Amena & Nikki: Our DIY Wedding Will Have Handmade Charm

Amena and Nikki are DIYing some elements of their wedding.

Amena and Nikki are DIYing some elements of their wedding.

As Amena and Nikki get closer to their wedding, planned for September in Upper Marlboro, Md., we check in with the couple to see what they are up to next. We find out that they have decided to DIY (do it yourself) parts of their wedding. They share more about the process below:


Black Lesbian Love Lab (BL3): Why take the DIY route in getting some items ready for your wedding?

Nikki: Because we feel more personally attached to the process.

Amena: A wedding is something that is deeply personal. I think it is important to put pieces of ourselves into the event. For me this is not just about the wedding day, it is also about the preparation leading up to it. The work and love we are putting into our DIY projects, reflects the work and love we put into our relationship, and of course DIYing some things cuts downs cost.


BL3: What are some of the items you’re DIYing? Why these particular items?

Nikki & Amena: Centerpieces, favors, flowers, save-the-date cards, invitations and wedding planning.


Nikki &Amena: As far as the stationary goes in this day and age, it is pretty simple to DIY those elements and definitely less expensive. We used Shutterfly for the save-the-date cards and Vistaprint for the invitations. We had coupon codes for both sites, so we got them for even less. We are going to add some embellishments to the invitations to make them more personal and more elegant.


Flowers are VERY expensive. We are not having many floral arrangements, so we are ordering flowers from Costco. Our centerpieces and favors are very personal and go along with the theme of our wedding. Our theme is wine, art, and music. I love all things wine. Nikki is an artist and art teacher and we both have a love for music. We wanted these items to reflect who we are as individuals and a couple.


Amena: I love planning projects so there is no need for a wedding planner. Although I am enjoying being my own wedding planner, I will have a day coordinator. This person will handle everything the day of the wedding and takeover communication with vendors the month before the wedding.


BL3: Where are you going for ideas?

Nikki & Amena: Pinterest and wedding websites

Amena: I have become obsessed with looking at real wedding photos.  I look at Off Beat Bride and Pinterest quite a bit. I have gotten a lot of ideas from these sites.


BL3: Some people are natural at doing some things themselves! What about you and Nikki? 

Nikki: I am an artist so anything that has to do creating some form of art comes very naturally.

Amena: I like decorating and planning. I am LOVING planning this wedding. The fine details like the minute-by-minute schedule and how the favors should be placed on the tables excite me.


WNBA Stars Brittney & Glory Say Yes to the Dress

Brittney (with locks) along with her friend and Glory's sisters wait for the bride to show off her gown!

Brittney (with locks) along with her friend and Glory’s sisters wait for the bride to show off her gown!

We all geeked out a little bit (okay a whole lot!) when WNBA superstar Brittney Griner proposed to fellow pro-ball player Glory Johnson last year. We just got word that the dynamic duo will be appearing on the TLC TV show, Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta.

On the show, friends and family members help the bride choose the dress. In this episode tomboi Brittney is clueless about what dress to even choose. However, quick-thinking and competitive Brittney decides that the store must put the best dresses on the mannequin and makes a bee-line for the closest mannequin! The clip is hilarious and cute and Glory seems so sweet and soft-spoken. Click here to watch the video!

The only annoying part of the clip came when Lori, the owner of the store said she was surprised that Glory would want something so feminine and she expected that Glory would want to wear a pant suit. What??? Because all lesbians want to wear a pantsuit to their weddings. Stereotype much?

The show airs this Friday, January 30 at 10pm/9 pm central. Will you be tuning in?

Glory Johnson models the dress that her fianceé Brittney Griner picked out.

Glory Johnson models the dress that her fianceé Brittney Griner picked out.

