In case you missed it, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck got married in a lavish second wedding ceremony on Saturday. According to the pictures released by PageSix, the affair looked stunning: guests sat among divine flower arrangements, there was a long, white aisle and the couple — JLo in a magnificent gown and Affleck in a white suit jacket, à la Colonel Sanders — posed on a dock for photos. What wasn’t so gorgeous, however, was the fact the ceremony took place at Affleck’s plantation-style mansion in a place called Hampton Island.
Not only that, but according to WTOC, Hampton Island — located off the coast of Georgia in the American South — was allegedly once a “thriving rice plantation” before the American Civil War.
Nope, don’t like that! Bennifer should have stopped at their first wedding in Las Vegas in July, if you ask me.
The setting is, most obviously, extremely problematic and in poor taste, seeing as Black people were enslaved and forced to work on agricultural plantations in the South between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries.
But the fact the couple held their wedding ceremony at the property — which was built in 2000 to resemble a plantation —is particularly foul, given the fact Affleck’s ancestors owned slaves. Per The Guardian, the actor participated in a documentary series called Finding Your Roots in 2014, which revealed his great-great-great grandfather Benjamin Cole inherited 24 slaves after a family death in 1858.
The actor asked the producers of the genealogy show to suppress details of his slave-owning ancestors because he was “embarrassed”. Some call it embarrassment, others call it censorship.
Professor of African American History at Northwestern University Leslie Harris told PageSix it was “surprising” Affleck and Lopez decided to say “I do” at the property, given the actor’s ancestry.
“When he discovered who his ancestors were he tried to squelch it,” she said.
“It’s clear he didn’t learn his lesson. We’re back at the same place with him. People still build houses that are plantation style. It’s a sign of wealth.
“It’s surprising that Affleck would choose his place for his wedding when many (historic) plantations have stopped even having weddings.”
Per Refinery29, as of 2021, America housed about 375 plantation museums — the majority of which refused to hold weddings. And according to the The New York Times, in 2019, wedding-planning sites such as Pinterest and The Knot pledged to stop promoting plantation weddings and using language that romanticised them.
Despite this, Refinery29 found people still love getting married at plantations. Affleck and Lopez also aren’t the first celebrity couple to do so — back in 2012, Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively got married at Boone Hall, a former slave plantation in South Carolina.
Nothing says romance like marrying the love of your life on a former forced labour camp that enslaved, tortured and murdered Black people.