Dating and Relationships

Vows: A Sunday March, This One Down the Aisle

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“It seems like yesterday when my sister and I would go with our parents to listen to my dad preach at different churches around New York, then go out to dinner afterward,” she said. “And when Dad was out working, we would wait for him to come home and play games with us, we would put our Barbie dolls away and take out our Uno cards as soon as he walked through the door, or we would all play Monopoly for hours and Dad wouldn’t quit until he owned most of the properties and had all the money in the bank. Those were some of the best days.”

Ashley Sharpton, the bride’s younger sister who served as maid of honor — she and the rest of the wedding party waited patiently as the ceremony began an hour later than scheduled — said that much better days await her big sister.

“Dominique and Marcus are very lucky to have found each other,” she said after the ceremony, as she straightened the train of the bride’s gown, designed by Paulette Cleghorn for Yumi Katsura Couture. “I’ve never seen my sister this happy, and that’s because she has a great guy who fits in perfectly with our family.”


The couple briefly met in June 2012 outside Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem. He was late and she was leaving. But he found her the next day at a rally where she was working. Credit Devin Yalkin for The New York Times

Dr. Bright, an administrator at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and a frequent contributor to HuffPost, is also the executive director of education for A Better America. He received a bachelor’s degree in government and world affairs from the University of Tampa, a master’s in public administration from Florida International University and a Ph.D. in public administration from Florida Atlantic University.

Dr. Bright’s father, James, said that while his family was not high profile, like the Sharptons, he and his wife raised their children “well, as they did theirs.” He described Dominique as “a wonderful girl and like a daughter to us.”

“Like any other family,” he added, “we hope that our newly married children can make it through the difficult hurdles that exist in every relationship and get to enjoy each other’s company for the rest of their lives.”

Ms. Sharpton, who studied at Temple in Philadelphia before completing her education at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, is now the national director of membership at her father’s National Action Network, which serves more than 100 chapters across the United States. She is also a musical theater actress and has appeared in several local stage productions in the past few years, “hoping to make it as an actress on my own,” she said, “without the help of my dad.”

(Ms. Sharpton has reeled in a different kind of audience in recent years, however, as she has been embroiled in a lawsuit against the City of New York. She said she sprained an ankle when falling on an unpaved street in Lower Manhattan in October 2014. The lawsuit is scheduled to return to the courts next month.)

“She’s fully grown now and independent, she’s self-directed and capable,” Mr. Sharpton said. “And she’s taking on a partner in Marcus who is simply a brilliant young man.”


The bride’s mother, Kathy Elaine Jordan-Sharpton, sang “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me,” to which the couple had their first dance. Credit Devin Yalkin for The New York Times

Their worlds collided on June 1, 2012, outside Sylvia’s Restaurant in Harlem. Dr. Bright was visiting New York and arrived late to the restaurant, where he was to meet a group of friends, several of whom knew Ms. Sharpton.

By the time he arrived, however, the group was leaving, and a mutual friend introduced him to Ms. Sharpton as she was hailing a taxicab to go home.

“She was absolutely beautiful,” Dr. Bright said.

They spoke briefly, but long enough for Ms. Sharpton to “want to get to know him better,” as she put it.


Friends and family of the couple watching as the bride’s mother sang for the couple. The bride said: “Sometimes I say to my mother, ‘Mom, I have to pinch myself, is this really happening? I really get to marry this guy?’ ” Credit Devin Yalkin for The New York Times

“He was striking, I was physically attracted to him from the moment I met him,” she said. “I was completely intrigued.”

When Dr. Bright asked Ms. Sharpton why she was in such a hurry, she explained that she needed to be at a rally the next morning, in the company of her father, at the National Action Network’s House of Justice in Harlem, where she produces a two-hour program that airs on radio each Saturday morning on the New York radio station WLIB-AM (1190) and on Impact Television.

Dr. Bright, who was pursuing his Ph.D at the time, told her he had to take an early flight back to Miami the next morning, and they parted ways without exchanging contact information.


The bride and her father, Al Sharpton, danced to Michael Jackson’s “I’ll Be There.” Credit Devin Yalkin for The New York Times

The next morning, Ms. Sharpton looked up from her work station during the rally and saw him standing there.

“He stuck out like a sore thumb, this gorgeous, strapping guy in a beautiful suit,” she sad. “I was thrilled to see him.”

Dr. Bright explained his unexpected arrival.

“I have a real interest in civil rights and social justice,” he said. “But I was really interested in Dominique as well.”


The groom shares a moment with the bride before he tosses the garter to waiting friends and family. Credit Devin Yalkin for The New York Times

As it turned out, Ms. Sharpton was extremely busy at the rally, so she walked over to him and “without speaking a word, flipped him my business card,” she said.

He called her later that day from an airport, and a long-distance relationship soon took flight.

Within two months, they were dating steadily.

“Dominique brings a level of substance, compassion and friendship to my life that I had not known in previous relationships,” he said. “We have a lot of common interests and she understands me, which is why I knew we were going to be together for the long term.”


Guests celebrating the marriage of Dominique Sharpton and Marcus Bright, who said of his bride: “We have a lot of common interests and she understands me, which is why I knew we were going to be together for the long term.” Credit Devin Yalkin for The New York Times

Though Dr. Bright does not work for his father-in-law’s Action Network, Mr. Sharpton said “he has what it takes to be an activist.”

“I said to him, ‘Do you want to be a part of this?’ Mr. Sharpton recalled. “I told him if he’s going to to be a storm trooper, he has to be ready for any kind of storm.”

Asked what was the best wedding gift he could give to his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. Sharpton pointed to his own legacy.

“I think what I’ve taught both of my daughters, and now Marcus, who I consider a son, is that you can start life in one place and end up in a better place if you work hard enough and believe in yourself.”

“I didn’t have a father,” he said. “I grew up on welfare, and yet I’ve been able to do things I never thought I could do. I have my own radio and television show. I ran for New York City mayor and president of the United States, and I remember addressing the Democratic convention and seeing Dominique sitting up in those box seats — she knew right then and there that anyone can become anything they want to become in this life.”

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Wendy Pettit

Wendy Pettit is a writer for NYT and writes for other publications on her spare time. She lives in Chicago with her husband and her dog Zuko.

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