Printed/engraved wedding invitation: Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Burghardt Du Bois request the honour of your presence at the marriage of their daughter Nina Yolande to Mr. Countee Cullen / on Monday, the ninth of April  at six o’clock in the evening / Salem M.E. Church / Seventh Avenue and One hundred twenty ninth Street / New York”. 5 x 7.25”. Horizontal fold.
Called the African-American “social event of the decade” – even “the wedding of the century” - the Harlem marriage of lionized 25 year-old Black poet Cullen to the daughter (and only surviving child) of NAACP “Crisis” editor DuBois – the country’s leading Black intellectual
The event was reported in gushing detail in the Black press, a “brilliant event…in beauty of appointment and arrangement, in wealth of decoration, in perfection of detail and in the distinguished group that assembled". (Even the ushers included young Harlem Renaissance poets Langston Hughes and Arna Bontemps, and future presidential advisor Robert Weaver). The church was “hung with festoons of roses, carnations, sweet peas and clinging vines”; there were chirping song-birds in white cages, while “above the altar, over the heads of the bride and groom, there hovered a large white dove, with outspread pinions." But the union was ill-fated. Months later, before the couple could leave for a planned year’s stay in Paris, Cullen confessed to his new bride his love for men (reportedly including his best man). They separated immediately, and were divorced two years later. Nina, a graduate of Fisk and Columbia, whose first romantic choice of a jazz bandleader had apparently been considered “unsuitable”, later married a football player.
(See also in this sale, a copy of the New York high school yearbook in which some of Cullen’s first printed poetry appeared)