Malaika and Justin’s Intimate Garden Wedding in New York

Malaika and Justin's relationship took many years to develop. When Justin saw a picture of Makaika on instgram she became all he could think about. However, he is generally pretty shy and couldn't work up the courage to message her. Two years later Justin decided it was time. When he messaged Malaika their interaction was brief and he was heartbroken. He was convinced they'd never be together. Little did he know Malaika felt the connection between them as well and decided to message him! It was as if they were meant to be.

Read all about Malaika and Justin's heartwarming relationship as well as their intimate garden wedding in New York.

Bride & Groom: Malaika & Justin
Occupations: Worship Leader & Music Director
Wedding date: July 29, 2017
Wedding location: Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, New York

Tell us how you met and all about the proposal. (Justin) I saw Malaika on Instagram for the very first time back in 2014. It sounds so cliche but from that very moment I knew she was meant to be my wife. It was almost as if God took a sketch from my head & brought it to life. For the next two years Malaika was literally the only girl on my mind, almost as if God gave me eyes just for her. At this point my family and friends were worried about me because I hadn't been entertaining any other women and just kept bringing up this Instagram famous Malaika Russell girl that I had never even met before. I'm naturally a very shy guy and had never sent a direct message but after two years of waiting I had no choice. I actually remember the day she responded. I was driving home from a rehearsal when I saw her name pop up on my phone and almost crashed. We sent about two messages back and forth and unfortunately the communication stopped. Just like that the dream was over. So two months go by and life is back to normal somewhat, no thinking about Malaika all day or scrolling through her Instagram page multiple times a day. Then out of nowhere she direct messaged me! We ended up talking for the whole entire day ending our night around 4am on the phone. From that day on we have literally been inseparable. She's my best friend, my lover, my homie, my wife, and the one that completes me.

(Malaika) So Justin and I had plans to see a movie. He said that a park was having a movie night for the public. You know large projector in the grass/picnic type of set up. So we pull into the huge dark park and he says "I'll be right back, I have to go grab the tickets"... and in my head I'm like "wait what? Grab tickets for a FREE public movie night in the park? That doesn't make any sense" Although i thought it was weird and kinda knew "something was up," I didn't think much of it (not that he was going to propose!). So I say, "okay that's weird that you have to get tickets for a free movie but whatever. Just hurry up, it's dark out here. I'm scared!" So naturally I'm looking around, checking my surroundings just waiting for him to come back (had the car door locked and all!). Then the next thing you know I see a person through the rear view mirror and they're walking towards the car. It was Justin's sister! So in my head I'm like "what the heck is she doing here?" That is when it kinda clicked. I knew something was up! So she walked up to the car, opened the door and says "come with me." As we were walking, there was a path leading to a beautifully lit gazebo. THERE WAS NO MOVIE! Our family and close friends were all standing there. They read some clues and questions that Justin left for me to answer. I answered some questions about things he loved and couldn't live without. There was a baby blue box with a paper inside that said one thing he couldn't live without was me. I finished reading, turned around and there he was on one knee. He proposed!

What was wedding shopping like for you? My wedding style was garden. I love plants and earth tones. My dress was an ivory and champagne lace halter dress. It didn't take long for me to decide on my dress. I actually only tried on three dresses in total. Once I tried it on I knew right away that it was THE ONE.

What is your best memory from your wedding? My best memory from the wedding was hearing Justin's vows. There was a moment as he was speaking that I forgot anyone else was there. It was just God, him and I, and that was all that mattered in that moment. It literally felt like time froze.

What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples? Do what makes you happy, despite the opinions of family and friends. What matters is what the two of you want at the end of the day. Don't allow too many opinions in, it adds too much stress. You can't please everyone, so don't try! Breathe, discuss your thoughts and plans with your fiancé first, agree on what you both want and go with it. You'll never get these moments back. This is a joyful occasion, enjoy the moments, make memories and minimize stress.

Photography: Alyssa Timoteo, Life Like Ruby
Wedding Location: Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Brooklyn, New York
Reception Location: Samui, Brooklyn, New York

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