Metropolitan at the 9 Intimate Wedding
You may be familiar with the term ‘representation’ or you may not, but depending on what your story is, and if I may suggest, what you look like, you may define it in a very different way.
Representation in the wedding industry is a HUGE issue. Right now, a lot of my black friends reading are probably nodding their heads in agreement, and hopefully, a lot of my white friends are too. But I would imagine there are a number of you that may not connect with this as passionately as some of us do, so before I tell you Angelique & Michael’s sweet love story, may I tell you another story?
Imagine, you’re a bride (probably not a huge stretch for most of you reading!) and you’re searching for that perfect dress. You’re spending hours, days, weeks, looking and looking for the dress that speaks to you and you can envision walking down the aisle wearing. You’re trying to get an idea of the style you might be interested in before you make your appointment for the bridal boutique because the style of dress and designer you want is going to greatly affect what store you visit…
The problem is, it’s hard to imagine. Because every image you see on Google, out of the 1000s of images, looks nothing like you. Their body isn’t shaped quite like yours and you’re having such a hard time trying to push through the blond-haired beauty represented on every single picture you’re seeing to find someone that helps you envision what you’d like to look like on the most important day of your life.
Now, before I stop there, let me take this a step further. You might be thinking, ok, ok, we should work on that… but we’re all grownups here… is that really that big of a deal? My first answer is yes, but my second answer is but we’re actually not all grownups. Do you know who loves all things wedding and bridal and beauty? A lot of little girls. Beautiful little girls of all colors. So, while you and I have grownup brains (that’s the scientific term, you’re welcome…) that help us sort through the complications of life, little girls simply don’t.
So then we have baby girls (if you are under 20 you are officially a baby girl in my world) of every color who are dreaming of their far-off wedding day and the only pictures they see tell them that beauty is a tall skinny blond white woman alone, and this creates an impossible standard. A standard that says: Beauty is something I’m not.
What a lie.
Representation within the wedding industry is a nice phrase, but without understanding the deeper meaning behind it, it does us little good. It is within all of us to want to be able to see wedding inspiration that represents a little bit of who we are as people. As a bride planning the most important day of her life, how much more so? For some of us, myself as a white woman, for instance, it’s far easier to see that representation than for some of my friends. Truly this is a HUGE multifaceted problem (try Googling some things and test it out yourself) but a few of us decided to tackle a little piece of the problem in our corner of the world.
What started as a simple idea, we need more inclusion and diversity within the wedding industry… what can we do about this? We started asking ourselves how can we create something truly stunning that would speak to all brides, but particularly showcase the beauty of #blacklove and an intimate wedding experience for a couple of color?
Because so many couples are shifting to intimate wedding experiences this year we also wanted to showcase how beautiful those intimate moments can be, by creating wedding inspiration for couples who were moving their larger celebrations further off, or completely shifting to a small intimate wedding.
I reached out to real-life couple Angelique & Michael Daniels about our project. Michael is the director of the Student Multicultural Center at Kent State University, and Angelique is the associate director for Student Success Programs. They’re both deeply passionate about creating more diversity and inclusion in the world. Angelique shared with me that on her own wedding journey, just a year before, she struggled to find images of BIPOC brides as she was creating her dream wedding, and how invisible that made her feel as a bride and a woman of color. Something she was passionate about remedying. The more we talked the more I fell in love with them as people and hatched an idea, would they want to renew their vows? Their answer was a resounding, yes!
It turns out that Angelique & Michael had to shift their anniversary plans due to COVID and an intimate vow renewal was a beautiful way to help make up for that! They chose to read the same vows that they exchanged at their wedding just a year before. The joy on Michael’s face watching his bride was incredible. He kept saying, “I’m married to this woman” in awe of her beauty. And his look after he kissed his bride! Cue all the warm fuzzies.
They exchanged vows at the incredible Metropolitan at the 9, at Adega, followed by portraits on the Azure Rooftop lounge. This is an incredible wedding venue and hotel seated right in the heart of downtown Cleveland surrounded by everything the city has to offer. Including being just steps away from the Cavaliers Basketball and Cleveland Indian’s baseball stadiums in downtown Cleveland.
Angelique wore two looks, the first for her vow exchange and rooftop portraits, and then changed into her last dress for a late-night drink and a more intimate look and portraits with her husband. Both of the gowns were designed by Enzoani.
Michael’s look came from Self-Made Couture, a black-owned Cleveland based custom menswear company that produces incredible looks for men. Each piece of his look was completely custom and tailored uniquely for him, as each piece in their collections is for each of their clients.
Our vision for the look and feel of the event came from the idea of bringing an actual art gallery into your wedding space. The idea of surrounding yourself with beauty on the most beautiful day of your life in a very literal sense. Each piece of art in the room, the three paper sculptures, as well as the live painting, were created by Elbowgrease Design and owner Lauren Skunta. She is a phenomenal and renowned artist, and we were incredibly lucky to have her with us. There was such a beautiful moment when Lauren shows Angelique and Michael her painting of Angelique for the first time, the joy on Angelique’s face was so beautiful!
Our vendor team represents just under 50% black-owned companies (it was originally 50% but a last-minute COVID quarantine sidelined one of our vendors) and each member brought an incredible piece to the table in bringing this vision to life. Every single person on this team was committed to showcasing inclusivity and diversity in the wedding industry, and what started as an important project turned into a gorgeous vow renewal with an incredible team of talented vendors and a deeply in love couple.
Enjoy a little glimpse into Angelique and Michael’s love story and this incredible intimate wedding inspiration. See below for the full amazing vendor team.
Venue | Metropolitan at the 9
Photography | Dragonfly Photography
Makeup Artist | Makeup by Merideth
Hair Stylist | Madame Butterfly Image Consulting
Officiant | Minister Sharnise
Calligraphy + Place Cards | Pennmanship Calligraphy
Menswear | Self-Made Couture
Florals | Stem Floral Studio
Bridal Gown | Radiant Bride
Linens | L’nique Linens
Cake | Cake’tique Custom Cakes
Live Art & Installations, Paintings | Elbowgrease Design
Statement Earrings | BR Design Co
Invitation Suite | Rock Paper Sisters