Real Ethiopian-American {Fusion} Wedding in {Atlanta}: Bilen + Damon

The story of Bilen and Damon takes the concept of "the girl next door" to a whole new level. Can you imagine living next to and crossing paths with your future love and spouse evey single day without knowing it?  God really does have a sense of humor.   This colorful Ethiopian and American multicultural wedding was photographed in all its beauty by Afolabi Sogunro of Fotos by Fola.  We've also shared this sweet wedding with our friends over at

Bride: Bilen Mesfin
Groom: Damon Packwood
Occupations: Bride - PR & Communications Consultant; Groom - Educator & Multi-media Studies Graduate Student
Wedding Date: 06.01.2012
Location: Greystone at Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Georgia

From the groom...

"Bilen and I lived next door to each other for a year and would always see each other, but never spoke. Then, one day, I saw her at a mutual friend's wedding. We spoke sometime later and hit it off. We finally went out for coffee and the rest is history."

I proposed in Atlanta the day before Christmas Eve (or was it actually Christmas Eve?). We were both traveling to Atlanta to spend Christmas with her family. I had a good plan but she flew into Atlanta on a different flight and ended up being delayed in Houston. I had told her father that when he saw us, I would hopefully have some good news for him; so, the pressure was on to propose the day she got in. I waited the entire day for the right time, which never came. So, when we got back to the hotel room, I hung up my jacket and started coughing. I told her that I was feeling sick and that I had some medicine in my jacket pocket. I was a little too convincing. She was really looking for medicine even after she found the box!! Finally, she pulled it out, turned around and I was on one knee. I proposed. And, in classic Bilen fashion, she interrogated me for 10 minutes. On a good note, she finally said yes. My knee hurt for a few days."

Challenges ... "One of the biggest challenges was that the wedding was in Atlanta and we both live in Oakland, California.  Since Damon was in graduate school, Bilen had to fly out to Atlanta several times to take care of logistics. Not being able to be more hands on was difficult for Damon. We were bridging both traditional Ethiopian and African American culture (this was also our theme), so we had to find a delicate balance. Our main priority was that all our guests felt comfortable, and would walk away at the end of the night feeling as if they had taken part in something magical, spiritual and completely loving."

Incorporating Culture ... "A lot of our guests flew in from California, so we wanted them to experience some real southern style soul food. We had mac 'n cheese, fried chicken, collard greens, salmon, black eyed peas and corn bread. Before the ceremony, we served iced tea and lemonade.  Also, in Ethiopian culture, the groom is supposed to go to the home of the bride's parents to pick up his bride before the ceremony.  We wanted to keep with that tradition, so the groom showed up with his groomsmen, and had to wait about an hour.  The house was filled with the bride's close family and friends, who gave us a traditional send-off after Damon came in; kissed both the mother and father; and led Bilen out of the home."

Special Moments ... "The bride's father officiated the wedding. Damon's family flew in from California and New Jersey.  Some of Bilen's family members flew in from Ethiopia specifically for the wedding.  Our Oakland, California crew definitely represented.  The bride's sister-in-law beautifully decorated the head table.  Bilen gave the bouquet to her mother at the end of the night.  The wedding was really colorful, with bright vibrant colors like coral, turquoise and fuchsia, and much more."

The Most Unforgettable Moment ... Damon - "When we finally walked out of the hall at the end of the night, everyone was lined up and blowing bubbles at us. I had no idea this was planned. It was very cool." Bilen - "Damon's vows. We didn't rehearse the vows or share them with each other, but our vows ended up being very similar anyway.   And his made me cry."

{You Make Loving You So Easy}

He loves ... "Bilen and I spend most of our days being really goofy, so I'll start there.  I love that, in addition to being very smart, educated, professional and religious, Bilen is an absolute goof ball!"

She loves ... "I love that, no matter where we are, as long as I am with him, I feel like I'm home."

Thanks Bilen and Damon for sharing your story with us!  Click here to see more images from this wedding.


  1. FBF Wedding featured on Munaluchi Bride & Ebony! | Atlanta Wedding Photographers - Fotos by Fola Blog | Atlanta Wedding Photographers

    […] & Damon had a wonderful wedding so i am excited that Munaluchi Bride (great resource for future brides) & Ebony featured their wedding! Thank you so much Munaluchi […]

  2. Fotos by Fola

    Thank you soo much for featuring Bilen & Damon’s wedding!! Awesome post.

  3. Is That My Wedding on!! « Danger Brain

    […] website got ahold of it as well and our wedding photos showed up on the front page of both and yesterday which totally shocked the Hell out of […]

  4. oluchy

    Very funny proposal, lovely wedding.


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