Can one have two weddings in one day? With the right team – absolutely! Luvvie and Carnell pulled their wedding off seamlessly.
NY Times bestselling author, Luvvie Ajayi Jones, organized a team of all black and brown vendors that were instrumental in helping her pull off both her traditional Nigerian wedding and her Western (American) wedding on the SAME day. It was a glorious, heartfelt, and magical day. We were happy to cover her wedding in our Fall/Winter 2019 issue available here.
It all started with a beard pull. Yup, you read that right. When Luvvie and Carnell first met, she pulled on his beard to get his attention when he walked past her. Of course he was stunned, and truthfully, so was she at how bold she was. Carnell’s response is what set them on their journey to love. He replied to her acknowledgement of pulling his beard and said, “If you’re gonna do, then do it like you mean it.” They exchanged numbers right after that and have been together ever since.
With a huge social media audience, an NYTimes best-selling book, I’m Judging You, and a TED talk that has garnered over 4 million views, Luvvie Ajayi has built a massive empire of fans and admirers across the globe. It’s no surprise that her Instagram post announcing her engagement went viral very quickly. Fans were overjoyed to learn of her engagement to Carnell Jones and wanted to know more. They had been dating for several years before Carnell popped the big question in Paris in November of 2018, but only those close to her knew any details about their relationship. Although Luvvie has kept her private life tightly secured and out of the eyes of her massive audience, she felt the need to let us all in on what would be one of the most sacred moments in her life — the #LuvvJones wedding. When they started the wedding planning process a few months after their engagement, they vowed that their wedding would be “good vibes, good food, and good music” and it turned out to be everything they wanted and more.
Their hashtag #luvvjones was a perfect play on the movie Love Jones while incorporating elements of both of their names (Luvvie Ajayi and Carnell Jones). “I know I’m biased, but it might be the best wedding hashtag of all time.” Luvvie states during episode 33 of her podcast Rants and Randomness. During the wedding planning process, which was made painless by her wedding planner and designer Akeshi Akinseye of Kesh Events, Luvvie and Carnell went through every single detail of their multi-wedding day. They had roughly six months to plan a traditional Nigerian wedding AND a Western Wedding. (It’s difficult enough to plan one wedding. Try planning two and having them occur on the same day in the same venue.) “Wedding planning and weddings in general feel like life bootcamp. It kind of feels like you’re being thrown into a fire, and hopefully, you walk out of it not being too charred. But at the end of it is this thing, which is ultimately why you’re doing it, which is coming together in front of people with somebody you love. I had two whole weddings on that day.”
The wedding day timeline started with the Traditional Nigerian Wedding from 9 am – 12 pm, followed by the Western Wedding from 6pm-midnight. The purpose of the Yoruba traditional wedding is for the groom to ask for (or beg for) the bride’s hand in marriage in front of her family and to promise to take care of her and treat her with the respect she deserves. It’s the official merging of the two families and is filled with colorful outfits, lots of prayers, and plenty of love. Each family wears distinct colors and outfits (AsoEbi) to represent either the bride or groom. Luvvie had her Asoebi squad wear gold while Carnell’s wore burgundy. All of the gorgeous Asoebi outfits were custom made with intricately hand-stoned fabrics from Nigeria. Luvvie and Carnell wore turquoise with hints of gold and burgundy. Guests were served passed hors d’oeuvres that included traditional Nigerian delicacies. On top of the cake were flags that represented all of the countries that Luvvie and Carnell traveled to as a couple.
Following the Traditional Wedding, guests headed back to their hotels for a quick wardrobe change and Luvvie and Carnell got ready for the Western Ceremony. Before the ceremony, they opted to do a first look. “We didn’t want to wait until walking down the aisle to see one another,” recalls Luvvie. The ceremony was absolutely stunning with romantic candles and cascading white roses. Luvvie was walked down the aisle by her mom over a lush carpet of over 1000 white rose petals. The song was Lauryn Hill’s “Tell Him” sung live by Emmy Award-winning actress and singer Cynthia Erivo and accompanied by a violinist. “Her voice is touched by the Gods,” states Luvvie. The officiant, Rev. Dr. Appianda Arthur, mother of Bozoma Saint John, started the ceremony by greeting everyone in ten languages. During the unplugged ceremony, Luvvie and Carnell read vows they wrote for one another. At the end of the heartfelt ceremony, they jumped the broom to honor Carnell’s African-American culture.
The precursor to the wedding was the lit cocktail hour with yummy cocktails provided by St. Germaine. It lasted for an hour and a half while Akeshi and her design team flipped the room for the third time to get ready for the wedding reception. It was a whole lituation as Luvvie would say, and had guests already hyped before the reception began.
At the reception, the room was transformed into a luxe, romantic dinner for the 270 guests with oversized white blooms accented with lush greenery. Gold large vases and gold accented chairs added the perfect touch of glam to the romantc design. The 2nd wedding cake was a classic white and gold cake with subtle drawings of the Eiffel Tower, an ode to where they got engaged. Dinner was phenomenal with a dual Nigerian and Soul Food menu. The couple served staple dishes like Jollof rice, mashed potatoes, Efo iro (spinach stew), stewed chicken and Catfish. Guests indulged in the 5 tier cake (which had 5 different flavors) and a frozè station. There was hardly a guest in their seats as the DJ played all the top hits throughout the night. Remember that swag/surf Luvvie initiated at the White House? Her wedding swag/surf was even more epic. As guests left for the evening they were gifted custom chocolates from black chocolatier Phillip Ashley and bottles of Mambo sauce — favorites of Luvvie and Carnell. “We just wanted to make sure all of our guests felt loved,” says Luvvie.
Good vibes, good food, good music. The couple over exceeded their wedding day goals. For Luvvie, “We had an incredible time. Our wedding was full of love. I knew I would be surrounded by the people I love, but I underestimated how much love I would feel from it.” When asked if she’ll change her last name, Luvvie says, “Yes, I will be going by Luvvie Ajayi Jones.”
Welcome to the married life Mrs. Jones!
- Planning, Floral & Event Design: Kesh Events @keshevents
- Photo: Kesha Lambert @keshalambert
- Video: Yamean Studios @yameanstudios
- Cakes:Edet @edet78
- Hair: Felicia Leatherwood @lovingyourhair
- Bride’s Make up: Jazz Makeup @jazzemakeup
- Bridesmaids Makeup: Sheena Marie Beauty @sheenamariebeauty
- Bride’s Dress: Pantora Bridal @pantorabridal
- 2nd Dress: Tope FNR @Topefnr
- Traditional outfit: @bimmms24
- Jewelry: Pritti Designs Co.
- Grooms tux: Garcon Couture @garconcouture
- Dj: DJ Bonsu @djbonsu
- Bride’s grand entrance: Cynthia Erivo @cynthiaerivo
- Violinist: @nktheviolinist
- Saxophonist: Yinka Owolabi @yinkasax
- Venue: Moonlight Studios @moonlightstudioschicago
- Wedding Stationery: By Dami Studios @bydamistudiosnyc
- Chairs & Rentals: Elie Rose Chicago @ellierosechicago
- Lighting: @sound_investment
- Draping: A Posh Production @aposhproduction
- Catering: Black Fox CEO @blackfoxceo
- Catering: @africanamobilekitchen
- Catering Support: @jewelleventscatering
- Late Night Station: Sweet Kiwi Yoghurt
- Styling: @segungele
- Favors: Phillip Ashley @phillipashley
- Photobooth: Freckled Dragon @freckleddragonent