Meet Dana & Joe – Engaged in the D

I am excited to introduce a new guest LoveintheD blogger – Dana! She and Joe were engaged on June 8 and have started to plan their Detroit wedding. Dana is also a Detroit blogger: check out the Miss Detroit blog!


Dana shares the engagement story:

For months, I had been pestering Joe about getting engaged, or at least getting a hint for when he was planning to do it. He kept putting me off, telling me he couldn’t afford it now and it would happen when the time was right. Even our friends kept telling me that he was trying hard to save his money and that I needed to be patient. They did such a great job at convincing me that it wouldn’t happen for another year or two, so I began to settle down. Little did I know, they were all in on the planning…

The week leading up to Saturday, June 8th, Joe kept asking if I would go for a walk with him on the Dequindre Cut when I got off of work at my weekend retail job, where I was schedule to work Saturday afternoon. Since I knew I would be on my feet for six straight hours, I was not committing to this walk he had been trying to plan.

The day of June 8th, Joe begged me to call into work and take the afternoon off to spend with him, but I insisted on going.  When I arrived home that evening, Joe asked again if I wanted to go for a walk on the Dequindre Cut, and I finally relented. We began a nice stroll where Joe kept mentioning the murals along our walk. We approached one that he said was his favorite, and knowing that I was brainstorming for blog posts on Miss Detroit, asked if he could take my photo in front of this mural.

Once I was standing in front of the mural and had turned around to face him, I saw Joe with his phone out, as though he was going to take my picture, but there was a white box in his hand. I realized he was recording the moment, when he kept his phone up and got down on one knee. I was shocked as I heard the words I’d been longing to hear exit his mouth: “Will you marry me?”

Of course, I said yes! Afterward, he instructed me to call my parents, who were waiting to hear from me and planning to have dinner with us. Joe also mentioned that after dinner we would be meeting our friends for drinks at the Old Miami. It still puts a big smile on my face to think about this amazing evening he surprised me with!

We are still in the process of setting a date; because we love Detroit so much, location rather than date is more important to us. We want to provide our guests with a uniquely Detroit wedding experience that will exemplify our love for the city and each other.

Readers: Share your Detroit engagement stories in the comments section!

Psssst. Are you following LoveintheD on Twitter? Check out the twitter feed.


[real wedding] Marsha and David’s wedding at Zion Congregational Church of God in Christ

It has been a long time since the last real wedding post on LoveintheD, and according to the reader survey, these are your favorite posts! I’ll do my best to include more real wedding posts. I encourage you to submit your own real Detroit wedding or encourage your friends to do so!

I am thrilled that my neighbors Marsha Battle Cusic and David Philpot have shared their beautiful Detroit wedding with LoveintheD!

Marsha and David were married in February 2012 at the historic Zion Congregational Church of God in Christ. Marsha, aka Marsha Music, is a writer, and her family’s story is an important link in the history of the old Hastings Street and Black Bottom in Detroit. Sean and I have come to know Marsha through living in the neighborhood that is now called Lafayette Park. Take a look at the wedding photos below!


Tell me about your love for Detroit.

I am a writer, and I write about Detroit in my blog Marsha Music. In 2012, I was awarded with a Kresge Fellowship in the Literary Arts, and I most recently performed my One Woman Show at ArtX 2013 – about Hastings Street, Black Bottom and my father’s role in Detroit’s music history.  In my blog, Marsha Music, I call myself a “primordial Detroiter”, for the importance of the history of this city resonates with me. My husband David is an artist – a master staff-maker; we met when he came to Detroit from Chicago for an exhibition of his work at the N’namdi Center for Contemporary Arts.  George N’namdi was his Best Man. Since our marriage, Philpot (as he is known) now resides here in Detroit, and has become a pillar of the arts community.

Marsha_David ceremony flowers


The details:
Venue: Historic Zion Congregational Church of God in Christ (COGIC)
Best Man: George N’namdi / Matron of Honor: Andrea Battle Kelly
Photographers: Mark Brown, Xiang Cclc, Charlene Usury
Gown Designer: Traditional West African ceremonial robes called Grand Bubas; the groom’s was acquired in West Africa, the bride’s was purchased at the African World Festival in Detroit.
Ringmaker: Nate Muccioli, Muccioli Studio Gallery in Bricktown
Food: Faithful Servant Catering, Sheryl Redmond
Cake:  Faithful Servant Catering, Jason Redmond
Flowers:  In lieu of flowers, staffs created by David Philpot (at altar, church’s arrangement)
Music:  John Derrick Davis, vibraphonist; Sharrone Thompson and Jeremiah Hall, vocalists
Officiant: Pastor James Hall
Wedding Planner: Lillian Herndon
Wedding Director: Athalia Cargyle
Church Liason: First Lady Brenda Hall
Honeymoon: The Inn on Ferry Street

Marsha_David ceremony

Marsha_David ceremonysmile

Marsha_David kiss

Marsha_David laughing

How did you incorporate Detroit into your wedding?

