Featured in MunaLuchi Bride, Issue No. 26, this Nigerian & Jamaican wedding celebrates traditional customs at two non-traditional venues.
Danya and Mike’s love story is unlike most millennial couples today. Instead of meeting on a dating app, through social media, or even via mutual friends, they truly met by chance. In the right place at the right time, the couple’s paths fatefully crossed in 2018 at an event hosted by the International Rescue Committee, a charity close to both of their hearts.
Danya noticed Mike first and boldly joined his group’s conversation. Her confidence paid off as Mike’s attention was captured! By the end of the night, he asked for her number in front of a crowd. She instead gave him her business card. Undeterred, Mike promptly called her the next day – and so began their journey to forever!
Fast forward to 2020, and Mike surprised Danya with an intimate proposal at a family cookout. Of course, she said yes! On October 1st, 2021, the couple celebrated their love and commitment in a Traditional Nigerian Engagement followed by a White Wedding the next day on October 2nd. Both celebrations took place at non-traditional venues to create a unique experience for their 250+ guests and allowed them to share their Nigerian and Jamaican cultures with the people they love. At the end of the night, Danya also shared an exciting update: she’s pregnant! We couldn’t be more excited for these two!
More sweet details on their Nigerian and Jamaican nuptials below.
- Couple: Danya Harnett-Robinson & Michael Ayoola
- Occupations: Danya is a Counsel in the Film Business & Legal Affairs group at Netflix; Michael is a Director of Product Management for Commerce Platforms teams at The New York Times.
- Wedding Date: 10/02/2021 (Nigerian traditional ceremony: 10/01/2021)
- Wedding location: Art Factory Studios in Paterson, NJ
- Nigerian traditional ceremony: Atrium, Tenafly, NJ
- Gifts for their bridesmaids and groomsmen: The bridesmaids all received the Amina gold hoops from Lola Ade, owned and operated by Pamela Adewoyin in Los Angeles.
- Gifts for one another: A lifetime commitment!
- Ceremony entrance song: Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough – Michael Jackson
- First dance song: Nothing Even Matters – Lauryn Hill & D’Angelos
Day 1: Traditional Nigerian Engagement
How they met…
Unlike many other millennial couples that met later in life, Mike and Danya didn’t meet on an app, they weren’t set up by a matchmaker, nor did they have any friends in common, they just happened to be in the same place at the same time. A true chance encounter!
They both had tried all of the other modern dating options, but the stars aligned one fine evening in December 2018 when the two met at an event hosted by the International Rescue Committee, a charity close to the couple’s heart for many reasons. That night, it was Danya who saw Mike first and took the opportunity to join him in conversation while her friend, Nana, briefly left the room.
Undeterred by the fact that Mike was already engaged in conversation, with another woman no less, Danya captured his attention that night and never lost it. Their chemistry was instant and easy. When Danya and Nana were getting ready to leave, Mike took the bold step to ask for Danya’s number in front of a crowd. Unsure of his intent, Danya offered her business card, which Mike graciously accepted. Intrigued by the conversation, and ever gallant despite only having a business card in hand, Mike reached out the very next day. The rest is history!
2020 was a year of many firsts, but few positives. One of the few standouts in an otherwise difficult year for the couple was their engagement, though even that wasn’t without its challenges. Our handsome groom had been planning with the Council of Moms, as we affectionately call them, for months. Mike was battling several obstacles, including an impending pandemic and a girlfriend that noticed every single detail. He had it tough!
Despite the headwinds, he was able to create the perfect day for his proposal. Under the guise of a family cookout, Mike was able to get Danya to her parents’ house without too many questions. They had a great afternoon with family and as the sun started to set, Mike slipped away to put his plan into action. The families coordinated and Mike’s family was able to join the big occasion virtually, which was really special.
After rehearsing his speech a few times, Mike returned with some helpers holding cameras and iPads to stream the event. As he reentered the living room, he slipped down on one knee so quickly that his soon-to-be fiancée was barely aware of what was happening! When she finally realized that this was THE moment, Danya was overjoyed and said not just “yes,” but “of course!” There was no question that he was the one!
