When I was younger, my family always made fun of me for being nosey. If something was lost, they'd ask me where it was and I always knew. Being the youngest, I didn't want to be left out so I made sure to poke my nose everywhere it wasn't supposed to be. Not only was I nosey but I was also extremely protective of my mother. She never needed it but apparently, I thought it was my job. I'll never forget the moment when my nosiness collided with my need to protect and comfort her.
Whenever my mom laughed really hard, she would kind of wail. She always said that it was the only way her stomach muscles would loosen up. Her wailing laugh was a common sound in our house which always made my sisters and me laugh. Late one night when I was just 9 years old, I heard the familiar sound; except this time, it wasn't coming from laughter but from sorrow. Without knocking, I crept in, saw my mom kneeling on the floor with her head buried in the bed. She was on the phone. I assumed one of her friends was telling her a hilarious story and obviously I needed to know what it was. I stood there thirsty for a punch line when she looked up at me with a face full of tears and bloodshot eyes. I sat down on the bed and rubbed her back for what felt like hours.
She was on the phone with her fiancé, Richard. Through her sobbing and weeping, I was able to piece together that his parents had taken away their consent to be married. As members of the Bahai Faith each member has to obtain consent from their parents to marry. They had flown to Northern California to ask his parents for consent, which they had happily given -- only to have his mother call days later to rescind it because she was worried about what people would think of her having a black daughter-in-law.
My mom and Rich knew each other in passing, years before when my sisters, his son and daughter were members of a Bahai youth group. They didn't keep in touch until they bumped into each other years later at a Bahai celebration. He took her on a date and they both knew that night they had found the One. Eight months later, he proposed. Rich had been renting a room from his best friend since his house was an hour from his job. With his son being the only one living there and my mom's job being down the street, he asked my mom, my sisters, myself and my grandma to all move into his house. After they got consent taken away, he decided that he would continue renting a room from his friend forever if he had to. They called off the wedding, not the relationship.
If you haven't seen the video of the Haka being performed for the bride and groom who ultimately joined in, you've probably been living under a rock! I've seen the Haka performed many times and while it's always emotional, I've never been more moved than I was while watching it performed for New Zealand couple Aaliyah and Ben Armstrong. Ben's best man planned the Maori wedding haka because he knew how important it was to recognize their Polynesian heritage.
For those unfamiliar with what a haka is, it is described as an intimidation tactic, an ancient war dance of the Maori people. Each haka has its own set of chanted lyrics, synchronized stomping and slapping of the body and facial expressions – like flashing one’s tongue or teeth and going bug-eyed – to intimidate on the battlefield.
The couple said, “For Polynesians and Maori’s, a traditional haka is usually performed in their traditional language and has different aspects to it, depending on where they are from,” Aaliyah and Ben tell The Knot. “We both have some Maori Ancestry in our families.”
Present-day haka, pulled from the traditions of the Polynesian people, have now been transformed into shows of cultural pride, honor, and unity.
At the reception Ben’s Best Man kicked off the call and response chant after his speech, and though it was planned in advance the couple said it, “was somewhat of a surprise to who had joined in on the haka.” Groomsmen, bridesmaids, wedding guests and even the guests of honor themselves – the bride and groom – participated in the intense display.
Check out the video but make sure to grab some tissues!
I'm beyond excited for Shekofe & Joun's wedding this weekend! While we've only been working together for about 5 months, I feel like I've known Shekofe and her family for years. Whenever we have a planning meeting, it's more like a family meeting. I'm honored.
With Loyall Hart behind the lens and their engagement shoot at Ventanas and The Goat Farm , Joun and Shekofe basically turned into models, sooooooooo get ready!