Sunday, June 29, 2008

2008 - The Year of the Chocolate Bride ........and Groom!

Wow.  Is it me or does it seem like EVERYBODY is jumping the broom these days?  Love is in the air...and I LOOOOOOOVE IT!

Jawn Murray, who happens to be a friend of Chocolate Brides - is reporting in his column at Black Voices that the velvet teddy bear aka Ruben Studdard has tied the knot!  In fact, check out his synopsis:

The 29-year-old R&B crooner, dubbed "The Velvet Teddy Bear" by soul icon Gladys Knight, wed Surata Zuri McCants atCanterbury United MethodistChurch in his hometown of Birmingham, Ala. on Saturday. Studdard and his 30-year-old bride took out a marriage license at the County Probate Office inColumbiana, Ala., last Monday.

Studdard met McCants in October 2006, when he was signing CDs at a Wal-Mart in Atlanta. Captivated by her beauty, he followed her to the store's toy department, and requested her telephone number.

Studdard had 20 groomsmen by his side, and there was no singing during the 30-minute ceremony - just an exchange of vows, prayers and music provided by a string ensemble.

He and his groomsmen wore custom-made black tuxedos by Joseph Abboud. The bride chose a white and ivory floor-length Casablanca wedding gown.

Congratulations Ruben and Surata!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Budgets all Around!


I'm sure you have seen it before....a woman gets proposed to and the doe-eyes come into play when she starts thinking about every element that she wants in her wedding from the princess dress to the THOUSANDS of roses and rose petals scattered everywhere. And then, her dreams are shattered by the mention of the word "budget."

In all honesty, there is no real reason to be afraid of this tiny little word, and when used in the proper manner, it may help you keep a sane head (well mostly) throughout the duration of the wedding planning process. Also keep this in the back of your head, even the richest of the rich have budgets that they stick to when planning large events. I mean, they care about their money too, so don't get irritated or insulted when some vendor asks what your budget is, and you say excitedly that you don't have one, and they give you a look as if you have a third eye. Working with clients without a budget is like dealing with an active bomb for them.

After the post-engagement bliss has settled, the first thing that you want to do is gather the key players in the wedding budget arena (read=anyone who will be giving you a large amount of money to pay for major areas in your wedding) and discuss with them what they will be able to do, and what they won't be able to do for you. This is also the time for you to think realistically about what you and your significant other will be able to afford on your own. In short, you may not be able to have a full champagne wedding on a beer budget. So, here are a few guidelines that you may want to follow when starting the planning of your wonderful day.

First make a list of what is important to you. Those things that you just KNOW that you want to represent you and your mate for the day. Make sure once again, that these are realistic desires. Just because you saw Platinum weddings last night on television, doesn't always mean that you are going to be able to recreate that "exact" look. They call it Platinum for a reason. However, you can downscale the look and make it just as presentable. For example, cymbidium orchids are one of the higher priced flowers on the market for weddings. You could do the same look for less by making sure that the flowers you order are 1) In season and 2) just as beautiful in sets on reception tables or in arrangements. Is it really worth breaking your budget for those orchids when you could opt for something more memorable instead? Get a great DJ, or spend that extra money on a fantastic honeymoon for you and your sweetheart.

Second you want to realize that your reception itself is going to take up the majority of your budget. There is no reason for you to buy a $4,000 gown and only spend $2,000 on your reception. If you can't afford to have the same level of elegance all around, settle somewhere in the middle. Believe me, you'll be happier in the long run.

Most of all, just stay focused. Know what your absolute cutoff is, and don't go above that. You know that if you can actually afford that Monique Lhuiller or if you have to go with something that may be more of knockoff from David's Bridal. There is no shame in having the wedding that YOU can afford.

After The Show It's The After Party....


9 times outta 10, you've probably thrown a party before - but none like this!  I wanted to try to tackle a few of the most frequently asked questions about your after party aka RECEPTION! 



How much of my budget should I allocate for the reception?

Typically, your reception will eat up 50%-60% of your overall budget.  The biggest expense in the reception category is almost always food & beverage.  So if you're trying to save money, you should definitely consider hosting a lighter meal (like breakfast, brunch or lunch), or host an event at a non-mealtime which would allow you to serve hors d'oeuvres.


