#RelationshipGoals: How One Couple Is Redefining What It Means To Love Black

Love & Relationships

Vanessa Coore is known to the world as The Bazaar Bohemian on Instagram, or the free-spirited, Afrocentric beauty with Project Tribe on her back and her Legal Lover, Haz, by her side.

With over 50,000 followers, Coore’s words on spirituality, personal growth, and love wind up on social media pages around the world as captions to accompany images of couples, women finding themselves, or scenery somewhere on the planet. The bright colors she’s nestled against, the bold prints she wears, or the positions she finds herself in next to Haz, resonate with millions around the world who want to be free, too; who want to love and be loved.

But it was a reposted photograph of Vanessa and Haz on the xoNecole Instagram months ago that sparked an international fire in engaged couples looking to do something different–daring to break beyond the traditional molds of marriage and what it should look like.

Her caption captured us:

Black...Black...Very Black •{Love}•... I wanted to share with you all how deep this photos actually is...I've noticed for a very long how wounded and misrepresented the •{Black}• community is...We are extremely •{Resilient}•, but we have undeniable hurdles to overcome...ONE being our Love for one another... What this photo represents is two people who found a way to Love past the •{Obstacles}•...Two people that despite the "Normal" relationship woes, we have to add the elements of being black up in there to...Our images, our representation is very skewed in the media, it's leads you to believe our •{Kings}• are disloyal, uneducated, drug dealing baby daddies...Or that our •{Queens}• will "Twerk" for some change, and fight you for looking at her the wrong way... This •{Narrative}• is one that is damaging to society as a whole...One that perpetuates the stereotypes associated with our •{Melanin}•... As we stand here we represent our "Norm"...We portray a different, and very accurate reflection of what it means to be Black, what it means to Love Black...We're not the exception, Except, when it comes to the media...I hope you see how important it is to be apart of changing that image... Share your Love, share your Light, share your story in hopes to •{Inspire}• others to believe again...I'm not referring to marriage, I'm referring to LOVE...The •{Love}• our community so desperately needs... If we don't take the lead...if we don't actively combat the negativity...#ThenWhoWill... #SharingOurStory #BeTheChange #WarriorOfLight #SpiritualCeremonialSituation

For The Bazaar Bohemian and her beau, their special day was rather small, but well worth it. They wed on the roof of a hotel in Guatemala during Semana Santa week; their photos were shot with an iPhone; they drove around the city in a van with no air conditioning.

It looks like his grand situation and it just wasn’t. There wasn’t this extra money spent besides to the driver. The moment you tell someone you’re having a wedding, people are like, ‘Oh yeah, there’s a $500 reservation.’ People want you to buy into the emotion of what it is,” she says. “It was like we just took a vacation. We invested in the city that we were in instead of trying to put on this show, we utilized what was already there–the doors that are beautiful, the ruins that are already there, the flowers are coming down from the trees–we just used the city and created beautiful moments for us.”

Vanessa and Haz are redefining what it means to be married and reminding the world what it is to love black. –Erica Nichole

Your Instagram is definitely #Relationship goals.  Tell us, what was your engagement to Haz like?

I was in a car accident and my car was totaled ,and I just paid my car off that month. We ended up going to look for cars and I really wanted a jeep, but when I saw how much they cost, I was like, “No, thanks” But he was like, “We’re going to be together anyway, right? Well, I got you.”

So I asked him, “What does this mean? Are we together-together? Are we engaged?” And he said, “I guess. Do you want a ring?” I told him I was driving my ring. For Haz, he knows I’m super crazy, I’m all over the place, and I like a lot of things, so I knew off the bat, he was not going to go look for no ring because he would’ve gone, “What do I get this girl?” [Laughs]

Because he has a very stressful job as a welder, sometimes I just take on things for myself, and I told him I’ll go find something and he was okay with that. I thought, “What can I find for $600 or under,” and it didn’t have to be crazy because I’m a visual artist at my day job and I use my hands a lot. I didn’t want something that was going to get banged up, so I ended up finding a crystal quartz that I really loved and think is beautiful.

At first, some of the stones I was looking at were a bunch of different colors and I wanted pyrite (fool’s gold). He told me, “Hey Ness, give me a touch of tradition,” so I did a crystal quartz which is as clear as a diamond, and it’s in that family, and that was our engagement process.

I absolutely loved the photos from your ceremony and you wearing black for your dress probably stood out the most. Why black that day and what did it mean for you to be in that color?

