“Plantation Weddings: Thinking Through Where You Say ‘I Do.’”

AU Magazine’s “forgotten article”

In December 2019, the Civil Rights organization, Color of Change (COC), advocated for several wedding planning sites to remove the option to search or plan plantation weddings.

 “You have a multi-multimillion-dollar industry that makes money off of glorifying sites of human rights atrocities,” Rashad Robinson, the organization’s president said in a New York Times’ article, Pinterest and The Knot Pledge to Stop Promoting Plantation Weddings (December,5 2019.)

 Wedding sites like the Knot, Pinterest and Zola are among the few wedding sites that removed key words related to planation wedding searches and vendors of plantation weddings.

“Weddings should be a symbol of love and unity. Plantations represent none of those things,” a spokesperson said in a New York Times’ article, Pinterest and The Knot Pledge to Stop Promoting Plantation Weddings (December, 5 2019.)

Taken from history.com

Holly Pinheiro, assistant professor of African American studies at AU said there is no excuse for not considering how plantation weddings make African Americans feel, “because truly comprehending the history of African Americans is understanding what it means and entails to be black Americans, back then and today.”

Cassidy Blackwell, a sophomore history major at AU, said when a planation is used as a wedding venue, it takes away from the history that should be taught and respected.

Blackwell said it feels as if slavery’s past is being forgotten and asserted that a lack of compassion and education about American slavery is responsible for the nonchalant behavior many people take towards holding weddings on former slave plantations.

Pinheiro concurred a discrepancy exists in the thoroughness of American history taught in school, as it pertains to slavery.

Pinheiro said the mistreatment of African Americans appears as though it was only a brief stint in time but, factoring in modern discrimination, it has been going on for hundreds of years.

It can be argued that racism and the lingering impact of the institution of slavery can still be felt, especially throughout Jim Crow, and arguably even today, said Pinheiro.

Jeff Bagley, owner of Chantilly Plantation in Washington, Ga., said that many guests choose to have a plantation wedding because of the scenery and romanticism that the Deep South provides.

Yet Bagley said he is aware that plantation history may cause African Americans to be uncomfortable.

“The porch of the front house is so high up. Guests can sit on the front lawn and view the wedding. It’s beautiful to witness. We encourage guests to walk along the pecan tree and magnolia trails. Plantations offer so much space and beauty,” said Bagley.

Dean Gosset Jr., a junior communication major at AU, said his sister unknowingly picked a plantation for her wedding location due to the allure of the scenery.

“When it was disclosed to her that the wedding venue was a plantation; I don’t think she gave it much thought because it [the plantation] had no reminisce of that,” said Gossett.

“The South loves to emphasize the antebellum resemblance to tourists because it’s a selling point–like Gone with The Wind in real life, but in the glamour of the South, many forget how the black character in movie played by Hattie McDaniel was portrayed,” Blackwell said.

“That movie and even its depiction of Hattie McDaniel are a prime example of how people get caught up in the love stories, and gloss over or ignore blatant racism,” Blackwell added.

Pinheiro said that regardless of the lovely and photogenic nature of these southern spots, “to have a wedding on a space that has a known history of violence, torture, misery, stripping down of humanity, monetizing off humans and selling of people, regardless of race is inappropriate.”

“The only people that can rewrite a plantation’s story should be black people,” said Tory Robins, a wedding and family photographer working in the Central Savannah River Area.

 Robins said, “I’ve done two photoshoots for black families at Redcliffe Plantation in Beech Island, South Carolina. Both shoots were powerful, because here stood two black families, descendants of slaves, doing what slaves never had the opportunity to do.”

 “Witnessing that [reclamation] and being a part of it made me think of a phrase, ‘I’ve seen my ancestor’s wildest dreams’,” said Robins.

My Husband Wasn’t My Type. Well, I Thought He Wasn’t

As a young girl, I spent countless hours dreaming of my wedding, future family, and spouse. I still have some of my dream wedding gown sketches from 6th grade. I was young and my thoughts about marriage were pretty shallow. It didn’t help that my parents were divorced and couldn’t stand to be in the same room with each other. I didn’t have the best examples of what a healthy marriage looked like, so I dreamt of what I wanted my my ideal marriage to look like—be like.