How long are most receptions?

The typical wedding reception usually lasts four to five hours. A seated dinner may last a tad bit longer than a stand up, cocktail style reception.  Generally, the later in the day a reception starts, the longer it lasts. Also take into consideration that if you have a lot of out of town guests, you may want to have the party last a little longer if possible. At the end of the day, the bride is the best judge of how long the crowd can hang out.

Who will set up the placecards and/or seating cards? Who will decorate the room the way I want it?

This will depend on the reception site and how much decorating needs to be done. Usually, your caterer or venue staff will put out your placecards and/or seating cards. If your decorations are waaaaay over the top, you definitely may want to enlist the help of a wedding coordinator or florist.  It's likely that if your decor isn't a 7 hour job, they may set things up for you at no additional cost.


If my venue allow me to bring my own wine or liquor, will that make things less expensive?

This depends on the regulations of your venue.  Usually bringing your own liquor and paying a corkage fee is most cost effective than paying the caterer's premium price. However, those savings come at a logistical price. Your caterer may require that you bring own beverages to the event chilled and ready for use. If you don't have the space to chill thirty bottles of wine, the savings might not be worth the headache.

Will there be limitations on the kind of decor that I have can?

Most reception venues will not allow you to attach anything to their walls that will cause damage.  This means no tape, nails, staples or adhesives.  When my husband & I got married, our reception hall would not allow open flames...however, partially enclosed tealights were acceptable.  Also be aware that some venues don't allow rice, confetti, or silly string.  Never assume that any of the aforementioned will be ok with your venue prior to consulting with them.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Chocolate Brides On Assignment

My husband told me to keep this on the downlow....but how can I?



This Saturday, Baltimore Ravens tight end Daniel Wilcox will marry the very beautiful Shauna Chin, a former Ms. Belize. The ceremony will take place at the 50-yard line at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The bride will be carried into the stadium by a Cinderella-style horse-drawn carriage AND CHOCOLATE BRIDES MAGAZINE WILL BE THERE!

I've attended about 250 weddings in the past 4 years and believe me when I tell you - when someone invites you to share the beginning of their new lives together, it is truly something special. It is something that I don't take for granted at all. So when our phone rang 3 months ago with a special invitation to attend Daniel & Shauna's wedding, it meant so much. Not only that, we received the call because their publicist had learned of Chocolate Brides Magazine and wanted us to take the opportunity to cover this phenomenal event. WHAT-A-BLESSING!

So here it is...the week of the wedding and I can hardly sleep due to massive excitement.

If you are planning your own wedding, remember that life is like a theater, so invite your audiences carefully. Not everyone is deserving enough to have a front row seat in your life. Remember that front row seats are for special and deserving people and those who sit in Your front row should be chosen carefully. Everyone can’t be in your front row!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Inexpensive Wedding Gown Options...

Now, THIS is creativity at it's best!



Please don't front....you know you'd wear it if you could! LOL!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bridezilla? Who me?


So, as most people who have the WE channel probably have, I happened to find myself fascinated with the television show Bridezillas. It was discovered while I was still planning my own wedding, remained a great pass-the-time show after the broom had been jumped, and then faded out of my TV guide after the one year mark. I watched the show and thought, whew, I'm not a bridezilla, at least that's what I've tried not to be. Then came the afternoon that I was talking to my cousin a couple months before my wedding, and I told her that I had avoided that term throughout my planning to which she said, rather rudely, that I had not succeeded. I can't even tell you the Zilla that started to emerge at that comment. LOL But it got me to thinking, had I been one all along and not known it?

Now, according to Wikipedia, "Bridezilla is a generic term used to describe a difficult, unpleasant, perfectionist bride who leaves aggravated family, friends and bridal vendors in her wake. A bridezilla is obsessed with her wedding as her perfect day and will disregard the feelings of the family, bridesmaids and even her groom in her quest for the perfect wedding."

Was that me? No. Is that you?

