When Jamal proposed to Monique, he picked a day after her birthday and after the holidays to do so, giving her absolutely zero signs of when she could expect the big moment. The happy couple was so excited to jump the broom and incorporate the beautiful song, “At Dawning” by Paul Robeson during their ceremony, which was played at Monique’s maternal grandparents’ wedding 70 years ago. Two of many very special moments on their big day.
Wedding Date: March 7, 2015
Wedding Location: The ceremony took place at Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, CA while the reception took place at Portofino Hotel and Marina in Redondo Beach, CA
First Dance Song: “You” by Jesse Powell
Favorite Item on the Menu: Risotto Cake
Prior to meeting Jamal in 2012, I could not understand why I had everything I wanted in life, except what I wanted most: my lifelong partner. Enter, my godmother. On October 27, 2012, she sent my cousins and I to a mixer for a professional organization, where I met Jamal. We talked, exchanged numbers, and continued to build on our initial connection.
Jamal’s marriage proposal was perfect: sweet, thoughtful, personal, and family-inclusive. On January 3, 2014, I was finishing up my 125 miles daily commute from work with teenagers at a juvenile camp. Jamal knew my driving routine and called me when I was stuck in traffic, but physically close to home. He asked me to hop off the freeway and meet him at a nearby restaurant because he had a family emergency in his hometown of Cleveland, OH and wanted to talk to me before he got on the airplane. The restaurant happened to be the same place we had our first date. When he arrived, he told me there was no family emergency. He started telling me how much he loved me and went into his heartfelt proposal speech as he got down on his knee, asked me to marry him, and presented me with the engagement ring. I was totally surprised because even though we had talked about getting married, I never suspected he would propose on a random day like January 3rd!
We had dessert at the restaurant and then headed to my aunt’s house for dinner. When we arrived, all of my family members were present. We were able to share the news with them; they were happily surprised! A few minutes later, my best friend and MOH showed up with a personalized cake and presented me with my first bridal magazine. Jamal planned an incredible proposal that gave us our personal time and included my family. Jamal created a night we will remember forever!
My wedding dress was a ball gown made by Eve of Milady and was a combination of silk, satin, and tulle, with an embroidered, strapped bodice. It had a build-in belt with a bow on the back. The dress was absolutely amazing! There were two dress shops I dreamed of going to. One was a small, family store I shopped in as a teenager for a debutante dress and the other was a super fancy store with chandeliers, a runway, and champagne I had seen one day as I was driving. I made an appointment at both stores. Before the appointments, I fell in love with a dress I saw online. It was a ball-gown, which I never thought I would want. I called the dream store and they assured me they would contact the designer and have the dress for my appointment. The second thing that happened before my appointments was that I found the perfect shoes! The crystals on the shoes glistened on my feet and the design of the crystals matched the dress I had seen online.
I invited about 10 people to the family store and I liked two dresses, neither was THE dress. The following week, one year before the wedding, I headed to the dream store with my mom, two best friends, and future mother-in-law. The dress I requested was hanging outside of a dressing room. As soon as I saw it, I literally gasped and said, “That’s my dress!”
I am glad I ordered the dress a year early. It took nine months for the dress to arrive. When it did, the dress did not fit! I was terrified. The store consultant measured the dress and it turned out that the dress was ordered in the right size, but made in the wrong size. The measurements of the dress were smaller than what they were supposed to be for the size I ordered. The dress was sent back, re-made, and a new dress that fit perfectly was sent to the bridal boutique. The designer and the bridal boutique took care of a potentially stressful situation with no further problems. Good thing we planned ahead!
One memory I will never forget is our first look. Jamal had always said that all wedding dresses looked the same. I was hoping he would think mine was unique, and that I looked beautiful. I was so excited to see him and will never forget the joy we shared when I tapped his shoulder and we faced each other for the first time that day. He was taken aback, loved my dress, and yes, he had never seen a bride who wore a dress like mine or a bride who was as beautiful! He looked incredibly handsome and happy! After running around all morning getting ready, and anticipating a full day ahead, it was special to have a few moments with each other. Our first look provided a perfect start to our special day!
I also will never forget my brother and Jamal embracing as my brother gave me away. My brother walked me down the aisle as the bell choir played a beautiful melody. My dad passed away a few months before Jamal proposed. It was devastating. I did everything I could to try to prepare. I had the florist make a special bouquet for my dad’s grave and my grandparents’ grave. I delivered the flowers the day before the wedding and spent time at the cemetery. Jamal and I had a remembrance candle made that was burning during the ceremony. I also had charms made with a picture of my dad and grandparents, which were attached to my bouquet. I was tear-free until just before my brother walked me down the aisle. The words he spoke were from his heart. They represented/honored my dad, but reflected my brother’s personality. In that moment, I missed my dad, but I had this feeling of pride, joy, and peace to have my brother walk me down the aisle. There was no sorrow, just love.
Enjoy every moment! Being engaged and planning this special day is a once in a lifetime opportunity for you and your sweetheart. Try to embrace and enjoy the process – learn from it, grow together, and have fun with each other. Having a wedding coordinator to manage contracts, organize vendors, and manage the schedule the day of was a huge help! Also, having vendors you trust and believe in should help you focus on your sweetheart and family the day of.
Photography: Crystal Genes Photography
Videographer: Robb Cummings Media
Wedding Coordinator: Angela Mitchell, Love & Elegance
Ceremony: Holman United Methodist Church
Reception: Portofino Hotel and Marina
Bride’s Dress Designer: Eve of Milady
Mother of the Bride’s Dress Designer: Rina di Montella
Bride’s Dress, Mother of the Bride’s Dress, and Bride’s Ceremony Headpiece: Panache Bridal Pasadena
Bridesmaids’ Dresses, Flower girl’s dress, and Acolyte’s Dress: Alfred Angelo
Bride’s Shoes: Jimmy Choo via Nordstrom
Hair Stylist (Bride, Mother of the Bride, MOH, etc…): AquaHair Studio
Second Hair Stylist: SheWilBeauty
Bride’s, Mother of the Bride’s, & Bridesmaids’ Makeup: Janelle Baird and Kim Amos
Bride’s Eyelashes: Taryn Dean – Mikki Bey Eyelash Extensions
Bouquet Memorial Charms: DoinTheBestiCan on Etsy
Bride’s Necklace, Earrings, and Bracelet: Nadri via Nordstrom
Bridesmaids’ Bracelets and Mother of the Bride’s Necklace and Bracelet: Swarovski
Flower girl’s Bracelet and Memorial Candle: Things Remembered
Custom Scarves: JulyKayDesignStudio
Personalized Hangers: Highfills Hangers on Etsy
Groom’s Tuxedo, Groomsmen’s Tuxedo, Brother of the Bride, Father of the Groom, and Ring Bearer’s: Men’s Wearhouse
Groom’s and Groomsmens’ Bow Ties and Groom’s Shoes: Ted Baker via Nordstrom
Groom’s and Groomsmens’ Socks: Happy Socks
Bride and Groom Toasting Flutes: Swarovski engraved at AE Crystal Engraving and Repair
Flowers: Petal Forest
Organist: Mr. William Campbell
Soloist: Haqumai Sharp
Bell Choir: Holman United Methodist Church Bell Choir
Cake: Hansen’s Bakery
Gift Card Box, Broom, Garter, Flower Girl Basket: SolBijou on Etsy
Photo Booth: Drunken Pixel Photo Booths
Stationery, Custom Linen, Aisle Runner, Table Numbers, Custom Monogrammed Crystal Cake Top Perm Cake Stand: Glow Concepts and Tangé Design