The name MunaLuchi holds a special place in our hearts. It is the combination of two African names which when fused together mean, "Beautiful Work of God"... Perfectly describing our brides...
The MunaLuchi bride is bold, beautiful, worldly... She is witty, vibrant and free. She loves the finer things in life, and is not afraid to go after what she wants. She exudes style and grace and is determined to look her very best not just on her wedding day but every day. She yearns to embrace her culture and seeks inspiration that speaks to her. She comes in all sizes and shades. Simply put, she is beautiful no matter what skin she's in.
Our mission is to promote positive images of women of color...because we believe positive imagery is the threshold for confidence... and confidence inspires self love.
We aspire to inspire...
So far 2022 has lived up to its name - the year of the wedding boom. Wedding venues and vendors are overwhelmed with the number of weddings, sometimes multiple each weekend, and inquiries they have been receiving. While we knew that in 2022 we'd experience a record number of weddings, we did not anticipate that a great percentage of those celebrations would be destination weddings.
When you put things in perspective, it makes perfect sense that destination weddings and events are on the rise. We were cramped up in our homes for the most part of the last two years. As travel restrictions have been lifted, folks are just ready to explore new destinations and reconnect with loved ones they haven’t seen in years.
Our cover couple, Aisha Hinds and Nigel Walker, got engaged in the height of the pandemic, and ultimately decided to tie the knot in a destination that was true to their heart - Grenada. They brought along 170 of their closest family and friends and gave them what I consider to be a luxury travel experience, not just a wedding. Guests were delighted with a 5 day experience that included tours of Grenada, culinary experiences, boat rides and even curated photoshoots, culminating with a one-of-a-kind wedding jubilee. Check out my interview with them on page 24.
It was truly the way a wedding ought to be - authentically yours. I’m predicting that the upcoming wedding season will be filled with non-traditional yet super intentional wedding celebrations that put the guest experience as a top priority.
Traditions should be yours, not borrowed. And rules don’t truly exist when it comes to your wedding - it can be anything you want to be. As you peruse the pages of this issue, get inspired by the weddings and styled shoots, but also think about ways to ensure your wedding speaks to you and your partner. Keep it authentic.
NO. 27 | FALL 2022CEO/EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Jacqueline Nwobu PRESIDENT Chike Nwobu EDITOR Linda Wallentine
Angela WashingtonMarie Smith, Lily Taylor, Dana Miller Tiffany Chalk
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Affirm your love with a beautiful beach or lush palm garden ceremony fusing Curacao-inspired touches or bring your vision to life with our countless wedding inspirations. Sandals will handle every detail to help make your special day as unique as your love story.
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Remembering Anne Lowe, American Couturier, as told by Guest Curator Elizabeth Way
“I was introduced to society by a leading society woman. So many of the society women allowed their daughters to come to my shop and feel safe.” - Ann Lowe
The mysterious figure wearing her black glasses, sitting crowned with her black statement hat and all-black attire, silently staring into the camera was unknown to me. I somehow came across her while casually on the internet during my usual hobby of looking at former First Ladies and their fashions. My own journey of getting to know the story of Ann Lowe has been filled with astonishment, anger, and a season of pause and reflection on her legacy. She was known to many White socialites as their couturier of choice but seemingly a silent phantom in the broader exclusive world of fashion.
On December 24, 1964, during an eye-opening and absolute gem of an interview, host Mike Douglas asked the 65-year-old Lowe: “Why haven’t you received the recognition you deserve?” Lowe responded using the choicest of words to say that her clients wanted to keep their Black couturier a private matter. She said they would only tell their closest friends. As I listened to her discreet response,
she answered the way so many people of color have had to in order to not alienate and anger their White patrons. During the televised interview I saw how Lowe was able to navigate the world of White high society through her poise and tact.
As an example of the erasure of her legacy, the media’s coverage of Jacqueline Lee Bouvier’s wedding to John Fitzgerald Kennedy never mentioned her, only The Washington Post’s fashion editor Nina Hyde published it. When in 1946 Olivia de Havilland accepted her Oscar, the gown's name was given under the store from where it was purchased- Sonia Rosenberg, and not Ann Lowe.
Born in Alabama in 1898, Lowe sewed dolls' clothes and her own dresses. She also dreamed of the creations by fashion designer Lucy Christiana, also known as Lady Duff-Gordon, and other Parisian designers. According to The Museum at FIT’s Associate Curator, Elizabeth Way, in the book, Black Designers in American Fashion, Lowe was, “One of the last Black American designers whose design acumen can be directly and positively traced back to the era of slavery”(p.42). At that time, “Designers weren’t just making garments but these were tools against racial oppression”(p.32).
With history stitched and woven into each of Lowe’s garments, the scholarly research and awe-inspiring storytelling of this truly American designer have been handed to Elizabeth Way, the guest curator of the upcoming 2023 exhibition, Ann Lowe: American Couturier, at the Winterthur Museum in Delaware. In this exclusive interview, we spoke about her journey as a curator and her hopes for the future, the upcoming exhibition, and the importance of more people of color entering into the career fields of fashion conservation and fashion journalism.
THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED LIGHTLY FOR CLARITY.
What does it mean to be a curator with your passion for fashion? What does that actually mean for you with this role?
So I think that different curators approach it differently. For me, it's really about telling stories and creating narratives from objects. It always comes back to the objects, materials, and culture that we've been able to preserve in our collection and other collections, and using that to really create a connection to the past. Or the present. We show a lot of contemporary pieces too, but really using that object to tell a larger story. And that story revolves around fashion. But through fashion, we tell so many stories about history and gender and identity and sociology, economics - the list is endless. But for me, it's really telling stories through objects.
For you as a curator, what would be your day-to-day duties and activities for your role?
So I spend some time in our collection with our objects. Not as much as I would like. So that's the most, I think, curator-type thing that I do. But I do a lot of writing at the museum. At FIT, we serve the FIT students. So I work with graduate students who are learning about curatorialship in fashion. And then, we also have study classes and researchers come in, so I interact with them. So the day-to-day changes. We're definitely working on exhibitions and books, but we're also really focused on our students.
What is that emotional connection that you have to fashion? When did you realize that you were in love with design and fashion in general? Was that when you were a little girl or became a teenager? Can you just delve into that?
I think I first became interested in... I don't remember when I first became interested in fashion, but I asked my mom for a subscription to Vogue when I was about maybe 11 or 12. And for over 20 years, I read Vogue cover to cover, every month. It was the highlight of my month, having that magazine come in and those images and so I was really taken by the everyday elegance of the fashion I saw, but also these fantastical, over-the-top pieces that I also saw. Bringing those images together was really exciting for me. And in the early 2000s, there was some really interesting stuff going on in fashion. It's a very loaded topic, but I'm Black and I'm Chinese. And I did start to see cultural engagement, looking at different parts of the world through fashion. Perhaps not in ways that we would... We can do it perhaps a little bit in more sophisticated, more inclusive ways today, but I really was captivated with different views of the world that were being portrayed in fashion at that time.
I still remember as a little girl watching the old '60s,Bible epics, and some of those other classic historical dramas. For me as a little kid, I really didn't put two and two together. I didn't really know what that was, but I just felt like why aren't people dressing like this? I mean, I just thought it was so wonderful. And like you said, that fantastical world, that overthe-topness and the maximalism of it all. Seeing that maximalism. And for me, that's how the connection started, just seeing the wonderful costumes. I think the very first costume designer I ever found out about was Edith Head. I still remember learning about her and her background and how she was the costume designer for so many wonderful old Hollywood movies. And for me, that was my first foray into that whole world. So I totally understand with Vogue and seeing all those wonderful editorials. I get that. And just now going into your specific area of Ms. Ann Lowe. Can you just describe your research into her life in general?
Absolutely. I first came across Ann Lowe... I went to graduate school. I learned costume history, but she wasn't in my curriculum. I came across her, I got an internship with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. And this was before the building opened. So this was in 2012. So we worked in office space as the museum was actually being built. But my project was to research the Black Fashion Museum collection, which is a wonderful museum that was started in the '70s by Lois K Alexander in New York. And the collection is now with the Smithsonian. And so it was through that research that I came across Ann Lowe and another dressmaker, named Elizabeth Keckley. And I was so interested that I ended up writing my master's thesis on both of them. And I was able to go to different collections, including FIT, where I work now, and the Museum of the City of New York, and actually see her garments.
And they were so beautiful. They were so beautifully made. I majored in apparel design in undergrad. And so I knew a little bit about sewing. Certainly not on the level of Ann Lowe or couturiers like that, but I knew enough to really recognize that this was really extraordinary work and that she was creating fashion that was elevated, that was high-end, and it was coming out of the US. And we don't think about that. Especially in the '50s and '60s, it is all about Paris. And so I was really fascinated by her as a maker. And her designs were so beautiful and so in touch with what was happening in fashion in the 1950s and early '60s. So I dug more and more into her material culture in grad school. And then, through that research, I met a woman named Margaret Powell who is really the scholar...She, unfortunately, passed away much too young in the last few years, but she was really the scholar who put together Ann Lowe's biography. So I looked at her material culture, but she really pieced together the facts of her life, which is... They're amazing because she was this woman who was born at the end of the 19th Century in the Jim Crow South. And she just was able to take these skills that her grandmother, who had been enslaved, passed down to her mother, who passed it down to her, and take these skills of Black women and use them to transform her life in extraordinary ways. And so I was really captivated by that story.
Is there anything else that when you learned about her, it just affected you, maybe on a deeper emotional level that you might not have thought would've affected you?
Absolutely. What captivates me about Ann Lowe is that her mother and her grandmother instilled in her these skills and she used them. Her mother and grandmother were dressmakers. And by the end of her career, she was a fashion designer. And that was a new concept that was being developed in America over the course of her career. And she really made a space for herself with that. She moved from Alabama to Florida, from Florida to New York. These are extraordinary moves for a woman, even today, but in the early 20th Century. And so I was really taken by the way that she could use her professional skills to change her life.
Do you think, especially with her and Elizabeth Keckley as well, was there something about just their air, maybe in the way they carried themselves and the way that they learned about that social world of the White upper class that allowed them to succeed more so than maybe even some other Black designers? Was it just the je ne sais quoi that they had rather than some of their other peers?
I think that was absolutely a skill that they had. I think that both of them, from what I've read, seemed to be elegant, lovely people. But I also think that interacting with elite White women, especially as a Black woman, is a skill that is also something they learned from their mothers and their grandmothers. To be able to navigate those relationships in just the right way to assert yourself as a professional, as a creative, but still give people the deference that they think they deserve. I think that was a very fine line. And so I think there were certainly things about both of their personalities that drew people to them. But I also think that those social graces were a skill that they learned.
How do you feel like you want to tell that story visually, especially with the mannequin choices, adding accessories or not, and through information cards? And the reason why I ask this is because there is a pretty famous story that Andre Leon Talley used to talk about when he was working at the Met. When he was there volunteering with Diana Vreeland and assisting her, when she would tell him about an exhibit that he needed to work on, she would talk about the story. She would tell the story. She wouldn't just tell him, "Oh, just put this on a mannequin and you're done." No, she would say, "No. Cleopatra needs to be walking at night and we need to smell the perfumes," and all this stuff. And just visually for you and especially what you've learned, how do you want to tell that story for visitors who come in and see the garments?
So for me in this exhibition, this is the largest exhibition on Ann Lowe and only the second that I am aware of that concentrated completely on her. The Black Fashion Museum did an exhibition on her in the '80s. I really want to draw attention to the exquisite material culture. The dress forms that we're using, they're actually being specially created through 3D printing with the University of Delaware. But they look like dress forms in a dressmaker shop. Because I wanted all these details to really go back to the fact that she was a couturier. Couture is not something we associate with American designers. And of course, this was running parallel to the rise of ready-to-wear, which is an amazing and unique thing about American fashion. But I really want to draw attention to the fact that this handcraft, this exquisite workmanship, artisanship was happening in the United States and that she was a master of it.
So the pieces won't be accessorized to highlight the style of the wearer, but really focused in so you look at the details of the clothing. And so even though we are using the exhibition text to tell her story, I do try and hope each one draws the viewer to look at the dress in front of them and look at the embroidery or the floral work or imagine all the layers that are creating that silhouette in front of you. Because she really was like an engineer, building these dresses from the inside out. So this particular exhibition is really focused on the objects and their material culture. There are so many different ways to approach every subject, but that's my focus here.
If there is someone coming for the first time to the museum who may not even be aware of her and her story, or even fashion in general, what would you like for them to learn after they walk away from seeing this exhibition?
I mean, I want them to learn that Ann Lowe is an exemplary American fashion designer and that compared to the French, I don't think Americans are as great as remembering their fashion designers in history, whether they are Black or White or male or female. But as a Black woman, she has an extraordinary life because of the challenges because of her race and her
gender. But the story is that she was extremely important in contributing to the look of American fashion. The things that she made for elite women were photographed, they were circulated, and they were seen. And they helped shape fashion culture in this country and internationally. But I really want people to walk away with the idea that Ann Lowe was an important fashion designer who helped create the fashion that we all know and exist in today.
I remember the first time I found out about her especially as a woman of color, it saddened me. But then I was also joyful at the same time to see this woman who was able to navigate this world where a lot of us were not welcome and she was celebrated. And just knowing that her story is now being told, to me, she was also visually captivating even in the way she wore her hat. Those bold glasses. To me, that was something that was very iconic as well. Now, pivoting to your story. I wanted to talk about your role. Why is it important for you, especially as a woman of color, to see more people of color in this career field? How important is it for more people of color to be entering into fashion conservation and fashion journalism? For me, sometimes I don't see that. I'll look at different documentaries and they show all of the curators and the fashion wardrobe conservationists, but I don't see women who look like me. So how important is that for you to see more of us come into this field?
I mean, I think that if we want to create a more equitable world, if we want to create change, then we have to have people who have a vision of what the future could look like. And I'm not saying that those are always people of color or women, but I think that certainly helps. And I think that from just a very practical side if institutions want to do better, they need those perspectives. But from a personal level, I want to see subjects that interest me. When I see movies, if there are no women, if there are no people of color, it's hard for me to engage. It's hard for me to be interested in it. And so as a person who is producing scholarship for the public, I want to produce something that interests me in the hope that other people, not just people who look like me, but everyone can see this is an interesting topic. This is something that is worthy of study, that is worthy of preserving because these are all pieces in museum collections.