Bathini & Portia’s South African Engagement Party Held at Church

Bathini and Portia's pastor pray for the happy couple. Photo courtesy of Zanele Muholi

Bathini and Portia’s pastor pray for the happy couple. Photo courtesy of Zanele Muholi

Bathini Dambuza and Portia Dludlu recently celebrated their engagement in South Africa. I found the story on Zanele Muholi’s blog. The photographer documents the South African LGBT community. Three things made this beautiful couple’s engagement party stand out for me:

  1. The couple was dressed to the nines. They both treated their engagement announcement as something extra special and that is reflected in their very sharp outfits. Portia was dressed in an off-white, floor-length dress and Bathini wore a very nice black suit! There was no doubt that this was a special occasion that deserved celebration. Marriage is a big deal and the rituals surrounding it should reflect that! Love should always be celebrated!
  2. The party took place in church! Granted it is an LGBT church, but it is a church nonetheless. Far too many LGBTQ people feel they have to choose between God and love. For many people faith is an integral part of a successful union and having that extra level of support from their church brothers and sisters is critical. Instead of hiding their long-term partners like so many LGBT people do who attend non-affirming churches, Bathini and Portia’s love was embraced. The two were blessed and the preacher spoke about what a successful relationship looks like.
  3. They were surrounded by other happy, married, lesbian couples. I personally believe that some of what made my relationships so difficult was not having other, happy lesbian couples to turn to for support, encouragement and advice. The adage that it takes a village does not only apply to childrearing, it applies to life period. We cannot make it through this life alone. It’s so important to build loving and trustworthy relationships with other couples too. We should always support love whenever possible.

Congratulations Bathini and Portia, may you continue to choose love every day!   Click here to read the full story of their engagement.   Enjoy their photos in the slideshow below!

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Nikki & Amena Ponder Wedding Cupcakes, Cookies, Pies Oh My

Nikki and Amena sample cakes, cakes, cakes!

Nikki and Amena sample cakes, cakes, cakes!

Nikki and Amena, a Maryland couple engaged to be married next fall, have agreed to share with us their journey to the altar. Today they talk with us about selecting one of the most important elements of the wedding reception—the cake:


Black Lesbian Love Lab (BL3): What kind of cake were you looking for? 

Amena: A cake that everyone will like.

Nikki: A cake that embodies both of our tastes. I’m a chocolate lover.

Amena: I like chocolate but I really love vanilla cake.

BL3: How important is the cake to your wedding ceremony? 


Nikki and Amena considered selecting pies, cookies and cupcakes to be the centerpiece of their wedding, but ultimately decided on cake!

Nikki and Amena considered selecting pies, cookies and cupcakes to be the centerpiece of their wedding, but ultimately decided on cake!

Amena: It is an important part of the reception. I thought about having cupcakes even cookies or pie. I wanted to be different. But I like cake, good, old-fashioned cake! YUM!

Nikki: To me the cake is important because it is a symbol of the union and people look forward to tasting something sweet at the end.

BL3: How did you go about selecting a vendor? 


Amena: We went to the Say I Do LGBT Wedding Expo when it was in D.C. and Edibles Incredible (our vendor) was there. We put our name on the list for a free cake tasting. When we had the tasting, we were hooked! The cake was SOOOOO good.

BL3: How important was it for you that your baker be queer friendly? 


Amena: It was very important to me. I don’t want to do business with any vendors that are not LGBT friendly.

Nikki: If they are not queer friendly I would be afraid they would tamper with the taste or mess up the cake in some way. Plus, they would be judgmental and not easy to work with. But you may never see that in their actions because they want the money but you would feel it.

Nikki and Amena brought along their friend Corrine (right) to help them sample the cakes.

Nikki and Amena brought along their friend Corrine (right) to help them sample the cakes.

BL3: Have you settled on a cake yet? If so, which did you choose and why? 

Amena: Yes! We chose three flavors. We want them to be a surprise. We choose these flavors because we think they will make everyone happy.

Nikki: And that’s all we are going to say about that!

Amena and Nikki: There Were 48 People Involved in Their Engagement

Amena and Nikki were engaged on March 22, 2014.

Amena and Nikki were engaged on March 22, 2014.

Amena was pretty much done looking for love when Nikki came, unexpectedly, into her life. Two years after their first meeting, this Maryland couple is happily planning their fall 2015 wedding. The couple shared their story over dinner at their Maryland home:

Black Lesbian Love Lab (BL3): Why did you decide to get married?

Nikki: It was almost instinctive. I took her last December to the jewelry store to find out her taste. I got the ring later on when I was with my sister.

Amena: When Nikki and I went to the jewelry store over Christmas, I rolled my eyes all the way to the back of head. I just didn’t think it would happen anytime before my birthday in June or our second anniversary in September.

Nikki: One day I kept driving past the jewelry store with my sister. I started interviewing myself. When a person influences you to change your life for the better … that’s how I knew Amena stands out from the others.

