Your wedding should always be infused with the people and things that you love. Malika and Andrew made sure to incorporate unique touches that reflected their personalities and culture into their big day! Malika shares, “Our wedding was romantic, polished and multi-cultural. From the beginning - we decided to focus on what makes us unique. I was initially inspired by my engagement ring to use golds, pinks and whites as our wedding colors. I just wanted everything to look finished but not contrived.”
Absolutely nothing feels contrived about their nuptials! Every choice they made was a reflection of what they truly loved, from Malika's light peach wedding dress, to Andrew's infusion of his Ghanaian culture, to the NYC location. Malika shares, "We choose to get married in Harlem because it is a major part of our love story. It just felt natural to wed just a few blocks from where our story began."
Their genuine love and unique style shines in every photo captured by Ilene Squires Photography.Bride’s Name: Malika Meredith Lewis- Sales Groom’s Name: Andrew Kwabena Benson- Investment Banking Wedding Date: 08/23/2014 Wedding location: Harlem Stage at the Gatehouse Harlem, NY Quick Facts Wedding Flowers: White Roses - simple and elegant First Dance Song: "Dontchange" - Musiq Soulchild Wedding Menu Favorite: Jollof Rice Bridesmaids Gifts: I filled African totes with goodies for the big day. I also gifted them Custom Jewelry. Groomsmen Gifts: Custom shirts & matching socks
How They Met
I recently moved to NYC from Los Angeles when my sister and I were invited to a Memorial Day party in Harlem thrown by her coworker. At the last minute, my sister was unable to attend but encouraged me to go by myself. At the time, we lived in Brooklyn and I had never been north of 59th street. When I got to the party and knocked on the door, Andrew , a guest of the host, opened the door. We talked that night but he played it a little too cool and didn't get my number. Two weeks later, we ended up at the same party. H got my number that night..we have been together every since.
Apparently, the proposal was a long time in the making! He had the ring for a while and asked for my mother's permission months in advance. We went to Washington DC for a quick trip out of the city. We toured the city, stopping at the White House, Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, the MLK Memorial all while my fiance was trying to find the right moment to propose. We went to a really romantic dinner. It wasn't until we got back to the hotel when he told me to sit down. Neither one of us could tell you exactly what he said. I just remember that he was really nervous and showed me a ring in the palm of his sweaty palm. It was really sweet and special.
I decided to skip wedding dress shopping and purchased my dress on-line at BHLDN. I chose a light peach colored dress that I loved and had a seamstress remove the train and extra layers of crinoline. I then went to The Garment District and purchased satin ribbon and rhinestones to make my sash. A good friend made my sash the week before the wedding. I did go to Klienfeld Bridal for my earrings. I was lucky in that owner of MEG jewelry just so happened to be there and agreed to create gold toned custom clip-on earrings. I wanted my future husband to feel equally special... and he was very in to it! He choose everything from his suit color to his cuff-links on his own and he couldn't have looked better.
Incorporation of Culture
Yes we did! It was important to us to incorporate my fiance's Ghanaian culture. Our kente clothing was made specifically for our wedding in Ghana. The groom's uncle flew from Ghana two weeks before the wedding to present us with our traditional clothing. Also, the female members of his family performed the Adowa dance, while presenting gifts to welcome me into the family, and we can't forget the food. We were thrilled when our caterer agreed to add Jollof rice to the menu. Lastly, we gave African warming baskets as our wedding favors.
It was equally important to us to highlight our neighborhood ( Harlem Stand Up!). A wedding is an incredible time to invest in local vendors. We choose to get married n Harlem because it is a major part of our love story. It just felt natural to wed just a few blocks from where our story began.
Most Memorable Moment
From the Bride: The entire day was so special but the one lasting memory is really just having all of our loved ones celebrating our union. It is an amazing way to start your life together. Also bringing everyone to our neighborhood to experience our culture made it even more special.
From the Groom: Seeing my beautiful bride walking down the aisle with her mother. It just re-confirmed how beautiful and special she is.
Help a Bride Out!
When the two of you make a major decision- go with it and move-on! You can drive yourselves a little crazy if you are constantly doubting and re-thinking every decision.
Also - only spend your energy (and finances) on what is actually important to you. Whether it's music, food, flowers - focus on the things that matter to you as a couple and remember that your day is really about the love you and your fiance share.
One last thing- Be yourselves. Your guests love you and know who you are. Incorporate as much of your personality and culture as you can.
VendorsPhotographer: Ilene Squires Photography Planning- Fallon Carter Weddings Florals - Flowers By Nikki Perry Event Design- Lambert Treasured Events Caterer - Maison Harlem Make-up- LBbeauty4U Officiant Founder of Love Ink - CK Alexander Dress- BHLDN Groom's & Groomsmen suits - A Suit That Fits Invites -Wedding Paper Divas Bridesmaids dresses- Little Borrowed Dress Engagement ring - Custom - Nathan and Moe DJ- DJ Jon Quick Reception Entertainment - Groom's Family & Drummers from Center for African and Diaspora Dance Bartending: Remixology NYC