“Prior to meeting Victor, my prayer for a future mate was, ‘God, I don’t know who he is but I ask that you be with him, wherever he is, whatever he is doing and make Him a man after Your own heart,'” Wendy shares. The couple, grounded in faith, met through random occurrences. Then one day Victor asked Wendy to join him at Baugette De France in Berrien Springs, MI where they had lunch. Neither of them were particularly looking for a relationship but what they found was an undeniable connection. “After that lunch, I found myself wanting to spend more time with her. Soon I had to go back on my initial confession that I only wanted to be friends because I sensed something special about this young lady and our very natural relationship,” says Victor. That casual lunch was just the beginning of what would be a love designed by God.
Favorite item on the menu: Everything on the menu was awesome! Being a destination wedding, we had a Jamaican menu.
Wedding flowers: Roses and hydrangeas
First dance song: At Last – Etta JamesBride: Wendy Bartley – Doctor of Physical Therapy student
Groom: Victor Bartley – Pastor
Wedding Location: Montego Bay, Jamaica-Half Moon Rock Resort
Tell us about the proposal:
We pulled into Sylvan Park and started our walk, as we normally like to do. All of a sudden, I heard people singing but I couldn’t see where the voices were coming from. As we got closer I started to hear the The Lion King theme song, “The Circle of Life.” It was then that I asked, “What’s going on?” He just kept walking and laughing. My friends came from behind a cluster of trees disguised in masks and attire from The Lion King (hand drawn and painted by Victor). While singing the song, they led me to a gazebo that had a table with a wrapped box. I walked over to the box and was instructed to open it. Inside the box were puzzle pieces that I started to put together. When I was done, there was one piece missing. I looked over at Victor, and asked where the puzzle piece was. He started looking around, and I joined him as we looked in the gift box I had just finished opening. After looking and looking, he pulled the missing puzzle piece out of his pocket and gave it to me. I placed the recovered piece in the puzzle and it was complete. The puzzle pictured the Lion King playbill. Victor then started talking about the time we first met and how everything fell into place. He talked of a puzzle he and I had completed the year before, a 1,000 piece black and white puzzle of the Brooklyn Bridge. At the end of that long project, we decided to make a list of the many lessons we had learned through that process. Lesson #13 reminded us not get so bogged down in one piece that we miss the masterpiece. Victor then asked me to look at the completed puzzle again. As I looked at it, I noticed there were words around the mane of the lion. He asked me if I saw them and asked me to read them out loud. As I started tracing them, I read out loud, “Will you marry me?” I turned around to look at him and there he was down on one knee. He then said, “I failed to tell you that I began praying for my wife during the years that you experienced some darkness, and I rejoice because God’s work is undeniable. To help me accomplish His will I need your help…ndikupempha undikwatire.” “Ndikupempha undikwatile” means, “Will you Marry Me?” in Chichewa (my mother tongue).
What was your wedding dress style? And what was your favorite accessory?
My dress was a sweetheart neckline, fit and flare with lace applique. My favorite wedding accessory was my bridal bouquet which had a picture of my father and I. 2 months before our wedding, my father passed away suddenly. Though having the picture on my bouquet didn’t bring him back, it certainly let me know he would’ve loved to be there.Our first look was my favorite memory, it was such a raw, emotional experience for both of us. – Victor
How was culture incorporated in your wedding?
We incorporated Malawian wedding traditions, being that I am Malawian. We had a lot of African music and dancing. We also had a well known Malawian celebration called Perekani Perekani. This is a time when family and friends throw money to the bride and groom while dancing. The money is essentially a gift to the bride and groom to help them in establishing their new home.
What advice do you have for our brides-to-be?
Your day will come and something WILL go wrong, take it all in stride and enjoy every moment because you will remember a lot more than you think. You would rather have memories of the joy, love, and laughter of that day than negative memories.
Photography – Sophia Barrett Studios
Wedding Website- 1Brightstar Media
Wedding Planner – Shanoya Watson, Half Moon Resort
Wedding Decorator – Keneisha O’Connor, Cattleya Decor
Wedding Programs – Elisabeth Higginbotham, designedbyelisabeth
Congratulations to Wendy and Victor on their nuptials. We’re so honored that you shared your gorgeous day with us! View the entire gallery of this stunning wedding here.