The day before their wedding, the two honored Michael’s Nigerian culture with a traditional Yoruba engagement ceremony at the Atrium of Tenafly in Tenafly, NJ. The ceremony allowed both families to be recognized and rewarded for their contributions to the people that Michael and Danya have become, and to bless their union ahead of the wedding day. All of the attire and jewelry worn by the couple, their parents, and their bridal party were hand-made in Nigeria.
Groom receiving the parent’s blessings…
Alaga Iduro presenting the bridal proposal…
Bride’s entrance with Ore Iyawo (female family & friends)…
Receiving the groom’s parent’s blessings…
Placing the fila (cap) signifying an accepted marriage proposal…
The sweet details…
Wedding attire & shopping experience…
On top of everything else she’s done for them over their almost two-year relationship, the couple’s amazing planner extraordinaire, Camille Plummer of JunePlumm Events, helped Danya and Michael connect with the rest of their top-tier team, starting with Danya’s dress designer, Jean-Ralph Thurin, and Michael’s stylist team, Mr. Baldwin Style.
Not only did Jean-Ralph and his business partner and wife, Delfrance, turn Danya’s initial idea into a three-piece multi-look masterpiece, but they treated both Danya and her mom with such warmth and kindness throughout the entire experience. Courtney and Donnell of Mr. Baldwin Style, another married couple, connected Michael with an excellent designer who made a custom three-piece tuxedo for the big wedding day.
Day 2: The White Wedding
Their first look…
At the wedding, both mothers participated in a candle lighting ceremony to signify the joining of the families and to bless the new branch of the family that Michael and Danya started together. At the end of the wedding, like many other Black couples, Danya and Michael jumped the broom to honor all of their ancestors whose experiences form the foundation of their union and whose strength and support will continue to guide them throughout their marriage.
Mr. & Mrs…
Reception space & decor…
Best wedding day memory…
Both Danya and Michael love to dance so when the dance floor opened up with Ricky Bonds from Pulse Sounds in charge and all the guests out of their seats, it was a dream-come-true moment for both of them.
Wedding advice for other engaged couples…
Hire Camille Plummer! Seriously! We wouldn’t have been able to have the wedding that we envisioned at any point, let alone during a pandemic, without her and her team. We’re forever in her debt!
Looking for more Nigerian & Jamaican wedding inspiration?
- Wedding Planner/Designer: Camille Plummer of JunePlumm Events
- Wedding Dress Designer: Jean-Ralph and Delfrance Thurin of Jean-Ralph Thurin
- Photographer: Amy Anaiz Photography
- Videographer: Natasha and Ben Davis of Yamean Studio Films
- Bride’s Hair Stylist: Wariesi Flores of Sumptuous Locks
- Trad Make-up Artists: Sisi Nike
- White Wedding MUA: Felicia Graham
- DJ: Ricky Bonds of Pulse Sounds
- Floral Design: Deniesha Joseph of Fun Fete Fabulous Events
- Wedding Catering: Chef Wenford Simpson of The Simpson Restaurant & bar in Brooklyn, NY
- Bridesmaids’ Earrings: Pamela Adewoyin of Lola Ade
- Wedding Groom’s Stylists: Donnell Baldwin and Courtney Arrington-Baldwin of Mr. Baldwin Style
- Stationery: Le’Trice Penn of Le’Penn Designs
- Traditional Ceremony Venue: Atrium of Tenafly
- Wedding Venue: Art Factory Studios
- Linens: The Finishing Touch
- Trad Specialty Rentals: Glam Party Rentals
- Trad & Wedding Service Rentals: Party Rental Ltd.
- Draping/Lighting: Shades of Grey Productions
- Wedding Bridal Stylist: Stacie The Stylist
- Wedding Officiant: Sean McLean with Weddings By Aretha
- Cake: Ambrosial Confections
- Trad Bartending Service: MamaJuana Mixes
- Event Service Team: Ezee Event Services