And so I certainly want to reach out to people who look like me and people who don't necessarily look like what's represented in the mainstream and draw their attention and let them know they were a part of history as much as anyone else. But I also want to normalize this fashion content and think about it: Black people have always been here. Women have always been here. People of color have always been here. So let's tell those stories so that we know that this was normal. It was normal then. And it's normal now and it needs to be even more inclusive now.
Now for a person who is interested in your career field, what type of practical advice would you give them?
I think that if you wanted to move into the museum field, I think it's important to engage in higher education that helps set you up for that. I went to graduate school. I don't think that's necessary, but if you're approaching your undergraduate education, it might be great to think about what pipelines, what professors are doing, what you want to be doing in the future, and tapping into those networks as early as you can. You can intern at museums. I think museum work is sometimes... It's definitely not as exciting as sometimes it makes it seem on TV or something. So get an internship, and figure it out. You might think you want to be a curator, but maybe you want to be a conservator or maybe you want to be a registrar. So like spend some time in those spaces and see what other jobs are adjacent to what you think you might want to do. So you can get an idea of how you want your future to pan out. How you want your day-to-day to look like.
So at FIT, we work with students, we field questions from the public. Reach out to people, ask questions. I don't know of anyone in my field who would just ignore an email about someone interested. We want to help each other. We want to build networks. So yeah. Be curious and ask questions. Never be afraid to ask questions.
Now with your role, what has been the best career advice that you have received?
I was thinking about this when I was reading the questions and I've had a lot of career advice from people I've worked with, from our fabulous director, Dr. Valerie Steele. She always tells us an exhibition is not an essay on the wall. You have to tell a clear story. It has to be about the objects and you can't overwhelm your viewer. And that could be so frustrating because there are so many interesting bits and pieces that we want to convey, but you really have to pick and choose. Because I think we've all been to exhibitions where we're like, "Oh, this is so much information. I can't take it in anymore."
So I try really hard. I think that's probably the best piece of advice. I try really hard to tell a clear and direct story that isn't too overwhelming so that people do digest it and are able to walk away with... Even if it's just a couple of little tidbits, I think that not overwhelming the audience is good.
How have you been able to overcome the fear of failure or even comparison in your role?
In a certain way, studying... My specialty is the intersection of African American culture and fashion, and I especially love the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. And when I was coming through grad school, there weren't a lot of other people studying that. And so I was really able to distinguish myself because there were so few people working on this topic. I think that's less true now. So I think that's great. But I do think it's important if you want to contribute to scholarship or if you want to be a curator, it's great to find what is missing.
Fashion scholarship is a very new field compared to say literature or even history and there's so many unexplored topics. So instead of maybe writing another paper about Chanel or about Christian Dior, maybe find something that hasn't been covered. And then I think that you get so excited and there's so much information out there. We definitely have not reached a level of saturation. So I was able to sidestep that competition naturally just because of what I happened to choose. But I do think it's smart to think about how you want to position yourself so that you're not necessarily covering something that is already being
really well covered by a lot of scholars.
If you had a dream exhibition where you're the head curator, what would the subject be and where would your dream location be?
The topic I'd love to explore is I want to do more about early Black dressmakers. I've done some work on it in the past. I've written about it, but actually finding those pieces of material culture and putting them in a room together and saying look at what Black women in America have been making for hundreds of years, I think that would be an exhibition that I would love to have.
Again, there are so many people, especially like me, who are of the same frame of mind and think that fashion is art. And it's just marvelous to be able to read your work and understand that these women have been able to tell their stories through these garments. And it's just been a wonderful, visual story to be able to see from their work. So I just thank you so much. I really do appreciate this. And I was able to look at your symposium at FIT. It was fabulous. One thing that you mentioned was there was a point where you said how most people recognized that Ann Lowe, if she would've been in Paris, would've been recognized as another Gabrielle Chanel. And that really sat with me. I had to sit with that for a few minutes because of just the work that has gone un-recognized for so long when she should have been up there with the giants in the fashion world. But I just want to thank you personally for taking the time to do this and for all the hours of research that have come with this. So I just hope that this exhibition is huge. So thank you for this. Thank you very much.
Thank you so much. Really, it was so lovely speaking with you and sharing this with you. And I hope that when we open, you can come down to Delaware. Definitely let me know. And hopefully, I can take you through the exhibition in person.ANN LOWE: AMERICAN COUTURIER OPENS SEPTEMBER 2023 AT THE WINTERTHUR MUSEUM IN DELAWARE. CREDITS Curator: Elizabeth Way Photographer: Mark Nardone Museum: Winterthur Museum
So You're Engaged. Now what? Top Tips from Top Wedding PlannersTEXT BY LINDA WALLENTINE
Getting engaged is an exciting and blissful time to celebrate! You’re happy, in love, and eager to officially begin forever with your partner. However, as the glow of your “I said yes!” moment wanes, you realize you have no idea what to do next.
The truth is, a wedding entails a lot of planning. Even the most simple nuptials take time to coordinate (and yes, flying to vegas included!). With everything from choosing a venue, to picking the perfect flowers, hiring a caterer, and seeking out the best entertainment, a great wedding experience considers every detail.
Luckily for us, we have a group of talented Muna Coterie vendors at the ready to help guide you through your wedding planning journey. I reached out to Krista Hines of Elegant Occassions, Martine Dardignac of Wedding MD, Linda and Christina of L. Fred Events, Ashley Merisier of A. Merisier Event Coordination & Design, and Kerline Docteur of Joie De Vie Weddings & Events for their tips and and advice for planning your dream wedding.
From saying yes to walking down the aisle and all the steps in between, these wedding experts will have your back!
Working in the wedding industry for over 10 years, Ashley Merisier is an accomplished Event Planner and Designer extraordinaire. Based in New York, her team strives to provide a full-service customizable wedding experience. This includes everything from event design conception and execution, vendor sourcing, budget development, and other key elements. They can also jump in later in the planning process to assist couples who have already completed the majority of their planning and are just seeking extra professional support to bring all the final details together.
Why should couples hire a wedding planner? Explain what you do for your clients. The traditional weddings our parents had are no more. The needs of weddings today far exceed that of weddings decades ago. The average person does not have the time needed to dedicate to producing a successful detail-oriented event. Wedding Planners are a must in today's market. As a full-service planner and designer, we are seeing a rise in couples booking us and walking into their weddings just like their guests. We facilitate all vendor communication and contract negotiation, handle all the logistics and help our couples create their version of wedding perfection. We are often therapists, family mediators, landscapers, and architects too - whatever needs to get done for your wedding - we do!
For luxury weddings, what's the range/budget for hiring a wedding planner. In the luxury wedding market, 20% of the wedding budget is standard pay, so for a $250k wedding budget, your Planner should make no less than $50,000.
What are the steps/phases of planning a wedding? How should couples prioritize these steps? Get engaged, then hire the Planner you trust most with your special day. You want a Planner that you wholeheartedly feel will guide you through every step of the way. Once you've signed vendor contracts without us, there is very little to no negotiation we can do on your behalf. It's also in your benefit to utilize all of the services we offer vs hiring us after you've done some of the work with zero guidance and potentially not doing it right.
How should couples pick a theme and color story for their wedding?
The season of your wedding date is important - be mindful of this when choosing your colors. Also if you see consistent color schemes on Pinterest or IG - stay away from it because it's been overdone. There is beauty in originality, so go for it!.
Tips for choosing a venue? Choose the venue that has everything you want aesthetically vs a cheaper venue and having to make it into a nicer space. 9 times out of 10 you will spend a lot more money trying to make one space look like another one. Save your stress and book the venue you fell in love with the first time.
Which vendors are the most important ones to consider? All of them - think of your wedding as a puzzle... if you hire an editorial
photographer but a cheap makeup artist, you are not giving your photographer what they need to produce beautiful content. The same goes for all of your vendors, every piece of your wedding puzzle is just as important as the last one. Be intentional with your vendor selection and trust your Planner. We refer vendors based on our experiences with them - if someone has already vetted and done the hard work for you, trust them!
What is your favorite part about being a wedding planner and what inspires you when bringing a couple’s vision to life? I love my couples! They are beautiful people who trust in me to produce the best night of their lives. For me, there is not a greater honor and I do not take it lightly. Couples come to us because they do not know where to start, or how to start, and want to ensure every decision they make is money well spent. I am inspired by my couples' love stories, and the energy + excitement they give me during our wedding planning meetings, we laugh and cry together and I do my best to help them as much as I can. When they walk into their wedding day, my end goal is an exceptional experience from start to finish for them and their family and friends.
Joie De Vie means “Joy of life,” and Kerline Docteur and her Joie De Vie Weddings & Events team aim to sincerely “celebrate the richness of your culture, authentically honor your spiritual traditions, and embrace you as an individual.” Paying attention to these key details enables her company to create an unforgettable planning experience that is both joyful and seamless. With over 15 years of experience, she will take care of you and your loved ones and honor your unique wedding vision.
Why should couples hire a wedding planner? Explain what you do for your clients. Planning a wedding is fun, on schedule, and in budget when you are working with us. From your first meeting, your investment for your amazing day is realistically determined. Depending on where you are in your planning process our goal is to get you up to speed and to allow you to still live life because the foundation is still being set for your marriage.
What are the steps/phases of planning a wedding? How should couples prioritize these steps? Depending on where they are in the planning process, we tailor to your needs. Are you planning a multi-day event? Do we have to be aware of the cultural elements between you and your fiancé? Is your wedding local versus a destination event? All of those are going to help us understand what the next steps or phases will be in the planning process. We want your guests to walk away feeling that both you and your fiancé were represented in every little detail!
Which vendors are the most important ones to consider? All vendors matter and play an integral part in the process. Based on where you are in the planning process, we will prioritize the must-take-now steps.
What is your favorite part about being a wedding planner and what inspires you when bringing a couple’s vision to life? We provide a complete experience for our clients. We don't show up, we work with them along the way to ensure all details they envision are brought to life to create an experience for them as well as their loved ones in attendance.
We realize this is an intimate moment that has contractual and financial commitments, but it should be fun not rigid.
Any other tips & advice for couples you would like to include.
1. Keep your "why?" as your central focus in planning your wedding. Why are you engaged in the first place? Your love is the foundation for everything. Go back to that as you plan and if you hit a road bump.
2. Start gathering your guest list early. Address, phone number, and emails, too!
3. Remember if you are inviting folks to your wedding shower or any pre-wedding events, they are also getting invited to the wedding. It is in POOR TASTE to not do so.
4. Do not overthink this process. Skip the white noise. Social media shows unique elements others had, but you don't have to copy every single one of them; it is no longer uniquely yours when you do that.
5. Add tips/gratuities to your budget. You don't want to be surprised by this at the end of the process.
6. Start thinking of what you will want to provide as food and beverage for the wedding party for the getting ready times.
Check to see the rules for marriage licenses in your area. Many Clerk of the Courts will allow you to set an appointment.
Why should couples hire a wedding planner? Explain what you do for your clients. Hiring a Wedding Planner is such a necessity! For the same reasons, we seek out the assistance of other professionals i.e. Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers, Electricians, etc. Wedding Planners are the subject matter experts that help orchestrate the vision for your wedding from beginning to end!
What is the range/budget for hiring a wedding planner? It truly varies and depends on what services you require and how that particular Wedding Planner charges. Some planners charge a flat rate or a percentage of the client’s wedding. However, I would expect to pay anywhere from $2000 - $6000 for a seasoned Wedding planner.
What are the steps/phases of planning a wedding? How should couples prioritize these steps? We often advise my wedding couples to keep a strategic wedding calendar, create to-do lists, and make a list of must-haves for the wedding. There’s lots to do... venue scouting, vendor shopping, starting a guest list, but before we can deep dive into the planning stages we have to establish a realistic Budget! That's the one word no one wants to hear but it’s absolutely necessary. Once we have a real budget in place, then we can start to select our venue, vendors and incorporate all our detailing into the big day accordingly!
How should couples pick a theme and color story for their wedding? We usually encourage our Brides to create mood boards and share them with us. We like to go over their selected images as a way to understand their vision. Personally, I find these conversations crucial because it helps me to understand their style and preferences.
I look at the color palettes selected, the choice of flowers, whether they prefer silver or gold tones, etc. From there, we compile all of this to create our personalized L. Fred Events proposal which encompasses much of their vision to create a finished theme and using the decor to tell a story on their wedding day.
Tips for choosing a venue? One word: Accommodating! Yes, I know our couples want the location to have these top three things: great food, beautiful design, and spacious landscaping! I greatly desire those in a venue as well, but also one of the greatest attributes to your wedding day is: How accommodating are they to you? There are measures that can affect the flow of your wedding day, so I always ask the venue questions such as, “How early will they allow vendors to deliver or start setting up?”, “Will there be another wedding right before ours?” “Do they place restrictions on what vendors we use?”. I also observe closely how well they interact or treat my client at an initial visit. So again, I love beautiful venues but from a Wedding Planner's perspective, it’s also an added bonus when I see the venue is accommodating and they treat our clients like royalty on the day of. All this truly contributes to the vision of the wedding day!
Which vendors are the most important ones to consider? Hands down: Florist, Photographer & Videographer, and DJ! It’s got to have Floral Beauty, all the Moments Captured, and you have to Party the Night Away!
What is your favorite part about being a wedding planner and what inspires you when bringing a couple’s vision to life? We tell our clients “Your wedding is our wedding!!” I take pride in executing their vision and going beyond. I do love this new tradition of giving the couple a ‘Room Reveal’. We love seeing the glow on our clients' faces as they take the first glance of their room and see how all the details finally came to life. It makes all the hard work and months of creating and planning so fulfilling that it inspires us every time!
Any other tips & advice for couples you would like to include. Take a deep breath.... it all comes together beautifully! Just remember to take the time to enjoy each other during the planning phases and savo r every minute of the wedding day! (Besides, if you have a Wedding Planner... you’re covered!).
LINDA FREDERIQUE & CHRISTINA LOCHARD
Linda Frederique is the ultimate boss lady. Based in Long Island and New York City, this Brooklyn-born and raised Event Coordinator and CEO is also well established in nursing, is a loving wife, and is raising two beautiful daughters. Of all her passions, her love for Event Planning and Design takes the cake and in partnership with Christina Lochard, a fabulous Event Coordinator, they aspire “to deliver elegance, beauty, and perfection to their clients.”