Amena: I often say that marriage was always more important to Nikki than me. Before we got engaged, Nikki would always say she wanted her family to validate our relationship because I think she’s gotten the message that these were the only kinds of relationships that her family values.

BL3: Tell us how the actual engagement went down.

Amena: Nikki asked me to put some pictures on her website when I came across a picture of two rings in her [folder]. A couple days later, the pictures were still there so I copied it and sent it to my friends because I knew she would ask their opinions before buying it. I still didn’t think it would happen when it did on March 22. My friend Jamillah came to town for brunch at Busboys and Poets [a Washington, D.C., restaurant] on a Saturday at 11. She wanted to go to the one all the way downtown when there’s one nearby.

When we sat down to breakfast, I felt this presence over my shoulder. I looked up and saw Nikki. She gives me a nervous kiss and I was wondering why she was there because she’s crashing girls’ day. She’s normally good about that. She got a chair and I’m wondering what is going on. Then Nikki pulls the ring box out of her pocket. And I’m like, is this really for real? Nikki slides the box over to me. She tried to get on one knee and I said, “Don’t do that because people were looking.” My friend finally asked if I’m going to say something. I said, “Yes!” My friend then jumps up and leaves. I then started texting people to tell them, “Hey, I just got engaged.” But nobody was saying anything. It turns out Nikki told 48 people about the engagement. Some people wouldn’t give it up until the very end. Apparently Nikki was supposed to have proposed at 3 p.m. but she couldn’t wait and did it at 1 p.m. People have this idea that I’m nosy.

Amena & Nikki: A Sincere Smile Leads to a Love Connection

Amena and Nikki are engaged to be married in September 2015.

Amena and Nikki are engaged to be married in September 2015.

Amena, a university LGBT program coordinator, and Nikki, an art teacher and artist, has agreed to let Black Lesbian Love Lab tag along as they plan their wedding over the next year. Occasionally we’ll share photos and stories leading up to this Maryland couple’s special day. Below, they share how they met:

Nikki: As a teacher, kids make you forget, you get senile. I forgot I didn’t have a dating life for a long time. Then somehow it dawned on me, it’s getting kind of lonely. I was almost 40, and I didn’t expect to be on this Earth and not share my life with someone. So I went on the dating site Plenty of Fish. I had a couple flops, then met someone who I was supposed to go out to dinner with and she stood me up. I canceled my account. But the next day, I decided to get back on and Amena’s face popped up again. I had seen her picture before and it’s a mystery to me why I hadn’t contacted her before that. I looked at her face and really studied it like I was studying a canvass. She had a really genuine smile. I sent her one line and it was: That’s a sincere smile.

Amena: I had just got out of a relationship in June 2012 and told my friend:

“I’m done. I’m ok. I’m not done with relationships, but I don’t need to get married. I don’t need to have a lifetime partner.” I meant it sincerely.

I was having a really bad day when Nikki’s message popped up on the phone but she had no photo, no extensive profile and I don’t talk to people like this. When I got her message, I thought, “That’s nice.” So I responded, “Thank you.” Then Nikki comes back and asked me a question and I answered. We went back and forth for a couple weeks and I don’t normally entertain people without even talking on the phone. Then she said she’s coming to town on Labor Day and could we get together. At that point I still hadn’t seen a picture of her and she had seen all of mine.

I asked for her picture and she looked like my friend. She looked like a femme, she had a relaxer. I’m not into feminine women and I don’t date women that have relaxers. I thought, she looks nice, we could be buddies. We met at the Busboys and Poets [a popular Washington, D.C., restaurant] at 14 and V where we (eventually) got engaged. I’m looking for the person in the picture but I see Nikki—this person who has a football walk come up. This is not the person in the picture. She even brought her sister.

I thought she was nice or whatever but didn’t think she was going to be girlfriend material. Kim, Nikki’s sister and I talked, but Nikki at this point still hadn’t said anything. At that moment, I felt no chemistry. Afterwards Nikki walked me to my car and we talked for an hour. She invited me to dinner at her place in Fredericksburg, Va.

When I walked into her house, CNN was on and the Democratic National Convention was on. I thought, points for that. She was so nervous. She cooked spaghetti and we watched the convention. We were like kids on a first date. I had to tell her it was okay for her to put her arms around me. When I was leaving, she sat in my car and asked if she could kiss me and I said yes. We kissed and at that moment, it hit me like electricity and we’ve been together ever since.

