Gabby Sidibe isn’t even married yet and hasn’t set a wedding date or location, but Brides magazine said, “Just put her on the cover.” And frankly, they got me wanting to crack open this mag in the grocery store line for the first time ever.
I was never the doodle-your-perfect-wedding dress on the desk girl; no first name and last name of my love interest in cursive letters carved into my notebook. I didn’t have any wedding mood boards (or a Pinterest page, which I guess is the thing now). To be clear, I was a hoarder of fashion magazines as a teen, but bridal photos were a bore—most of them featured thin white women in princess gowns with princess-cut diamonds. Everything princess. I didn’t give a damn about diamonds, and the white bread finger sandwiches and tulle looked bland and itchy to me. Bridal magazines just never sold a body type or brand of happiness I could buy into.
Where were the women that looked like me filling the page? Where was the culture, the vibrance and fun? That’s how actress, podcast host, and author Gabourey Sidibe describes her version of a perfect wedding in the latest issue of Brides—one big “fun party,” full of bright color and life. “Our lives are any thing but cookie cutter and traditional,” she said of her relationship with her fiancé, Brandon Frankel. Now that’s something I can sink my teeth into.
Sidibe says traditional gowns, weddings, really anything traditional just aren’t for her and her fiancé, and I feel that. Gabby and Brandon are random and eclectic, and that’s what makes them great: She is a former phone-sex-operator-turned actress and witch podcast host; he the head of partnerships at NoCap, a concert streaming company. “He is the partner I thought I was too independent to need,” she said. How beautiful and relatable as a Black woman.
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that Gabby agrees with me when I say traditional weddings often feel...colonizing. Giving ourselves away to someone like property sounds real anti-Black, and honestly, y’all can have it. But Gabby really looks like she’s doing it right—doing it her way.
Plus, it’s simply refreshing to see a curvy Black woman like me on the cover of a magazine like this. The message has always been that large-bodied Black women don’t get a happy ending or a fairytale wedding, and so wedding dress companies don’t even see value in trying to dress us. But you can’t look at Gabby’s bridal spread and not find that woman absolutely stunning and radiating happiness.
Can we also just take a pause for the cause and say praise be to the makeup artist that slayed this flawless foundation? In a world where cosmetics still struggle to match darker-skinned women, this color-match and pigmentation are stunning.
But what drives this home for me are the head-to-toe Senegalese braids and lavish pink African print dress on the cover. We get the cowry shells in the braids, all like, “Fuck what ya heard. I’m that GURL!” I want this for her!! After so many people have commented on Gabby’s size, transformation, and body choices, sis has more than earned this unbothered freedom.
Should we be able to be luscious, brown, taking up space, in canary yellow tulle, and give no fucks? Yes, we should. Not only is the hair laid, but her eyes are giving us a full service—a praise song—a runway.
Then we see Gabby wearing white. And although she says she probably won’t be wearing white at her actual wedding, she has convinced me that being Black in stark white, smiling, mouth gaping, titties free, is a form of revolution. There’s healing in how effortlessly herself she is here.
These photos scream: There is no one-size-fits all bride or wedding. We are allowed to curate and shape the day we want on our own terms.
When else do we get to be thick-thighed oh my-ed? When else do we get to frolic among the flowers, because we’re blissfully in love and with someone who makes our toes curl? Hardly ever. When are we celebrated in this way? Scroll through the Brides website’s “Real Weddings” tab, and Gabby is the only plus-sized Black woman on there. This moment was long overdue.
This for me was much more than an engagement story or a bridal fashion spread. This gives millions of other curvy Black women permission to show up vibrant or weird or whimsical or however we want. And if anyone has anything sideways to say about it, we’ll put a hex on you.