Alicia and James were together for 11 years and engaged for the last two years before finally tying the knot. New York transplants in the largely Caucasian populated state of Oregon, the pair jokingly refer to their relationship as an anomaly. They rarely see or meet other dark-skinned African American couples and are the only African American designers in their office, beautifully disrupting the norm.
"As designers, we always look for visual inspiration as a natural part of the creative process.We searched high and low for examples of other elopements featuring people of color, bridal hairstyles for afro-textured hair, and cultural depictions that felt true to us, but struggled in finding anything commensurable. Unfortunately, the same applied to wedding blogs where countless hours were spent clicking through archives to find anyone that looked remotely similar to us, and that didn’t fit the cookie-cutter representation of the all-American standard. The reality of this is a lot of African Americans get married, it’s just not celebrated as often," Alicia says.
Abandoning the traditions of a big wedding, Alicia and James decided to elope and put most of their money into the documentation of their strong black union. Leaving memories not only for themselves but for men and women who look just like them. "We had no intentions of making a political statement nor did we have any socially disruptive objectives. Instead, it added to our decision to marry on our own terms, wholeheartedly celebrating like it was our last day on earth, and creating a moment that would live on in the form of memories and images for the rest of our lives," she says.
Take a look at their beautifully documented elopement in Portland, OR. Photos by Jay Eads Photography.
"Best memory was the joy of doing something specifically for ourselves and remembering every moment that took place because we didn't have to deal with all the "extras" that typically come with traditional weddings."
"I purchased my dress and capelet from Anthropologie's BHLDN and shoes were by Rachel Comey. The process was fairly easy—everything was purchased online and I went with my first choice for the big day."
"We believe greatly in creating new opportunities where we’re not given equal opportunities and not succumbing to defeat when it comes to those that deny our place in the world. We also know from experience that though we do not see many representations of ourselves in our everyday lives, it’s important to let the world know who we are versus the world defining our existence. Together with Jay, we’ve decided to share a marriage that’s not typically seen on wedding blogs, social media, and in portfolios. We also want to contribute to a greater change that will help others recognize that equality in representation is extremely important in establishing inclusivity. In the end, we‘ve managed to communicate volumes far greater than, ‘African American weddings,’ and are giving people a chance to see another version of marriage. In doing so, we hope to incite inspiration for those looking for some semblance of themselves that is not represented elsewhere and introduce one more reason to celebrate."
Photographer - Jay Eads Photography
Dress Designer - BHLDN
Dress Salon - Anthropologie
Shoes - Rachel Comey
Ceremony Location - Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, OR
Florist - Fieldwork Flowers