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Featured Couple
Mr. & Mrs. Marvin Bannister

This year we explore what kinds of wedding traditions truly accentuate the roots of African -Americans and how to add culture to the wedding experience.

We would like to share with you the wedding of Marvin and Vanessa Banister in the brides own words...

 On August 13, 2005, my family, friends and I brought Africa to Central Florida. In essence, I (the bride) did a lot of research and shared my findings. For instance, the following took place: a pouring of libation, presenting of  lobola, a tasting ceremony with a kola nut communion (i.e., we will share kola nuts with our guests), lighting of Mishumaa Saba (ref. Kwanzaa Ceremony), crossing sticks ritual, and jumping-the-broom ritual.  In addition, Afro-centric appetizers (e.g., goat cheese vegetable samosa, meat samosa, kofta curry meatballs, akara, and banana fritters) were served to guests. 

There was also African inspired dancing and drumming.  How was this pulled this off?  Again, it required a lot of research!  For instance, my dress was designed by the great author and bridal designer Therez Fleetwood. My husband's matching outfit, which was made with ashoke and lace, was designed by Cheikh at Africa by the Bay, Inc located in Oakland, CA.  The wedding party (10 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen) wore African outfits, which were designed by Cheikh. The event planner, Edith Sparrow, and staff gathered custom African pieces such as wood carved chairs, statues, and masks to decorate the scene.  Lots of plants, vases and sounds set the tone. 

African American brides (as myself) who attempt to organize/accomplish Afro-centric weddings.  Many brides have worked very hard to pull of Afro-centric weddings by considering (1) Afro-centric wedding invitations, (2)Afro-centric outfits, (3) braids instead of an up-do, (4) African drummers and dancers, and (5) the jumping-the-broom ritual.  These traditions are very important but only capture a glimpse of what it means to have an Afro-centric wedding.  An Afro-centric wedding requires one to deeply research the past and present wedding traditions of Africans and African Americans.  One must consider the creative ways that our African ancestors attempted to "legitimize" matrimony. 

If you would like to become one of our Featured couples, or would like more information, please leave your name and contact information.

*If your entry is selected as the featured couple we will create a wedding move and display it here along with your discription of your wedding ceremony. If you ar not selected your picture will be place in the wedding Gallery movie.
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Featured Movie

*turn up your speakers to enjoy the ethnic music in the movie

 The jumping-the-broom ritual is one way- but what about "crossing sticks"? One must also consider wedding rituals that are core to Africans.  Many authors (e.g., H. Cole, I. Sturgis, Editors of Signature Bride Magazine) have written about traditional African and African American wedding rituals - e.g.,  "libations", "tasting the elements", "kola nut communion", and "Kwanzaa".  These rituals should add on to the list of "things to consider".  These rituals, along with others, suggest that the foci of an Afro-centric wedding are two families uniting and honoring African roots.  It should be a ceremony that not only sheds light on "new" and "family" love, but should also be educational. People should leave an Afro-centric wedding with a regenerated knowledge of their African roots.  There should be fruitful opportunities for guests to explore past and present facets of African roots.  Such weddings should bring Africa to America. 

The goal was to create a scene that accentuated Africa.  Moreover, guests were presented wedding programs that not only outlined the wedding activities, but also explained the rituals and terms that were incorporated in the wedding. Again, this was a celebration of love and African roots. 

~Dr.Vanessa Bannister

The Indianapolis Museum of Art  
Exibit Information
Exibit Information

I Do
6/11/2006 through 4/22/2007
All Day
Paul Fashion Arts Gallery and Paul Textile Arts Gallery
Included with Museum admission

The inaugural exhibition in the Paul Fashion Arts and Textile Arts Galleries, I Do celebrates international traditions of the marriage rite as seen in opulent wedding gowns and other nuptial attire. I Do features approximately 30 garments, including 12 American wedding dresses dating from 1837 to 1946 that will be displayed on mannequins in the Fashion Arts Gallery. Bridal ensembles, garments and accessories from China, Japan, Indonesia, India, Iran and northern, western and southern African will be displayed in the adjacent Textile Arts Gallery. With their exquisite workmanship, use of rare and precious materials, and elaborate ornamentation including beading and embroidery, the works of I Do underscore the importance of the marriage rite throughout time and world cultures.

The American wedding dresses will be on view in the Paul Fashion Arts Gallery through April 22, 2007. The Asian, Indonesian and African garments will be on view in the Paul Textile Arts Gallery through February 25, 2007.
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