The award-winning Wedding Planner, Martine Dardignac of Wedding M.D., is dedicated to diagnosing couples’ wedding day needs and helping make their dreams a reality. Offering wedding planning in Westchester, the Hudson Valley, New York City, New Jersey, and Connecticut, Martine and her team of talented vendors will ensure a stress-free and fun wedding experience!
Why should couples hire you? Hiring me means saving time and energy, getting expert advice, and knowing that there is someone who is here entirely for you. I’m well-versed in problem-solving and come equipped with a team to help you enjoy the planning process and your wedding day. Working with me sets you up for more fun (all while staying in-budget and on-task).
What should couples expect to spend? This always depends on where you are and the exact services you need, but in the tri-state area, expect to spend between $2,500-$7,000.
What are things to think about while planning your wedding? Before anything else, couples need to get clear on their priorities for the wedding. What is most important about the day for the two of them? What do they want it to look like? Feel like? How would they like the day to be remembered? I have a guide that I send my clients even before they get started.
What are you top tips for picking a theme & color story? Don’t overthink it. While every wedding is unique, there’s no requirement to set out to create the next latest, greatest trend. As long as it is about the two of you (what you like together), then it will be great. In other words, pick your favorites!
How should one go about choosing a venue? Have the basic information you need to narrow your search: total budget, guest count, date or season, and general geographic location. Then, you can choose a style or aesthetic (for example, classic ballroom or rustic barnyard). Finally, decide what needs to be
included in your venue (for example, does the venue need to include food and beverage, or can you find an outside caterer).
How should you prioritize hiring vendors? A planner can help you prioritize your vendor selection by what is most important to you so they should be your first stop. They can also give couples insight into pros and cons of different vendors. As for the other vendors: it’s different for every couple. Some vendors (planners, photographers, and entertainment) can typically only book one event per day. Others (beauty team, florist/floral designer, stationer) may be able to handle more than one. If you like a vendor, or the category is important to you, book them as soon as you can!
What’s your favorite part about wedding planning & what inspires you? I really love to help people enjoy the day, so for me, seeing my couples be able to relax, have fun and fully enjoy the moment is my favorite part of being a planner.
Any extra tips & advice. Trust your planner and vendor teams. We are there to support your big day and we’ve got you covered.
Why should couples hire you? Couples should hire a wedding planner to help reduce the stress of it all and to help with their overall budget.
What's a general budget to expect when working with you? A wedding planner can run you from 2k to 5k.
What things should couples prioritize? Before jumping into getting a venue hire a wedding planner to help you make a wise informed decision based on your budget.
What are your top tips for picking a theme/color?
When picking a theme or color think about what the two of you like or [your] hobbies.
What's your best advice for choosing a venue. When choosing a venue think about the number of people, theme, parking, and overall expression you wish to express.
What are the most important vendors to consider? Your wedding designer and your photographer should be the most important vendors who you should carefully consider.
What’s your favorite part of being a wedding planner? My favorite part of being a wedding planner is after everything is over the couple ends up being a good friend or family. And I am not easy to love. Lol
Is there anything additional couples should know?
For all couples, learn to enjoy the moment, and stop stressing – leave that for the professionals.
Located in Norfolk Virgina, Krista Hines will go the extra mile to make your dreams come true. Making people smile (along with planning luxurious events of course!) is her passion. According to Krista and her talented team, “even the most mundane event can be an Elegant Occasion.”ELEGANT OCCASIONS BY KRISTA WWW.ELEGANTOCCASIONSBYKRISTA.COM
WALKERS BY FAITH
When Nigel Walker, proposed to Aisha Hinds in November of 2020, the world was at standstill due to the pandemic. There was still much uncertainty around weddings and celebrations forcing many couples to postpone their weddings until 2021, while others eloped at the courthouse or married virtually. 2021 was still an uncertain year resulting in more postponements and leading to a major boom in weddings for 2022. We knew that there would be a record number of weddings this year...what we didn’t know was that destination weddings in particular would surge once the mandates were lifted.
It makes sense though. After being cramped up and restricted for the past two years, there is a natural craving to explore new destinations.
While thinking about what their wedding could be like, Aisha and Nigel quickly made a list of must-haves. And at the top of the list was to take their guests on an experiential journey to a place they hold dear — Grenada.
The result was a wedding unlike any we’ve seen. With Diann Valentine commanding the ship, their 170 guests experienced a perfectly crafted masterclass in destination weddings that lasted five days and tugged at every sense, leaving their guests with beloved memories they’ll carry for a lifetime.
In our interview with Aisha and Nigel, learn more about their love story, and the incredible wedding experience they created for their loved ones.
AN ODE TO GRENADA
Aisha thought of a creative way to include her best and longtime friends in her wedding experience. Rather than just have them participate as bridemaids as is typical for most weddings, Aisha went outside of the mold, and organized curated and well-styled photoshoots for her bridal party. For the first photoshoot of the Walker wedding experience, Aisha's bridal party posed for a coconut bustier inspired shoot called "An Ode to Grenada." The bustiers were custom designed by her cousin, Robin Kim Hood, and made using coconuts, nutmeg, and cinnamon. In the second photoshoot, styled by 9-1-1 costume designer Alayna Bellprice, Aisha had each of her girls wear bridal dresses from minority owned designers or bridal salons. "I wanted my tribe to all vibrate as brides for a day, and be valued as such. While many were concerned it would dim my light, I maintained that my light shines brighter when the lights of those around me are fully beaming." recalls Aisha.
WITH AISHA HINDS AND NIGEL WALKER BY JACKIE NWOBU
Let’s start with you. What was little Aisha like? Were you always into the arts?
I was curious, imaginative, and laughed with the fullness of my formative frame. I loved to dance, and dreamed of telling stories with my limbs instead of language. I carried the duality of a shy quiet child inside the vessel of a vociferous young girl. The arts provided a safe space for both sides of me, as well as a lab to discover the many other layers that lived within. I began my exploration with ballet, modern, and tap dance, until one day when my tap instructor let me know I talked too much during rehearsal and needed an outlet that was bigger than my tap shoes. Pointing me in the direction of LaGuardia H.S. of Performing Arts in New York City, I began formally training and trusting my voice to tell stories as an actor.
Were you born in Grenada?
I was born in Brooklyn, NY to Grenadian parents, Mark and Grace, who grew up very close to each other on the island, but met (at a wedding) and married later in New York.
What are your memories of your childhood in Grenada?
I visited Grenada often as a child, accompanying my father, who was a steel pan artist and enthusiast, every summer for carnival and summer vacation. I grew up being serenaded by the soca soundtrack of the Spice Isle day and night, savoring the sweet flavors of fresh fruits and vegetation that littered the land, and basking on beautiful beaches like Grand Anse, Paradise, and more.
In what ways was Grenadian culture present during your upbringing?
In most Caribbean households, the Saturday morning ritual consisted of cleaning the house while calypso music reverberated from the radio at full volume. These songs live in my soul and stir me to dance whenever played. Cleaning was followed by a trip to the supermarket to shop for fresh ingredients to season the food overnight, in preparation for a communal Sunday dinner. Family time was sacred and intentional-a form of survival for immigrant families in a foreign land. My respect and reverence for elders was anchored in the love I exchanged with the matriarch of my family, affectionately known as Granny. Scriptures were sewn into the centerfold of my soul as both maternal and paternal grandmothers marinated my mind many days with Bible verses and choir songs.
Can you tell us a bit about your family dynamic growing up in Brooklyn?
I grew up in a pre-gentrified Brooklyn, with my certified accountant and college professor father, my corporate travel agent mother, and my older brother. We lived in various apartments throughout East Flatbush, which was well known as a melting pot of Caribbean cultures. Walking down the street often offered a soundtrack of dialects that spanned the diaspora.
How did those experiences shape you?
I developed a palpable love for people with varying backgrounds and cultural traditions. I often practiced the accents of others, and explored their cuisines, curious about the stories that made individuals who they are. I also witnessed strong familial bonds when I visited friends’ homes where extended family shared small living quarters in order to work, build wealth, and venture off on their own. This dynamic was also present in Nigel’s upbringing, as he too was raised in Flatbush by Jamaican born parents, Shirley and Barrington Walker, who were entrepreneurs and a community staple. Their home was one that provided refuge for family traveling to and through the states in pursuit of opportunities. Bearing witness to these moments gave us a strong sense of service to and celebration of our collective cultural identity.
From high school to your first feature film roles to now, can you tell us about the journey from your teenage days to where you are now in your career?
As a teenager, with two working parents, I had time to be outside until the sun would make its descent and the street lights came on. I entertained myself with copious hours of people watching. I also developed a defense mechanism against people teasing me by making fun of myself through skits before anyone else could. Unbeknownst to me I was honing a skillset that would later become my career. One day I watched Whoopi Goldberg’s One-Woman Show, and marveled at her command of the characters she’d created from the worlds she inhabited. I felt ignited and invited into a realm where reality was allowed to shape shift through creative story telling. Soon after, I found myself auditioning for the top performing arts school in the city, with a monologue I was reciting from my head-my own “one-woman show,” and was accepted. I had no idea that my childhood observations would guide me to my occupation. I was in the same class in high school as my good friend Sarah Paulson, who would amass tremendous success, and later help me to navigate the highways and byways of Hollywood. I had been working a survival job in an office on Wall Street in 2001. I was late for work on the morning of 9/11. I watched from my Park Slope apartment that I shared with two other roommates, as the towers fell to the ground and lives were tragically lost. My apartment became a safe stop for those who walked across the bridge from Manhattan. That day shifted the trajectory and perspective on life for me and many others. Witnessing the fragility of life in that moment, I decided to go in pursuit of what I believed I was purposed to do in life. Grateful to have survived my survival job, I moved to LA the following year to give myself an opportunity to LIVE, and not solely survive. I booked my first film, Assault on Precinct 13, within a year of my arrival and haven’t stopped since. I credit my keen sense of self, my willingness to honor and accentuate my individuality, my hunger for growth and desire to be a perpetual student of life and the lives of others for the opportunities I’ve had to work on myriad projects over the years. I’m currently in the sixth season of Fox’s 9-1-1 playing Henrietta Wilson, a queer black female paramedic firefighter, married to her wife Karen, played by Tracie Thoms.
"These are the women in my prayer circle, my group chat, my emergency contacts, my FaceTime call log, and whose birthdays I remember without Facebook reminders. These are the women who not only helped me get ready on the day I’d become a wife, but for the day I’d become a wife. When I was content as a cookie to not get married, they supported me, traveled the world with me, coined me as a Godmother to their children, and sought my home as a refuge when they needed a time out from their own marriages. Their love provided a playbook and set the standard for the kind of love I would ultimately require from a husband. In such, I wanted to honor the patient, kind, long-suffering love of my tribe by curating a collection of images that captured their connection." - Aisha
Of all the roles you’ve played, which one resonated with you the most, or influenced you the most? Why?
Every role has been a teacher and a conduit for the next. Every role has asked something of me that has been returned tenfold in some form or fashion. Some of the roles I am most recognized for are most recently Harriet Tubman in the series Underground, Miss Jeanette in True Blood, Isabelle in Hawthorne, and a guest appearance on Law & Order:SVU playing Harold Franklin, to name a few. I consider each role as a unique opportunity to be a vessel and a voice, a chance to use the reach of my platform to introduce the journey of a character to a larger audience and plant an awareness where the roots of ignorance reside.
What’s new or upcoming that you can let our audience know about?
I’m currently working on developing a few stories I’ve been inspired to tell, and looking forward to the new season of 9-1-1 airing September 19. I also shot a romantic comedy for Netflix, alongside Gabrielle Union and Lala Anthony, directed by Numa Perrier due for release soon. It’s called The Perfect Find, based on the book written by Tia Williams.
Love & Wedding Planning
You chose to keep your relationship details private up until you were proposed to. What was the reason for that? Was it difficult to do?
Our relationship details weren’t particularly private, but they weren’t intentionally public—meaning we weren’t driven to post on social platforms for mass public consumption. Our tribes of family and
friends were aware and actively involved in our journey. However, there were also many moments we preserved solely for ourselves. We wanted to be present in the relationship as fully as possible instead of fueling any need to present our relationship to the masses. We chose fortifying our foundation instead of foreshadowing our impending future. When we began dating, we were both in very different places in our evolution than we’d ever been, and it was clear we weren’t dating recreationally. While there wasn’t a timestamp on marriage, we approached the relationship with an intensity and intentionality that would inevitably lead us in that direction, at its appointed time. Simply put, that season was sacred, and one we wanted to revel in before revealing.
How did you and Nigel meet?
I met Nigel, as the cousin of my best friend Jalene, in 1992, but I met the version of him that could become my husband in 2019, and subsequently married him in 2022. Our initial meeting took place as teenagers. While walking with Jalene down Church Avenue in Brooklyn, we passed Nigel standing in front of his mom’s salon. As they approached, he exclaimed to Jalene (while looking at me) “Oh you brought me my wife!”
We made a connection that day and exchanged phone numbers, but it would be decades later before that testament became truth.
I love that Nigel proposed to you on your birthday, November 13th! Did you have any idea? Take me down memory lane. I want to know all the details about how the day unfolded :).
