There are times in life when feelings we can’t explain appear to be guiding us…an occurrence that sets us on a path to somewhere or someone. To a person who when seen, leaves us at first glance with inexplicable feelings of familiarity – as if we’ve known them before and simply forgot our futures lied together until that very moment.
For Ana and Jean-Claude, the crossing of their paths seemed inevitable and their love fated by a higher power. That first glance moment occurring for them in 2011 at a hotel in Cape Town, South Africa. Leaving them both with an impression so strong it would remain on their minds for years. For it wasn’t until 2015 that they formally were introduced to one another – until then never going beyond casual occasional pleasantries exchanged in passing by.
On Easter weekend of that year, knowing Ana’s feelings for Jean-Claude, her friend decided to play match-maker – setting them up on a dinner date. During that unforgettable evening Jean-Claude admitted to having thought about her often ever since that first sighting back in 2011. He was able to recall her every word of every brief conversation they shared as if his heart were nourished by the cherished memories…
Continue reading all bout Ana and Jean-Claude’s beautiful love story and romantic beach proposal in Tanzania.
Bride & Groom: Bride: Ana Isabel Bodipo-Memba & Groom: Jean-Claude Kizito Mbuyamba
Occupations: Bride: Foreign Service Officer; Groom: Student
Wedding date: October 1, 2016
Wedding location: San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, California
Tell us how you met and all about the proposal: How we met: Jean-Claude and I first “met” when I was on vacation in Cape Town, South Africa in 2011 and I was staying at a hotel where he worked. We didn’t speak to each other much but couldn’t help but notice each other. I would return to the same hotel fairly frequently from 2011 to 2014 while I was living in Mozambique. I would see Jean-Claude, say hello, have polite conversations but never had the opportunity to really talk with him. That changed in 2015.
It was Easter Weekend and a friend of mine, Patrice, and I decided to go to Cape Town, South Africa. We both just recently moved to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Patrice had never been to Cape Town before. I told Patrice what a fabulous city it was and that we must stay at this wonderful Bed & Breakfast. I also mentioned that there was a very handsome and charming man that worked there over the years and maybe we would see him too (I didn’t remember Jean-Claude’s name at the time).
Well when we arrived, Patrice decided that she would be the “match maker” between Jean-Claude and I. The three of us went out for dinner and had a wonderful time. It felt like Jean-Claude, Patrice and I were old friends who had known each other for a long time. The following night, Jean-Claude and I went out alone (Patrice decided to make it “our date” based on the vibe she was getting between the two of us). Once again, the dinner started off great. It felt very normal and comfortable. Then suddenly, Jean-Claude said to me while we were eating, “I think I can fall in love with you.” I was shocked! Jean-Claude went on to describe how he noticed me back in 2011 and how he had these feelings about me that he couldn’t explain but was always hesitant to tell me because he wanted to be respectful. He recited conversations we had earlier in the weekend, demonstrating he was a good listener and truly paying attention to the times we spent together. At the end of his “soliloquy”, he asked me if he could give me his contact information and if I would do the same. Surprising myself, I said yes. The next day I returned to Dar es Salaam and Jean-Claude called me everyday ever since. During our conversations, we talked about everything – sharing our greatest hopes, joys and fears – and it continues to this day.
The proposal: Jean-Claude coordinated the entire proposal with my close girl friends here in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to my surprise (and it worked)! Friends of ours, the wife is African American and the husband is Congolese, were having their going away party at a Jamaican restaurant on the beach where they got married. After the event, while everyone was milling around, Jean-Claude pulled me aside and said, “Let’s take a walk on the beach for some fresh air.”
As we were walking on the beach, Jean-Claude began to talk about how much he loved me and how he was looking forward to our future, and then he pulled out a blue ring box, with a Tanzanite ring, and got down on one knee. I started crying. After he asked me to marry him and I said yes, I quickly snapped back to “reality”, stopped and said, “but wait Jean-Claude, we are at someone else’s party, how are we going to explain that we did this on their day…” When all of a sudden, I hear one of my girls start yelling and another girl I see out of the corner of my eye snapping photos! “What is going on,” I asked and then everyone from the party started to rush down to the beach, yelling and screaming, “congratulations,” in multiple languages – English, French, Swahili, Lingala, etc.. I was overwhelmed. It turns out that Jean-Claude had already cleared the proposal with the couple that was having the going away party. They felt like it was a sort of “passing on the love” being able to share their special day and the place with Jean-Claude and I. The other shock was that only my girls and the couple knew. The rest of the friends at the party were also surprised too! It was the most loving and memorable proposal one could have ever imagined, being surrounded by so many people whom love and support our relationship.
What was wedding shopping like for you? My dress was purchased at Mary’s Designer Bridal Boutique in Annapolis, Maryland. It was as a trumpet dress with ruching and a short train. My best friend and close girl friends helped me pick out my dress. The process took no more than two days to find my dress.
Did you incorporate any culture into your wedding? I was born in California to parents from Equatorial Guinea and Jean-Claude was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We both share a love for the continent of Africa and the Pan-Africanism. For the wedding we incorporated fabric from Tanzania (where we both live now), a traditional song from Equatorial Guinea, sung in my mother’s language (Ndowe), a reception seating chart with the map of the African continent and tables named after various countries, a mixture of American and African flavored food, and had a music playlist incorporating old school and new school from the US, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cameroon.
What is your best memory from your wedding? Our reception entrance was so much fun! It was actually a surprise for Jean-Claude as it relates to the song (I forgot to tell him). We danced in to “Aye” by American born Nigerian singer Davido – an energetic love song that one can’t help but dance to. All of our guests, literally from around the world, got up and started dancing! It was wonderful. I couldn’t stop smiling!!
What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples? Enjoy the moments together preparing for the big day. Once the day arrives, just let go and have fun! When you are happy, your guests will also be happy!
Favorite item on the menu: A Gambian Beef Stew called Domoda and fresh lemon and garlic Tilapia.
First dance song: “Unbelievable” by Craig David
Hair & Makeup Artist: Vernitta (Ninah) Weddles (Instagram: @ninahwee)
Wedding Planner/Designer/Director: A Monique Affair
Caterer: Delicious Catering
Ceremony & Reception Venue: San Francisco Theological Seminary
DJ: UTAKE DJs
Florist: Sweetness and Light Floral Design
Officiant: Kent Webber
Pastry Chef/Cupcakes: Cupcakin Bake Shop
Pastry Chef/Couples Cutting Cake: Merritt Bakery
Photographer: Christine Glebov Photography
Seating Chart Designer: Shopannabelle’s
Invitation Suite: Bibi Invitations
Wedding Programs: Magnet Street
Lighting: Just De’Lights