Monique and Menelik first met while both were pursuing a teaching certification program. Their connection was "instant," falling right into comfortable conversation as if already knowing each other. Shortly after meeting they were setting up a first date and on their way to a relationship. Though after six months they went their separate ways, until life brought them back together again. It was during that meeting while catching up that Menelik just "couldn't stop smiling," when in Monique's presence again. From that moment on her "couldn't stop thinking about her" and that's when he knew she was the one...
Read all about Monique & Menelik's love story, proposal, and experiences in their New York Castle wedding - featuring videography by MunaLuchi Coterie member Luxor Wedding Films.
Bride & Groom: Monique & Menelik
Wedding Date: October 25, 2018
Wedding Location: Oheka Castle, New York
Photographer: Samantha Clarke Photography
Tell us how you met. My wife and I met in 2008. We were both enrolled in an alternative teaching certification program in Baltimore. We had this instant connection and we started dating shortly after we met. Six months later we broke up.
After nearly year a part I asked to meet up with her to get a book for work and we ended up talking for a few hours. We were just catching up, not a deep conversation but I couldn’t stop smiling and after I left I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I knew then that I didn’t want us to be apart ever again.
Tell us about the proposal. After we reconciled we lived in Baltimore for a little while longer but then decided to move to New York where I am from originally. The week before Valentine’s day Menelik had to go to Baltimore for work. We both decided that I would drive down at the end of the week so we could visit friends. He said he wasn’t impressed with the hotel he had booked and wanted to change hotels, but he didn’t say where. By Friday night, I still wasn’t sure where we were going and every time I asked he said it was a surprise. Menelik typically procrastinates so this wasn’t atypical. He ended up booking a room at the Gaylord, one of our favorite hotels which is a few miles outside of DC. As we were heading down there Menelik said we had reservations at a restaurant near the hotel so we would have to change. When we got to the hotel I rested for a bit and Menelik went to the gym. Then I started getting ready and as I was about to grab my coat he asked me to stop, which was a little awkward. He then took my hand and brought me to the window which overlooked The Capitol Wheel (it’s a Ferris Wheel that sits 180 feet above the Potomac Waterfront with 1.6 million LED lights that are activated at night ). He handed me a hand written card that expressed his love for me as he knelt down on one knee, and after I had finished reading it, he asked me to marry him.
What was wedding shopping like for you? Wedding shopping was very stressful for me. We got engaged a few days before Valentines day and I was told I would need to purchase my dress at least 8 months in advance. However, I had a lot going on. I was leaving for a 2 week long trip in Asia. I was also in the process of changing roles at work and moving apartments. The last thing that I wanted to do was search for a wedding dress, but I did and I was constantly being reminded of how little time I had to find something. I went to four different stores and visited three of them twice. The three of them that I visited twice were painful. Often times, dresses would be in a size 2, which I was not, making it really difficult to see what the dress would look like on me. Another extremely famous store was run like a factory. You have a small window of time to look at the dresses, many of the dresses were not my size which bundled on top of the time crunch made it very painful. Ultimately, I did find a dress, but unfortunately, I was unable to try it on before I purchased it because of the size. I had my best friend try it on, who has a VERY different body shape than I do, and I just hoped for the best.
Did you incorporate any culture into your wedding? My family is Caribbean and I wanted to incorporate something, so I gave out black (rum) cake as my favors. I also tried to use my wedding to support black businesses so I patronized as many black vendors as possible. Not everyone was black, but the overwhelming majority were.
Wedding Party gifts: Bridesmaids: Shoes and Cosmetic Bags (names were inscribed) with goodies (hand warmers because it was cold that day and we were doing an outdoor ceremony, Aleve and Tylenol for headaches, Pepto Bismol, tissues for the criers, Neutrogena makeup wipes, Clean and Clear blotting papers, chapstick, Listerine strips, hand lotion and a Luna Foreo). Groomsmen: Engraved Cufflinks and Laser Engraved Toiletry Bags with hand warmers, Listerine strips, Pepto Bismol, Aleve and Tylenol
Favorite item on the menu: Chocolate Mousse (we didn’t get any, but it was great at the tasting)
First dance song: "You and I" by John Legend
What is your best memory from your wedding? Walking down the aisle. That was the one moment where I felt like time slowed down and I actually got to enjoy the moment. Everything after that happened extremely quickly.
What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples? Use the timelines as a checklist for what needs to be done, but know that you can do things on your own time too. I found the time constraints, particularly because I was getting married eight months after I got engaged, to be a little overwhelming. And don’t focus on your guests. I made decisions based on what I felt like would be most accommodating to my guests, but that didn’t give me an opportunity to do what I wanted or to truly enjoy my wedding. For example, I chose to do food stations so that my guests would have lots of options to choose from. I also tried to entertain so my guests would feel like they got to spend time with me. We regretted these decisions because we didn’t get to enjoy our wedding for us and we didn’t get to spend much time together during the reception.
Tuxedos: The Black Tux
Wedding dress designer: Galia Lahav
wedding dress salon: Bridal Reflections
Veil and Overskirt: Pantora Bridal
bridesmaids dresses: Amsale
Hair: Star Stylist Chanise
Makeup: Farestina Hull
Shoes: Badgley Mischka
Ceremony & Reception Location & Cake Supplier: Oheka Castle
Photography: Samantha Clarke
Videography: Luxor Wedding Films
Wedding Planner & Design: Bjorn the Event Planner
Florist: Evelisa Floral Design