I had NOOOOOO idea he was going to propose to me on my birthday. I imagined we’d have the prerequisite conversations about
ring sizes and preferences, and proposal options, or that I would have been able to pick up some shifts in his behavior and temperament once that time came around to taking the relationship to a different depth. Nothing. He gave me no clues. His stride remained the same. His call patterns were the same. His work schedule, gym schedule, everything same. I had eyes or ears on him most hours of the day, and saw no openings to have done such a comprehensive job of researching rings, visiting jewelers, having conversations with my friends (who I thought were incapable of keeping THAT secret), and planning a whole ambush in the middle of a whole pandemic. Not to mention I was in production of season 4 of 9-1-1 and my schedule was always subject to change, so he was really swimming against a very uncertain current, which goes against his extremely structured lifestyle. How this slipped by me remains a mystery. I was so entrenched in the joy of being in a healthy relationship that my energy and focus was just showing up each day and being present, not preparing to be proposed to. We had been in couples therapy since we started dating, and loved all the blind spots that were being revealed, the communication tools gathered, the healing from individual and collective trauma that was happening, and the community it opened us up to, where others were unlearning the playbook of romanticized ideas about relationships that was counterproductive to the reality of relationships. We fell in love as if we’d just met, and a teenage love ensued. Nigel was able to pull this off because he used my birthday as a smokescreen for planning an elaborate celebration for me. We were set up for a staycation at the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills. When I graduated from college, I worked at the Waldorf in New York City and always looked forward to the day when I could be a guest. Nigel knew the significance of this connection as the hotel was chosen for my birthday. It helped
that the hotel was also minutes away from the studio where I worked, shooting 9–1-1. As my birthday drew closer, I became nervous about him traveling during the pandemic and asked him to cancel. He was adamant about celebrating life, especially during this time, because the fragility of life was so prevalent and palpable. Once I learned I had a few days off around my birthday, I decided to get on board with the celebration and asked him if I could invite my friends to join us. Meanwhile, he had already been in communication with a few of those secret keepers and they were planning to be there. When I asked them though, they gave seemingly viable reasons for why they weren’t going to be able to come, and while disappointed, I believed them. As expected with production, the day of my birthday arrives, and the schedule changes. I was now slated to work, all day. I felt terrible because I knew Nigel took the earliest flight from NY to have the whole day to spend with me, and now he’d been sitting in a hotel waiting alone. I texted him during lunch to tell him I’d come see him since I was down the street at the studio. I arrived at the hotel and he’s standing outside waiting for me. I admit to being confused that he was downstairs, but pleasantly delighted to see him. He helped me with my staycation bags and we walked into the lobby. I had asked him to request a microwave for the room to warm my lunch, but didn’t see it upon entering the room. He said he forgot then picked up the phone and requested it. The door knocks seconds later. He mumbles the words, “oh that came fast.” I opened the door to my friends yelling, “SURPRISE!” I was absolutely surprised, and started to cry. Still though, no clue! The story they gave me was that there was a video circulating with a man who gifted his girlfriend her friends for her birthday, since everyone had been on lockdown so long. I ate the story up, thinking Nigel had included my friends all along in the birthday plans, and this was my gift. Later
"My light shinesbrighter whenthe lights of thosearound me are fully beaming." Aisha
A TASTE OF GRENADA
"The welcome ceremony on Wednesday evening was outfitted with loads of Grenadian vendors lining the grounds of SILVERSANDS to offer guests a taste of what the island offers - from plant based meals curated by Chef Joachim to beauty, cosmetic and personal care items from Omi Grenada, and so much more." - Aisha
it was revealed that the reason he was outside when I pulled up was to divert my attention from the fact that my friends had jumped behind the check-in counters and the lobby furniture attempting to hide because I unexpectedly pulled up while they were checking in. I trusted what was told to me, however, then cheerfully ate my lunch and returned to the studio to complete my work for the day. Excited to wrap and have an easy evening on the hotel couch with my loves, I rushed back to the Waldorf that evening to find Nigel calmly sitting on the couch alone watching ESPN. He asked me if I wanted to go to dinner still or if I wanted to change, as if it were actually an option and it wasn’t a big deal. Since I didn’t want to keep him waiting any longer I opted not to change as I sat in the closet pondering outfits. My phone then rang and it was Sharon Downer, my Godmother, calling to extend birthday wishes. I ended up spending 45 minutes on that call, clearly not knowing this was the night he would propose. He didn’t flinch or rush me once. Cool as a cucumber, he waited patiently on the couch. Once finally ready to depart, I asked for my friends and he said they were having a drink on the rooftop while
waiting for us. That was the only cog in the wheel because those friends weren’t my ‘get a drink on the rooftop while waiting’ friends. Those were my ‘I’ll be laying down in my room until it’s time to go’ friends. Nevertheless, I still didn’t suspect a thing. We travelled up to the rooftop of the Waldorf Astoria, overlooking the city, and as I began walking towards the bar I see members of Nigel’s family, his best friends, and friends we share. I drop to the floor with a loud audible elongated “Nooooooo way!” My thought was he really went all out to throw me an actual birthday party, not he’s proposing tonight. If the thought entered my mind, it quickly exited because there’s NO WAY he pulled this off on his own with this level of calm all day, and without even one of my friends unraveling with excitement to give me even a little clue. As I got up from being bent over with shock, and greeted each person in attendance, Nigel made his way to my side and began a formal welcome to everyone and a toast to me. I stood stunned as I looked out as his sister nestled amongst the intimate group of people that were present for this moment. Still reeling from all the fuss made for my birthday, I turned to see
"The experience, from ideation to actualization was abeautiful walk by faith, with some ideas being largerthan life and some being so simple yet improbable, thenwatching God pull it all off, and then some." - Aisha
WALKERS ON WATER
Nigel tearing up as he spoke. Within minutes, the tone shifted, and the words moved in slow motion from his mouth to my ears….Nigel got on his knee and popped the question, “..Will you marry me?” My shock almost sent me over the railing, but I lowered myself to meet him at knee level and kissed my response into his lips. “Yes!” A truly HAPPY birthday was had that night!
Nigel, at what point did you know you wanted Aisha to be your wife?
I knew I wanted Aisha to be my wife after our trip to Grenada in 2020
We had a breakthrough conversation that represented a growth in our lives as individuals and gave me the confidence that we could be great as an unit.
How did you go about selecting the ring and planning the proposal? How did you pull off the surprise?
The answer to the ring question is two fold. I asked her best friends for what type of stone she would like and size. The second part of the process was done through an extensive search through Google and a plethora of videos on You Tube.
The surprise was inspired by my love for Greek Mythology. It was
inspired by the Trojan Horse so if you are familiar with the story the premise was to calmly tell her that I was going to visit her in LA for her birthday, but not tell her that I invited some of my closest friends and hers for the surprise proposal. And they would all show up on the rooftop of the Waldorf Astoria. She thought it was just a surprise birthday party. In the heart of the pandemic for that matter. Low and behold it was my plan to propose to her on the day of her birthday. It was sooooo well executed, it completely blind sided her.
To be clear we got engaged on Nov. 13th (her actual birthday) and the pandemic was in full swing. We just were fed up and went rogue with planning the trip/surprise. To say that the planning was stressful was a complete understatement. Especially dealing with Aisha because she’s very hands on. But I got it done.
You got engaged during the pandemic. What was that like in terms of planning and outlook?
Getting engaged during the pandemic was initially perceived as a huge obstacle, because we lived in different cities, me in Los Angeles and Nigel in Brooklyn, NY. We had been nurturing and nourishing our long distance relationship by flying back and forth to see one another monthly. We were able to spend New Year’s Eve 2019 in
Grenada, and had a magical time crossing into the year 2020. We were looking forward to my upcoming work hiatus in March, where we’d get to travel to a few other places and spend a few months in New York together. Our final visit, however, was February 2020, and by March the world was shut down. Those following months birthed a depth of connection between us that would later confirm Nigel’s decision to propose as soon as possible. He worked as an essential at Mount Sinai Hospital, and spent more days than he ever imagined witnessing the guttural grief of individuals adversely affected by the pandemic. Time had become more precious than ever, and he didn’t want to waste any more time. We were charged with building and bolstering our intimacy through alternative and creative measures, while contending with the uncertainty of this life altering pandemic. Our communication during this time was essential and significantly deepened while we also built up our muscles of thoughtfulness, transparency, vulnerability, sacrifice, and intellectual and spiritual intimacy.
At what point did you decide to go through with wedding plans?
The decision to set the wedding date in 2022 was an effort to monitor the developments of the pandemic and the restrictions that were in place surrounding it. We wanted to ensure our family and friends had the option to attend and fellowship with us at this monumental moment in our life journey. As travel restrictions began to lift, we began moving towards putting plans together. Nigel suggested hosting the wedding in Grenada, hoping to gift his loved ones the kind of special experience he had during his first visit with me, and I swiftly accepted that suggestion and took off running. During the planning, I would soon discover how much it was a huge gift to me as well. There were pieces of my childhood that I was able to reclaim by returning to the island to marry the love of my life there.
In terms of your wedding plans, what were your nonnegotiables?
It was extremely important that the wedding be a reflection of and a celebration of us, our journey, our culture, and our faith walk. We talked about ripping up the rule book for wedding etiquette, and curating an experience that expressed our love for one another, and all those who helped us get to this point in our lives, individually and collectively. Nigel is a bit more of a traditionalist, so we combed through each element of the wedding planning to decide what traditions resonated with us authentically and would be important to uphold. Nigel also worked as a Master of Ceremonies for countless weddings, and shared his observations of what moments took more time than others, and what moments were quite frankly a waste of time. We wanted to use our time to savor the sacredness of the journey, celebrate our roots and cultures, and honor our tribes. The menu was a reflection of that desire, as we requested many local dishes, including the national dish of the island of Grenada, Oil Down (considered to be not fancy enough in appearance for weddings), to be served as an entrée for our wedding guests.
Additionally, once the venue, Silversands Hotel, was selected, the ceremony was envisioned to take place on top of their 300 foot pool, noted as the longest pool in the Caribbean, and all energies were exhausted to execute that vision, as it tied in with great significance to the theme for the wedding - Walkers on Water, with the acronym W.O.W. Grenada; A double entendre for the scriptural reference and the feeling the we wanted to create for every guest as they experienced the island and its beautiful people.
It needed to represent who we were as people. We wanted it to provide our guests with a well needed vacation (post pandemic) , provide an experience of visiting a new island Grenada and last but not least witness our journey of becoming one with our union. It was the perfect trifecta.
Why did you choose Grenada for your wedding?
Nigel ignited the idea, and I was elated. I had offered a few other options that I thought held significance for us, however when Nigel mentioned Grenada and his desire to bottle the feelings we shared while spending time there together and gift it to our loved ones, I was on board without hesitation. I had always wanted to share the smile Grenada puts on my heart with others, so this was a perfect occasion. We were also very cognizant of the devastating impact the pandemic had on the tourism industry in Grenada, and saw this as an opportunity to give back to a community that had warmly welcomed us and been a home away from home. We purposed to position our wedding, guests, vendors, and their voices to invite more wide spread attention to the island, hoping to incite intrigue, acknowledgement, and more travel to Grenada.
#WalkersByFaith. What is the significance of you and Nigel’s wedding hashtag?
An homage to the scriptural reference, “we walk by faith, not by sight” surrendering to the unknown, while walking in accordance to the plans and purpose of our lives.
Nigel’s last name is Walker, so naturally I would one day be assuming this last name as well upon marriage. As we began our journey towards marriage, prayer increased between us, as our collective faith walk required strengthening. Marriage was unknown terrain for us, as neither had been married before. We wanted to honor our journey as one that would be and is uniquely our own, and gird our gait with God as our guide. Wherever the road ahead leads, we have decidedly agreed to walk it out together, by faith. It was also meant to include anyone and everyone who would join us and/or support us on this journey, thus creating an army of people walking by faith.
Hence the hashtag: #WalkersByFaith
Your wedding is one of the most beautiful I’ve laid eyes on. It seemed totally in-line with you and your husband’s style and was very-non traditional in the most refreshing way. From the foot-washing ceremony at Grande Anse Beach to the coconut bustier photoshoot to the boat excursions with themed attire, it was the true epitome of a luxury travel experience! How was it like working with Diann Valentine?
We wanted to create a transformative experience for not only ourselves but for everyone who would travel to bear witness to our first sacred steps united as Walkers by Faith. We wanted to widen the portal of possibility by which love can travel, and bring as many
people as we can on the journey. We curated an experience aimed at transforming individuals and the industry itself. We expanded our sight beyond the standard rules of the game to make room for significance, specificity, and most importantly God’s Spirit to reign supreme.
DV stands for Diann Valentine and Divine Vessel. She was the chosen ONE to execute and elucidate the vision for the Walkers by Faith wedding week. Diann’s name came up on every list of suggestions we received for a wedding planner. Naturally, since Diann had amassed years of experience as an event producer, television host, entrepreneur and author of the book ‘Going the Distance for Love,’ we thought Diann was way out of our league. This resulted in Diann not being our first choice for our wedding. However, when the planner we decided upon was booked for our dates, my friend, Jenine, suggested we just call and have a conversation with Diann. The rest was history. Diann welcomed our inquiry with warmth, professionalism, and extensive knowledge. She settled our fears by assuring us she delights in working with diverse clientele, and if she was right for us, she’d happily and passionately come on board. Diann was also the first to already be familiar with Grenada and had knowledge about the advantages and obstacles of producing events on the island. A connection sparked as we remained in conversation with Diann, and it quickly became evident, she was our person, divinely assigned to usher us through this monumental moment in our lives. Diann made magic as she exhausted all the resources of the island and relationships in the States to produce an experience that would leave every guest, vendor, and service person wondering who Diann Valentine was throughout the process. It was a joy to work with her, and to watch her work. She had results ready before problems arose. She maintained a calm that flourished in the face of chaos. She executed every task with excellence and raised the standards of any space she occupied. She assembled a terrific team of titans in order to produce a transformative experience for everyone.
The AI Do Crew really came through! I particularly loved the prewedding photo shoots you did. How did you come up with that idea, and why? Why did you want your girls to wear white for the wedding?
The AI DO CREW came alllllllll the way through. The crew was comprised of friends and family who have been an integral part of my life spanning intros made at birth, grade school, middle school, high school and college. Some relationships were even traced to a pre-birth era, while others are filed under my ‘day before ones’ category. All in all, these are the women in my prayer circle, my group chat, my emergency contacts, my FaceTime call log, and whose birthdays I remember without Facebook reminders. These are the women who not only helped me get ready on the day I’d become a wife, but for the day I’d become a wife. When I was content as a cookie to not get married, they supported me, traveled the world with me, coined me as a Godmother to their children, and sought my home as a refuge when they needed a time out from their own marriages. All the while they were modeling a love for me that individually and collectively created a safe space for me to grow. Their love provided a playbook and set the standard for the kind of love I would ultimately require from a husband. In such, I wanted to honor the patient, kind, long-suffering love of my tribe by curating a collection of images that captured their connection. The themes were an ‘Ode to Grenada’ with the intent being to utilize natural elements and resources from the island to create a fashion moment, spearheaded by my cousin, Robin Kim Hood, who hand-made bustiers for each member of the tribe using coconuts, nutmeg, and cinnamon. There was a ‘bridal’ theme, spearheaded and styled by my friend and 9-1-1 costume designer, Alayna Bellprice, who gathered wedding dresses from minority owned or operated bridal houses and styled each person in a silhouette that celebrated their individuality. I wanted my tribe to all vibrate as brides for a day,
and be valued as such. While many were concerned it would dim my light, I maintained that my light shines brighter when the lights of those around me are fully beaming. This vision further extended to the wedding day where I inspired my married friends to wear or re-imagine their previously worn wedding dresses, since most brides never wear their dresses again. It provided a sentimental moment to see some of my sisters walk to the altar in their wedding dresses, preparing the way for me to follow in my own. Jenine Howard, a fellow Grenadian, my bestie and known fashionista, wore a Reem Acra dress from her 10th anniversary vow renewal ceremony. My passion for fashion is matched and many days made better by my husband Nigel whose family has long been steeped in fashion. Nigel’s brother is legendary designer Andre Walker, who was unable to attend the wedding because he had a deadline to complete his most recent collaboration with Kerby Jean Raymond. We enlisted Brooklyn designers with Grenadian and Jamaican roots respectively to create custom collections for our individual tribes. Fé Noel designed and hand delivered looks for the women centering Grenada’s nutmeg as the backdrop of the custom fabric her team created for the occasion, while Dreu Beckemberg built bespoke garments for the gentlemen to adorn on the wedding day. Our photographer, Stanley Babb and videographer, Olivier Barbe worked tirelessly and tenaciously in the telling of our love story by way of rhythmic, cinematic, and poetic imagery. Nigel and I swell with joy and adoration at the mention of Stanley or Olivier’s name. They and their teams became like part of the family, and the mutual love translated in all the videos and images that we released via our social channels during our wedding week.
