COVID-19 has not canceled love or weddings. In many cases, going through this pandemic has brought couples together. Today, we have another inspiring couple that decided to exchange vows during the pandemic.
Allan and Shayla met during a party in NYC during 2012. Shayla recalls, “I’d stepped outside for some fresh air, and Allan was outside too. He immediately caught my eye, but I played it cool, and we struck up a conversation. He kept it really professional and gave me his business card!” They exchanged emails, connected on social media and were soon planning their first date.
Almost seven years later, Allan proposed in Paris. Shayla started planning their wedding the moment the plane took off from Paris back to the States. However, their plans were derailed by COVID-19.
They decided to move forward with their wedding anyway opting for an intimate park wedding in April. It was just the two of them and their officiant. The ceremony ended up being perfect. Shayla shares, “We’re a pretty lowkey couple and honestly wondered about the experience of sharing such intimate vows, promises, and declarations in front of our family and friends. It ended up just being the two of us, so that exchange was very special and just right for us.”
We wish this couple the best. Read about their romantic Paris engagement, and how they prepared for their intimate nuptials below.
- Groom & Bride : Allan Cole & Shayla
- Occupations: Allan: Web developer/designer at Automattic Inc., Musician, and Visual Artist; Shayla: Regional Community Manager at The Wing
- Wedding date: 04/04/2020
- Wedding location: Malcolm X Park, Washington, DC (also known as Meridian Hill Park)
How did you meet?
Allan: We met in 2012 at a party in NYC. Shayla had just relocated to Brooklyn from Philly, and having moved to NYC for college, I’d been there for about 11 years. My brother went to school with Shayla’s best friend, so we ended up being at the same party with the same group of folks but hadn’t met before.
Shayla: I’d stepped outside for some fresh air, and Allan was outside too. He immediately caught my eye, but I played it cool, and we struck up a conversation. He kept it really professional and gave me his business card! We exchanged a couple of emails and connected on social media. A few months later, when the Mayan calendar was predicting the world would end, I slid into his DMs to let him know I liked him. We went on our first date a few weeks later, and although it took him a little longer to figure it out – I knew then he was the one I’d marry someday.
Tell us about the proposal
Allan: We got engaged on March 25, 2019 in Paris. I was in France a week prior on a design research trip for work, and had explored this place called Le Bon Marché with my team for inspiration. I noticed it was filled with food, fashion, tech, art, decor, a little bit of everything Shay and I enjoy. Although I carried the ring around with me all day the day before in Versaille, I ultimately knew Le Bon Marché was where I wanted to propose. I sought out this little cafe space I’d spotted there. We had coffee, we had wine, and I popped the question.
Shayla: I got flown out. Allan planned the whole trip, dinners, museums, a tour of Versaille, it was really special. After he proposed, we spotted an older Black couple in the cafe and used our translator app to request they take a picture for us. Turns out they were Americans from Florida! They celebrated that moment with us – four Black Americans in Paris – it was all really special.
Allan: Classic tux, unexpected touches like velvet shoes with no socks and vinyl record cufflinks. I also wore a lapel pin from my mother, inside of my tux jacket, close to my heart.
Shayla: My dress was sleek, detailed, a bit unexpected. We exchanged vows in a very fairytale-like park so I found these Cinderella slippers that seemed appropriate. My jewelry was very subtle so as to not conflict with the intricate sequin design of my dress.
What was the wedding shopping experience like for you?
Shayla: I had a really hard time finding my dress. I started looking soon after we got engaged, and ended up visiting about 8 or 9 different boutiques looking for “the one”. Luckily, so many dresses I tried would look great on, and I would get a great response, but nothing was it. I’m very particular. Literally, three weeks out from the wedding, a day or two before we had to cancel our plans due to COVID-19, I finally found two dresses at Pantora Bridal, a black-owned bridal salon in Brooklyn. I ended up wearing my reception dress to our vow exchange, and it was perfect for the occasion. We also had to cancel with our florist, so I ordered a dried bouquet from UrbanStems.
Allan: My shopping experience was pretty straight forward. The only thing I was adamant about was velvet shoes, which I was able to find. My vinyl record cufflinks were a nod to my music production.
Did you incorporate any culture into your wedding?
Shayla: We originally intended to incorporate music into our wedding in a very intentional way, but COVID-19 changed that. My something old and something borrowed were family heirlooms and nods to our southern Black roots. We were also very intentional about marrying in Malcolm X Park and working with black-owned vendors.
What is your best memory from your wedding?
Our vows. It was important to us to write our own vows. Yet we’re a pretty lowkey couple, and honestly wondered about the experience of sharing such intimate thoughts, promises, and declarations in front of our family and friends. It ended up just being the two of us, so that exchange was very special and just right for us.
What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples?
Allan: People always say, “do what you want” but it’s so easy to get caught up in considering the experience of your family and friends. Actually starting your planning process from what you want, and then figuring out how to create an experience for all of your loved ones with that in mind is key.
Shayla: Agreed. I started planning our wedding the moment the plane took off from Paris back to the States. I love planning events, decor aesthetics, and all of that, but the process became overwhelming and no longer fun for me. Despite COVID-19, the calm and peace I felt on our wedding day put all of that planning and stress in perspective. It was all a distraction from what truly mattered the most, our desire to commit to one another. So I’d say, make sure that in planning a special moment to mark your vows, stay focused on what it’s really all about, the two of you committing to one another. Everything else is literally just the icing on the cake.