It may come as a surprise that a self-admitted humidity hater would choose to wear her natural hair out on her wedding day. However, that’s exactly what Anele Maphanga decided to do for her nuptials. The South African, natural hair bride wore her curly afro with baby’s breath buds delicately tucked throughout her coils.

“I wanted to wear my hair in a style that felt authentic,” Maphanga told 21Ninety. “I wanted to look back at my photographs and still be able to recognize the person staring back at me.”

The public relations strategist’s relationship with her natural hair has been a long, winding road, starting with her first perm. “I had probably being relaxing my hair since I was 2-years old without pause,” she recalled.

Her winding road with natural hair continued in high school. At the all-girls institution Maphanga attended, the administration banned natural styles.

“Our hair was rarely healthy because it had to be relaxed constantly in order to comply with the school’s code of conduct,” she explained. “It [was] a requirement for Black girls to wear their hair straight and not in an afro style.”

Her early journey with her hair impacted her as an adult. Maphanga admits to having to have a reckoning with her natural hair. Rediscovering her hair, outside of chemical products, brought her to a place of true pride and awe over its versatility. It’s because of that pride that she proudly wears her natural hair. She wore her natural hair on her wedding day and at her law school graduation.

“I’ve always believed that my natural hair has a place at special occasions,” Maphanga said. “It is good enough for everyday, and it is good enough for my big moments too.”

Humid Conditions

Embracing natural hair and accepting the impact humidity has on it is not always one in the same. For natural hair brides, especially those choosing to get married in tropical locales, humidity is a big point of consideration. The wet nature of a humid location makes some natural hair brides reconsider their hairstyles. They oftentimes lean toward styles that can withstand the muggy weather.

However, some brides are choosing to embrace the beautiful ways the weather makes their hair change. That was the case for Samantha F., who asked to only be identified by her first name. At first, the bride considered buns and updos. Then, in a moment of clarity, she decided she wanted to wear her hair out. After thinking about what she wanted to look like on her wedding day, Samantha decided to allow her hair to grow and change, as the weather interacted with it.

“I blow dried it and lightly flat ironed it, then did flat twists going straight back and bantu knotted the ends,” Samantha explained. “I didn’t use anti-humidity products because I wanted it to get as big as possible. My hair stayed in the flat twists for about 24 hours until a few minutes before our ceremony started.”

Once she left her bridal villa, Samantha said she didn’t look in a mirror again.

“I had no idea what my hair looked like once I left the villa and started walking down the aisle. I didn’t even check,” Samantha said. “Life has taught me that the desire for control equals stress and anxiety, and I did not want any negative memories for our wedding day so anything that felt like control, I let go.”

Releasing any attempts at “taming” her hair gave Samantha a special kind of freedom. She allowed the state of her hair to be as fluid as the humid air that swirled around her.

“I could have easily just started with an afro, but I think the idea of it growing and changing really excited me and our photographer captured so many stages of it,” she said. “That dynamism and versatility is really the beauty of natural hair to me.”

Constantly Evolving Relationship

The relationship with humidity and natural hair brides is not always a linear one. However, after her wedding day and while on her honeymoon, Maphanga still struggled with her feelings toward how humidity impacted her hair.

“My husband and I went to Singapore for our honeymoon and there was so much humidity in the air so my afro was constantly absorbing the moisture and shrinking,” she recalled. “I’ve learned to embrace my hair for what it is and not only for what I want it to be.”

Similar to Maphanga, Samantha feels natural hair in any state is appropriate for all occasions. She recognizes not every natural woman may feel up to dealing with the impacts of humidity on their hair, especially on their wedding day.

“I would love for everyone to embrace their natural hair for all occasions, but if that’s not what makes you feel good at that time, do you boo!” Samantha said. “There are only two people who will ever have real regrets about your wedding choices, you and your spouse, so choose what makes the two of you happy.”