With the ongoing impacts of a global pandemic, we’ve had to get creative with our celebrations, as of late—but sometimes, love won’t let us wait. Some of our favorite weddings of all time have taken place during quarantine, the enforced intimacy often placing a much more profound emphasis on the union rather than the magnitude of the event.
It’s also been a year in which Black voices, aesthetics, and creatives have been given long-overdue focus—a trend Black couples have traditionally extended to our nuptials, as well. For those of us who dream of infusing our white weddings with Black impact, wedding industry leader The Knot is now offering an inviting and inclusive new option for all engaged couples. In keeping with both the times and its own consistent push toward more awareness and diversity, on Monday, the brand introduced the Black Artist Collective on its newly launched The Knot Invitations—“a one-stop-shop for all engaged couples’ wedding invitation and paper needs,” per a release provided to The Glow Up, which also reads:
The Knot Invitations’ Black Artists Collective provides couples an opportunity to support and showcase the work of creatives of color throughout their wedding planning journey. The Black Artists Collective also serves as the first of many collections on The Knot Invitations dedicated to amplifying the work of underrepresented communities and is part of The Knot’s larger commitment to help couples become better allies through its content, products, tools and services.
The debut collection features the work of four Black female artists: Melissa Koby (Tampa, Fla), Christine Llewellyn Ohemeng (South Orange, N.J.), Chantell Marlow (Peoria, Ill.), and Reyna Noriega (Miami, Fla.). According to The Knot, “Each of these artists has designed stationery suites offering a variety of products, including save-the-dates, wedding invitations, wedding response cards, wedding programs, guest books, table numbers, thank-you cards, coordinating wedding website designs and more.”
“We are so excited to feature the work of Melissa, Christine, Chantell and Reyna, to share their stories, and to have their designs inspire our couples—like they have us,” says Kristen Maxwell Cooper, editor-in-chief of The Knot. “With The Knot Invitations and collections like the Black Artists Collective, we have the opportunity to showcase and amplify the work of artists from around the world. The Black Artists Collective brings a new energy to our paper offerings and gives millions of couples access to incredible artwork as they determine their unique wedding style and communicate that with their guests.”
“To me, art is in itself a love language. An artist pours their heart into their work,” says Melissa Koby, whose designs for The Knot “reinforce the message of unity.” “When you look at artwork, you are looking at the emotions of the creator. When you buy art, you are showing a deeper appreciation for what they (the artist) love. When you give art to someone, you’re spreading that love.”
Love and romance may be universal, but on the whole, these artists don’t shy away from infusing their art with their culture. For instance, while she considers her illustrations for The Knot a “tool for couples as they define their special day,” popular Miami-based artist Reyna Noriega also notes: “My identity as a Black and Afro-Latina woman shows up naturally in the dynamic ways I like to incorporate movement, color and joy. I am also very intentional in my choices to illustrate women of color and offer representation that doesn’t always exist.”
Chantell Marlow agrees. “Protest art, political art, educational art, and others like it, make it possible for conversations to be had, stories to be shared, and ideas to be communicated across political divides, across geographic divides, across racial divides, and across the nation as a whole,” she says, giving deeper perspective on her bohemian-inspired floral invitation design. “[W]edding art—whether stationery, event decor, florals, and more—help couples reflect on their unique love story and relationship.”
Amid an ongoing pandemic and renewed lockdowns, “unique” will likely be applicable to most of the ceremonies still taking place in 2020—as The Knot notes, “more than a third of to-be-weds in the US with weddings between September 2020 and January 2021 have postponed their celebrations due to COVID-19.” But if and when those weddings proceed, The Knot Invitations is “where engaged couples can find hundreds of affordable and customizable invitations and stationery designs that will showcase their unique personalities, love stories and wedding styles,”—including those much-needed “Change the Date” cards and free reprints through 2020, all on theme, including matching wedding website designs. “Additionally, in partnership with American Forests, The Knot will plant a tree in an area of crucial need with every purchase on The Knot Invitations through the end of 2020,” says the brand.
It’s undoubtedly a stressful time (as if planning a wedding isn’t stressful enough), but with help of The Knot’s new collaborators, it can still be beautiful—and an enduring symbol of Black love. “Having gone through my own wedding planning nearly ten years ago, I am intimately familiar with just how important each and every decision is to couples,” says Christine Llewellyn Ohemeng of Christine Joy Design, whose Caribbean-inspired watercolor-style aesthetics adorn her offerings for The Knot. “To think that they will decide to use my design for that first communication to their guests is such an honor.”