This Philadelphia couple got married right after joining a Black Lives Matter protest

Carrie Goldberg
Photo credit: Linda McQueen

From Harper's BAZAAR

When Kerry Anne and Michael Gordon chose to postpone their 26 May 2020 wedding due to Covid-19, they likely never envisioned their micro-wedding being a symbol of love and hope during a national outcry for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Once the coronavirus lockdown caused the couple to postpone the celebration they were planning at The Legacy Castle in New Jersey, The Logan Hotel in Philadelphia announced that they'd be loaning their lawn to couples whose weddings had been postponed, as well as frontline workers looking to marry in small gatherings. The couple's officiant, Reverend Roxanne Birchfield, had also announced that she'd be opening up her calendar for the month of June to marry any of her couples who were forced to postpone their nuptials, free of charge.

"Mike really did not want to prolong the engagement process, and I wanted to make sure all my family and friends were there to celebrate with us. The world is so unpredictable, so rather than wait, we thought: let’s do both of those things," Kerry Anne Gordon told BAZAAR Bride. "I'm all about the memories and celebrating the moment we're currently in in the best way we can, and so I started doing research of anywhere we could put something together so that we could formally be wedded. The Logan Hotel was the first place I came across since we were planning our bridal shower there, and so I knew I liked the venue. They offered us two dates, and we were one of the first couples to take them up on using their lawn. We took 6 June and ran with it and rolled into one beautiful day."

Photo credit: Linda McQueen

The couple invited immediate family and close friends, encouraged them to wear masks, and asked them to dress in white. They asked as many of their original wedding vendors as possible to join them in Philadelphia, like Reverend Roxanne Birchfield, their photographer Linda McQueen, and videographer Luxor Wedding Films. With her original wedding gown unavailable due to Covid-19 closures, Kerry Anne purchased a Sophia Tolli gown exclusively for this last-minute ceremony, and complemented its clean lines and classic silhouette with a crystal hair piece.

The evening before the small ceremony, the couple got word that a protest was planned right in front of the hotel, and the two planned to have their guests and vendors arrive hours prior to the ceremony to accommodate traffic and street closures. Prior to walking down the aisle, they planned to have an intimate first look, after which they'd process to the ceremony.

That plan changed quickly—once Kerry Anne stationed herself on the street to await Michael's arrival, protestors rallied around her in a sign of love and support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and for her on her special day. "The protest was moving through, and so when I got into position, they hadn’t started to pass yet," Kerry Anne explains. "It was only because I had accidentally left my bouquet at the hotel that it worked out the way it did, since I was waiting for it. Had [our first look] happened when it was planned, it may not have aligned perfectly."

Photo credit: Linda McQueen

Once she received her bouquet, the bride knew that her intimate moment with Michael was about to become far more public, and, while unexpected, that much more special. "I was the only one seeing everything taking place because I was standing on the side waiting for the moment we'd see each other, and then saw people approaching, sending lots of love and screaming 'black love!” and 'Congratulations!' We were all hearing the cheers and the helicopters above and so the guests came around to see things for themselves. As all of this is happening, I'm in the sun waiting for my bouquet; in wanting to go into the shade, I moved closer to the protestors and so they surrounded me, sharing all these messages of love, saying 'Have a wonderful wedding!,' 'We hope you both have a wonderful future together,' 'You're beautiful!'—just so much love."

Videos of the couple seeing one another for the first time in the middle of a peaceful protest sent chills up the arms of anyone with access to Instagram over the weekend, where powerful photos and videos of the couple quickly circulated.

"I was waiting at the alter for the couple, and we had Kerry Anne around the corner, with Michael was waiting to be told he could go see her for the first look—and I heard a large scream," Rev. Birchfield tells BAZAAR. "I go running, in my heels, across the grass and I see her feeling the energy. They were stationed for their first look and the protestors gathered around her and started screaming 'Black Lives Matter!' She put her fist up, and all of a sudden it was that moment. The groom joined her and there were too incredibly emotional things happening at once—their first look, his seeing her for the first time, and the movement. It felt like a ritual."

"We didn't realise we'd be this close to the movement," Kerry Anne says. "But it was really three major things happening at the same time. Knowing the history of our people in the country, in the world, about our ancestors, and thinking about any other movement that’s ever been... there was a lot of reflecting on that. When I wrote my vows five months ago, I'd also reflected on those images, and then this current movement erupted 7-10 days prior to our nuptials. On top of that, there was the wedding. Realising in that moment that this was happening and that we were about to take that step together as well; it was so emotional."

Photo credit: Linda McQueen

An equally-moving ceremony followed the monumental first look, which included a dove release and the reading of personalised vows they had written to one another months before, in preparation for their original wedding date.

As for whether their micro-wedding will impact plans for their nuptials next year, Kerry Anne and Michael are excited to do it all over again, just as they had planned. "Im all about celebrations. My family expresses our care for each other not with expensive things, but with support and love and by showing up for each other. I've missed so many events while I've been in training, and everyone was really looking forward to spending time with us because it's been so long. We're still planning on having our same wedding as it was planned in spring 2021."

Photo credit: Linda McQueen

While unexpected, the couple's officiant noted that this may have just been the perfectly imperfect time for a wedding. "This time in our lives feels like the end of the world—wouldn’t you want to use it to marry the love of your life?," Rev. Birchfield said. "This is a bride who would have had a grand, Cinderella moment on her wedding day anyway; and so she did, and she will have it again next year. But this time, she just had that moment in a totally different way than we’re used to seeing."

Kerry Anne and Michael will be enjoying the time leading up to their (next) wedding, given that all the planning and preparation for it is complete. "We will be enjoying the next 10-12 months together, because the planning process for the initial wedding took a lot of time and energy," she says. "Now, we can just spend time with one another and focus on each other and see where life takes us."

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