Click here to read their engagement story.

Tianna Loves Charmagne: A Love Letter

Written by Tianna Glass

Charmagne and Tianna are engaged to be married in November.

Charmagne and Tianna are engaged to be married in November.

At the beginning of 2008, I met an amazing woman. I’d heard she was amazing before I met her, but then I met her in person and she completely lived up to the reputation. She says she knew I was amazing when she met me, despite my awful hat. There were some twists and turns and suddenly, by the end of the year, this amazing woman became the amazing love of my life. June means a lot to me because that was a month where a lot happened … more like where a lot of nothing was happening but everything was electric. There were so many directions that were available. So many roads to turn down. Every conversation felt like it should end with a kiss, but it wasn’t time. But it didn’t feel rushed (well, not always. There was one particular time that I tried to step on the gas and was blocked). It felt like waiting for a banana to turn from green to the perfect color yellow. One morning you come to the kitchen, almost forgetting that you bought bananas, and they are ready. Not a brown spot, skin taut and crisp … it’s delicious. [We were suddenly ready]. And from then on, it felt perfect. We waded in the shores of our venture, whatever it was. We didn’t give it a name and it didn’t ask for one. It was effortless and wonderful.

That was [six] years ago, give or take a few weeks. Since then there has been some effort, as with any relationship, but the love has still been effortless. Our relationship isn’t traditional (whose is?) but even with that, my heart is hers.

I don’t write poetry, but if I did it would be about her. I don’t sing songs, but if I did they would be for her.

There was a time in my life, where I’d never be this open talking about someone this way. Openly professing who my heart belongs to was a sign of weakness to the me before, but I think that’s because I wasn’t ready for that kind of freedom of emotion. I was worried that to say it out loud was to give it legs to crawl away and leave me gaping and vulnerable in front of all six people who read my blog. But I know that now it isn’t about that. Because y’all need to know that I love this woman. And she needs to know. And I need to remind myself. And a few posts ago, I talked about how I can generally convince myself that I suck at everything and will be left with only the end pieces of bread loaves for the rest of my miserable life. But I don’t. And she is a reminder of that

Tianna and Charmagne warm each other by a bonfire.

Charmagne and Tianna warm each other by a bonfire.

On our first getaway, we went to [Maine] for a stay in a quaint bed and breakfast. While there we had a great time doing a lot of nothing. We took walks, we sat, we ate, we made love, we walked some more, and we talked and talked and talked, as is our way. At the time we were doing whatever it was we were doing. Having fun, namelessly enjoying our time together. I remember thinking that regardless of if we were together for only a couple more weeks or even a couple more days that this was everything I needed. It was fantastic and nothing else would be able to compare to the time that I was having with this woman doing seemingly nothing. Sitting on a boardwalk, looking at an ocean that was too cold to get into. Silent, still, content.

We’ve been spending a lot of time … I’m not sure what the proper term would be. “Reconnecting” would suggest that there was a disconnect at some point. It feels more like a video game when you “level up.” Your character is more powerful, stronger, maybe with a cool new flame-thrower. Of course in life, there’s no screen that says that you’re leveling up. Sometimes you just feel it. Sometimes it’s obvious, like a graduation. Other times it’s just satisfying but you know it’ll mean more later on, like the first time you tell your friends that you’re too tired to go out and actually go to sleep. This time we’re working on our spiritual journey and as much as we’re doing it separately, we’re doing it together. A lot of the things we do in this process are singular, solitary, meant to be done in a meditative state by ourselves. But afterward, we can connect with what we’ve learned and grow together.

This all sounds overly saccharine. Something so simple like living and growing with the one you love is an everyday thing. But it doesn’t feel so everyday to me. My everyday was alone and not lonely. I didn’t “need” anyone but not in a bitter way. I just knew that my happiness lied within. It still does, but she’s soooo much a part of that. I wasn’t unhappy, but I definitely didn’t know that I could be happier. And now that I know, I never want to stop leveling up with her. Maybe there’s an invisibility cloak in the next one.

UPDATE: Click here to see the wedding pictures from November 2015.

This story was originally posted on the #Random blog on June 2, 2013. It is reposted here with permission. Tianna and Charmagne live in Connecticut and will be married in November. They promise to share photos!