***If you would like to listen to this article and/or read along, I made an audio version on Soundcloud that you can listen to here.***

Picture it: Flint, Michigan, July 30th, 1989. 

A modest blue 2-bedroom home on Stewart St. is adorned in wedding decorations, awaiting a celebration of love, life, and Jheri curl juice. It’s a warm and sunny day that’s just perfect for an outdoor summer wedding. A white stretch limo pulls up and parks on the front lawn of the little blue house on the city’s Northside.

A golden-brown, heavyset male chauffeur exits the limo and opens the door for the men inside to get out and get in place to take pictures for the big day. The groom and groomsmen step out of the limo sporting some of the juiciest Jheri curls this side of Genesee County has ever seen. Their various shades of beautiful brown skin mesh well in their all-white tuxedos with baby-blue cummerbunds and ties as they all smile from ear to ear. 

Today’s the day. 

The homie Charles (also known as Erkie) is due to wed my mother, Renee, today at the home they’d been sharing for the past year with her daughter from a previous situationship (me) and their one-year-old daughter, Charleea. Today’s the day that they make it official and lock it down for life. 

I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was 7 years old and excited by the festivities that were happening right in my own backyard. Yes, my mom got married in the backyard of our home and it was and still is the only wedding I’ve ever been to like that.

Growing up, I used to feel bad that she didn’t have the big wedding she deserved, complete with an immaculate chapel, elegant reception and exotic honeymoon destination. I always figured it was a money issue and that she was just doing the best she could.

As I got older and started thinking about my own wedding, I mustered up the courage to ask her about her decision to have a backyard wedding.

She told me that most people get married in churches, but she didn’t feel comfortable doing so since she didn’t attend church on the regular. This was true. We never had a church home and only really went to church when it was other people’s weddings or funerals.

With that in mind, she opted for a chapel, but it wasn’t in their budget at the time. Since our home had always been the spot where everyone in the family gathered for birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, and game days, she figured it would be great to have the wedding there.

I was floored. All this time, I was feeling a way about her wedding when she in fact did it her way. Their way.

They planned everything out, from paycheck to paycheck, with any spare time they could find, to have the wedding of their dreams within reason and budget.

Looking back, I remember all of the hard work she and Charles put into making the wedding happen. I remember the rehearsals in the backyard with their close friends. I remember the 80’s R&B jams blasting from our home stereo. I remember the pizza my mom would order for everyone after the rehearsals wrapped. I remember the laughter, the dancing, the joy.

Not only were they planning a wedding but also making memories along the way.

On the big day, they were surrounded and supported by family and friends in the comfort of their own home. I honestly admire them for making those sacrifices for the most important day of their lives. 

Now that I know the true origin of my mom’s wedding, I feel blessed to have experienced their labor of love. No longer do I feel down when I think about how better the wedding could have been, no. I’m honored to come from a woman who was strong and ambitious enough to make things happen on her and her boo’s terms.

For the love of my mom, I’m inspired to do things my way, me and my fiance’s way, no matter how off the beaten path it is. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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