I noticed through the imagery of your wedding ceremony, that there was hardly a dry eye as you walked down your ethereal aisle. Tell me about who walked you down the aisle and how you felt in that moment.
My father, Grenadian-born Steel Pan enthusiast, passed away in 2013, leaving me to decide who would hold my hand to escort me down the aisle and hand me over to be married to Nigel Solomon Walker. The decision was quite simple, as anyone who knows me knows I love my brother Zadek with my whole heart and vice versa. My father’s absence was certainly felt, but my brother’s presence filled the atmosphere and my heart to overflowing measure. I wanted nothing more than to have my brother walk me down the aisle, and he did everything possible to ensure he fulfilled that dream for his sister. As my mother, Grace, who was escorted in by her grandson, Zadek Jr. watched her two children ascend from the shores of Grand Anse and make their way towards the altar, she burst into inconsolable tears of joy. This moment was as much hers as it was mine. I cherish my mother’s wisdom, prayers, and helpful hand in molding me into the woman who would one day walk down the aisle towards becoming a wife. Many of the guests said it looked like Zadek and I were literally walking on water, as we glided across the custom flooring created and installed by the acclaimed Exhilarate Experiential team. I felt anchored and grounded by my brother’s hand and heart, as he gently led me up the aisle. Moments before we walked out, he just stood with me offering a smile filled with peace and tranquillity. As siblings go, it is also important to note that Nigel’s older sister, Sandra, who he calls a second mother, similarly escorted Nigel to the altar, where his mother, Rev. Shirley Walker, stood to receive him and serve as our chosen wedding officiant. As my longtime friend, Keisha Rattray sang the first verse of the worship medley I chose to walk in to, my father’s presence was ushered into the moment with the accompaniment of a steel pan orchestra directed by Grenada’s 2022 Panorama champion Andre Greenidge. Tears flowed freely for some, while others (namely Nigel) turned away in order to seal the floodgates of his feelings….well at least until the vows were exchanged.
Ceremony entrance songs: (Aisha) “Sanctuary/Alpha & Omega/Total Praise” - Sung by PBC Choir; Soloist: Kiesha Rattray - Directed by Jason McGee (Nigel) A mix of four songs: “Matrimony” - Wale feat. Usher, “So into you” - Fabulous feat.
Tamia, “Lots of Loving” - Pete Rock X C.L Smooth, “Happily Ever After” - Case
First dance song: "Even More” - performed live by MAJOR. “Still” - Mali Music
Number of guests: 170
Gifts to one another: Panarai watch for Nigel and a Dreu Beckemberg custom silk pocket square embossed with Nigel’s father’s image. Hermes journals for Aisha and a Montblanc Pen.
What aspects of Grenadian culture did you incorporate into your wedding?
I was elated at the opportunity to infuse as much of Grenada’s culture into our wedding festivities as possible. From the food, fashion, music, to dance, art, historical sites and Grenadian-made products, I worked emphatically with Petra Roach, and the Grenada Tourism Board, the Silversands executive staff, Pure Grenada, Halim Brizan and the Presentation Boys College Choir, Andre Greenidge, SOLID band, and a host of local vendors and artisans to invite the heart of Grenada to beat loudly as the soundtrack to the love story between Nigel and I, as well as every single guest that stepped off the plane onto the tarmac of the Maurice Bishop International Airport. We wanted to expose our guest to all the elements that helped feed and fortify our love. As self proclaimed foodies, Nigel and I wanted to ensure our guests enjoyed a good Roti and coupled that experience with an expansive rum tasting at Annandale Falls, during the Tour of Grenada sponsored by the GTA, on Thursday. The welcome ceremony on Wednesday evening was outfitted with loads of Grenadian vendors lining the grounds of SILVERSANDS to offer guest a taste of what the island offers-from plant based meals curated by Chef Joachim to beauty, cosmetic and personal care items from Omi Grenada, and so much more. Live music and dancing was a constant, as traditional Grenadian dancers and drummers ushered in the wedding party to greet the guests during the welcome as well. The following nights were scored by SOLID band, and the vibes were so vibrant and hot, the band had guests jumping up in the pool, fully clothed. Guests were given a tour of the historic Fort Frederick, fed fresh made tania log porridge on site by Kreative Chef A. Johnson, and given an in depth education of Grenada’s agricultural footprint in the world while visiting De La Grenade Industries. Guests also joined us for a sunrise walk along Grand Anse beach Friday morning, bearing witness to the elders who gather every morning to bathe their aches and ailments away in the sea water. Everyone then returned to the property for a full buffet of saltfish sous, fishcakes, and a choice of fried or coconut bakes—a classic Grenadian breakfast. By the wedding day, Saturday May 21, 2022, guests were beaming with happiness from the outstanding homegrown hospitality provided on the island. Many began looking for their next available dates to book a return trip. The ceremony day began with breakfast, and folks venturing off property to
Aisha Hinds on what it what like to work with Diann Valentine:
“DV stands for Diann Valentine and Divine Vessel. She was the chosen ONE to execute and elucidate the vision for the Walkers by Faith wedding week. Diann’s name came up on every list of suggestions we received for a wedding planner. Naturally, since Diann had amassed years of experience as an event producer, television host, entrepreneur and author of the book ‘Going the Distance for Love,’ we thought Diann was way out of our league. This resulted in Diann not being our first choice for our wedding. However, when the planner we decided upon was booked for their dates, my friend, Jenine, suggested we just call and have a conversation with Diann. The rest was history. Diann welcomed our inquiry with warmth, professionalism, and extensive knowledge. She settled our fears by assuring us she delights in working with diverse clientele, and if she was right for them, she’d happily and passionately come on board. It was a joy to work with her, and to watch her work. She had results ready before problems arose. She maintained a calm that flourished in the face of chaos. She executed every task with excellence and raised the standards of any space she occupied. She assembled a terrific team of titans in order to produce a transformative experience for everyone."
get haircuts, makeup, last minute clothing alterations, etc. with local proprietors. Once the afternoon sun began to settle, the soulful sound of the Grenada’s own award winning Presentation Boys College Choir began to serenade the sky, filling the atmosphere with their tender youthful voices, under the direction of Halim Brizan. They were accompanied by members of a steelpan band my father once played with, Commancheros, Grenada’s 2022 Carnival Panorama champions, under the direction of Andre Greenidge. After a melodious, meaningful, and magical ceremony, guests were guided towards the cocktail hour followed by the reception that offered a fair share of Grenadian fare, from callaloo soup, crab back, oil down, stew peas and dumplin, and even fried cou cou bites. Grenada was reflected and represented itself well for all the Walkers by Faith and Walkers on Water that week. Nigel and I were proud our plans came together and our guests were pleased with their experience in Grenada.
I’m sure your entire wedding is a cherished memory you will always look back on with immense gratitude. What are some of the moments that stood out for you the most?
For me, every moment held such a huge handful of significance that it is quite difficult to isolate them from each other. Every part held its position of importance in creating the full picture. The experience, from ideation to actualization was a beautiful walk by faith, with some ideas being larger than life and some being so simple yet improbable, then watching God pull it all off, and then some. The moment that stands out is God whispering an assurance to each person at the helm, with the directive to me being “expect the best” and seeing all parties galvanize to exceed it.
What do you love most about Nigel?
What I love the most about Nigel is his tender heart. It shows up in the way he speaks to and about me. It lines his palms when he presses his hands together to pray for me. It gently searches my thoughts for solutions to stressful situations. It considers my safety wherever I step. It walks with me through the rain. It softly kisses me goodnight, and holds me close under the new days’ sunlight. I treasure the ways he has disarmed me again and again, with his kindness and a love so genuine.
Nigel, what do you love most about Aisha?
She saw the best version of me before it even came to fruition. [I love] her undying faith in me as a man. She never gives up on me.
"She saw the best version of me before it even came to fruition. [I love] her undying faith in me as aman. She never gives up on me."
WEDDING PRODUCER : Diann Valentine
DECOR, FLOWERS, CUSTOM FLOORING: Exhilarate Experiential PHOTOGRAPHY: Stanley Babb
FILM DIRECTOR: Kandy Floss
LOCATION: SilverSands Resort, Grenada
BRIDE’S GOWN: Galia Lahav BRIDE’S HEADPIECE & EARRINGS: Maria Elena Headpieces
GROOM’S TUXEDO: Dreu Beckemberg
TRIBE CALLED YES TUXEDOS: Dreu Beckemberg
MASTER GROOMER: Mark Tappa
AI DO CREW HAIR: Adeline Charles-Jeffery, Taniesha Salmons
AI DO CREW MUA: Danielle Henry, Rebekah Aladdin , Tanie Layne, Shelley Waldron
BRIDAL STYLIST : Alayna Bellprice
ASSISTANT STYLIST: Brittny Chapman
ISLAND HOST: Grenada Tourism Board, Pure Grenada, Petra Roach
CHOIR DIRECTOR: Halim Brizan and special guest Jason McGee
BOYS CHOIR: Presentation Brothers College Choir
STEEL ORCHESTRA: Commancheros led by Andre Greenidge
LIVE PERFORMANCES: MAJOR., Keisha Rattray
HOST : DJ Royal NYC
RENTALS: Rental Avenue, Waggy T Rentals (Grenada)
SOUND AND LIGHTING: Sunshine Promo (Grenada) STATIONERY: By Dami Studio
HOW THEY MET: I was the one to approach Teko at his job after seeing him a few times. I finally worked up the courage to chat with him and gave him my card. I told him I was a photographer and needed models for a shoot and he would be a great fit. He had no idea I was interested in dating him. Teko and I became fast friends and were able to connect through our love for creativity and great conversation.
PROPOSAL STORY: Teko was celebrating his birthday and we took him out to dinner. After dinner, we started taking photos with the family and as I turned around he got on one knee and proposed. I was so shocked because he is rarely away from me and I could not figure out when he had time to pull this off. We work together, live together, and spend a great deal of our free time together. As I was coming down from my shock he handed me his phone and there was a video playing with all of my family and friends telling me congratulations from weeks before he asked. I had talked to all of these people and some even did photo shoots with me and never said a word. I love to know everything that is going on and
hate being the last person to know about something and he managed to have everyone know about the engagement but me. It was hilarious. He went LIVE on my phone for everyone to see on my Instagram page. I was shocked and immediately started crying. Especially when I saw my grandmother who has health problems and has been home unable to come out since covid began. The moment was amazing and I will never forget it. I stared at him and my ring for the rest of the night.
WHEN DID YOU KNOW HE/SHE WAS “THE ONE”?
Teko: It was after one of our late-night talks. I opened up to her in a way that I was never able to do with anyone else. I just felt like I could trust her, and in that moment I knew something was different but I wanted her. That night we learned that we had a lot in common and I knew it was her, she was the one I would spend the rest of my life with, then we shared our first kiss.
LaJoy: A long conversation we had where I realized we were both hurting from the loss of a parent. I told myself that even if we did not work (but I hoped that we would) I would be his friend forever. I felt protective over his heart at that moment and never wanted him to be alone.
DESCRIBE YOUR ENGAGEMENT SESSION. DID YOU HAVE A THEME?
Our engagement session theme was Epic Elegance.
WHAT DID YOU DO ON YOUR FIRST DATE?
Our first date was very sweet. We went out to eat to chat and get to know each other better. Our conversation revealed our competitive sides so we headed to the bowling alley to show our skills. After a night of trash-talking and laughing, we sat out under the stars and talked all night long.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO AS A COUPLE?
LaJoy: As a couple, our favorite thing to do is being able to go to work together and have competitions on who will get the better photo for the bride and groom.
Teko: Watching movies together at home with our home theatre system with our wing stop Lemon pepper all flats and drinking wine.
HOW HAS WEDDING PLANNING BEEN SO FAR?
Wedding planning has been fun and pretty easy. It has been very cool to see what it looks like as a bride and groom and not a wedding vendor. I have a lot more respect for what my couples endure. We got slightly overwhelmed in the beginning but it was quickly calmed after my planner let me know it was normal. Brides and grooms have to make a lot of decisions and our process has been fun, but I think I'm going to be sad when it is all over.
TELL US WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO MOST ON THE WEDDING DAY.
LaJoy: Watching Teko's reaction during our first look. I don't dress up much and being able to see his face when he turns around is going to be a moment I will never forget. Teko: I'm excited to hear what her vows will be. I've been working on my vows for a few years so I can not wait to finally tell her. Both : We are both excited for the guest to enjoy themselves.
PLANNER: Russell Wendell
PHOTOGRAPHER: Reem Photography
VIDEO: Champagne Love Stories
HOW THEY MET: In 2020, during the tail-end of the pandemic shutdown; Sam and I were both single parents to little girls. We lived 70 miles apart between Baltimore, Maryland, and Woodbridge, Virginia. The chances of us crossing paths were nearly impossible. In November, Sam was preparing to be a groomsman in his best friend's wedding in Los Angeles. I was a friend of the bride, and at the last minute, she invited me to come as well.
