Haffner’s parents were skeptical at first, but after several hours of discussion, getting to know Grant and evaluating his seriousness about the relationship, they granted the couple their blessing. Grant took Haffner to visit his parents, and within weeks a date was set.
On Oct. 26, more than 100 of Haffner’s relatives and friends gathered at Oxon Hill Manor. In suits, dresses and colorful hats, they drank wine and danced under the lights of a large patio overlooking the Potomac River. After several hours, a large group of Grant’s aunts, uncles and cousins knocked at the door.
Introductions were made between the two families and soon a bantering negotiation began. Grant’s uncles told the guests that they’d come seeking Haffner’s hand in marriage, and they began offering gifts of money to sweeten the deal.
The guests knew that the tradition was being acted out mostly for show, but they still egged on the exchange. Soon a parade of women with scarves over their faces were brought before Grant’s family to see if they would pick the right bride.
Finally, Haffner emerged and sat veiled before the crowd. Grant’s family offered a container of gifts, called a calabash. Her mother inspected the offering, which contained a ring, clothing, needles and other goods meant to represent all she might need in married life.
Once her family accepted the gifts and consented to the marriage, Grant emerged. A pastor blessed the ring before Grant put it on Haffner’s finger. The crowd danced until 1 a.m. and gathered the next day with more friends and relatives for a second party that lasted almost until dawn.
When the celebrations died down, Grant finished packing his bags and moved into Haffner’s home in Oxon Hill.
“I’m in my own world when I’m with him,” says Haffner, who is excited to explore the world with a travel partner. “When I’m with him I’m only thinking of him, and when I’m not around him I think of him.”