Our marriage was held at my maternal family’s church,  the historic Zion Congregational Church of God in Christ (COGIC), at 2135 Mack Avenue. This church was founded prior to the Great Depression, by the Elder I.W. Winans, patriarch of the singing Winans family. Having the wedding there was a statement honoring this church, which is replete with the history of important elements of Detroit life and culture.

Due to the sudden serious illness of a family member, we decided to have the wedding asap – in three weeks! Guests were notified by word of mouth, phone, and even Facebook. Our “village” pulled it all together and God blessed us with a beautiful wedding.  Our guests were family, church members, Lafayette Park neighbors – and mostly, friends from the arts community in Detroit.

Three photographers in the arts community offered to capture our wedding day. They are all known for their vibrant photos of Detroit and Detroiters.  Philpot and I decided that I would not carry flowers, but would instead we would both carry his majestic staffs during the processional and ceremony. Our honeymoon weekend was at the marvelous Inn On Ferry Street, in Midtown, Detroit. We were honored that we “represented” the D.

Our “village” pulled it all together and God blessed us with a beautiful wedding.  Although Philpots’ three children were unable attend from out of town, due to the late notice, our guests were family, church members, Lafayette Park neighbors – and mostly, friends from the arts community in Detroit. The ceremony was a reflection of the wonderful diversity of both my own family, and our guests.

Marsha_David staffs

Marsha_David ring

Marsha_David family photo

Marsha_David cake2

What was your favorite moment of the wedding?

When I came down the aisle and saw so many of our family and friends, who had come despite such a “last-minute” invitation; and when my husband exclaimed, “I do, I do, I do!”.

Marsha_David with wedding party

Marsha_David toast

What words of advice do you have for those planning their own Detroit weddings? 

Don’t let stress, money worries and the inter-familial push-and-pull of the wedding events cause you to falter – it will all work out, in the beautiful end.


Forging wedding bands, forging a new path together (Part Two)

Today’s Engaged in the D blog post is by Christopher Holt, who is engaged to Melissa Damaschke. Check out Part One here and read about their engagement story here.

Jewelry is delicate and precious. However, I’ve come to admire the brute force that goes into its making. It’s a bit like childbirth: there’s grunting, careful monitoring, blood, placenta, the force of contractions and labor, the smacking of a newborn bum, crying and all that, but in the end you have this precious delicate life. Minus the blood and a few other things there is an element of brutality in making jewelry.


How do you think the ring gets that nice round shape? You hammer the sucker. You hammer it into that ring-like shape and hammer the ends as close together as possible. Did they get out of line with each other? Put the metal in the vice and tap the sides ’till they’re even with each other. Then repeat. Then you solder the ends together. Now this piece of metal that once looked like, well just a piece of tiny metal, is starting to look more and more like an actual ring. I’ve seen ultrasound images of fetuses in the womb and thought, “Ok. Where the hell is the baby?”  Not until later does the freakish cluster of cells become recognizably human.  Up to this point, one might ask, “Ok. Where the hell is the ring?”

We  now arrive at the point where Melissa took my ring-fetus and hammered it into a ring-baby.

Our Mistress of Metallurgy introduced us to this thick metal rod that was tapered to a point. It was a little shorter than my forearm. Using her demonstration ring, she slid it ‘round the tapered the end and wedged it a few inches onto the rod.  Ring sizes were engraved up and down this tool. She demonstrated what we had to do and Melissa was first.


With the grace of a ballet dancer, the muscle of a valkyrie, and the focus of a laser-beam, Melissa hammered my ring into existence. She slid it off the rod and I slid it onto my finger. I shook my hand wildly to see if it would fall off. It flew across the store. This act was repeated about four times before the ring fit my finger comfortably.

Upon my turn, I raised the tool with my left hand and the hammer with my right.  Like the Greek god Hephaestus, I brought my hammer down upon the ring not once, not twice, but several times. Many, many times in fact.


Until finally, the gold and silver that were once divorced, were once again united in a perfect, perpetual circle, soldered together by the suave hunk that is marrying Melissa Damaschke.

We spent the next 10-20 minutes sanding and polishing the rings giving them a slightly grey finish. (Neither of us wanted anything too shiny or glossy).  Julie permitted us to use the photo set-up she has to take the picture you see here.  When all was said and done we were there for about five hours with a break for lunch.  We can’t thank Julie Sanford of Studio JSD enough for her patient guidance, talent, and encouragement.  If there are any couples considering doing such an activity together for their rings, we highly recommend doing it.

And we didn’t have to forge our rings in Mordor.


Readers: What do you think of the idea of making rings for one another as an engaged couple? How would you design your own unique ring?

Forging wedding bands, forging a new path together (Part One)

This week’s Engaged in the D guest post is by Christopher Holt, who is engaged to Melissa Damaschke. Read about their engagement story here.

Part One

Melissa doesn’t have an engagement ring. Not because I’m a cheap jerk but because 1) She doesn’t wear much jewelry in the first place and 2) She takes issue with the diamond industry.