Weeks before the wedding, the bride happened to see me rant, via social media, about a bad date I had experienced. She instantly reached out to me to ask if I was ok. And then, she told me that she
had a guy that she thought I should meet because we had so much in common. After having two back-to-back bad dates, I thought… ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’
So, she put Sam and I in touch via text; and I must say… it was not Love at first ‘text’! We messaged back and forth a few times and I "ghosted" him. I simply didn't think blind "hook-ups" were a thing for me. Sam, however, had other plans! The week of the wedding he reached back out to me and asked if I was still coming to the wedding; and if so, did I have transportation from the airport. He said if I did not, he'd like to pick me up and take me on a date before the festivities began. I had arrangements, but I cancelled them! Who doesn’t love a Man with a Plan? Sam met me at the airport and took me on our first date... and we've been inseparable since that day!
PROPOSAL STORY: As a unit, one of the things that Amy and I pride ourselves on is planning and preparations. With that in mind, we were planning our first family trip with the kids and her mother. The timing of the trip “happened” to land on Amy’s birthday, in July. It would be our first time back in Los Angeles since the wedding. There was a lot of speculation amongst her friends that I was getting ready to propose. So, I firmly put to bed the idea and assured her that this was simply a trip for her birthday and for the family. Once I had her convinced, I then proceeded with my plans for our “Engagement Trip”! To my benefit, the jeweler was in Beverly Hills and her two best friends reside there as well. They would be my allies in keeping the plans running smoothly. As Amy and I made plans for activities with the kids and reservations to her favorite restaurants, I was trying to secure the perfect place to have our proposal dinner problem being finding a reservation in LA for 7 adults and 5 children during covid was like trying to find toilet paper at target during the height of the pandemic! Once we found a restaurant, the last obstacle was the delivery of the ring. I had been in contact with the jeweler since April designing the ring and while it was completed in June, I couldn’t very well just have it delivered to the “queen of packages” doorstep. So, the plan was to pick it up during our trip. I waited until we’d taken the kids to the pool, and a courier delivered the ring to me downstairs, I had to lie and tell her that I needed to take a work call on a Saturday! This was the day of the proposal mind you. Everything afterwards went smoothly; Amy had NO clue she was getting engaged
How did you know your partner was the one?
During a family dinner with my brothers and their significant others, watching the way she interacted with my family and how well I saw her get along with my friends, I knew she was the one. She always just fits right in.- Sam
up until the moment I got down on one knee. She was shocked during and even after saying yes, that she admittedly stated, “I don’t know which hand it goes on!”
ENGAGEMENT SESSION THEME: With our engagement shoot we wanted to accomplish two things: Culture and Style. Sam’s family is from Ghana, and I come from 4 generations (maternal and paternal) of Washingtonians. It is traditional for Washingtonian couples to take engagement pictures at the Lincoln Memorial, and there we chose to dress in our take of Modern African Style. At the Conrad Hotel, we wanted to showcase our personal style and flair. I am an interior designer and architecture is a passion of mine. I love the eccentric style of the hotel's atrium and there we showed our personal style as a couple.
FIRST DATE? Sam picked me up from the LAX airport and we went on a brunch date. We talked for so long that he was late for a wedding rehearsal and dinner!
FAVORITE THING TO DO AS A COUPLE? We are both foodies and love going to new restaurants. We also like doing family activities with our kids and traveling.
HOW HAS WEDDING PLANNING BEEN SO FAR? So far wedding planning has been a breeze. Sam and I are natural planners; combined with the strength of a wedding planner, we are steadily knocking things off our to-do list early. Our goal is to pay off the entire wedding prior to and walk down the aisle debt free!
TELL US WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FORWARD TO MOST ON THE WEDDING DAY: The theme of our wedding is ‘Cinderella’ and that is really a tribute to our daughters. I want my daughters to know that no matter what happens in their journey, they can STILL meet prince charming and live happily ever after! I can’t wait for them to see us married. We also look forward to seeing our family and friends have an amazing time and witness our genuine love for one another. We want every moment of the day to be memorable from the morning's mimosa to the reception’s champagne toasts!
HOW THEY MET
Halle and Eric first met at Hampton University in 2011 during a Freshman Week block party on the waterfront. The couple was introduced to one another through a mutual friend.
Eric initially asked for Halle’s number on the waterfront but she kindly declined his advance. The two reconnected the following evening at a house party in the Harbors Apartments (Apartment 16A) the following day and engaged in a light-hearted conversation over mixing drinks for their freshman classmates. At the end of the party, Halle discreetly put her phone number in Eric’s phone. The couple has been inseparable ever since.
On December 12, 2020, I asked the woman of my dreams to start a family and new journey with me. Halle always had a dream to get married at a cathedral and I immediately knew that the National Cathedral was the perfect venue for the proposal.
Coincidentally, she had a brunch planned with her line sisters the same afternoon so I was able to arrange her hair and nail appointments earlier in the week without arousing suspicion. I had to think quick on my feet and suggested that we hop in the car together for a quick drive.
She had not visited the Cathedral so this was the perfect excuse. As we approached the Cathedral, she was rendered speechless, and still didn’t suspect anything as we parked. I looked at her and suggested that we take a walk to get a better view. In true Halle fashion, she wore stilettos and didn’t want to walk far; however, I kept insisting that we walk to the Bishop’s Garden. As we approached the garden near the middle of the proposal sight, Halle began to notice the videographers and the aisle of flower petals in her favorite colors.
I popped the question as soon as we reached the center of the garden and asked Halle to spend the rest of her life with me.
THE ENGAGEMENT SESSION: DESCRIBE YOUR ENGAGEMENT SESSION. DID YOU HAVE A THEME?
We ultimately chose St. Lucia as our wedding destination because we fell in love with the island’s Piton volcanic mountains and lush vegetation. Ultimately, we wanted our theme to compliment the island’s natural beauty and chose an Enchanted Garden theme. Our engagement video and photo sessions were completed in two separate locations with the same theme in mind. We believe Secret Garden Miami was the perfect venue for our video shoot since the landscape was extremely similar to St. Lucia’s tropical atmosphere. Our formal photos were taken at the Jefferson Memorial near the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC. This venue is located right on the Potomac River and offers serene views of the National Mall with plenty of natural lighting to capture the perfect image.
WHAT DID YOU DO ON YOUR FIRST DATE?
We ate at a local Italian restaurant in Hampton, Virginia named Mama Rosa’s and borrowed one of our senior “big’s” vehicles for transportation.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO AS A COUPLE?
We absolutely love to travel. Prior to our engagement , we’d find any excuse for a weekend getaway. Our shared love for traveling and embarking on new experiences together led us to create a concierge travel business named Westbury Worldwide Experiences.
HOW HAS WEDDING PLANNING BEEN SO FAR?
The planning has been a journey. We’re always learning from one another but this experience has brought us even closer. Planning an event of this magnitude has allowed us to learn new things about each other along the way and hone our communication skills. Although nothing is perfect, we have managed to navigate through any obstacles and finally see our vision come to fruition. We’re elated to share this momentous occasion with our loved ones.
TELL US WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FORWARD TO MOST ON THE WEDDING DAY.
We’re looking forward to finally getting down the aisle and establishing our own household. Halle is also equally excited about changing her last name to Westbury.
SO, THIS IS LOVE: A ROMANCE-FILLED STYLED SHOOT
LUXE BLUE & YELLOW INSPIRATION
A VINTAGE BRIDE AT GOLDEN HOUR STYLED SHOOT
CHIC NOIR - MINIMAL LUXURY
Working with her ultimate dream team of wedding vendors, Noadia Valsin of Memorable Event Design creates an intimate scene of timwweless luxury. From beautiful soft drapery to regal black and gold furniture framed by baby’s breath, white roses and orchids, their romantic shoot proves luxury isn’t solely in one's wedding attire or decor, but also from the experience provided by the vendors involved. Noadia shares, “I truly wanted to design a styled shoot that felt personal, so a future bride could look at it and say ‘I can see my spouse and I being catered to, photographed, and surrounded by lush florals this way.’PHOTOGRAPHED BY IMAGERY BY JULES PHOTOGRAPHY Text by Linda Wallentine
BRIDE'S DRESS: Bridal By Marly
BRIDAL SALON: Shirley Fleurimond of Shirleys
BRIDE’S HEADPIECE AND/OR VEIL: Jewels by Charles LLC
BRIDE'S SHOES: Lulus
CAKES/DESSERTS: Charite Creations
VENUE: Radiance Point Avenue
EVENT DECOR/DESIGN: Memorable Event Design
EVENT PLANNER: Memorable Event Design
FLORALS: Rodri Studio
GROOM'S ATTIRE: Louissaint Aroma
HAIR: Louissaint Aroma
LIGHTING: Light Your Faith LLC
MAKEUP: Slay by Shay
PHOTOGRAPHY: Imagery by Jules Photography
RENTALS: Decora Event Rentals
STATIONERY: Creative Letter Designs
VIDEOGRAPHY: FIGS Media
DRAPING: Amazing Production Events
BRIDE: Chica Mara Villa
GROOM: Just Jay
FLOOR WRAP: A & R Creations
TABLETOPS: Different Look
MENUS: Oda Creative
As part of the Styled Shoots Across America Shoot Crawl Event on January 25, 2022, Heather Benge invited vendors from around the country to the beautiful Italianinspired Bella Colina venue in Central Florida to create their own unique wedding scenes. With 10 different stations styled with separate color palettes, models, and decor, anything was possible! Jennifer DeFilippis of Jennifer Nicole Photography & Films was overjoyed to bring this blue and yellow spring-inspired shoot to life.
Inspiration behind the design by Jennifer DeFilippis of Jennifer Nicole Photography & Films
“This shoot definitely played to the Tuscany feel…. The top balcony made for the most stunning bridal portraits and reminded me of Romeo & Juliet.”
Inside, a reception table decorated with luscious florals lining its center, with food menus on each place setting, and velvet chairs added to the scene's elegant display. For Jennifer, the highlight of the day was definitely the cakes! “We had a trio of cakes that coordinated so well together, each showing different techniques, sizes, and looks, yet complimented each other perfectly.”
“This styled shoot was focused on bringing the beauty of a bride with rich, chocolate skin and natural dreads to attention! We really focused on her portraying the manifestation of a black bride who has freed herself of all that often hinders us, whether it be mentally or the impositions of those who surround us.” - Abigail Cheriscat Clervius of BeYouDecorPHOTOGRAPHED
Set in Toronto at the Bisha Hotel, this Noir-styled shoot is chic, modern, and simple. Designed by Matrimony Events, the shoot takes a step away from a traditional wedding and bridal look for a contemporary design. With toned-down flowers, an ivory satin-like dress, and a sleek jumpsuit for the reception, the bride is center-stage, edgy, and confident.by Linda Wallentine
AMY + SAMUEL
SIMONE + DEVIN
IMANI + D’ANDRE
JAMAD + LOYAN
GABRIELLE + KRISTOFER
JESSICA + CHRISTOPHER
TIFFANI + TERRENCE
JAIME + SABRINA
MARQUISE + MERILIN
JAYDA + REAVEN
JEPOY + ESTELLE
KESHA + NEALLAN
ZURI + KYE
Amy and Samuel were introduced to each other virtually when they both swiped right on the online dating app Tinder; however, neither of them messaged one another. Fate would have it that three weeks later Amy caught sight of Samuel at a party. She walked up to him and asked if he was the guy who did not talk to her on the dating app. Samuel stated, “I was stumped until she pulled out her phone and showed me that we matched.” One can say that their love story almost began as “love at first swipe”.
Fast forward to six years of dating, Amy and Samuel would turn into a lasting couple. Although they traveled and explored the world together, including vacations to Colombia, California, Paris, London, and Amsterdam, there was still no proposal. When they went to Maryland for hi4s Aunt Stella’s birthday, Amy thought again this would be the weekend that he would get down on one knee, and yet nothing. They say extraordinary things come to those who wait. On March 8, 2020, Samuel proposed to Amy on her 30th birthday. It was the best birthday wish to come true!
This beautiful couple joined together as husband and wife in two ceremonies over the course of a weekend. To pay tribute to their shared Nigerian Heritage, their first ceremony was a traditional Nigerian wedding honoring their families. This celebration had everything from palm wine, to a blessing from the bride's parents, to guests clothed in
colorful and vibrant traditional Nigerian attire, and to a Nigerian MC to ensure the reception was filled with all Nigerian traditions. They even had the most entertaining stilt walkers and robots. The second ceremony was a traditional American-style legal wedding where Amy walked down the aisle to meet her husband in a stunning and elegant sweetheart neckline gown. Standing at the altar, surrounded by exquisite floral arrangements, was Samuel in a tuxedo he designed with Synady of Laurent and Co. Both events were held at the Village Club of Sands Point on Long Island, New York. While the proposal was a long time coming, Amy gleamed, “The proposal, wedding, and marriage were worth the wait. It was a win.”
Gifts for your bridesmaids and groomsmen: Jewelry
Gifts for one another: Jewelry and Cologne Ceremony entrance song: "How Long Will I Love You" by Ellie Golding Ceremony entrance song (Bride): "Like Real People Do" by Hozier
First dance song: "Japanese Denim" by Daniel Caesar; Transition to "Peru" by FireBoy DML
MAKEDA + EDDIE
MIAMI BEACH, FLText by Dana Angela-Alexis Miller
Introduced by a friend, Makeda met Eddie while attending his performance for So You Think You Can Dance S12 Tour in Los Angeles, California. Though they had unknowingly met their soulmate, it would not be until months later that they would meet again at a brunch. Love soon followed after they first became great friends and then inseparable. Then one day Makeda decided to throw a Neon Slumber Party and invited Eddie to come over to assist with decorating. He was committed to every detail and helped her host her friends. It was then that she knew she had found her soulmate.
The proposal took place at Makeda’s mom’s house on Christmas evening. This particular Christmas would be the most memorable of them all. After leaving the house on Christmas night to go to the store, when she returned, Makeda got out of the car and saw sparklers and a Big Santa on the lawn holding something. Unbeknownst to her, Eddie asked her family and friends to help him with the perfect proposal. When she locked eyes with him, they both cried as he asked her to marry him. This special moment does not end there. As this newly engaged couple entered Makeda’s mom’s house, the entire space was decorated and became their engagement party.
This lovely couple said, “I do” during an exquisite and breathtaking outdoor ceremony with the most romantic and classy ambiance. Their ceremony and reception had extraordinary and remarkable floral arrangements. Makeda looked gorgeous walking down the aisle in a show-stopping and sparkling gown. In addition, their reception had everything from the groom’s amazing dance for his wife, to guests sneaking Makeda a Trini flag on the dance floor, and ending the celebration with sparklers.
