Donette and Ayinde first crossed paths during a summer conference while both were attending high school.
“We did not see eye-to-eye on a lot of the topics and ended the program as simple Facebook associates,” Donette recalls. It wouldn’t be until five years later that their love story truly began when their paths once again crossed, this time during a festival while both were attending college. Following that event, they began a conversation that would continue first online, then text messaging, followed by hours on the phone. In Donette’s words, “Our love for God drew us closer together and sparked a mutual desire to start courting.” Ayinde and Donette were pronounced husband and wife during an intimate garden wedding in Washingtonville, New York – featuring work by MunaLuchi Coterie members Nana Annan, and Ijeoma Ezinne.
Bride & Groom: Donette & Ayinde
Occupations: Community Health Strategist & Management Consultant
Wedding Date: September 29, 2019
Wedding Location: Washingtonville, New York
How did you meet? We met in 2008 at a high school summer conference for social change called Anytown. We were challenged to engage in difficult conversations on prejudice and dismantle our unconscious biases. We did not see eye-to-eye on a lot of the topics and ended the program as simple Facebook associates. About five years later, we crossed paths again in college at The Festival of Black Gospel. We were both in young adult choirs scheduled to minister at the event. We briefly greeted each other and carried on with our weekends. Days later we started a conversation on Facebook, then weeks later through text messages, and months later by phone calls. Our love for God drew us closer together and sparked a mutual desire to start courting in 2016, get engaged in 2018, and tie the knot in 2019.
Tell us about the proposal. At the beginning of our courtship, I felt an undeniable urge to leave Brooklyn and join the Peace Corps. I was assigned to serve in Ecuador for 27 months. Since Ayinde was staying in Brooklyn, we made a commitment to visit each other every three to six months in an effort to sustain the relationship. Every time Ayinde visited Ecuador he would cleave to my hip and we would go everywhere together because he did not know a lick of Spanish. However, during one visit he decided to do a few things on his own. I thought it was weird because he didn’t know enough Spanish to go out unaccompanied, but I didn’t say anything. I assumed he needed alone time. Later in the day, he took me to a fancy four-course meal dinner. Our table was outdoor on a private patio and decorated with rose petals. During dessert, a waiter brought my chocolate cake order with a Tiffany blue ring box. Then Ayinde got down on one knee and proposed. It was very romantic! He traveled to a different country and organized an engagement dinner, with the help of people who didn’t speak the same language as him. To this day I don’t know how he pulled it off, but I thank God for being the fuel that kept our love burning despite the distance, time, and language barriers.
What was the wedding shopping experience like for you? Our wedding style was Timeless Love. We chose this theme because it perfectly summarized our experience loving each other across time zones and wanting our journey to inspire others for generations to come. With that in mind, I wore an off-white strapless A-lined wedding gown with a rosette skirt by David’s Bridal. Ayinde wore a slim-fit tuxedo with navy trousers, off-white jacket, and navy bow tie by Brooklyn Tailors. The bridesmaids wore long and sequin gold dresses of their choice from Rent the Runway and the groomsmen wore slim-fit navy suits from Men’s Wearhouse.
Since Ayinde and I were planning the wedding from different countries, we did a lot of research online about the wedding styles we liked. We created a vision board on Pinterest to communicate our interests with each other, the bridal party, and vendors. We shared our vision board with prospective vendors and made commitments to vendors based on their genuine interest in helping us make our dream wedding a reality. The process of shopping for vendors took time but it was not difficult because we defined in advance what we wanted. Once we knew what we wanted, it was easy to choose vendors who were willing to help us birth our vision.
Did you incorporate any culture into your wedding? We incorporated the Caribbean tradition of serving Rum Cake at our wedding. Since I am Guyanese and Ayinde is Vincentian, our guests were predominantly Caribbean immigrants and first-generation West Indian Americans. We understood no amount of time, money, and effort spent on the wedding could ever take the place of Rum Cake. So, we hand-packaged slices of the Irie Caribbean tradition in little bags and distributed it as wedding favors.
Wedding Party Gifts: We gifted the bridal party professional glamour services. The bridesmaids had a Makeup Artist and the groomsmen had a Barber to help prepare for the wedding.
Gifts for Each Other: Ayinde’s gift was a Black Book of boudoir photos. He deserved a selection of sexy pictures after we spent years saving ourselves for marriage.
Donette’s gift was a stationary set. I figured if books and stationery supplies hold the key to her heart then this gift was the perfect way to start serenading her.
Ceremony Entrance Song: “Canon in D” by Pachelbel
First Dance Song: “At Last” by Etta James
What is your best memory from your wedding? Our favorite part of the wedding was the ceremony. After years of praying for our spouse, exercising patience in a long-distance relationship, and studying the typology of our physical union to the spiritual union between God and His Church, the ceremony was heartwarming. We cried throughout the vow exchange and our guests were equally emotional.
What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples? Our advice for engaged couples is to plan a detailed, hour-by-hour wedding day timeline. The timeline helped us, the bridal party, and vendors to stay informed, on time, and stress-free throughout the day.
Venue: FEAST at Round Hill
Bride’s Dress: David’s Bridal
Groom’s Suit: Brooklyn Taylors
Bride’s Shoes: ALDO
Groom’s Shoes: Joseph Cheaney and Sons
Jeweler: Tiffany and Company
Officiant: Pastor Stephen Francis
Wedding Photographer & Videographer: Stilwell Photography and Films
Bridal Boudoir Photographer: Nana Annan
Bridal Make-up Artist: Ijeoma Ezinne
Bridesmaids’ Make-up Artist: Rose Maurent
Groom & Groomsmen’s Barber: Vince Jamael
Bridesmaid’s Dresses: Rent The Runway
Groomsmen’s Suits: Men’s Wearhouse
Cake Baker: The Pastry Garden
Florist: Flowers by JoAnn
Lights & Music: DJ Richie Schneider and MC Nick Brown of MSV Entertainment
Host Hotel: Homewood Suites by Hilton Newburgh-Stewart Airport