Raleigh Couple’s History Wedding Includes Jumping the Broom Tradition
By Anna Louise Pickens
Jim and Natasha DePalma’s wedding was all about family and history – both their history as a couple and the history of Natasha’s ancestors. “History in the Making” was the theme of their February 2020 wedding, and the couple extended the theme to their engagement photos, which were taken at the NC Museum of History in Raleigh.
“The area is near the cultural and political heart of Raleigh,” Natasha says of the NC Museum of History. “The architecture and open spaces in the area lend themselves to beautiful pictures.”
The photo shoot was a family affair, with Natasha’s sister-in-law, Candice, as the photographer and Natasha’s brother, Eric, as her assistant. In true NC fashion, the weather was steamy, but Candice, who was six months pregnant at the time, didn’t let that stop her artistry.
“At one point, she even laid on the ground to get the angle she wanted,” Natasha says. “We applaud not just her talent but also her determination.”
Jumping the Broom
On the big day itself, Jim and Natasha were excited to incorporate a historic tradition into their ceremony – jumping the broom. Although the origins of the tradition are fuzzy, many believe it originated in Ghana, West Africa, and was brought to the U.S. by enslaved people.
Courthouse weddings were illegal for enslaved couples in the south, so jumping over a broom offered an alternative to solidify unions. In the decades after emancipation, many African-American couples have reclaimed the tradition to honor their ancestors.
Natasha emphasized the importance of incorporating traditions from both her and Jim’s families into the reception and ceremony. Jumping the broom was included in several of her relatives’ weddings, and she wanted to continue the tradition.
“As an interracial couple, I thought it was both appropriate and important to include this tradition,” Natasha says. “In a way, it is symbolic of a “clean sweep,” a new start for Jim and me, and, perhaps the start of a new tradition within our newly united family.”
The Rest is History
Jim and Natasha’s passion for education and history run deep. Jim is a history instructor at Durham Technical Community College.
When the couple visited Diamond’s Direct at Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh to look at engagement rings, Jim said they were only looking. He took Natasha by surprise when he said “let’s select a ring.”
“The Diamond’s Direct staff was amazing,” Natasha says. “They helped to educate and guide us through the process.”
When the ring was ready for pick up, Jim turned to Natasha and said “how do you want to do this?” Natasha let Jim know that the ring was walking out Diamonds Direct on her finger. Together, they ran out of the car through the rain and jumped into the car. With rain dripping from Jim’s forehead, he asked Natasha to marry him.
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