So, instead of buying wedding bands, we thought it’d be more meaningful and rewarding to make each other’s rings. Now, by “make” I don’t mean “have someone make it for us.” Rather, I make her wedding band and she makes mine. Melissa was quick to research our options and found the only place in Michigan that offers couples the opportunity to do just, which is Studio JSD located in Grand Haven.  Julie Sanford, owner of Studio JSD, was more than accommodating to our purpose. In fact, we were able to have the entire studio and her attention all to ourselves. Julie makes all kinds of jewelry and we can’t recommend her and her artwork enough. I shall call her our Mistress of Metallurgy.

Melissa’s ring carries a second layer of meaning. Her parents divorced when she was 13 thereby rendering their wedding rings moot. However, they had the forethought (or respect) to keep them. Melissa’s mom is remarried.  After her dad died a few years ago, Melissa took to wearing his wedding ring on occasion. While it’s not really her style, it still holds sentiment. Despite having each of her parents’ defunct wedding rings, she didn’t know what to do with them.  It wasn’t until the night before we left for Grand Haven that it occurred to her that she should melt them down and recast them into her own wedding ring.  She got the OK from her mom and brother (out of respect for their feelings) and the decision was made.

My ring would be cast from new material. Melissa would make mine and I would make hers. We agreed that the other would approve of the ring each step of the way so there would be no surprises.

Our Mistress of Metallurgy guided us step-by-step through the entire process. Given the fact that Melissa’s ring was to come from two existing pieces of jewelry, my tasks required a little more time, so the three of us started on the rings together. I admit I was uneasy about sawing the diamond off of my future mother-in-law’s gold wedding ring. However, as I was doing that, Melissa was busy removing/tapping/bending/hammering out the small stones that were epoxied into her dad’s silver ring. This put things into perspective and I proceeded with confidence.

Hammers and saws are fun but blow-torches are more fun.


We took our turns melting the other’s metals into liquid form inside a crucible.  Melting-down metals is nothing new of course but if you have never altered the physical properties of a piece of metal before, you’re missing out.  Sure, there’d be soldering involved later on, but in this case we take something recognizable, admired, worn, and cherished, and reduce it to a scalding hot blister. At risk of sounding overdramatic:  these rings were on the fingers of two people figuratively inside a crucible.  And now, some twenty years later, these same rings are literally inside a crucible only to experience a very different outcome.  There’s something even more profound going on here.  Melissa hasn’t come out and said it directly, but there’s the clear suggestion of forging a new beginning; a way to acknowledge and learn from the past and how she can perceive herself and future decisions in relation to that. She is the sole owner of her destiny.

Melissa is my sweet, sweet, Nitzschean Übermensch. Or ÜberFrau.


Melted into small tiny rods the size of pretzels a president might choke on while watching a football game, these metals lack all the glamour and emotion associated with their purpose. There is a mechanical device – not unlike a penny stretching machine – through which these tiny rods are cranked and thereby stretched.  We crank our metal rods through this device several times.  Sometimes, however, the rods resist our efforts and must be taken to be blowtorched. This does something to the atoms inside the metal that makes it easier to crank them through the machine.  When the metal is glowing red from the blowtorch, we pick-up the metal with tweezers and drop it into a bowl of cool water. This makes a sound not unlike the one you might imagine is produced when a portal to another dimension seizes shut.


The anvil we used was not manufactured by the Acme Company, nor was it dropped on anyone’s head. It was satisfying, though, to lay the rod (or in my case, two rods) of metal and tap the texture into it.  Melissa is an environmentalist – a tree hugger. So, for my ring,  I asked her to create a texture similar to tree bark. She liked the idea so much, that that’s how I textured hers.  We used hammers designed for such work, carefully holding the metal in place and even more carefully not hammering our fingers.

Want to check out the rest of Chris & Melissa’s ring-making process and the beautiful end results? Part Two is coming next week!

Loving Day Detroit 2013 in photos!

Earlier in June, multiracial couples, families, and individuals gathered in Detroit to celebrate Loving Day, the anniversary of the 1967 court decision that found interracial marriage bans to be unconstitutional.

Children played, children’s stories were read, many arts and crafts projects were constructed, photos were taken at a photobooth, and most importantly, stories of couples and families were shared in a dialogue. Click here to read the original LoveintheD post about Loving Day Detroit.

Below are some photos from the event that speak for themselves!







loving day kids

During the event, one individual spoke about reactions from other people to his being in an interracial relationship – gauged by looks and glances when seen in public together or some individuals “checking it out and then being positive.” Another participant spoke about how being in an interracial relationship and multiracial family has opened her eyes to dynamics of race in today’s society: “It’s also enriching, because I see a whole world that I never knew existed.”

“Raise your children in diverse areas.” One individual at the event spoke about growing up biracial in an area that was not diverse and about the experience of having parents who did not discuss issues of race openly. A woman in an interracial marriage spoke about the dynamics of raising biracial children and never being able to predict when a conversation about race in her family would come up and how to respond to questions. The conversation turned near the end toward school diversity, environments and choices in Detroit for biracial or multiracial children.

Readers: What are your experiences with interracial marriage in Detroit?