I continued to watch the show, and even looked to see what other brides did, hoping that I wouldn't see any similarities. What I found was startling. I found that in most of the African American episodes, the bride was meticulous:
  • Newsletters to bridal party members.
  • Websites containing important information,
  • Requirements well-defined and explained to bridal party.
  • Timelines, checklists and task goals clearly mapped out and executed.
Repeatedly, I watched these well-organized women, cut down to size by mothers, friends, and even grooms, simply for having specific wants and plans. Meanwhile, on the other side, there were brides who locked refrigerators, told people they weren't invited because they wouldn't bring a gift, forced children with gap teeth not to smile in their pictures, etc. I began to notice a pattern. I was NOT a bridezilla. I was organized!
As the years have progressed, I continue to believe that this is the case most of the time. I think "our" people have confused the term Bridezilla with being an ORGANIZED BRIDE. I was actually watching the show last week, and realized honestly, that yes some of our sisters were acting the fool, however, most of the black women on bridezillas were trying to be organized and caught the term from uncooperative bridal party members, while the other chicks were honestly just cutting up. One poor girl's sister joked and played around the ENTIRE time, from the dresses to the rehearsal, just acting out, and when the bride told her to stop, they acted like she was being a jerk. Meanwhile, the white bride on the other part of the show, threatened her fiance, said things like, "I deserve this wedding however I want because I'm pretty" , cursed her parents out, etc. I believe there are some cultural issues behind the current use of the term in our community, and probably is the reason why sites like ChocolateBrides.com are so important. You need a refuge to crawl to when asking someone for the umpteenth time to make their final payment on a dress they've known about for six months goes awry. I say, use the term as a compliment. Because in our community, apparently, it is one. Organization is not the enemy. Especially when it comes to your happiness, on your day. Changing the things that are most important to you, in the interest of people who are selfishly more concerned with how comfortable YOUR wedding is for them, would be the real crime.


And by the way, Bridezilla's interviewed me when they did a scouting in Chicago back in 2005, and when I described the things that I had provided such as the newsletter, website, and calendars, they told me flat-out that I was too nice to be considered for the show. So take that, cousin.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Aislerunners! Well....Not really.....

I honestly sat down at the computer this afternoon to make a blog contribution about aisle runners. No, honestly! But after I saw this video, I couldn't help but to share:



Did he just propose to Rihanna? LOLOL! Tooooo cute!!!!!

Stay tuned for the aisle runner thing soon. I can't stop watching this video!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Timberland Becomes A Chocolate Groom

Congratulations are in order for Timberland & his longtime girlfriend Monique Idlett who were married last week according to Us Magazine. The two wed — in their sweats in Virginia on Tuesday by a family pastor. (We're just DYING to see those pictures!)

The couple plans to jump the broom in a formal ceremony in Aruba on June 22. (which by the way, we're available....so if y'all need any help with the celebration, please contact us immediately)Photobucket

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day

If you were blessed with a great husband...most likely that great husband is/or will be a great father. We'd like to take a moment to wish all the daddys out there, a happy father's day!






This not-so-famous Father is 1/2 owner of Chocolate Brides!  Just thought I'd stick that in there!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

From Anti Bride to Elated Bride


This is a blog entry that came to me while thinking about how I went from wedding rookie to contributor for a bridal magazine.






In 2002, I was pushed into the wide world of weddings. Growing up I’d only attended a handful of weddings. Of course, I’d seen fairytale-inspired ceremonies on television and in movies. That was basically the most exposure to weddings I’d gotten... and really wanted at the time. But in 2002, oh 2002, I was asked to be a bridesmaid. The bride was a friend that I’d met in our freshman year of high school and have been close with since. There was no way I could turn my homie down. Since backing out wasn’t an option for me, I was lead to the Internet for a crash course on Weddings 101.

