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