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7 Pro Tips To Prepare For A Bomb Wedding And Marriage

Marriage

Oftentimes I see women of color spending so much time planning for the wedding, they forget about their marriage. The wedding planning process is a very stressful time, and if couples aren't on the same page, it can lead to a very rocky first year of marriage or divorce. I got married young (24) and canceled my wedding and 300-plus guests 60 days before it was set to take place because we were not ready.


We went back to church and worked out our issues. We ended up having a small wedding in the Bahamas a year later. It was super embarrassing at the time, but the financial and spiritual lessons we learned were needed. I know in my heart that if we would have gone through with that wedding, God wouldn't be in our marriage now. So, as a wedding photographer, I try to connect with my brides on a personal level to give them some guidance during their planning process as the wedding industry and social media set unrealistic expectations. So here is a quick sample of some of my tips!

1. Review your finances and set your budget early.

Elizabeth Austin Photography

Before you get a wedding magazine, set a date, or go to Pinterest, you need to know how much you are willing to spend on your wedding. Finances are the number one issue in marriage in America today, and you don't want to start off headed down the wrong path. I know weddings are expensive, but that doesn't mean you can't have a beautiful day within your budget! Once you have your budget set, stick to it. Splurge within your budget! If you want more flowers, cut back on the number of guests. Sis, I promise you no one will remember the type of chairs you had at your wedding. Do what's best for the family you are creating!

2. Set family boundaries. 

My husband is Bahamian so not only were we blending two families but two different cultures. We were still learning each other's family dynamics, and I had a hard time understanding them, so I found myself at odds while planning. To cut down on the drama, we came up with a rule that he would communicate negative feels to his family and I would talk to mine. We would be a united front even if we had to make compromises coming to our final decision. It worked so well, we kept it in our marriage for both births of our children! It saved us a lot of time and energy!

3. Hire a bomb photographer.

Elizabeth Austin Photography

I know you're thinking this is totally self-serving of me, but honestly, it's going to be the only thing you have left from your day. I always tell my brides when they get into their first significant disagreement with their husband after their wedding, pull out their album to remind them of the happy times! The goal here is to have your great-great-grandchildren look at these photos one day. Think about it as an investment in your family's history. I have so many brides come to me after "going a different direction" because they hate their photos or important moments were missed. It's the one area of your wedding you want to make sure you have made a personal, and you can see yourself in that person's work.

4. Have a Beyonce moment (make it exclusive).

Facebook is going to be a complete snapshot of the human experience. However, I am a firm believer that not every moment of our lives should be shared with everyone. This is an intimate moment of two families becoming one. Why not just enjoy the moment with the people that are in the room? An unplugged wedding is when the bride and groom request their guests put their phones/iPad/Gopro/Christmas DSLR cameras away during their wedding. I'm down for the idea of having an unplugged wedding, however, if that takes it too far for you, why not just the ceremony?

When I walked down the aisle, I wasn't trying to see my husband through a sea of cell phones, I saw him. His eyes, his smile, my mom's smile, my mother-in-law's tears. It was a powerful moment and I am glad we did it OUR WAY.

I always ask myself what happened to all those iPhone photos after the wedding anyway? Do they just sit in the cloud? Like really, you hired a photographer and I promise you won't regret having an unplugged wedding. Wait, why not have an unplugged marriage too? See, I know my story is different. However, I have found social media to be unhealthy for my marriage in the beginning. So, I kept mine off completely. To me, marriage is too real for the fake land of Instagram. My husband doesn't have social media and I have it for my businesses. I just found keeping my private life private is best for my little family. It works for us and may not work for you! it really may not be that deep. But I suggest you have a conversation with your partner to see what works best for your relationship especially when you have kids.

5. Support black-owned businesses.

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Elizabeth Austin Photography

This is your opportunity to keep your dollars in our community. I hate that we have this stigma in our community about the level of service black business have. It's simply not true. We are here. We are ready and we are luxury honey! I have seen a new wave of "woke" brides actively searching to hire all-black vendors and I'm all the way here for it. There is nothing like having a photographer that went to an HBCU or a DJ that was in the band. There are so many vendors to pick from in different styles and at each price point. I know if you take your time, you can find great ones that are within our community. Just know we love the support and will provide the same if not better quality of service as our counterparts!

6. Start marriage counseling and stay in it.

Planning a wedding can introduce a new level of stress into your relationship. Managing finances, family expectations, and personal time can all be a lot to handle. I see couples learning after the wedding that marriage isn't as easy as they thought. It requires a lot of hard work and commitment every single day. I personally found counseling helpful during the process of building our marriage once the honeymoon stage was over. I think of it as a tool to help fix things if we fall off track, which we do. It's funny because you think you really know a person otherwise you wouldn't be married to them.

However, life as a way of throwing you curveballs. I'm here to tell you, that you will face problems that you never thought would be an issue. For me, my unexpected life surprise was being diagnosed with thyroid cancer at 27 years old. I know when you see cancer, you think the worst but my situation was far from it. It did, however, take a toll on my mental health and my marriage. My husband and I didn't know how to navigate through that storm so we sought the help of a professional. Marriages have ups and downs and different seasons. It's OK to have an outside neutral party to help you through it.

7. On the 7th Day, God rested.

View More: http://unique2chicphotography.pass.us/swanhousewedding

Elizabeth Austin Photography

The planning is over, the wedding is done, now it's time to relax on a beach and enjoy the first days of your marriage together! I will honestly say not taking a honeymoon was my biggest mistake during my planning. We were getting married on an island so our reasoning was the wedding was a honeymoon -- NO, it wasn't. We spent so much time entertaining guests and we really didn't see each other that much, which is normal during a wedding weekend. We should have taken a few days to ourselves just to relax. The world is open now, it's affordable to get to Thailand or Aruba for a week. My husband and I always said we would take a "honeymoon" later, but five years and two kids later, I'm still waiting. Trust me, you won't regret the time, vacation days, or the money spent.

Featured image via Elizabeth Austin Photography.

Elizabeth Austin-Davis is a northern girl with a southern heart. While in Alabama pursuing her business undergraduate degree at Tuskegee University, she continued to follow her passion of photography. In 2013, she successfully launched her photography business. Since then, she has photographed weddings internationally, and her work has been featured in Brides, The Knot Magazine, Martha Stewart, HGTV, Black Bride Magazine, and many more. Her ability to artistically translate her couples love through images, has been a catalyst in developing her unique style.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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