While doing research on weddings, I was bombarded by images of bridal gowns, bouquets and veils. It was natural for me to envision myself as one of the brides in those pictures. At first thought, however, I didn’t like what I saw. The everyday me loved blue jeans, underground Hip-Hop, indie movies, tattoos and sportsbar cuisine. I’d feel awkward drowning in layers of tulle draping over a puffy princess gown with a train long enough for the wedding party to surf on. That’s not ME but that’s what a BRIDE looks like, right? Was it possible for me to fit the uniform of a bride without being miserable on the Big Day? Seven years ago, I would have answered that question with a no. Back then weddings seemed like torture for everyone involved. People would get dressed in clothes they’d normally never wear and participated in impersonal wedding rituals because that's what they were supposed to do.

In addition to the honor of being a bridesmaid for my friend, the entire experience of being in a wedding led to many ideas for when I walked down the aisle in the future. By the time my sweetheart proposed in 2004, the decision to be the bride that I wanted to be was in place. With the support of friends and other brides-to-be at
ChocolateBrides.com, I realized that every wedding doesn’t have to be the same. If we liked it then include it in the wedding, if we didn’t like it then nix it; simple as that! For the first time I realized that weddings can be personalized just like any other event while remaining just as sacred as traditional ceremonies. Our ceremony would include a sand pouring, basic vow recital, exchanging rings and jumping the broom. We didn’t feel a need to include any dancers, poems, soloists or lengthy readings just because we saw it beautifully done in other weddings. Our reception centered around celebrating because that’s the kind of people we are. My then fiancĂ© and I felt our parents and grandparents deserved to see us look like a ‘real bride and groom’, so we wore actual wedding attire. However, I optioned for an A-line satin gown sans a train, an embellished bolero jacket and a single layered veil which draped down my back only. For dinner and dance time I was certain to emanicipate my body from any restrictive clothing, so I changed into a breezy chiffon gown. Yes, I noticed odd looks and comments when I mentioned some details of our wedding to others. None of that mattered to me and my husband-to-be. For us, the plans were just as perfect as any of the fairytale weddings on television.

On the Big Day while in the dressing room of the venue, I looked at myself in full bridal gear and was stunned speechless. I saw a happy BRIDE in that mirror but I also saw a happy ME in that mirror.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I GOT This: When you don't want your Wedding Planner to "plan"


When I first started planning my wedding, I was very adamant about certain things that I wanted or didn't want to see, hear, taste or even smell on "MY DAY". Yet and still, my mother and a few other family members practically insisted that I enlist the help of a wedding planner. I cringed at the thought of someone else coming in telling me how "MY DAY" should be. Why should I pay someone to come up with ideas that I could come up with on my own? But you know how mothers are. Worried that I was going to invite her coworkers to a thrown-together mess, my mom continued her persistance. So I finally brought in a coordinator. What I realized though, about four months in, was that for all my mom's gun talk, I was still planning everything myself. This woman had not taken away all my responsibility. What she had done, was given me someone with bridal experience to bounce my ideas off of. What I also learned was that there was a difference between a wedding "planner" and a wedding "coordinator". A wedding planner, has the ideas and resources to actually plan your wedding for you. Your input is welcome but not really required. A coordinator, on the other hand, allows you to use them to pull together the plan and vision that you have. Having a wedding coordinator, plus the help of the message board at ChocolateBrides.com, helped me to have the wedding that I wanted, without giving up control. (Something you'd have to pry from most brides' cold, gloved fingers)

The best advice I can give is to be confident and vocal in what you want. If you'd rather have someone to share ideas with and gain helpful tips from, seek a wedding coordinator. Nowadays, you can even hire a day-of coordinator whose sole responsibility is to run the rehearsal and wedding day, and you get to do all the grunt work leading up to them by yourself. Sounds fun, huh? Truthfully, this is a really great road to take. Eventhough I had complete control of my wedding from the fabrics to the florals, it was awesome to be able to relax and fully enjoy my day because I knew my coordinator had it under control.

However, if you're the kind of girl with a little cash to spare and you'd rather have someone do all that boring stuff like calling vendors, ordering invites and managing your bridal party, go the planner route. They're not all bad, sometimes having a planner is really helpful for career or family women and those who truly don't have the time to manage every detail. (I'm biased cause I'm a control freak. LOL)

Either way you go, get what YOU want out of YOUR planning experience.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Who Woulda Thunk It?


