How does a couple plan an American wedding when they live in London, their family and wedding party are spread amongst three continents, and they don’t have a wedding planner until a month before the wedding? Well, Chantal and Robert’s nuptials truly prove that “Love conquers all,” because distance and time could not hinder their union. Despite the difficulties of planning an intercontinental, multicultural wedding, Chantal and Robert’s “African Chic” nuptials were absolutely beautiful. Full of West African traditions, and contemporary glamour, the Kyei’s big day was a stylish, yet heartfelt homage to their ancestry, and Deb Lindsey Photography captured all of their memorable moments.
You can also find more coverage of this fabulous wedding on our partner site, BellaNaija Weddings.
- Bride - Chantal Kyei
- Groom - Robert Kyei
- Wedding Date - September 14, 2013
- Location - Washington, DC
The theme of the wedding was African-chic. It incorporated West African traditions of the bride and groom in a classy, Catholic Mass at historical St. Matthew's Cathedral followed by a reception of 240 guests at the Corcoran Museum of Art in Washington, DC.
Our wedding planning process proved to be quite challenging because we planned our Washington, DC wedding from London, United Kingdom. The groom is British-Ghanaian and the bride (myself) Liberian- American. As one can imagine, coordinating vendors in different time zones was not easy. Not to mention our close support system were spread out on 3 different continents. From parents to the bridal parties. The groom's parents' live in Ghana while the Bride's parents live in Michigan, USA. 2 out of the 4 groomsmen lived in Ghana, 1 in London, and the final in Baltimore, USA. As for the Bridesmaids, one of the bridesmaid had to purchase her dress from the U.S and have it flown to Liberia, West Africa and then carried back over to the States for the wedding. Meanwhile the other 2 bridesmaids were in Michigan and Washington, DC. Luckily, the Maid of Honor, who is also Liberian-American pursuing graduate studies in London was a big help. Needless to say, there was no "Say yes to the dress bridesmaids edition". The beautiful Stephen Yearick couture gown was purchased in Chicago and had to be mailed to Washington, DC one month before the wedding. No time for alterations or fittings, only a prayer that it fit. Purchased in December 2012 and was not seen again until August 2013.
Even the invitation process was a challenge. We had to mail invitations across the world. Some were hand delivered in Liberia and Ghana while others were packaged and mailed in one box to the Bride's parents in the States. To avoid the one pound, 60 pence cost per invitation, the Bride's parents' mailed invitations within the States from their family-owned dental practice account.
Keeping with the theme of African-chic, we had our wedding favors made in Ghana. It was a wood carving (5 different styles, representing symbols of love) packaged in lapa (african tie-dye bags) and a kente stoll personalized with the Liberian and Ghanaian flag colors to symbolize the merge of 2 cultures. All of which were carried over in suitcases by the bride, groom, and groom's parents.
There was no wedding planner only a less than 30 day wedding coordinator who was hired one month from the wedding date.
The wedding day style was also unique. The Mass began at 7pm. In an effort to get good lighting for pictures, we took pictures before the wedding (first look) at Freedom Plaza near the W hotel in Washington, DC where the bridal party got ready. From there we headed to the cathedral for the nuptials.
When searching for the dress, I initially only wanted to try on dresses from Alvina Valenta bridal collection, so I searched for stores near my parents' home in Southwest, Michigan. The search found Dimitra Bridal--a Chicago couture bridal salon. Fortunately they informed me about Alvina Valenta's upcoming trunk show, so I scheduled my search for that day. The trunk show would provide a 15% discount if a purchase was made that day from the collection. The budget was set for $2500 including alterations. However I ended up with a beautiful Stephen Yearick (13880). It was well over the budget ($5,000) and the accessorized belt was $500 (discounted) and I ended up not wearing the belt because I decided it was too much and took away from the already stunning beaded gown. Since it was custom, it could not be return. Lesson learned there for brides, only make a purchase if you are completely sure and do not fall under pressure from the sales consultant or family members. I was not sure about the belt in the store and sure enough I did not learn to love it later.
Incorporation of Culture
We definitely made sure to include our West African cultures. Aside from encouraging guests to wear African attire and the favors, the guests waved lapas (An African woven cloth signifying happiness) during the entrance of the wedding party at the reception. The lapas are also laid on the ground for the Bride and Groom to walk on and for the first dance.
We also had a Liberian Grand March (promenade/line dance) led by the bride’s parents to open the dance floor.
Finally, the speeches kicked off with the parents not the best man because in African culture, the elders speak first out of respect.
Most Memorable Moment
The most memorable part would have to be at the Cathedral when vows were said. At that moment it was just the two of us and we took the vows very seriously.
You Make Loving You So Easy
From the Groom...He loves my ambition, strong-will, big heart and determination.
From the Bride...I love his strong morals, wit, and Catholic values.
- Wedding Dress Designer: Stephen Yearick
- Wedding Dress Salon: Dimitra Bridal
- Bridesmaid dresses: Vera Wang White and Black collections at David's Bridal
- Groom and Groomsmen's attire: Mens Warehouse
- Make-up done by the bride
- Bride Shoes: Kate Spade
- Event coordinator: Diane George Covenant Weddings 240.375.3953
- Ceremony: St. Matthew’s Cathedral
- Reception: Corcoran Gallery of Art (Meaghan Olwell 202.639.1788)
- Caterer + Cake RSVP Catering
- Florist: Tobore Oweh firstname.lastname@example.org
- Hair: "Kira Kouture Creations" Kira Carter 267.825.2513
- DJ: Tag Nation- Claude, 3 01.366.3662
- Video Dolce Studio Films: 703.300.9033
- Photographer: Deb Lindsey