Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #73

Couple: Florence Griffith and Al Joyner

Date of Wedding:  October 10, 1987

Place:  Las Vegas Wedding Gardens (Las Vegas, NV)

Fun facts

The bride's wedding dress had been her Halloween costume the year before.

The groom first spotted his bride in 1980 at the U.S. Olympic trials but they did not begin dating until 1986 when the bride began training with coach Bob Kersee who would later marry the groom's sister.

The couple's special number was 7.  The groom proposed on 7-17-87 at 7 pm.

The couple set a wedding date for late 1988 after the Olympics but a 5.9 magnitude Los Angeles earthquake on October 1, 1987 made the bride want to get married as soon as possible.  They married nine days later with an impromptu Vegas wedding.

Their favorite song throughout their courtship and marriage was "All My Life" by K-Ci and JoJo.  The bride died unexpectedly in 1998 and the groom had the song played at her funeral.

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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #69

Couple: Alice Clement and Robert Joseph Foster

Date of Wedding:  December 23, 1941

Place: Sisters Chapel, Spelman College (Atlanta, GA)

Officiant: Morehouse President Benjamin Mays

Fun facts:

The date of the wedding, December 23, was significant for the bride's family.  It was the day that her parents had married years earlier.  December 23 was also the birthday of the bride's grandfather, Bishop George C. Clement of the AME Zion Church

The bride wore an ivory satin gown fashioned with a long bodice.  The neckline was embroidered with seed pearls and rhinestones.  Her only jewelry was a strand of pearls given to her by the groom.

The bride graduated from Spelman College in June 1941 and was a student at Julliard School of Music at the time of the wedding.  The groom graduated from Morehouse College and Atlanta University. 

The bride was the daughter of Atlanta University President Rufus Clement.

In 2010, best-selling author and journalist Isabel Wilkerson profiled the groom in her award-winning book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #50

Couple: Michelle Obama and Barack Obama

Date of Wedding:  October 3, 1992

Place: Trinity United Church of Christ (Chicago, IL)

Officiant: Rev. Jeremiah Wright

Fun facts

The couple met in 1989 when the groom interned at the bride's law firm.

Their first date included Baskin-Robbins ice cream and Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing

The bride's brother walked her down the aisle and the groom's brother served as the best man.

The couple's first dance was to "You and I" by Stevie Wonder.



Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #49

Couple: Eleanor Brokenbery and Ulysses Robinson

Date of Wedding: April 17, 1949

Place: Home of bride's mother (Big Bethel, VA)

Officiant: Rev. J.D. Adkinson

Fun facts

The house was decorated with spring flowers, carnations, and potted plants.

The bride wore a navy blue dress with matching accessories.

The bride carried a bouquet of Gardenias.

The couple married on Easter Sunday.


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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #44

Couple: Leslie Smith and Frank Seaton Turner

Date of Wedding:  November 28, 1970

Place: Grace Protestant Episcopal Church (Norfolk, VA)

Officiant: Joseph N. Green

Fun facts

The church was decorated with baskets of white and yellow chrysanthemum, palms, and royal blue lighted tapers.

The bride wore a wedding gown of ivory Skinner satin styled with an empire-waist appliqued in Alencon lace. The English net train was trimmed in lace and pearls.

The couple joined guests in a wedding reception held in the Parish Hall of the church immediately after the ceremony.

The bride graduated from Fisk and Columbia Universities.  The groom graduate from North Carolina Central University and was in law school there at the time of the wedding.

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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #42

Couple: Natalie Joy Vinson and Cornelius Jeremiah Mills

Date of Wedding:  April 3, 2010

Place: Johnston Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church

Officiant: Rev. Theodore Breeden

Fun facts

The bride and her groom often play sports together and are very competitive with each other.

The couple enjoy family time relaxing and traveling out of town.

Both the bride and groom are jokesters; they keep each other laughing.

They are the proud parents of two girls, Celecia Amber Mills and Joyden Kaye Mills.



Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #33

Couple: Beyonce' Knowles and Shawn Carter (Jay-Z)

Date of Wedding:  April 4, 2008

Place: Groom's penthouse in New York City

Officiant: Pastor Rudy Rasmus

Fun facts

The couple invited only 40 guests to the private ceremony.

The couple chose not to have a wedding party.

The bride's mom designed her strapless ivory wedding gown.

70,000 white dendrobium orchids, the bride's favorite flower, were flown in from Thailand.


