I Got Married In Beyonce's Wedding Dress...Well, Sort Of.

Human Interest

Bey stole my look!

Let me take that back right now before the hive comes a-swarming. No, Beyonce did not steal my look, but it just so happens that I was caught up in one of the most amazing "bish stole my look!" moments; one that I won't ever forget!

It was brought to my attention recently that Queen Bey and I have much more in common than keeping hot sauce in our bags, knowing that girls do in fact run the world and, yes, and realizing that the best revenge is in fact that paper! It seems Beyonce and I are sisters in fashion who love a dramatic-ass, extra-ass, sexy-ass freak 'em dress; so much so that we wore the exact same wedding gown...kind of!

Writer Ianthia Smith wearing her dream wedding dressNDO Films and Photography

After Beyonce released her Netflix special Homecoming, in which she blessed us with some never-before-seen photos of her family, including a less than two-second glimpse of the dress she wore during her June 2018 vow renewal to husband Jay-Z. It seemed like everyone was typing "Beyonce vow renewal dress" in their browsers and the photos went viral.

I'd not so long shared the story of my wedding day; inclusive of my dress woes (my designer dumped me six weeks before my big day!) on my own blog, so the photos of my wedding look was still fresh in people's minds. This explains why I woke up to literally hundreds of mentions and tags and retweets from friends and family and anyone who knew; everyone wanted to let me know that "Beyonce has on your wedding dress!"

Where It All Began

Dress shopping for my wedding was an insane experience. It came with all of the highs and lows you've seen in the movies. I'd been Googling and searching and looking for my dress, for what seems like months when one day, I came across the Galia Lahav "Thelma" gown and immediately fell in love!

The romantic Victorian-styled gown features billowing sleeves, a mermaid fit, off-the-shoulder deliciousness, a dramatic bustle and these elongated thigh cut-outs that added the "well damn" to the dress. The gown is a beauty and tells a story all its own. I screenshotted, downloaded, dreamed about and fawned over this dress for weeks! I needed to have it!

Well, just my luck, every bridal store I contacted looking to try on Thelma only had the dress during their trunk shows and my travel schedules never lined up for me to fit my dream gown. This is when I contacted a designer to make my very own custom version; but weeks before the big day, he bailed and was like, "Issa no for me. I'm out!" Sis, let me tell you; my wedding dress dreams came crashing down and I frantically searched for a dress; any dress. I was so bummed out, I was willing to get any dress that was available and within budget. But Thelma haunted me. I needed her.

Bey Stole My Look

Beyonce wearing Gaila Lahav during her vow renewal in 'Homecoming'

During one of my wee-hours-of-the-morning Internet searches, my blurry eyes came across a very blurred photo of Thelma. It was a photo of Beyonce; wearing the dress.

The photo was shared during a montage during her On The Run Tour II concert. The photo I saw only showed her from mid-chest up, giving just a peek at the dress. To some, she was just wearing a white dress; to me...she was wearing my dress! I'd soaked this gown so deeply into my memory that I could spot it a mile away.

Honestly, I wanted to cry! It was now four weeks before my wedding and just like many other brides, I wanted that element of surprise. I didn't want to see my wedding dress plastered all over the Internet before I actually got a chance to wear it; especially not by Beyonce! I mean come on, who wants to get on stage after Beyonce performs?

Was she going to share more photos? Was she going to post a full shot of the dress? Was she going to steal my thunder? Call me crazy, but these were my exact thoughts. I called my sister in a frenzy and screamed, "Beyonce has on my dress!" We were both fearful that the woman who has the ability to command the world's attention would quadruple my dress stress with just one little post on Instagram.

Since we weren't so sure what Beyonce would do, we figured if she did share the photos, we had two options: be sad over something we couldn't control anyway or turn this experience into one hell of a "I got married in Beyonce's wedding dress" story.

And here we are!

The Ultimate Happy Ending

Writer Ianthia Smith in her wedding dress

NDO Films and Photography

I eventually found another dress designer who finally brought my dreams to life. In between stalking Bey's Instagram to see if she'd posted any of the pics (thankfully she didn't); we fitted, cut, sewed and embellished my own customized gown to the gawds! I had a mini heart attack with each button being placed, every piece of lace being laid and with every fitting.

On August 18, 2018, after one hell of a rollercoaster ride, I finally walked down the aisle in the perfect wedding dress, handmade for me.

Almost nine months later when my phone was blowing up with the "Beyonce stole your look" messages, I was smiling on the inside knowing that I'd figured this out long ago.

It weirdly and funnily felt like a little secret Bey and I were keeping. She waited on me, in my head; only sharing those photos of our dress months after I got married.

NDO Films and Photography

I gushed at how beautiful she looked in her dress, wondering if we shared the same overwhelming feeling of saying yes to the dress, as she fit. Of course, I don't have a Beyonce-sized budget; if I did, I would've flown that elusive gown directly to me.

But I'm so happy I was able to wrangle a team of amazing people who were able to customize, recreate and deliver the dress of my dreams, despite it all.

Whew, chile, a blessing.

In the past, I've been made to question the Queen's timing; you know how she does it with her in the middle of the night releases, having us waiting up 'till 3:00 a.m. while I'm falling asleep on my laptop. Girl, after this experience I shall never question this diva's timeline ever again. This time it worked in my favor. Bow down!


Photos: NDO Films and Photography
Dress Designer: Apryl Jasmine
Makeup Artist: Regina McCook
Hair Stylist: Salon Sade International

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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.


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
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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