Bridesmaids/groomsmen gifts: Custom Acrylic Purses & Custom Whiskey Glasses
First dance song: "Hrs and Hrs" by Muni Long
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14, 2022BY WOLF AND ROSE PHOTOGRAPHY Text by Linda Wallentine
The origin of Simone & Devin’s love story is quite unique. Simone shares, “Most fairy tales start with love at first sight, but ours started with three things: Two people, a pool party, and a brawl.” While both of them have their own versions of how it all went down, the bottom line is fate brought them together that day, and four years later, they see it as “...a funny anecdote to a blossoming marriage.”
Following Devin’s surprise proposal at their favorite cider mill in Houston in 2020, the pair ultimately decided to elope on Monday, February 14, 2022. With just each other, an Officiant, and a photographer in Grapevine, Texas, they exchanged vows before the rocky shoreline of Rockledge Park. It was beautiful, romantic, and solely theirs. After saying I-do, their fondest memory was standing in the freezing cold water together. Simone shares, “We felt like we were the only two people in the world.”
An intimate dinner celebration hosted by Simone’s mother (who just so happens to be a wedding coordinator, herself!) followed on May 7th, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan.
advice for couples...
"Before planning your wedding, spend time as an engaged couple to savor the moment. Getting married is a beautiful process, focus on your union and remember that it's YOUR day."
ZAKIYRAH +TREYBY REEM PHOTOGRAPHY Text by Marie Smith
We love it when love suddenly shows up in the most unexpected places!
Unexpected was definitely THE keyword with Trey and Zakiyrah after she liked a few of his posts on Instagram. The couple, who initially dated but decided to remain friends, gave love another try and this time it led to a YES!
Speaking of creative and romantic proposals, after listening to Zakiyrah’s desire to go to a treehouse, Trey decided to do something even better and gave her the proposal of a lifetime in a treehouse of course! After experiencing that memorable day with family and friends on Zoom, the couple enlisted the help of J Hill Events to create an extraordinary experience in the Southern Exchange Ballrooms that mixed rich history with modern elegance.
Romantic daytime candlelight flickered and enchanting floral arrangements delicately perfumed the venue helping to set the mood of the day with tall crystal and gold candelabras which welcomed guests with soft light. Pretty greenery naturally cascaded down tall gold columns as guests entered the White Hall Ballroom under massive crystal chandeliers to enjoy the magical moments of Trey and Zakiyrah’s spectacular I Do’s.
Bridesmaids received custom pajama
short sets and Jewelry. Groomsmen received shot glasses and custom pocket knives.
First dance song: "For You" by Kenny Lattimore
advice for couples...
"Be vocal about how you want your big day to go from the very beginning of your wedding planning process with your coordinator. Remember to be in the moment, It goes by so fast and it truly is a very special day!."
IMANI + D'ANDRE
WHITE HOUSE, JAMAICA
APRIL 4, 2022PHOTOS BY OLYA SAM OF MY PHOTOMAGIC JAMAICA Text by Linda Wallentine
Imani & D’Andre first met at Rutgers University-New Brunswick in 2012. While out with friends one night, Dre spotted Imani at a party and attempted to pursue her. The timing wasn’t quite right, but they decided to remain friends. Over time, they even became best friends and by March 2017 they became an official couple. Fast forward to the first Saturday of September 2021, in what Imani describes as “the most perfect night,” Dre proposed at their favorite restaurant surrounded by friends and family!
Returning to Dre’s Jamaica homeland to tie the knot, their weekend-long destination wedding was a spectacular celebration. Set at the Sandals South Coast Resort, they started the weekend with a welcome garden party, followed by a private boat party with 40 guests, and ended the night with a late-night pool party.
The wedding itself was sophisticated simplicity. Set before a sprawling ocean backdrop, R&B music melded with the waves to create a dream-like ambiance. Groomsmen wore blue sky tuxedos, bridesmaids slipped into frost-colored gowns that matched the sand beneath
their feet, and guests donned neutral attire. Dre sported a blue tux with black accents and Imani glowed in an elegant dress with a voluminous detachable overskirt. Dancing the night away with their closest friends and family, it was truly the wedding of their dreams!
Gifts for your Bridesmaids/Groomsmen: bridesmaids received custom name anklets, hair and makeup, purses, sarongs, perfume, eye masks, crystal earrings, slippers, robes, and nightgowns. Groomsmen received custom flasks, cuff links, tie bars, and money clips.
Gifts for one another: Tom Ford Lost Cherry (hers) and Hugo Boss BOSS (his)
Ceremony entrance song: "Bring ‘em out" - T.I.
First dance song: "Spend My Life With You" - Eric Benet and Tamia
BRIDE'S DRESS: Pronovias Ladd and Pronovias Karnur Overskirt
BRIDAL SALON: Pronovias NYC
BRIDE’S HEADPIECE AND/OR VEIL: Zola
BRIDE'S SHOES: Something Bleu
BRIDESMAIDS' DRESSES: Azazie
CAKES/DESSERTS: Sandals Weddings
CATERING: Sandals Weddings
CEREMONY VENUE: Italian Beach at Sandals South Coast
EVENT DECOR/DESIGN: Events By Imani
ENTERTAINMENT: Sounds of Sax
EVENT PLANNER: Imani Johnson-Jordan and Shakera Salmon
FORALS: Tai Flora Luxe
GROOM'S ATTIRE: The Black Tux
GROOMSMEN ATTIRE: The Black Tux
HAIR: In Your Face Beauty, Jamaica
LIGHTING: Sandals South Coast
LINENS: Sandals South Coast
MAKEUP: In Your Face Beauty, Jamaica
PHOTOGRAPHY: “Olya Sam” / Olga Samsonova / My PhotoMagic Jamaica
RECEPTION VENUE: Italian Beach at Sandals South Coast
VIDEOGRAPHY: Andre Whitehead / Whitehead Media Entertainment
Jamad & Loyan’s “Red Hot Romance” themed micro wedding in Ontario, Canada was an unforgettable experience!
Inspired by Jamad’s hopeless romantic nature, their “Red Hot Romance” took place at The Royal Ambassador Event Centre. With a lakeside gazebo overlooking lake Innis to exchange vows in, a private entrance for their grand reveal, and opulent chandeliers decorating the reception hall, the venue created the regal vibe they were both looking to achieve. Wedding Planner, Nia Khalil, of Weddings with Nia, and Baneen Abidi from BlissfulBeginnings helped bring their vision to life with luxe floral decor including all things red, red roses, and candles.
Highlights of the day included tributes to their shared Somali Canadian cultures and love of R&B music with DJ Amal creating a playlist of love songs that brought a nostalgic early 90s vibe to their reception. The couple also shared a memorable private first dance before their reception. Looking back on that special moment, Jamad shares, “It was the most special part of our night… We didn’t have to think about posing for pictures or smiling at a crowd. It was just us, swaying with the music and embracing the moment.”
on incorporating culture...
"For our traditional wedding night, we incorporated an old tradition of Somali culture called Buraanbur which is an art form of poetry. It was a great part of the night where guests from each side of the family would take turns dancing to the beat of the drums while poetry was being read out paying homage to each family."
GABRIELLE + KRISTOFER
ORLEANS,Text by Linda Wallentine
Gabrielle & Kristofer first connected on Twitter in college. Building a steady foundation of friendship, they became an official couple in 2012. After six years of growing in love and experiencing life together, they couldn’t imagine being without each other. On their sixth dating anniversary, Kristofer asked Gabrielle to be his wife – of course, she said yes!
And so began their journey to the aisle – and a journey it was! With their fall 2020 ceremony drastically reduced in size because of Covid, they had to push back their original wedding plans to December 2021. Luckily for them, their second wedding turned out to be everything they could have asked for and more!
Set in the heart of New Orleans, Louisiana, they said I-do (again!) at the incredible venue, Il Mercato. The Spanish-colonial style building was a perfect backdrop for their intimate and romantic theme. Their chosen color palette of mauve and plum with green and gold accents complemented the winter season while flickering candles and luscious cascading flowers added to the soft romantic vibes. Gold sparklers added a subtle nod to the approaching New Year. They ended the night with a traditional New Orleans Second Line after the ceremony with a parade of music, dancing, and lots of love.
Bridesmaids/groomsmen gifts: Bridesmaids received personalized pajamas with their Initials embroidered on them. Groomsmen received a personalized tie bar from Cufflinks Depot.
First dance song: Ledisi and PJ Morton – "Anything For You" (The Duet)
wedding highlights Advice for couples...
"If budget allows, hire a planner especially if you’re from out of town. I’m not a DIY person so a planner was a must, and I couldn’t have dreamed of a better planner than Fresh Johnson of Elle R. Jae Events. It was so beneficial to have someone in New Orleans to act on our behalf, that understood our vision, and made sure everything ran smoothly throughout the whole planning process and the day of the wedding. Designate someone to make sure you eat! The day goes by so fast between photos, dancing, and socializing that you can forget. Also, take a moment to take in everything. You and your fiancé worked hard to get to the wedding day, and you deserve to have
When Jessica first came across Chris’s dating profile on Hinge, her first thought was: “this profile isn’t that interesting, but this guy otherwise seems like my type, so what’s the harm in saying hello?" Chris actually thought Jessica’s profile was SO beautiful that maybe she wasn’t even real. Luckily, Jessica was (and is) just that beautiful and absolutely real! They matched, started talking, and soon formed an unbreakable bond in real life.
Their love grew infinitely from there until one day Chris decided it was time for the next step. On a trip to Mexico celebrating their 18th month anniversary and Chris’s birthday, he secretly rented out an entire beachfront at the Rosewood Mayakoba resort. When Jessica arrived for their intimate candlelit dinner, she was surprised with champagne and
a love letter delivered by a private butler. As she read the letter, Chirs got down on both needs, saying, “A king cannot be without his queen.”
Needless to say, she said “Yes!”.
Fast forward to their Nigerian wedding, they brought 75 guests from the United States to Abuji, Nigeria for a three-day wedding celebration. In total, approximately 200 guests attend their wedding! Over the course of three days, guests experienced four events including an Introduction Ceremony, Welcome Dinner, a Traditional Nigerian Wedding, and a Western wedding. With seven outfit changes from the bride and groom and eleven live performances, it was truly the wedding of their dreams.
Gifts for your bridesmaids/groomsmen: Custom Ankara robes and slippers. Gifts for one another: Chris surprised bride after secretly taking singing lessons for months with a serenade; Jessica featured excerpts of advice from texts she had with Chris' deceased mother in her vows as a way to have her "voice" at the ceremony. Ceremony entrance song: "Best Friend" by Saweetie & Doja Cat First dance song: "Tell Him" by Lauryn Hill
The word “electric” is the perfect word to describe Tiffani & Terrance’s love.
After connecting online on Match.com in 2017, they met in person one week later for their first date at the Gazuza lounge in Washington, D.C. Tiffani was actually an hour late because of a fender bendor, but Terrance was unphased and patiently awaited his future bride-tobe’s arrival. When she ascended the steps of the lounge, he knew instantly the wait was worth it! “The phone conversations leading up, our chemistry, and the fun we had on our first date was like no other experience. Everything felt so natural and easy for us.”
Three years later, Terrance planned a surprise proposal around Tiffani’s business venture photo shoot at the Hotel at Arundel Preserves in Maryland. Working in secret with Tiffani’s stylists, they arranged all the details and invited their parents, friends, and extended family to join in on the proposal. With a signal from Tiffani’s stylist, Terrance snuck up behind her and took a knee. When Tiffani turned around, happiness and love overwhelmed her. She said yes and the rest is history.
Their beautiful springtime wedding is a testament to their electric love. Full of color and culture, their bright
advice for brides:
"Plan your wedding your way! It's your special day enjoy it! Know your budget and make every detail your own. Include your own traditions. You don't have to do every traditional element such as a bouquet toss or garter toss if you don't want to. We did neither!"
MONTVERDE, FLORIDAPHOTOGRAPHED BY STANLO PHOTOGRAPHY Text by Linda Wallentine
Jaime & Bri’s love story proves there is hope in online dating. First connecting online via Match.com, the pair exchanged messages for a few days before Jaime finally gave her his number. Although Bri was set to move to Texas and Jaime had ironically just declined a move to the Lone Star state, she happily obliged and gave him her number as well. That night, they spoke for hours and by the end of their first phone call, Jaime secured a date –they’ve been inseparable ever since!
Following a romantic surprise proposal in October 2020, the couple celebrated their love two years later on a fabulous wedding weekend in Florida. Their blissful celebration began with a welcome party at the Siena Hotel at Bella Collina where guests were treated to gift bags, drinks, and custom swag. The next day, they exchanged vows beneath an arch of garden roses, orchids, and hydrangeas in a luxurious outdoor wedding on the Bella Collina lawn. With golds, whites, blush tones, and pops of navy blue as their color story, their wedding was a dreamy display of true love. They ended the evening with a candlelit dinner cocktail hour followed by a dancefille reception at the clubhouse, officially Mr. & Mrs. Hepburn.
Gifts for your bridesmaids & groomsmen: Jaime gifted his groomsmen with Incase backpacks stuffed with Sony wireless headphones, Yeti mugs, personalized cufflinks, and watches. Sabrina gifted her bridesmaids with custom embroidered tote bags filled with personalized silk robes and sweatsuits, fluffy slippers, customized hangers for their dresses, jewelry cases, and pearl jewelry sets.
Gifts for one another: They gifted each other with bride and groom gift boxes filled with each other's favorite snacks, handwritten cards, and wedding day jewelry. Sabrina also gifted Jaime with a YSL cologne and Jaime gifted Sabrina with Tiffany & Co. perfume.
