Tomica and Ayodeje's love story began thirty-thousand feet in the air on a plane en route to Barbados. Filling out the customs forms, Ayodeje realized he was without a pen and asked to borrow Tomica's. After landing, Tomica located Ayodeje in the airport to get the pen back and ultimately ended up receiving so much more as they grew closer over the course of the trip. Ayodeje knew Tomica was the one, "because of the nurturing person that she is. She takes care of me and makes me feel like I can do anything."
Read all about Tomica & Ayodeje's love story, romantic proposal, and experiences in their classically elegant New York City wedding.
Bride & Groom: Tomica & Ayodeje
Occupations: Lawyer/Food Entrepreneur & Youth Counselor
Wedding date: 9.9.17
Wedding location: Harlem & Upper East Side, NYC
Tell us how you met and all about the proposal. Tomica: "Technically, Ayo and I met in JFK airport in November 2015. We were headed on a group trip to Barbados with some friends and family. I don't think much dialogue was exchanged but I do remember Ayo asking me for a pen to fill out his customs form on the plane. Reluctantly, I gave it to him."
Ayodeje: "I remember thinking Tomica was very serious. I also remember asking to borrow a pen on the plane and how she hunted me down to get it back once we arrived in Barbados. I kept thinking to myself, 'its just a pen!' Once we arrived at the house, I think she started to loosen up."
Tomica: "After getting to know Ayo on the trip, I felt very strongly about seeing him again. I did something that is so uncharacteristic and I asked him if he wanted to see the movie Creed together over the weekend. To my delight, Ayo said yes. But I was so casual about asking him that I actually wasn't sure if it was a date or not. I guess it was a date in his head because from there we just kept talking and hanging out!"
Tomica: "The proposal was so cute, mainly because Ayo went out of his way to make it special for me. Ayo made dinner plans on a Friday night in the neighborhood we had our first kiss. We got to the restaurant and had a great seat by the window and we ordered a delicious meal. Somewhere between dinner and dessert, one of the waitresses came over and brought a photo book to me. It was an album of our memories up until that point and I was so shocked that Ayo put it together. I never thought of him as crafty prior to this. By the time we finished reminiscing through the pages together, Ayo stood up and got down on one knee. I wish I could remember what he said but I know he asked me to marry him somewhere in there and of course I said yes. The whole restaurant started clapping and sending us drinks. I was walking on air for days after that night."
How did you know they were “the one”? Ayodeje: "I grew to love Tomica because of the nurturing person that she is. She takes care of me and makes me feel like I can do anything."
Tomica: "I felt like Ayo was different from any other man I had dated up until that point. He was so thoughtful, a great listener and just the best person in the world in my eyes. I love his dedication to our relationship and to the institution of marriage in general. I'm thrilled to be spending the rest of my life with him!"
What was wedding shopping like for you? Tomica: "I wore an ivory, figure fitting, sweetheart neckline dress with the most amazing embroidery! My 'something borrowed' was a chapel length veil from one of my best friends from high school who got married the year before me. Dress shopping was fun - I thought I wanted something non-traditional but my mother and sister suggested I try on my dress and I just fell in love!"
Did you incorporate any culture into your wedding? Culture was huge for us - Ayo's family is from Guyana so the night before the wedding we had a "kwe kwe" celebration in which Ayo's family sang traditional songs that would teach us how to be a married couple. We requested that all our guests dress in west African garb and we had some GREAT outfits. At the wedding itself, I think the music selection was the best representation of our culture - my family being black American and Caribbean and Ayo's family being Guyanese. It was a great mix of classic R&B, Motown, Soca and Reggae.
Wedding Party gifts: The bridesmaids received personalized tote bags with their wedding jewelry and a compact mirror engraved with their initials.
Favorite item on the menu: Poulet Yassa from a French Senegalese restaurant in Harlem - Ponty Bistro. Wedding cake was also phenomenal from "There Should Always be Cake" in the Bronx.
First dance song: "I believe in You and Me" by Whitney Houston
What is your best memory from the wedding? Our best memories from the wedding were the super traditional ones - the father/daughter dance and the mother/son dance, and the speeches. We loved hearing the well wishes - our friends and family were so happy for us. The second best memory was when all the formality was over and we could just let loose with our guests. Our wedding was less than 100 people, so we really got to speak to every last person at length - it was super intimate and fun.
What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples? Our advice would be to block out the noise and do the wedding that you want to do. There is a lot of outside pressure to have a ton of details but at the end of the day, it's just about celebrating the love you share. We wanted our welcome party and wedding to look formal but feel very relaxed and I think we accomplished that.
Also, everything will not go as planned and nobody notices. A good planner and photographer will make sure everything feels and looks perfect in posterity so there is no need to fret.
Catering: Ponty Bistro
Wedding dress salon: Glamour Closet
Bridesmaids dresses: Dessy
Hair/makeup: FACE by Sandradene
Ceremony location: St. Philips Church of Harlem
Reception location: 202 East
Photography: Ilene Squires Photography
Wedding planner: The Event Ninjas
Florist: Makini Regal Designs
Cake: There Should Always Be Cake
Stationery: Noirstyle Invites
Event designer: Makini Regal Designs
Hair: Majestic Hair Studio