Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

November 16 | offbeatbride  
Photos by: Wolf Photography
Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married
Photos by Wolf Photography

Offbeat partner: Chris, photographer

Offbeat partner: Sydney, professor

Date and location of wedding: Motor House, Baltimore, MD — October 8, 2017

Budget: $6000

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:

While there was no theme per se, our goal was to throw tradition out the window and instead reflect our "non-traditional" lives. Chris is an award-winning drag king and Sydney is a burlesque performer. We are also both Leos. Needless to say, this means our wedding was very theatrical. Chris designed the save-the-date cards to look like a club flier, and our dress code was "not basic." We left that up to our guests to interpret, but we got outfits ranging from sequin cocktail dresses to leprechaun costumes, to drag, to ALF.

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

The ceremony and reception took place in a black box theatre which served as a blank slate for our vision. The decorations for the ceremony were minimal, as we relied mostly on dramatic theater lighting. To accompany the dramatic lighting, we had to have a dramatic entrance. We walked down the aisle, catwalk-style, to a gay dance club classic, "Din Daa Daa" by George Kranz. We were led in by a vogue dancer, followed by Sydney's 35-year old brother as the ring bearer and her 98-year old grandmother making it rain with a Cash Cannon as the "flower girl."

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

After the heartfelt and personal ceremony, our guests helped flip the space for a reception featuring drag king and burlesque performances and catered by a local caterer, Chef Egg, and Popeye's Chicken.

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Tell us about the ceremony:

Sydney wrote the ceremony which was performed by our secular officiant and family friend, Linda. Although our wedding was secular, we included aspects of African-American tradition, such as jumping the broom, and had a small altar set up for our ancestors.

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

The ceremony opened with the poem "as you are|you are the prayer" by nayyirah waheed which immediately produced tears. Having a ceremony that not only reflected our love for each other, but also our promises to work as a couple to continue to liberate our queer and black communities, was important to us. Therefore, working toward community-building together was part of our vows.

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

So much of our wedding was created by our communities. Sydney's college friend, Christine, created dozens of flower centerpieces as well as the wedding party bouquets and boutonnieres. A member of the wedding party, Brenna, is a jewelry designer who handcrafted our wedding rings incorporating gold from Sydney's recently deceased grandfather. Our DJ and Chris's friend, DJ Tezrah, did a phenomenal job providing the hip-hop, dance music, and '90s classics soundtrack for the party atmosphere of the reception. Baltimore King of Pride (and DC's Best Drag King 2016), Chris, and 12-year burlesque veteran, Sydney, couldn't have a wedding without performances, and our drag and burlesque friends gifted us performances during the reception. We also Rick-Rolled our guests in the recessional.

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Tell us about your reception:

The idea of having our wedding catered by Popeye's was initially a joke, but then so many people were excited by the idea, and we like Popeye's chicken so, why not? Chris also created a Snapchat filter for the day called "Two Piece and a Biscuit" and we encouraged our guests to Snapchat and hashtag our wedding. We are still enjoying seeing the snaps and photos of our wedding plastered all over social media through the eyes of our guests.

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

The reception decor was simple black tablecloths with African Ankara print runners and flowers in our wedding colors, black, gold, pink, and teal. Sydney's favorite moment was the impromptu idea to throw the wedding cake into Chris's mouth. We had never done that before with any food, but on our wedding day, in front of a hundred guests, Chris caught the wedding cake in their mouth. Chris's favorite moment was their surprise lip-sync performance to Michael Jackson's "Love Never Felt So Good." Also, since we are queer, with friends of a variety of genders, we requested that the venue make the bathrooms gender neutral for the day, which the Motor House happily obliged.

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

What was your most important lesson learned?

We are both creative people, so we planned a lot of DIY ideas either to be unique or to save money. As the wedding date came closer, time and logistics meant that we had to edit some of our ideas. Sydney was going to make homemade French macarons and had multiple test runs. But as the wedding date approached, it just become too much.

We also were going to have a cheese fountain and a gravy fountain, but both logistics and space wouldn't allow it. Chris had to let go of some of the lighting cues and a full dance club lighting experience because we couldn't have a tech rehearsal. As Chris says of the day-of, "I had to let go of some control, because once you are dressed in the suit, you can't be everywhere at once."

In short, our advice would be to know that there are some things which you will just have to edit out, but in the end, no one knows what could have been or should have been at your wedding because they are too busy enjoying the things that actually were there. No one, including us, missed the macarons, the nacho cheese fountain, or the more complex lighting.

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

Queer black Baltimore realness: a drag king and a burlesque performer get married

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  1. I'm in Maryland. I wish I knew about this wedding as I would have driven to Baltimore and crashed this wedding.

    I love Chris' shoes and Grandma 🙂 The lady in the tutu with the Obama cutout has rocking legd.

    Now I want Popeyes and I don't even really like Popeyes (well the shrimp and biscuit)

    4 agree
  2. This wedding is giving me life! Y’all got Renee your vows and invite. Literally so much wonderful stuff the dress, flower girl grandma with the cash cannon, Popeyes, the rings, your friend performing???????

    5 agree
  3. This looks like the BEST wedding ever!!! I love everything about it – the whole feel of it, the amaaaaaazing outfits on *everyone* (but holy shit, Syd’s dress…it’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, and Syd looks stunning in it), and the food! Whoever came up with Popeyes is a genius.

    2 agree
  4. Thank you so much for publishing some of the positive news that comes out of my city daily. This wedding is so beautiful, and so perfectly Baltimore – real Baltimore, rather than glitzy Inner Harbor Baltimore. Thank you for publishing it, and thank you to Sydney and Chris for letting us see your beautiful celebration. Grandma with the cash cannon might be my new favorite OBB image/concept ever.

    5 agree
  5. Popeye's! This is so brilliant! And that invitation is AMAZING. I love everything about this beautiful, wild wedding and these two fabulous people!

    2 agree
  6. If you two put together a wedding this amazing, I'm sure you have everything else in the bag. I read this last night and had to come back again. So beautiful. Grandma rocking the cash cannon? I can hardly contain myself.

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