Ceremony entrance song: "It Feels Like Home" by Israel Houghton
First dance song: "U Move, I Move" by John Legend featuring Jhene Aiko
WEDDING PLANNING: Jayme Vainer of Stylish
VENUE: Bella Collina Weddings & Events
PHOTOGRAPHY: Stanlo Photography
VIDEOGRAPHY: Seltzer Films
FLORIST: Leah T Williams Events
DJ: DJ Mike Cooley
SAXOPHONIST: B Courtland Saxon
STEEL DRUM BAND: RhythmTrail Steel Drum Band
PHOTO BOOTH: SnapShot Orlando
OFFICIANT: Rev Michael Tyson
RENTALS: Rw Events, L.P.R. Design Group, Orlando Wedding and Party Rentals, Over The Top Rentals, Letz Dance On It, & Stage Rentals in Florida
LIGHTING: Kaleidoscope Event Lighting
BRIDE HAIR: Hair Chemistry Miami LLC
BRIDAL HEADPIECE: SuReina Bridal
BRIDE MAKE-UP: Stenza Beauty Pro
CEREMONY GOWN: Lena Berisha Official
RECEPTION GOWN: Bel Fiore Bridal
BRIDAL ROBE: VÏRU
BRIDAL SEAMSTRESS: VÏRU
BODYSUIT: Pinsy Shapewear
BRIDAL DAY OF STYLIST: Kenya Freeman
BRIDAL PARTY HAIR: Whitney The Stylist
BRIDAL PARTY MAKE-UP: Stenza Beauty Pro, Jazma Owens, Fanci Face by Kezia
GROOM ATTIRE: Miguel Wilson Collection
WEDDING CAKE: Bella Collina Weddings & Events
DAY OF STATIONERY: Lepenn Designs by Le’Trice
WEDDING INVITATIONS: Create With Bri
MARQUISEVAYSGANT WEDDINGS Text by Linda Wallentine
Merilin & Marquise’s love story begins at a Memorial Day BBQ in Boston. After their initial spark, a fiery romance followed (eventually leading to love!), a surprise proposal on their 5th dating anniversary, and now walking down the aisle together, committing to forever.
Set at the Four Seasons One Dalton in Boston, their wedding was the perfect beginning to celebrating the official start of their the rest of their lives together. Highlights included sweet handwritten notes from one another read on the morning of their wedding, custom footwear from Jimmy Choo, and a bilingual English/Spanish ceremony to ensure all of their guests could take part in their special moment.
Gifts for your bridesmaids and groomsmen: Initially, everyone in the bridal party received customized gift boxes including mini Moët or Gentleman Jack alongside personally engraved small goods. The bridesmaids received satin pajamas and pearl earrings, and the groomsmen were gifted bowties on the wedding day.
Gifts for one another: We opted to give one another handwritten notes the morning of the wedding.
JAYDA + REAVEN
NEW ROCHELLE, NY
AUGUST 22, 2021PHOTOGRAPHED BY KESHA LAMBERT PHOTOGRAPHY Text by Linda Wallentine
Did you know that your shoes are the first thing people subconsciously notice about you?
For college sweethearts, Jayda & Reaven, a pair of Jordans played a key part in their love story. Although they lived in the same freshman dorms at Johnson & Wales University, they didn’t meet until a few weeks into the school year when they first noticed each other while waiting to catch a shuttle for a “Thirsty Thursday” event. Jayda was first attracted to Reaven because “he was tall, handsome, and had on a pair of Jordan 12s.”
Of course, the stylish shoe choice was just one of many things that drew them to each other. They chatted all the way to the event but once they arrived, went their separate ways. Fate and Jordans would bring them together again. The very next day, they just so happened to attend the same house party! “We danced the night away and have been inseparable ever since.”
The pair’s love is truly palpable and their classy and timeless wedding showcased their beautiful energy. Recounting the day, Photographer Kesha Lambert, shares: “These college sweethearts didn't even let an impending hurricane stop them from saying "I do." Heartfelt vows, stunning decor, and a packed dance floor were the perfect recipe for an amazing celebration.”
Sure It’s You”
First dance song: K-Ci & JoJo – “This Very Moment”
Entertainment: Reaven and I love to dance and our family and friends love to party! We told our deejay MikeMusic that we wanted to hear old school and new school hip hop, trap music, reggae, go-go, salsa – a little bit of everything – and he definitely delivered!
"My best wedding advice would be don't ever think you are starting too early when planning your wedding. Even if your wedding is a few years out, begin doing your research as soon as you’re done basking in the glow of being engaged. It allows you to have your dream wedding vendors, venue, date, and everything you want. We hired our wedding planner Victoria of Victorious Events NYC and that was honestly one of the best investments. With all of the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, having a planner by our side to come up with a plan A, B, and C for everything was a godsend. She was very encouraging, but also honest which I appreciated so much. Another thing I would say is to enjoy every moment of it. The highs, the lows, and all the in-between -- no matter how small or big your wedding day will be, it will be special and a day that will live over and over again in your mind for the rest of your life so take it all in and enjoy.
JEPOY + ESTELLE
UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES
DECEMBER 18, 2021PHOTOGRAPHED BY VITAL IMAGE PHOTO & BAMBOO KITE PHOTOGRAPHY Text by Linda Wallentine
Jepoy & Estelle’s sweet romance began as each other’s high school crushes more than 13 years ago! They grew, learned, and fell in love, and after 9 years of officially dating, they finally tied the knot in an extravagant wedding in the Phillippines on December 18th, 2021. Taking place on campus at the University of Phillippines Diliman, where they both attended college, they incorporated meaningful elements into every part of their wedding. For instance, for their ceremony location, they chose The Parish of the Holy Sacrifice, which is where Jepoy actually proposed by. It is also the same church where Estelle’s parents got married 30 years and 6 days prior to them (on December 12, 1991), and is the church where they both attended mass during college. Their reception space at UP Ang Bahay ng Alumni was also the spot of Jepoy and Estelle’s first dance together during Estelle’s debut cotillion. Even the date, December 18th, has special meaning to them as it is the date that Estelle said yes to being Jepoy’s prom date in 2009, his girlfriend in 2012, his fiance in 2020, and now his wife in 2021!
Other highlights of the day included a color story of lilac and plum with hints of gold throughout (the bride's absolute favorite color is purple and she’s even nicknamed Purplestar!), personalized details, and unique bespoke attire.
WEDDING PLANNER: The Purple Bride PH
PHOTOGRAPHER (MAIN): Vital Image Photo
PHOTOGRAPHER (CANDID): Bamboo Kite
PHOTOGRAPHY VIDEOGRAPHY: Bethena Aundrea
Films CEREMONY VENUE: Parish of the Holy Sacrifice
RECEPTION VENUE: Ang Bahay ng Alumni PREPARATION VENUE: Balara Content Studio BRIDE'S WEDDING GOWN: Heleyna Bridal BRIDE'S SHOES (CEREMONY): Sarah Oxales Design Studio BRIDE'S SHOES
(RECEPTION): Prome & Theus BRIDE'S HAIRPIECE: Mirth & Yift BRIDE'S PREPARATION GOWN: Desino Dulce BRIDE'S PREPARATION ROBE: La Rosa Bridal Bride's Prep Lingerie: Varsbaby GROOM'S BARONG: EA Casedo's Embroidery GROOM'S PANTS: Uniqlo GROOM'S SHOES: Bradford ENTOURAGE GOWNS: Desino Dulce
ENTOURAGE BARONGS: MA Barong Pilipino MOB GOWN: Desino Dulce HAIR AND MAKEUP ARTIST: Dred Postigo Makeup CEILING TREATMENT: Tropical Blooms Florist
CHURCH STYLING: Parish of the Holy Sacrifice BRIDAL AND ENTOURAGE FLOWERS: Accents & Petals CAKE: Phoebecakes CATERER: CVJ Food Catering INVITATIONS
AND STATIONERY: Design & Letters Engagement RINGS: Karat World WEDDING RINGS: La Real Jewelry QUARTET: Quartet Manila ACOUSTIC SINGER: Jholo Cabero Music HOST: Hosting by Portia Lights and Sounds: WABS Lights and Sounds LIVESTREAM: The Day We Stream VIP
TABLES AND CHAIRS: 18th.ph Bridal Car: White Pajero c/o Groom's Family COORDINATOR: Events Republic
COCKTAILS: Cocktails Manila NEON LIGHTS: Team Neoneonans
KESHA + NEAL
Two decades of love…Kesha and Neallan Lambert went back to one of their favorite cities, New Orleans, to celebrate 20 years of marriage. For their vow renewal, they wanted a fun, non-traditional vibe and with the help of their best friends, who happen to be a wedding planner and bridal gown designer, they achieved that and more. Their vow renewal was a sincere reflection of their personalities and the family they have created together. From the multicolored custom suits and dresses their bridal parties wore, to the neon pink patent leather boots, to the secondline parade which included Jamaican and St. Lucian flags - Kesha and Neallan’s vow renewal is representative of what weddings should be - authentically you. Kesha recalls, “ The renewal, planned and designed by the exceptionally talented Victoria of Victorious Events NYC, started with a ceremony officiated by Rev. Roxy and followed with one big party. We partied in the streets of New Orleans and then continued the party at Swoop Duggins House. Mike Music kept us on the dance floor. The ladies wore dresses designed by my muse Andrea, Founder of Pantora Bridal, and the gents wore custom fits by Garcon Couture. We had an amazing time .”
How did you meet?
We met in high school and we were the best of friends. We didn’t date in high school. Kesha always says “Neal was friend zoned”and Neal always says “Kesha secretly wanted me all along” We started dating shortly after college and we were engaged and married 1 year later
How would you describe your vow renewal style?
Vintage rustic glamour
What are your ethnicities?
Neal is St. Lucian born, and Kesha is of Jamaican ancestry; parents are Jamaican. Both Kesha and Neallan grew up in The Bronx, NY
When did you get married and where?
We got married on January 12, 2002 in New Rochelle, NY
What was your wedding like?
When we tied the knot 20 years ago we had a traditional celebration; I wore a princess gown and Neal wore a tux. It was a beautiful celebration.
Was there anything you would have done differently for your wedding?
Rid ourselves of the notion of obligation. Obligation to observe certain rituals obligations to look a certain way.
What are your favorite things to do as a couple?
We love to travel. With our busy schedules we also love a good staycation.
Neallan is the chef of the household and I am the lead taste tester.
Do you have any children or pets?
We have 3 sons, 16 year old, and twins 12 years old
What would you say are the most important elements for a successful marriage?
Future your friendship, love on each other like you just met, listen more than you rebut, and make space for growth.
How do you keep the spark in your marriage?
We date each other. Taking note of the things that make your partner light up and doing more of those things for each other. When you are parents, business owners balancing work and life it’s important to take time to be a couple.
What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples?
Book a professional wedding planner. We gained a new level of empathy for wedding planning couples being on this side of the experience. There are so many moving parts, so many sneaky things that find their way on to the event planning to do list; balancing work, life and event planning can quickly go from fun to overwhelming. What I also realized in this process is that sourcing vendors and product in this climate can be challenging and complex. Having someone that understands where to look for resources and what questions to ask is clutch. What I learned from our planner Victoria, is that the best way to approach a celebration is to decide what is most important to you personally as a couple and then set a realistic budget at the start of the planning process. For us, our priorities surrounded wanting to really spend time with each other and our guests. We wanted to share an experience in a city we love with people we love. We wanted to look great and of course, being photographers we wanted amazing visuals. Almost every vendor that we booked were businesses owned by friends. We had two photography teams; It was important for us to have Nadia Holmes, an associate photographer from our studio Kesha Lambert Photography. Nadia knows us and is well versed in my philosophy and approach to photography. We also worked with Shagari of Shagari Gerard Photography, a photographer whose work I’ve admired. He came on board to capture the festivities in film and digital. Our film team was lead by Sabrina of KUU Productions. Sabrina is a long standing family friend and Neal and I photographed her wedding.NADIA HOLMES
Kye Nelson of nWAD Event Design celebrated 10 years with her husband, Zuri, in a dreamy 10-year vow renewal in New Orleans.
Designed by Kye herself, the day was flawless and brimming with style. She even changed into 3 different gowns! Zuri was equally fashionable in two custom tuxes. Kye shares, “These photos were inspired by the vision I’ve always had of… me as a bride. I wanted it to be regal, but still modern. Classic, but still over the top.”
Captured by Shagari Gerard Photography, the photos are everything she dreamed of. Timeless and filled with emotion, they effortlessly illustrate their enduring love. We wish them many more years of wedded bliss.
When and where did you first get married?
We were married May 19, 2012. We were married in New Orleans, Louisiana.
What was your wedding like?
We had a very small and intimate ceremony in Kye’s mother's backyard.
As you celebrate your anniversary, what do you remember most about your wedding day?
I remember the humble beginnings. We didn’t have any florals or decor. There wasn’t a budget. It was just two young people in love that wanted to be married, and the family that supported us.
Was there anything you would have done differently for your wedding?
Not really. It was the cutest little backyard wedding lol. I could say we should have waited a while and planned a full wedding, but if we would have waited we probably wouldn’t have had our dream wedding this year.
What are your favorite things to do as a couple?
We love going out to eat, dressing up, and experiencing different restaurants throughout the city, especially brunch. It’s our thing. We also love to travel.
Kye cooks. We both know how to cook but Kye does most of the cooking. Sometimes she makes me cook my own separate vegan meals.
Do you have any children or pets? If so, list their names and ages.
Zuri has a daughter, Zoey. She’s 18 and just finished her freshman year of college at Fisk University, we are very proud of her. We also have a dog named Hova. He’s 16 and is the love of my life. - (Kye)
When it comes to careers, what do both of you do and how do you make time for each other?
Zuri is the owner of Botanicals Nola, a smoothie and juice bar here in New Orleans. After planning and designing our wedding, I’m currently
looking to start my own event design company, Haus of Nwad. I’m a serial entrepreneur.
What would you say are the most important elements for a successful marriage?
Kye: Understanding! Most people would say communication but communication can’t work if we both don’t have an understanding of each other as a person and an understanding of each other's views and perspectives.
Zuri : Loyalty! I believe when you’re loyal to something or someone, emotions and feelings are inferior to that loyalty. When you’re loyal, any changes that may arise in a relationship will not sway you from your commitment to someone.
How do you keep the spark in your marriage?
We are currently working on this. We’ve made a vow to have at least one date night a week. We’ve also vowed to go to sleep at the same time each night. We’ve found that this practice has brought us closer together.
Tell us about the shoot. What inspired it?
These photos were inspired by the vision I’ve always had of the image of me as a bride. I wanted it to be regal, but still modern. Classic, but still over the top. They are perfect.
What do you love most about the photos?
Shagari executed my vision perfectly. He created these timeless photos that tell a story, he captured every design aspect and every emotion. He understood the assignment.
What advice can you give for newlyweds?
Kye: Zuri and I always laughed when we heard couples say marriage was hard. We just didn’t see it that way. For the first seven years, it was smooth sailing for us. Oh but baby, let me tell you lol… it does get hard. When it does, try to remember all of the good times and the reasons you chose each other in the first place. Understand that you guys are a team and it’s not you versus each other, it’s us versus the problem!
Zuri: Learn to listen to each other. Listen to understand and not to have a rebuttal.