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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #24

Couple: Mary Louise Terrell and Dr. Leon Algernon Tancil

Date of Wedding:  June 27, 1923

Place: Freedmen’s Hospital (Washington, D.C.)

Officiant: Reverend D. R. River

Fun facts

The bride was a teacher in the Washington, D.C. public schools. 

The couple married at Freedmen’s Hospital so that the bride’s sick father, Judge Robert Terrell, could witness the ceremony.

The couple had a wedding reception immediately following their ceremony at the home of the bride’s parents.

The bride was the adopted daughter and biological niece of Mary Church Terrell.

The couple received congratulatory messages about their nuptials from leading black Americans including W.E.B. DuBois.


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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #23

Couple: Tara Williams and Damien Forsythe

Date of Wedding:  August 25, 2012

Place: The Hall and Garden at Landmark (Garner, NC)

Officiant: Reverend Jonathan Ford

Fun facts

The bride and groom met in 1997 at a track meet at Clayton High School.  The groom was a senior at North Johnston High School and the bride was a freshman at Smithfield-Selma Senior High School.

The groom was supportive of everything the bride wanted for their wedding although he thought some things were unnecessary.  He came to appreciate all of the small details the bride had thought of to make their day extra special and to this day, he still tells her how much he enjoyed their wedding.

The couple have three children: two boys and one girl.

The bride and groom are HBCU rivals. The groom is a NC A&T Aggie and the bride is a NC Central Eagle.

The couple is competitive in air hockey.


Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #22

Couple: Sojourner Green and Derek McKnight

Date of Wedding: June 18, 2005

Place: Union Hill A.M.E. Church (Wilson's Mills NC

Officiants:  Reverend V.I. Tyrell and Reverend Rena McKnight (groom's mother)

Fun Facts:

The bride and groom met in the 9th grade after a Kenansville Eastern Missionary Baptist Association (KEMBA) Youth Missionary event. The groom was supposed to play for the service but,  declined.  Had he played that day,  the bride and groom may have never met.

While the couple met in the 9th grade, they did not date until their second year of college, at North Carolina Central University. 

The bride is 8 days older than the groom.

The date of the wedding is 4 days after the bride's Birthday and 4 day's before the groom's Birthday. 

The bride's dress was custom made by Alice Blake who is a Seamstress and Cutter/fitter for Screen Gems Studios.

Many people think that the bride and groom's two children are twins; however, they are 11 months apart.


Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #21

Couple: Willie Mays and Mae Louise Allen

Date of Wedding:  November 27, 1971

Place: Judge’s Chambers, Mexico City, Mexico

Officiant:Judge José Ignacio Fernandez

Fun facts

In 1952, the bride’s mother met Willie Mays and requested an autograph for her 13-year-old daughter (the bride) who was at home.

The bride’s white lace gown had an A-line skirt and high empire waist.  The floor-length dress had a scooped neckline and featured short puff sleeves.  She also wore a white lace mantilla.

The 15-minute ceremony was conducted in Spanish with an interpreter.

The groom designed the engagement and wedding rings himself.

Wedding guests enjoyed a dinner at the Fiesta Palace Hotel restaurant.  

The couple honeymooned in Acapulco.

The bride graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and Howard University and was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

The groom played Major League Baseball for 22 seasons.

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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #17

Couple: Kellie Carter and Nathaniel Jackson

Date of Wedding:  May 28, 2005

Place: First Metropolitan Church (Houston, TX)

Officiant: Rev. John D. Olgetree

Fun facts

The couple's wedding reception was in the backyard of the bride's parents' home.  The groom had proposed in that yard  on July 4.

The couple met as children.  The future bride was 8 years old and the future groom was 10 years old.  They met in church and their families have always been close.

The couple had a long-distance relationship for their entire 3-year courtship: Colorado and Washington, D.C. and then Texas and New York.  They were also long-distance for the first four years of their marriage (North Dakota and New York City).

The couple endured their long-distance relationship BEFORE Skype, video chat, etc. became popular.  The groom was deployed six weeks after his wedding so he handwrote his bride letters every day for months.  The bride has kept those letters.

The groom deployed again when the couple was expecting their first child, so he wrote a letter to his wife and a letter to his unborn child every day of his deployment.  The letters are in their son’s baby book.



Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #13

Couple: Arthur Ashe and Jeanne Moutoussamy

Date of Wedding:  February 20, 1977

Place: United Nations Chapel (NYC)

Officiant: Ambassador Andrew Young

Fun facts

The couple met for the first time on October 16, 1976 at a United Negro College Fund (UNCF) benefit. They went on their first date three days later and married four months after that!  

The groom proposed to his bride several times before she finally said yes. 

The bride told the press that her groom hid her engagement ring in his medicine cabinet for weeks.

The bride's dress was a high-necked sheath with lace edging around the neckline, cuffs, and hem.

The groom took his marriage vows while wearing a cast and using crutches because he had undergone heel surgery 10 days earlier.

The couple had one child, a daughter named Camera which was a nod to Jeanne's career as a photographer.

The groom is the only Black man to have won the singles title at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and the Australian Open.


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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #10

Couple: Marjorie Johnson and Edgar William Ward

               Luella Johnson and Robert Graves

Date of Wedding:   1948 Summer

Place: Livingstone College auditorium (Salisbury, NC)

Fun facts

The sisters chose to have a double wedding.

3,000 guests attended the ceremony.

The father of the brides, Rev. Dr. Julius P. Johnson, was a prominent Presbyterian pastor in the South.  Groom Edgar Ward also became a well-known Presbyterian pastor in Chicago.


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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #9

Couple: Portia Washington and William Pittman

Date of Wedding:  October 31, 1907

Place: Tuskegee Institute Chapel (Tuskegee, Alabama)

Officiant: Tuskegee Chaplain John W. Whittaker

Fun facts

Tuskegee's electrical division hung lights on every tree, bush, and shrub on the campus. 

The wedding reception was held at The Oaks, Booker T. Washington’s home on the campus of Tuskegee Institute.

The large crowd assembled for the wedding had "elaborately molded ice cream" to go along with the wedding cake.

Booker T. Washington, the bride’s father, gave his daughter a Steinway piano as a wedding present.

The couple had a long-distance relationship at times because their courtship blossomed while Portia was in Berlin pursuing piano studies.  William Pittman won her affections through passionate letters.

The groom was the first African American man to graduate from Drexel and the first African American architect to secure a federal commission

The couple separated in 1928 but never formally divorced.


Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #3

Couple: Countee Cullen and Yolande Du Bois

Date of Wedding: April 9, 1928

Place: Salem Methodist Episcopal Church (Harlem)

Officiants:  Rev. Frederick A. Cullen and Rev. George Frazier Miller

Fun facts:

The bride was the daughter of W.E.B Du Bois.

1,200 people were invited to the wedding ceremony but 3,000 attended.

The bride had 16 bridesmaids and two soloists (pictured below) and the groom had 9 groomsmen including Langston Hughes.

Gilded cages containing canary birds hung from the balcony rails of the church.

*The couple divorced after two years of marriage. 




Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #2

Couple: Martin L. Harvey and Emma Clarie Collins

Date of Wedding: August 1, 1943

Place: Central Methodist Church, Jackson, MS

Officiant:  Rev. A.L. Holland

Fun facts:

The couple’s romance began in Berlin, Germany, in 1939.

The wedding was profiled in three different black newspapers.

The bride had a cathedral train and the groom and his groomsmen wore white dinner jackets with black tuxedo trousers.

Clarie Collins Harvey was a funeral home owner who used her business to further civil rights.  See “DIGNITY IN LIFE AND DEATH: UNDERTAKER CLARIE COLLINS HARVEY AND BLACK WOMEN’S ENTREPRENEURIAL ACTIVISM,” JOURNAL OF MISSISSIPPI HISTORY LXXVI (FALL/WINTER 2014): 111-127.


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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #1

I love LOVE, weddings, and Black history.  I have decided to combine my interests into blog posts about black weddings.  I plan to profile the weddings of well-known and not-so-well known African Americans.  Since April 15 is Jackie Robinson Day, it is fitting to begin this series with the wedding of Jackie Robinson and Rachel Isum

Date of Wedding: February 10, 1946 (year before Jackie desegregates major league baseball)

Place: Independent Church of Christ in Los Angeles, CA

Officiant:  Rev. Carl Downs, Dean of Sam Huston College (HBCU in TX); the church’s pastor was in Washington, D.C. at the time fighting for fair employment practices.

Fun facts:

According to the Chicago Defender, Mrs. Rachel Robinson graduated at the head of her UCLA class and studied nursing.

The wedding party consisted of eight attendants.

Mrs. Robinson wore a gown of ivory satin with a three-tiered bridal veil.