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Saying ‘romance’ with a trip to the Black Bridal & Beauty Expo

“…First comes love, then comes marriage. Then comes a baby in a baby carriage…”

Some would remember this popular children’s rhyme 40 years ago. Today, love and marriage is something, altogether, different.

The old rule doesn’t apply anymore. In fact, the new rule is “Anything goes.” 

 “Weddings and popular trends for planning a couple’s perfect day are as unique and varied as the individual couple,” said Cynthia Daniels. “Especially for the black bride. She knows what she wants, how she wants to look, and where she wants to be when she takes her vows.”

Daniels, the CEO of Cynthia Daniels & Co, will facilitate Memphis’ inaugural Black Bridal & Beauty Expo for couples, best girlfriends, singles, and even older married couples who may be thinking about renewing their vows.”

The affair is set for Saturday and Sunday, February 23-24, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Admission is free of charge, and 50 vendors will be on hand to help make bridal dreams come true. The expansive Pipkin Building, located on the grounds of the Liberty Bowl Stadium and Tiger Lane, will be the setting.

 “Lovers and couples of all ages can come out and enjoy the bridal fashions, sample decors and floral arrangements, custom cakes, and all the other frills on display,” said Daniels. “It can be a wonderful extension of their Valentine’s Day celebration. Whether a date is set or not, everyone will enjoy seeing what brides are doing now.”

Twenty vendors are wedding-related, 20 are beauty related, and 10 are wellness vendors.

 “I have an excellent team, and we have put on specialty events and facilitated expos before,” said the Atlanta native. “But this is our first bridal expo. We welcome potential brides of all races, but I wanted specifically to address the fashion and planning needs for African-American brides.

“I am still single myself, but I remember a couple of years back being asked to attend some bridal shows with friends who were getting married. There were a few things that were appealing, but there was really no representation of our culture and style. And I began researching the market for vendors who do actually appeal to African Americans. Seventy percent of my vendors are black.

Millennials approach relationships and marriage quite differently than what has been traditionally acceptable. Many already have children, live together, and are sometimes continuing their education together. They know what they want, says Daniels, and the traditional model of marriage doesn’t fit their lifestyle.

“Although quite a few of them move in together, they are still choosing marriage as a family model,” she said. “Engagements can be longer, multiple children may already be shared by the couple, and some purchase homes and vehicles as a family.”

According to ThoughtCo online, Daniels’ assessment of young African Americans and marriage is strongly supported. Four myths about “blacks and marriage” persist, according to an article written by Nadra Kareem Nittle, entitled: “The Top 4 Myths About Black Marriage.”

Myth 1:  Black women don’t get married. Fact: “75 percent of black women marry before age 35.

Myth 2: Educated, black women have it harder. Fact: “Among black women, 70 percent of college graduates are married by 40, whereas only about 60 percent of black high school graduates are married by that age.” She cites a New York Times report for those stats.

Myth 3: Rich, black men marry outside their race. Fact: “According to census data, 83 percent of married black men who earned at least $100,000 annually marry black women. Rappers and athletes are in the minority when they choose to marry outside the race.

Myth 4: Black men don’t earn as much as black women. Fact: “Just because black women are more likely to graduate from college than their male counterparts doesn’t mean that they out-earn black men. Actually, black men are more likely than black women to bring home at least $75,000 annually. Plus, double the number of black men than women make at least  $250,000 annually. Because of pervasive gender gaps in income, black men remain the breadwinners in the African American community,” says Nittle.

So despite negative crime numbers and single-parent statistics in today’s African-American community, marriage is still the predominant choice of couples, both young and old.

Changing trends, however, make marriage look a bit different, said Daniels. 

“You’ll see black wedding dresses, navy blue ones—colors that have traditionally not been acceptable,” she said. “Pastels and other colors are now more popular than white. Parks and private homes are also now popular venues of modern weddings. If you can imagine it, you can have it for your wedding.”

Doors will open promptly at 11 a.m. during the two-day event.

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