When I met my husband for the first time, it was a weird encounter. He wasn’t my type. He was socially awkward, and we had nothing in common. (I thought we had nothing in common.) It’s safe to say that we both shared relief when the date finally ended.

It wasn’t until I needed a roommate that I reached out to him. He had room and he was never home. Perfect, I thought. We tried our hardest to dislike each other and remain at a distance, but the intimacy of living together forced us to learn a lot about each other. We saw each other’s dates, saw each other sad, angry, smelled each other’s poops, and saw each other drool in our sleep. Living together made having our guards up impossible to do.

One day out of the blue, my husband told me that he was deploying to Afghanistan. He was really causal about it, but he wanted me to prepare to find a new roommate. I don’t know what shifted, but in that moment, we both felt the need to protect each other. It was apparent that we both really cared about what happened to each other next. I had been saving for a car and hadn’t reached my goal. “I’ll add $1000 to your car fund,” he offered. “Where are you going to go,” he asked. “I’ll write you everyday,” I promised him.

Before he left for Afghanistan, I visited him in Virginia. Did you know that Virginia is called the love state?

We spent a weekend together, holding hands and gazing into each other’s eyes. It felt right. We’d never behaved like this before, but for some reason we fell into this flow.

On the way back home, my friends and family checked in. “Did you tell him?” “Tell him what?” “That you love him…”

It took a deployment for us to realize that we were in love and had been for a very long time. I prayed for a safe deployment, but God had other plans. My husband ended up not deploying.

He came back to me and the rest is history.

You don’t make love. You grow it.



Please Don’t Ignore My Oldest Child

I get it, chubby cheeks, and baby giggles make the manliest of men stop in their tracks to smile in admiration at a cute baby. I’m positive that babies have their own powers. I read somewhere that babies are literally scientifically created “cute,” so that mothers naturally want to care for them. Like, there’s science behind baby cuteness.

Before my own kiddos, I never cared too much for other people’s children. I’d give a cute smile, and “aww,” but nothing else. So, to my kidless friends, maybe you don’t understand why what I’m about to talk to is considered butthole behavior, but to my friends that are parents, shame on you! *Shakes finger in disapproval

Liam has been an only child for 4 years. He’s super cute with a lot of personality which makes him hard not to notice and even harder to forget. He’s a natural star and I’m not just saying that because he’s my son, it’s true! Now that Zora’s here, Liam has noticed that most of the attention has shifted to his baby sister.

At first he was conflicted. He’d stand by while people totally ignored him and doted over his sister, but more recently, he’s started to address the situation. When someone doesn’t address him after a couple of minutes, Liam will make his presence known with a facetious, “Hi!” He says in a way like, “I know you see me standing here, speak fool!” The first time he did it, I was both tickled and proud. I was proud that he didn’t fall trap to the tired sad song, “no one ever noticed me, they always payed more attention to my sister/brother.” I was proud of Liam for standing up for him! Way to go Liam!

As a mom, it really bothers me that people see nothing wrong with blatantly ignoring one child for another! If you have kids, you know that when a stranger gets to chatting about the baby, these chats last a good 5 minutes at the least! Imagine standing with a group of people and everyone gets acknowledge, but you! How would that make you feel? Imagine what it feels like when you’re a little kid.

To you, you’re only uncontrollably drawn to the baby and all their cuteness. You’re not thinking too much about it. To the child/children that feel left out, they’re internalizing why they’re not good enough to be spoken to. “What’s wrong with me?” That takes a tole on their self esteem. Many older children act out, because they feel left out. You ignoring the eldest for the youngest could literally cost that parent a tantrum, because the youngest child can’t verbalize that they feel left out. I don’t know about you, but I try to avoid tantrums at all cost!

So, when I find myself in one of these situations, I make sure to mention Liam several times in conversation to “imply” to the other person, “hey, there’s another child here.” It’s seemed to work so far.

To all my perpetrators of this egregious child offense, don’t feel bad! I’m sure you didn’t mean any harm. Like I said before, babies are bundles of adorableness! In the future, think before you speak. In fact, count before you speak. Count every child and speak to each of them to ensure that no kid feels left out!