Whoa.  Who in the world would have imagined that a 'fist bump' - or what I have always referred to as 'dap' - could have caused so much freakin' attention.  I mean...the amount of news stories that surfaced the day after Obama's victory speech the night he clinched the democratic nomination was absolutely unbelievable.  Have you googled 'fist bump' lately? Amazing, aint it?

We came across a blogger who had a humorous take on the whole fist bump thing.  Here's an excerpt:

So don't panic A-merry-ca, it's cool. The fist- bump thing is par for the course, and it won't affect the way the "O" man does his job. And this president will play basketball instead of golf, and he might like to break out a little EWF on the West Lawn now and then. It's all good. "Oh damn there goes that Barrack blaring his stereo again, I told you this would happen as soon as we let them move in." [For those of you who will send me e-mails telling me how crass I am and to stop stereotyping, and making jokes at the expense of our race. Save them and get use to it. Because if the "O" man does win and become POTUS, you are going to see a whole lot more.

A brotha in the White House? Yeah I could fist-bump to that.


Our take on this infamous fist bump? Pure coolness.  She has his back...and he has hers. LOVE IT!

(but is it really that serious?  LOL!)


Engagement Photos


We have one thing to say when it comes to having engagement photos. TAKE THEM! There are so many ways to incorporate them during this very special time in your lives.

The possibilities are endless! You can:

* Use them in your wedding invitations
* Use them in your save-the-date cards or magnets
* Use them on your menu cards
* Use them on your programs
* Frame them and use them as centerpieces or near your guest book
* Enlarge one and frame it with a signature mat so that your guests can sign it at the wedding
* Use them as an engagement announcement for the local newspaper or your church
* Use them as decoration at your engagement party
* Use them on your wedding website

Engagement photos can also serve as that test run for the photographer that you have in mind for your wedding day. Have no regrets....and take those engagement photos!!

Here are a couple of Chocolate Brides & Grooms who did the right thing! Proceed with caution...you're gonna need some Kleenex.








the last 2 photos were taken by www.lanceomarthurman.com

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Ashanti? The Next Chocolate Bride?



Most will agree that marriage isn't for everyone...so let the record show that it is not our desire that Nelly & Ashanti get married for the sake of getting married. There are people who feel that marriage would make more of a beneficial relationship than simply living together. Others cringe at the SOUND of the 'M' word. All we're saying is, Nelly? Ashanti? If and when you both decide to jump the broom, we would be HONORED to share in your happiness! There is nothing more beautiful than 2 people who are truly in love and who want to spend the rest of their lives together!

I have a radio show with Randy Jackson from American Idol. Check out this soundbyte of me, Randy Jackson, and Ashanti. She beat around the bush pretty well...but she could have told me to mind my business...so no complaints here!

Ashanti - Kesha Monk

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Obamas

Isn’t it funny how, even as adults—grown-up women with grown-up mortgages, grown-up car notes and grown-up responsibilities—we can still find heroes to look up to? Some people think they don’t need role models once they survive puberty or graduate college, but I’ll still have them as long as I can find them—and I’ve found two in Barack and Michelle Obama. I love them. L-o-v-e them. They are, to me, an honest-to-goodness power couple, the real-life version of Cliff and Clair, the pair that has changed the face of Black America. Every election year that I can remember, our people have sort of been on the fringes of the action, adding dots of color along the campaign trails but being treated more like speed bumps than major stops on each candidate’s roadway to the White House. Barack Obama has changed all of that. He doesn’t sing, and chances are he probably shouldn’t, but that man and his wife are a set of true American idols.One of the things I admire most about his platform is his commitment to being proactive, not reactive. It’s a lot harder to do damage control after a major catastrophe than to build the resources and relationships to prevent the meltdown from happening in the first place. It took a while for people to seriously consider him, but I’ve witnessed a definitive change in the community over the year since he announced his presidential candidacy. Folks seem a little prouder, a little straighter, a little more self-assured. And they’re definitely following the race more closely because they can see themselves in the Obamas—not just in the color of their skin, but their principles and down-home, everyday people mannerisms. They’ve earned our respect, if not our votes.

