Offbeat partners: Shayla & Isaac
Date and location: Peekskill, NY — 08/15/2021
Our unique hip hop wedding at a glance:
One of the first things we did was create a vision for our day, which was: “Our wedding will highlight our unique love story and our dynamic personalities. Our wedding will have traditional elements, but will not be bound by tradition. Music, especially hip hop, cake, and purple will be central to the celebration.”
I wanted to weave hip hop throughout the wedding in subtle but meaningful ways…nothing cheesy! I was still planning during a pandemic so to keep guests safe and encourage mask wearing, we printed masks with the our “hip hop names” – Flysaac and Slayla. Our program, in addition to sharing the order of the ceremony had a “Track List” of hip hop and R&B songs that corresponded to key moments throughout the day.
Guests didn't sign a traditional guest book, but signed postcards, three of which were reproductions of Isaac's cassette tape series of paintings. Using postcards also related back to our proposal, which was on Postsecret.com. We read it every Sunday and on May 31, 2020 there was a proposal postcard waiting for me.
Tell us about the unique hip hop wedding ceremony:
We wanted to set the tone early that hip hop was going to be woven throughout the wedding. For the ceremony processional music our parents processed in to “Everyday Love” by Homeboy Sandman, Isaac and his best man to “Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You)” by UGK featuring Outkast, and the wedding party to “Prototype” by Outkast. Vocalist and songwriter Kita P did an acoustic version of “Best Part” by H.E.R. as my dad and I walked down the aisle to meet Isaac.
With regard to our wedding party, I wanted to keep it small, but have the closest to us involved; so we had honored guests. Underground hip hop artist and our mutual friend and “matchmaker,” Homeboy Sandman was an honored guest, along with my three oldest friends from middle school. They all had the freedom to pick out their own clothes, processed down the aisle, and were seated behind my parents. My two college best friends were my matron of honor and brides man, and Isaac's brother and friend were his best man and groomsman. Those four wore gray which helped my purple dress and Isaac's blue suit really pop.
Isaac's nephew was a ring bearer and instead of a pillow, he carried in the rings on a portable CD player that I created, a nod to the 90s listening device that dominated what we think of as the golden age of hip hop. My best friend's daughters were flower girls and rather than throwing flowers, they carried rings of flowers.
As the ceremony began, rather than be given away, because I don't believe that I'm property to be given, we asked the officiant to say “Who supports Shayla and Isaac today as they become one?” And all of the guests said, “We do!”
We shared vows we had written in vow books that Isaac decorated. We each expressed what each other meant to the other, but it was a really fun moment when he playfully started his vows to me with a fist bump and said I was cool. Took a bow and said, “The end.”
After our vows, my mother read a scripture, Colossians 3:12-15 NRSV and Isaac's other nephew shared an excerpt from Common's “The Light.” Our awesome officiant, Reverend Donna Owusu-Ansah, who also is a fellow alumna of Rye Country Day School, gave a homily entitled, “Matching Where it Counts” that drew from the scripture and the reading. She also suggested a really unique unity ritual — a “Purpling.” We combined blue butterfly pea flower tea and red hibiscus tea to make a purple tea symbolizing creativity, wisdom, peace, mystery, independence, and magic. We are big tea drinkers and connecting the ritual to a favorite activity of ours was really cool, especially after we learned what it symbolized.
We exchanged rings and promised to be together for richer and richer! We sealed our union with a kiss, and as a surprise to our guests, Isaac beatboxed as Kita P sang her original song “Happy.” We processed out to “It Rains Love” by Lee Fields & The Expressions.
Tell us about the unique hip hop wedding reception:
The tables were named after hip hop albums that influenced us and included a copy of the corresponding CD. For our young guests, I made a mini-wedding activity book with hip hop facts and games and graphics to color, to keep them from feeling bored.
Before being introduced into the reception as husband and wife, Isaac and the male members of the wedding party changed into fresh kicks. Isaac's sneakers were hand painted with purple accents and the men wore white Nike Air Force 1 with cork soles.
Our first dance was a medley of Big Pun's “Still Not a Playa,” Mary J. Blige's “Real Love,” and “The Light” by Common. We then had a fab dance party to the latest and classic hip hop songs, with a few key line dances thrown in like the “Electric Slide,” and “The Wobble.”
There were two cakes; one was a surprise groom's cake for Isaac that incorporated the four elements of hip hop culture. Our wedding cake was a modern purple ombre tiered buttercream wedding cake with a “Forever-ever” cake topper — a nod to the line from Outkast's “Miss Jackson.” The guests' favors were photo booth prints with our logo, a Spotify download of our hip hop wedding playlist, and chocolates that we had on our second date.
As the night drew to a close, I switched into a short white dress and my mother's veil from her wedding to my dad 42 years before. I danced with my bestie to Beyonce's remake of “Before I Let Go.” And then Isaac and I said goodbye to the guests as they held sparklers.
What was the most important lesson you learned from your unique hip hop wedding?
I would encourage all couples to have a conversation before the big day and create a vision for their wedding — write it down, type it out, and agree to it. That vision will help keep you focused when parents/family, friends, or vendors want to insert their wishes or have great big ideas for how they want your wedding to be.
Be yourself and make it your day, your way.
Unique hip hop wedding vendors
- Photography: Alex and Jully Photography
- Belt and Headpiece – Amazon
- Sendoff dress: BHLDN
- Shoes: Sophia Webster
- Groom's Wedding Band and Bride's Engagement Ring: Anu Rock & Metal
- MUA: MJ Essence
- Day of Coordination: Luxury Event Collective
- Venue: The Factoria
- Florals: Flowers by April
- Wedding Cake: The Cakery
- Groom's Cake: Lulu's
- Ceremony Soloist: Kita P Music
- DJ: @likwuid
- Photobooth: @kcphotogtaphy03
- Favors: @lilacchocolates