I knew I didn’t want to wear white initially, but I wanted to give my mom that moment because ​I​ feel like I​ already don’t do things ​according to plan. I went to these different bridal places​,​ tried ​on dresses​, and took iPhone photos for my mom to text to her. That was our “your daughter is in a white dress” moment a​nd she thought I looked really beautiful, but I thought, this dress is $1,500 for me to drag across the floor somewhere–not happening.

So​ I started looking for vintage dresses that were printed and looked nothing like a wedding dress. I kept going back to the drawing board and I ended up with this beautiful black and white dress with black lace on the side and it was very Spanish-style.

Three weeks before we​ left ​for Guatemala​, I decided I did not want any white. I said, after all the dresses I went through and ordered and tried on, it never felt like myself. I’m in a very new place in my life that I’ve never been in and I want to look like how I feel. I feel empowered and I feel strong and I feel royal and I feel solid on my own. And I didn’t want to look like–and there’s nothing wrong it–but this with dainty bride that’s so happy that someone chose her. I wanted to look like how I would if I were standing on my own, like, I’m solid and I’m strong, so that’s where the black and gold came from. I just referenced royalty, our roots, and our culture and it was ‘this is a woman who knows who she is going into this relationship with this other person.’

I went on Ali Express and saw this black and gold dress and I said this is going to be my dress. I ordered it and it was $219 and another $30 for express shipping.

Your photos are aesthetically one of the best on Instagram and it definitely encapsulates you as a free black woman and your love for things with African roots. How important was it for you to be with someone who matches your adoration for black culture?

I wasn’t completely the person I am today that I was when I met Haz. I was young and he’s five years older than me. What initially brought us together was just our love of life and our love of living and being in the moment and not taking ourselves too seriously. We weren’t in that space so it’s not like we could connect over specifics.

As we nurtured each other, those things were always in us, but we grew together in finding out more about it. We were able to grow together in this process, tapping more, learning more, studying more. I’m sharing knowledge with him and he’s sharing knowledge with me but it wasn’t like we were both these pro-black, fight the power people that met each other and said ‘We’re going to do this!’

Another part of it too was in just the last couple of years and in general with everything going on in society.

[Tweet "I've learned to love a black man differently"]

It encourages me to go harder than I may have before when I didn’t see things as much. And I knew things were going on, but now that there’s these platforms and access to more, I decided to use my voice to talk about these things and bring about more from it.

​L​oving a black man has changed for me, so yes, it’s all love and light and we’re free spirits, but it’s a different level of work that goes into it that I didn’t realize until I’ve grown into the person I am now to see those things.

On your Instagram, you talked about the simplicity of your big day and advised your followers to "invest in the experience." What are some ways you suggest women do this and what did you do specifically on your big day?

To breathe and to relax and to put it into perspective. It’s a moment and it’s beautiful, but you’re going to have many moments and don’t let the idea of what it’s supposed to be, overtake what it actually is with your person. So when I say invest in your moment, I mean make sure that you are honoring your relationship before you're honoring anything else.

Find a balance and find something that means something to the both of you. ​If you guys met at a beautiful park or maybe there was some funny moment you shared by a tree, if ​there's some place that resonates with you, do something there. I think you have to first let yourself break free from the tradition of how it’s supposed to be and go with what feels right. At the of the day, you have to look back at that memory and you want to be able to know that it wasn't on the heels of the moment that ceremony was done, and those bills are coming in, and you’re wondering why you spent $30,000 worth of flowers. That’s going into that relationship and none of those people that were there are going into that house with you two.

You've been pretty real about your relationship online. At one point you thanked your partner on Father's Day for not coming into the relationship with children and said that you didn't include "'til death do us part" in your vows because things could happen. What do you feel are some things that make a relationship healthy besides honesty?

Trust, especially with him being a traveler. At the end of the day, you can call your boo 1,700 times if that’s what he wants to do, he’s going to do it. I’m appreciative that I don’t even have to consider those things.

We [women] can jump to conclusions and it doesn’t have to be that deep, and as I’ve grown, I saw that half of the stuff that we go through sometimes doesn’t have to be as deep as we make it. Making your relationship feel as light as possible is a beautiful thing. Where you can make it light, make it light. Where there doesn’t need to be an issue or an argument, do that, so that when real stuff comes up, it’s real and both of you guys know that. If you have something to say about everything, it can create this weight and this burden.

If you could give your younger, 18-year-old self advice on relationships, what would it be?

It would be to be patient, to love myself harder, and I would tell myself everything is going to be okay.

[Tweet "From outside, it looked like I knew my worth, but from the inside, I didn't. "]

Be patient with yourself. You’re learning, you’re growing, and love yourself harder is definitely the advice I would give to myself just to allow me to give myself more time to figure me out.

Catch Vanessa journey along with Haz on Instagram at @thebazaarbohemian.

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