I have a friend who’s gone to the polls every four years out of a sense of duty, but never really connected with the political process. This year, she drove all the way from D.C. to Philly to vote with her mother in their first primary election. I’ve observed little boys from the inner city, show a genuine interest in Barack Obama. There’s a confidence in them that had been untapped and almost irrelevant until this senator from Illinois showed them what they could be in 15, 20, 30 years. All of their lives, well-meaning adults have been feeding them the generic line that they could be anything if they put their minds to it. Barack took that clichĂ© beyond lip service by showing us that that is really true. He’s a living, breathing, walking symbol of possibility. And his wife? Please. The sista is fierce. We know Barack’s help cometh from the Lord but with a woman that intelligent and articulate by his side as his top advisor, he can’t go anywhere but up.

No matter what kind of wrenches his opponents or the media try to throw into his political machine, my man Barack bounces back with the buoyancy of a true solider. The way he plows ahead despite the bullcrap loaded onto his footpath has inspired me to take a similar approach in my own career. The last few months have been filled with the hardest days of my life. After four years on the airwaves in New York City, the most influential radio market in the country, I was suddenly fired from my job. No warning, no explanation aside from a flimsy ‘corporate downsizing’ speech. Ironically, my first day of being abruptly and officially unemployed began on Super Tuesday, after I had dedicated my entire show to Obama by playing songs like "Yes We Can" by the Pointer Sisters and "The People" by Common. I just wanted my listeners to get out and vote. I just wanted them to feel as empowered and inspired as Barack makes me feel. It took my entire career to work my way to a radio spot in NYC and in a few moments—after one of the best shows of my life, no less—it was gone. I’m still struggling with the hurt and confusion of having my dream derailed, but thank I God for having more than one dream.

Now I’m focused on shaping Chocolate Brides into an instantly recognizable national brand. Publishing a magazine is hard work; if anyone ever tells you otherwise, kindly pinch them on the shoulder and tell them Kesha Monk sent it. With this type of project, advertising support is critical but it’s difficult to get businesses and individuals to support something positive, especially if it’s new and positive. I’ve had to make up for the lack of advertising by paying out of my own pocket. When I lost my job, and my main source of income, I thought that my goals were literally being murdered. Here I sat with thousands of subscriptions to fill and not a dime to produce the magazine. But all is not lost—it never is when God has free reign over your life and I invited Him to navigate mine a long, long time ago.

I draw inspiration from watching Barack work tirelessly to bring change to a system and society that for the longest time seemed unchangeable, virtually kicking the good ol’ boys right square in their high sadiddy rear ends. During the past two months since my termination, I've been at the lowest point of my entire life. But seeing a Black man run for president with his wife proudly by his side is the biggest example of defying the odds. So guess what? I have to keep moving even though I may have to go through 20 no’s from advertisers to get one yes. Somehow Barack and Michelle have given me hope. They’ve given me a greater appreciation for my husband and daughters who love me so much, and for the movement which is Chocolate Brides. I'm encouraged in spite of challenging circumstances. And thanks to the Obamas, I won't stop.

The Chocolate Brides Sensation


Well...we finally made it to the blog world!  A little late..but better late than never!

We are Chocolate Brides.  We are the premiere website for the bride of color.  We are a community of women from all over the world. The positive comraderie among the women on our website has attracted not only brides, but single women, divorced women, single parents, women of other ethinicities, and even men! 

Chocolate Brides was created out of frustration from the lack of resources specifically targeted toward the black bride. Most likely, if you have never planned a wedding (your own or otherwise), you probably haven't noticed that there aren't ANY black bridal magazines on the newsstand. And if you aren't African American, you may not understand the frustration of needing advice and resources for people who are darker skinner, whose hair is textured differently, or whose frames are different than the models depicted in the mainstream publications. Apparently, the mainstream doesn't think that this market isn't viable.  But boy - are they wrong!!!

Four years later, a full blown print publication (Chocolate Brides Magazine), and 93 million hits on ChocolateBrides.Com, we are truly ready to take the world by storm.  We are totally committed to the purpose of helping portray positive images of women of color while speaking directly to HER.

Watch out world...here we come!