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I Married The Man Of My Dreams Twice

This couple have a love that needs no title

Marriage

This past year, I married the man I was born to love twice.

I said “I do" for the first time on October 9, 2015, and then again on October 10, 2015. About a year earlier, we got engaged on my husband's birthday.

I have to pause for a second as I write “husband". Our commitment to being forever bound to each other came long before those days, long before that title, long before I answered "yes" to his proposal. As far as I'm concerned, it was through our daughter that we made our first and most important commitment to each other.

Realistically, you can marry whoever you want, divorce that person, and move on with your life. However, when you procreate together, you are forever bound to each other through that child and that is a very serious lifelong decision. Commitment in any relationship should come before you ever decide to procreate or legalize your union. It is something that a person displays to you through their actions and not their words. It is something that creates comfort and peace in your home; not destruction and chaos. True love is about security, stability, honesty, loyalty and freedom.

The freedom to be yourself and to grow organically.

You will not have to question, analyze, or decide if someone is truly committed to building with you, you will know.

And I knew.

I always knew.

What happened those two days back in October was just adding another layer to commitments Bryan and I already made. Our daughter, Amirah, was a seed we both planted and from her and within her, grew a tree of love in great abundance, deepening love to something even more eternal if at all possible. Our weddings were absolutely perfect, mostly because I went into those days with the mindset that they would be. I wasn't going be the bride who spent energy stressing about little things. I would be the bride focusing on the actual point, celebrating our love.

For me, it was simply a day to celebrate what we had already been doing for 7 years prior to our wedding date. Marriage for us is an extension of our already existing bond, a way for us to enhance one another's lives, as well as striving for our own individual greatness. In our time together, I've found that you don't need to get married to create this bond with another human being and you don't have to have a super expensive wedding to prove anything to anyone either.

Our wedding was by ourselves and for ourselves.

Our wedding was officiated by two of our friends, Kalonji Nzinga and Najib Kamagate, who got ordained online and created a personal ceremony that really touched our hearts. My Aunt Joyce made the broom we jumped over and my friend, Ashley Simpson, sung me down the aisle. Our wedding party consisted of thirteen bridesmaids, thirteen groomsmen, and three flower girls. I went into my wedding day with so much pride that we had made it to this moment together.

Our budget was on the lower end of the expense scale at $15,000, paid for primarily by me. I thought it would be a nice gesture to my husband because of how much he sacrifices for our family as the financial leader of our home. The Strongwater Food and Spirits based in Columbus, Ohio acted as our venue of choice and was the perfect backdrop for our minimalistic wedding.

DIY home and jewelry designer Nalo Wise doubled as my matron of honor and decorator, providing most of the eco friendly décor of the celebration, including planter beds with succulents flown in from California that guests were able to take home with them.Our favorite foods of fish tacos, jackfruit tacos, falafel, macaroni and cheese, kale salad, and a table of our favorite desserts of: oreos, sour patch kids, donuts, and chocolate cakes were offered in abundance to guests in attendance.

The day after my second wedding, which was a traditional Cambodian wedding to honor my husband's culture, I was lying next to my husband and looking at this beautiful man that I fell in love with so long ago.

And I realized that I didn't really feel a difference after being married. I had always loved him, honored him, been faithful, and committed. I realized at that very moment that we can have everything we want in life, with or without titles. Happiness is a mindset, something you have to be willing to accomplish beyond others' ideals.

Yes, our wedding was beautiful and yes, those two days were a great way to create memories that we will never forget. But, if there were no ceremonies and we had decided to take that money and travel with our daughter instead, we would have returned home to the same reality.

We are in love, we are committed, and I now realize that marriage is something that happens long before the wedding.

Wedding Details:

Bride: Ashley Sirah Hinton Chea @watermeloneggrolls

Groom: Bryan Chea @_chea

Photographer: @Erikalaynephoto

Wedding Planner: Lindsey Collins

Wedding Décor: @PeytonNile

Makeup Artist: @Noonebeam

Hairstylist: @deecanstyle

The most beautiful takeaway I have about marrying my husband was the news we learned in the months that followed. Two months after the wedding, we found out we were having our second child.

After suffering a miscarriage last year and it being such an emotional experience, I believed I might never have another child. Conceiving is difficult for me because I do not ovulate regularly and I wasn't willing to take any medication to fix the problem I was having. I am a strong believer in letting things happen naturally and organically.

We were able to conceive our second child on my sister's birthday. The irony of that date is not lost because my sister passed away 8 years ago. I always feel like she finds a way to remind me she is still with me.

Our daughter now acts as another beautiful reminder of her.

Click here to read Ashley & Bryan's Proposal Story

Ashley Chea is the founder of Beautiful Beautiful Me, a children's book and beauty campaign. Follow her journey on Instagram at @watermeloneggrolls

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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