In which Bwog freelancer Kate Linthicum reports on a very special day.
There was more than humidity in the air Thursday. At The Riverside Church there was love.
Yesterday afternoon ten couples were wed in a mass ceremony as part of “Marry Your Baby Daddy Day.” The wedding, which was free for all the participants, brought together couples who already have children, but who hadn’t tied the knot.
The ceremony was as elaborate as the Church’s towering Gothic arches. The brides, garbed in lavish white dresses with long trains, waited in line with their grooms for their big moment before the dreadlocked minister.
The Reverend Dr. Thomas L. Stiers presided while each couple exchanged vows, his smooth, soothing voice echoing through the chapel. The couples seemed nervous, but glad. During one ceremony, the groom had to stop his vows to wipe a tear from his bride’s cheek.
The event was organized by Maryann Reid, a romance writer who held a similar event in 2005. Reid, who is not married, says she got the idea for the event after finding out that nearly 70% of African-American couples with children aren’t married. “It came from my high frustration with the out-of-wedlock rate in the black community,” said Reid, who noted that yesterday’s ceremony featured brides and grooms of other races, as well. “I thought, ‘I need to take action.'”
Reid, clad in a colorful, ruffled dress with a train of its own (it looked like a crumpled, makeup-stained tissue), is quite the media darling these days. She’s been featured in The New Yorker and has touted her books and talked about the out-of-wedlock rate on a slew of television and radio programs. Both NBC Nightly News and the Daily News covered yesterday’s wedding, and hushed rumors hinted that Star Jones might be interested in featuring it, as well.
After an hour-long ceremony punctuated by prayers and the wails of an unhappy baby, the minister finally pronounced the couples men and wives. He gave them
permission to kiss, and the audience laughed as each couple embraced. After all, it was a long a time coming. They held on extra tight.
The organ played as the newlyweds filed out, stopping every few steps to smile for photos and kiss. Beneath one pew was a reminder that this had been an unusual ceremony: Amidst strewn flower petals and a wedding program was a diaper.