Antoine Kinch hopped onto an ottoman in a swanky New York City rooftop lounge to toast his fiancee and thank their family and friends for making it out to celebrate his and Shaunte Otey’s wedding engagement. Kinch, a 37-year-old engineer, spoke giddily about how he was marrying a longtime friend and a woman whom he at times refers to as a “unicorn” because he still can’t believe that she’s, well, real. Why? Otey, also a 37-year-old engineer, is black and—the adjective that makes her oh so surreal—fine.
“True”—one of Kinch’s engineer friends blurted out midtoast—“not a lot of cute, black female engineers,” he quipped, while everyone laughed. Kinch finished his speech and reminded everyone to use the hashtag #TeAndToine when sharing photos and video from the party on the Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts specifically created for their wedding-engagement tour.
Yep, you read that right: their tour.
If you’re a friend or a relative of the soon-to-be Kinches and you missed their January gathering in New York City, no worries, you can catch the smiling duo this Valentine’s weekend celebrating with loved ones at another fabulous party in Oakland, Calif. If you can’t trek to the West Coast, don’t fret, because they’re taking their love fete overseas in March—where they’ll party with friends in Milan, Munich, Paris and Prague before convening more gatherings with their people in Beijing and Shanghai.
Sometime in May, they’ll resume the U.S. leg of their tour in the nation’s capital, a stone’s throw from where Otey grew up in Virginia. After Washington, D.C., the lovebirds are promising to nail down dates for tour stops in Los Angeles and Chicago.
At this point, some of you are probably furrowing your eyebrows at all the pomp and circumstance of the whole shebang and wondering what possessed them to go to such lengths—literally—for the engagement. (“All he did so far was buy a ring, take a knee and y’all already taking a victory lap?,” wrote one of my editors after seeing their itinerary, which is mocked up like a faux movie poster.)
But during an interview with The Root to commemorate all things “love” this Valentine’s Day weekend, Kinch and Otey talked about how their endeavor is equal parts a reflection of the digital times that we live in, when social media is used to document special occasions in people’s lives; the euphoria they feel as late-30-somethings having found “the one” in each other; and, just as important, a natural extension of their lives as travel junkies.
Kinch and Otey are proud members of Nomadness Travel Tribe, an online resource for black travelers. The engagement tour was a perfect way to tout their identities as African-American nomads of sorts—a lifestyle that has gained a lot of recognition in recent months because of the online spaces popping up to commemorate the trend.
“Individually, we have had such lives on different coasts and friendships in different pockets,” Otey explained. Kinch added that since everyone they know probably won’t be able to make it to the wedding, he and Otey thought: “Instead of them coming to us, why don’t we go to them?”
They’ve both already shown signs of a nomadic existence, living and working in the U.S. Kinch grew up in New York and has lived in Boston; San Jose and Oakland, in California; Philadelphia; the state of Maryland; and now Raleigh, N.C. Otey, a Virginia native, has lived in Los Angeles and San Francisco and also has a spot in Raleigh. Their passion for traveling has taken them to Brazil, Peru, Turks and Caicos, the Netherlands, Italy, Cape Verde, India, Equatorial Guinea, Mexico and Aruba—just to name a few.
“You’re on the road too much. You travel too much. You’re not going to settle down,” well-meaning loved ones would tell Otey, advising her to “sit still” if she wanted to snag a man. Then she attracted her match in Kinch—a guy whom Essence named one of its most eligible bachelors in 2012.
There are those who see the tour as superfluous, but it reflects Kinch and Otey’s adventurousness, and—though they both have working-class roots—both are successful professionals who clearly have the coin to luxuriate and explore the world alongside fellow avid travelers.
Otey said she and Kinch receive messages from hopeful people who had given up on love, and others who are only now making space in their schedules to start seeing the world. But for Otey, as she begins her journey with Kinch, there’s no time like the present.
“It doesn’t make sense to save all of your money until you’re dead,” she said. “I want to experience all that this life has for me.”
She added: “Life isn’t promised.”
Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.