One of my favorite philosophers, Birdman once said, “Put some respek on my name.” Put some respek on every child’s existence!



Mommy blogger tips from a mommy blogger pro|Interview with Rachel Balducci

I’m all about God’s timing because if you haven’t figured it out by now, His divine timing is always the RIGHT timing!

Before this semester started, I had to make a quick change to my class schedule. Turns out, I registered for a class that started at 6pm and ended at 8pm. Those times weren’t Kosher for either my husband or my children so like a video vixen, I dropped that class like it was hot.

I was worried about what classes had availability so late in the register game. I ended up signing up for this class called, “writing for Comm.” My advisor had no clue what this class would entail but what he did know is that, the professor teaching this course was a BIG DEAL!

Rachel Balducci was my professor’s name and although I had never heard of her, something about the way my advisor spoke her name made me feel like she was worth a google search. So I googled her, and low and behold she was a big deal. Established journalist turned mommy blogger, author, tv host and now full time professor; what the heck hasn’t this lady done?

In true millennial fashion, I followed her Instagram and read every book review on Amazon. “Balducci does it again” and “Another hit” were just a few words from her loyal following. All I knew was, I was grateful to God that I had just dropped my stupid science lab in exchange for writing for Comm!

Her class is a journalism class where we write different articles. We focus on format, article types and journalistic styles. So far, we’ve covered events, created a podcast and conducted interviews around campus. Honestly , my writing has improved so much and I’m always happy to pick Professor Balducci’s brain for blogger and journalist tips.

You can’t tell me God doesn’t look out! How ironically cool that I just happen to take a class with a woman that does what I want to do! How friggin cool? Talk about God ordering my steps huh!

Because we live in a day in age where everyone wants to be an influencer or blogger, I decided to ask Professor Balducci questions I figured other mommy bloggers or influencers wanted to know. The interview is short and quaint because there’s no special formula on how to get you a book deal, money or fame. Professor Balducci covers how her faith, being in the right place at the right time and determination played a huge role in her success! Check out the interview below! *** Because I’m a college mom, Zora and Liam are in the interview as well because, why not?🤣

You Don’t Need Dollar Bills to Have a Fun Date Night! **Sia’s voice

So, I’m all for cheap fun. My husband and I try to be as creative as possible on date nights. One, I’m a full time college student and my husband is on a college hiatus until medical school. Secondly, often times our money looks funny. Like funny funny. This may sound discouraging to most but it’s not to us. We’re firm believers that faith without works is dead and we KNOW we put in the work!

I’m an avid crazy Pinterest mom so I get a lot of inspiration from couples with pockets that mimic ours. Check out some really romantic but affordable date night ideas below. Thank me later.

Movie marathon:

Thank God for Netflix and Fire TV sticks! These contraptions have made accessing your favorite films easy with just a couple of clicks with the remote. Pick a Netflix show or movie series to binge watch with your mate! Grab your cozy blanket, favorite snack and get to bingeing!


Recently, my husband took me on a picnic for my birthday. We shared our meal on green grass that overlooked a river. How romantic huh? Make a meal together or pick something up and find a quiet spot to picnic! If you’re really fancy, get a cute picnic basket!

Visit Free local events:

I bet you never thought Facebook could enrich your marriage. Well, thanks to sometimes annoying pop ups about local events happening in your city, you and your spouse can now take advantage of FREE events! In my city, almost every Sunday a FREE jazz concert is held downtown. My local art museum is free on Sundays too! Check out the local events happening in your city! You might find a free event that you could enjoy with your love!

Game night:

For this one, you might have to fork over some cash initially. When my husband and I moved into our latest home, we purchased a couple of board games. Our thoughts behind doing this were, “when we’re too lazy to leave our home or can’t find a sitter, we’ll have game night in the comfort of our own home!” Stocking up on board games can save you so much money and preparation in the future! On a rainy night or after you put the kids to bed, whip out the board games and play your hearts away! Grab your favorite wine and get to bonding!

