Q: One of my best friends is getting married! I’m over the moon about it, both because her fiancé is truly a great guy, but also because my friend has asked me to help her with some wedding stuff. I also have a background in design, and I’d love to share my talents in support of my friend’s wedding.
I figured this was gonna be a pretty standard wedding, but my friend threw me for a loop when she suggested Afrofuturism for her theme! I’d never even heard of the term before, but I didn’t want to seem like some uncultured boob, so I gave my enthusiastic support and assured her that I could help pull this off. But… I actually don’t know anything. I Googled it and I think I get it, but I’m still not really sure… and it’s really not my aesthetic at all.
So how do I fix all this? My friend thinks I’m totally on board and can contribute, and I don’t know if I have the skills or the right mindset to do it. Should I just come clean to her? Any tips or places I can go to learn more about Afrofuturism?
—A Clueless Friend
A: Well Clueless, let’s take stock: you’re really excited for your friend and want to help in anyway you can – great! But you’re not totally well-versed in her wedding theme and you’re not sure if it’s your cup of tea, design-wise. These are hurdles, but they aren’t Olympic-level hurdles.
I think your first stop is to have a conversation with your friend. Explain to her exactly what you said to me: you’re excited to help but you misspoke in the moment, and you aren’t really sure about how to execute her theme. This is a great opportunity to learn from your friend about what she envisions for her wedding day, what Afrofuturism means to the couple, and how they’d like to see that reflected in their wedding day.
Afrofuturism is a big umbrella label for a genre of multidisciplinary art that spans mediums and decades. The term Afrofuturism was coined in 1994 by Marc Dery, but the genre has been around for much longer than that. You can find Afrofuturism in books, music, modern art, comic books, and more. February’s release of Black Panther thrust Afrofuturism into the spotlight—the film was clearly influenced by elements of Afrofuturism and brought the genre to a worldwide audience.
While Black Panther made Afrofuturism more well known, don’t assume that your friend is shooting for a Wakanda wedding theme. There’s a lot more to Afrofuturism! To give you more ideas, I found some good resources for you to start with:
Afrofuturism: The imaginative sci-fi movement black people need now
Your Brief And Far-Out Guide To Afrofuturism
Beyond ‘Black Panther’: A brief history of Afrofuturism
This American Life episode on Afrofuturism
I hope these resources give you a sense of just how vast the subject of Afrofuturism really is!
The key is communication. You should be talking to your friend! I’m sure she and her fiancé have thoughts around how they’d like to see their vision for their wedding day come to life. You shouldn’t feel like you have to have all the ideas, or the answers. As you collaborate with the couple in whatever capacity makes sense, keep in mind that you should be helping them execute their vision, even if it’s not your preferred design aesthetic. Use this as an opportunity to learn about something new and have a new experience with your dear friend. Enjoy it and send us pics, cause this wedding sounds like it will be epic!
Anyone helping their friends on wild wedding projects (design or otherwise)? Anyone having an Afrofuturism themed wedding they can invite us too?
Got a question for Jareesa? Send it to nope [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com!