marriages end with divorce. Instead of accepting this fact as an indication that not all relationships are meant to last until death, we continue to organize society in a manner that demeans and stigmatizes. We cover our ears and scream to cover the fact that unconditional love between individuals means loving each other enough to recognize that we will become many people over the course of our lives and that not all iterations of ourselves will be compatible.
Our revolutionary marriage is built on a foundation of wisdom, justice, and love — not possessiveness or fatalism. So whether you choose tradition, modernity, spiritualism, or nothing at all, I hope it's because you and your beloved made that decision, not because it was expected of you.
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