Take a walk:

This one might not be as popular as it should. Take a walk! Get your Jill Scott on and take a long walk with your man/woman. Leave your phones behind and talk. Walk, talk and get a light workout in. Seal the end of that walk with a kiss!

Dating doesn’t have to break your pockets. Remember, all you need is love. No matter how long you’ve been together, never stop dating! Never stop pursuing each other.Xoxo,


5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married

In lieu of my 3 year wedding anniversary quickly approaching, I thought it’d be fun to make a list of things I wish I knew prior to being married. I’m no marital expert but If I say so myself, I’m a pretty good wife. Well, I think so. We’ll have to ask my husband his opinion later.

My husband and I got married pretty young. Our relationship started off pretty romantic— he slid in ya girl’s dms on a dating app. At the time, I wasn’t too fluent on dating apps and later found out that the specific dating app we met on was a “thot app.” Our first date was horrible. The entire time, my now husband made creepy kidnapping jokes. I distinctly remember clutching my purse tightly in my lap while simultaneously texting my friends my location, just in case his kidnapping jokes weren’t jokes.

After our date we silently vowed to never see each other again but God had other plans. We later crossed paths and began a strange but sweet friendship. Our friendship grew. We dated and shortly after, we married.

I always envisioned my wedding day as an elaborate exclusive love affair with lots of glam and glitter. I never gave too much thought about my actual marriage because I figured that I’d marry this perfect man and we’d live our perfect lives happily ever after. Lies! Lies I tell you! My wedding day was simple. So simple that I dressed in a blue gown with sunflowers throughout my hair. My husband and I exchanged our handwritten vows in front of my pastor, my god mom and her sister. After our “wedding,” we went to Olive Garden. We were poor and struggling but our love was rich.

  • I didn’t marry a perfect man. I married a man who works daily to be perfect for his family. Shortly after our wedding, it felt like Satan was attacking us in every direction. Marriage didn’t seem so grand—so worth it. The things that we never considered, we soon found out needed to be considered and our separate ways of thinking had unsuccessfully become one.
  • So this brings me to the 5 top things I wish I knew before getting married.

    1. (ONENESS literally means…ONE.) Our first year of marriage consisted of us trying to function as 2 in 1 body. By 1 body I mean, when we made the covenant with ourselves and God, we became one flesh. I don’t think we understood that initially which caused our marriage to suffer.

    2. (FORGIVE each other. Allow your spouse to start over with a CLEAN SLATE. To truly do this, one must work at FORGIVENESS daily.) My husband and I had a lot of history before our marriage. Although we knew our love for each other ran deep, we both hadn’t fully forgiven each other for certain past transgressions. We walked into our marriage still holding on to old hurt and quickly learned that our marriage couldn’t grow in dry and bitter soil.

    3. (Discover and FOCUS on your spouse’s POSITIVE qualities instead of defects.) I think in general as people, it’s easy to dwell on our peers negative qualities. In marriage you can’t dwell on the things your spouse doesn’t do! Focus on the things he/she does do! By doing this,you change your perspective on your marriage and ultimately your overall relationship.

    4. (At some point, you will be DISAPPOINTED and that’s OK.) Guess what? Your husband/wife is human! No one but Jesus himself is perfect. TV and social media feeds us false expectations of marriage and love. The truth is, your spouse will disappoint you and you will disappoint them. It’s ok.

    5. Lastly, (KISS each other.) This may sound cheesy but it works. The Bible tells us about not going to bed angry. The best way to ensure that you’re REALLY not angry is to kiss! Kiss each other when you’re sad. Kiss each other when you’re angry. Kiss for fun! Just kiss! Kissing releasing endorphins and often leads to little blessings that walk and talk. Lol

    Overall, marriage has taught me to be selfless. Marriage has also taught me that movies like The Note Book or Dear John are far from reality but still fun to force your husband to watch with you. If I had to give you a synopsis of one marital tip I’d say, “Love the Hell out of your spouse.” Marriage is a beautiful thing that takes work.

    With that being said, I’ll leave you with something Catherine Zeta-Jones said.

    “For marriage to be a success, every woman and every man should have her and his own bathroom. The end.”



    For marriage to be a success, every woman and every man should have her and his own bathroom. The end.”