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I promise to always be honest with you. I promise to encourage you to be the best version of yourself and support you when you are not. I promise to accept you for the person that you are now and for the person you’re to become. I promise you this today and for always.
OK so this London carnival inspired wedding is positively epic. With nods to Bob Marley, Luther Vandross and New Jack Swing, to personal vows and a wedding ceremony officiated by a Dear friend, to clever and poignant ways to honour lost loved ones. You are going to love Kyla and Mark’s special day as much as I do.
Meet beautiful bride Kyla, East Londoner, with Montserratian and Irish heritage and meet West London charmer and stylish groom Mark with Ghanaian and Guyanese heritage.
Kyla and Mark met whilst they were both studying at professional drama college in London and have been pretty inseparable ever since. They wanted to have a wedding that acknowledged them as Londoners, but also as a stylish and fun black British couple. And boy did they do just that and more, with a vibrant celebration at thriving arts space for creatives; Trinity Buoy Wharf on August bank holiday 2017.
Captured by the wonderfully talented Marshal Gray Photography who I am equally excited to be showcasing their stunning work for the first time on Nu Bride.
Gary at Marshal Gray Photography says:
Energy. joy, music a wonderful gathering of family friends all combined to create what can only be described as; Actual. Real. Magic. A truly special couple.
Over to Kyla for the super hilarious and moving rundown of their wedding day and you wait til’ you get to the video by the wonderful team at Praxima at the end – I defy you not to cry (and dance)!
We got engaged on Christmas Eve 2015, I had just finished a box office shift at the Garrick Theatre and was due to see the new Star Wars film with my dad in Leicester Square followed by a meal with Mark. The magic of Christmas was definitely in the air. After-which we returned home (after being told to wait outside!) where Mark had covered our entire flat in candlelit lanterns!
He handed me a special Christmas DVD gift which read “I love you. Play me” on it.
It was a Disney film COLLAGE of all the Disney classics that basically explained how much he loves me and that we should have our very own happy ending… The film finished with me aghast and in tears with the love of my life on one knee with the most perfect ring in his hands!
I just kept asking him if he was serious lol… with the eventual “YES OF COURSE!!!”
When I think about our wedding, that Old Skool Garage track, “It’s a London Ting” (Nu Bride: I remember that – totally showing my age!) comes to mind because it well and truly was!
Mark was born in West London and I, in East London. Some of our most treasured memories were dancing in the streets for Notting Hill Carnival, so we figured why not bring the West London-based street festival to the Docklands of East London. So Carnival weekend, August bank holiday, we did exactly that! (Nu Bride: Absolutely brilliant idea!)
Like the eager and prepared bride that I intended on being, I actually started putting together the basics of our wedding near 4 years before Mark even officially proposed! I know, a little crazy right?! (Nu Bride: LOL! No comment) Maybe, but I knew he was the one for me and that when he was ready to propose, I better be too haha. (Nu Bride: Love it!) Lack of visual representation was the one thing that disappointed me somewhat throughout the wedding planning process.
From about 2012, I started googling wedding ideas and looking at blogs and I realised there was nearly all white women, in white dresses, in their fairytale white weddings. From wedding shows, to wedding blogs, from expos to dress designers, it was virtually impossible to just google what I wanted and get the results that was available to nearly every other bride out there. That was when I realised Mark and I couldn’t have a “cookie cutter” wedding as we had no emotional connections to big manor houses or being out in the middle of nowhere, or to bunting and English cream cakes. It just wasn’t ‘us’.
However, when searching for inspiration, it wasn’t just a case of typing in “Black Brides” or “Black Weddings” in search terms that really helped either, because I would then see a lot of African-American weddings or even Ghanaian and Nigerian weddings, which, in their own ways are all beautiful, amazing, culturally rich and traditional but again, not right for Mark and I.
That’s why I really appreciated Nu Bride for being diverse and inclusive with their blog posts. Finally, I could see ‘Black British’ couples, having their wedding days just the way they wanted them and in a way that was truly reflective of who they were as couples.
I still think we have some way to go but thanks to you guys, at least we are on the right track! (Nu Bride: Thank you for saying so Kyla. I am so glad you found Nu Bride. But indeed I agree we have a long way to go, especially with better inclusion of diverse couples in the mainstream…That’s why it’s so important for couples like you to share your day to inspire others. Back to your gorgeous wedding)
So, as I had been looking at weddings and dresses for about 4 years before Mark proposed to me, I started to get a pretty good idea of what I thought I liked and the Israeli wedding dress designers, really made me feel like a natural woman with their dresses. Inbal Dror, Yaki Ravid and of course, Riki Dalal who created my haute couture dream dress.
I really have to thank Aba and all the girls at the Riki Dalal London flagship store for making me feel like an absolute goddess each and every time I visited them. I could have, in all honesty, worn any of Riki’s dresses and I would have been happy, because she is such an incredible designer.
But… When I put on, what would be MY dress… words failed me… I cried, my mum cried… That was the one and we all knew it!
I wore Michael Kors shoes because the soles had “MK” printed all over them and so wherever I walked, I’d leave the “MK” aka Mark and Kyla imprint. (Nu Bride: Adore this!)
My mum gifted me with Givenchy Swarovski earrings on my final fitting which were simply divine and went so perfectly with my dress and overall look.
Mark looked just the absolute business on our wedding day… I mean, I know I married a hottie haha (Nu Bride: Yup – you did!) but really, he just looked so dapper!
It didn’t come without a little struggle though and I don’t know if it’s because, like most men, they don’t give much thought to their wedding suit until much nearer the time and by then, if you’re not getting a standard black tux or a blue suit, you’re really starting to push your luck.
Well, Mark started giving his suit serious consideration about 8 or 9 weeks before our big day. He was looking for a custom-made purple suit, that went with the colour scheme of the wedding and also the material for the bespoke ties, pocket squares and bridesmaids’ dresses. However, we soon realised after about 2 or 3 weeks of searching the high street that he was going to have to get something made specially for him.
After a couple of consultations with tailors who were great but weren’t able to give him exactly what he wanted, he finally found A Suit That Fits that did just that, with just 5 and a half weeks to go! They created for him, this perfect 3-piece custom coloured aubergine suit that just made him look a million bucks. Combine that with his Hugo Boss watch and Russell & Bromley shoes and it was literally like, “Idris Elba who?” because this here comes the Black Bond we’ve all been waiting for! (Nu Bride: LOL!)
Our wedding ceremony was something we wanted to ensure was an absolute true reflection of who we were as individuals but also as a couple.
The moment I realised I wanted to make Mark mine for the rest of my life was during rehearsals for our end of year showcase at Identity Drama School. We were performing in the basement studio space of the Arcola Theatre in Dalston Hackney and he got up to do his acting monologue, whilst I watched on from the audience.
I don’t know, maybe it was the spotlights blinding me, but he just lit up and I could hear the angels singing and all the butterflies in the world fluttered in my tummy! (Nu Bride: gorgeous!)
So with that memory, we wanted our ceremony to be in a space that reflected the magic of that moment and The Electrician’s Shop at Trinity Buoy Wharf provided that perfect backdrop.
Our wedding party “clicked” down the aisle to Luther Vandross’ “So Amazing” whilst my Pops and I shimmied down to Earth, Wind and Fire’s Brazillian Interlude “Beijo”.
Our good friend, who’s known me since we were about 15 years old, Jermaine Fregiste officiated our wedding and that ensured that it was as real and as personal as it could get… He was absolutely amazing!
Music is hugely important to us also and so we knew that each and every song that we had played during the ceremony, had to mean something to us in some way.
Our first “hymn” was “Is This Love” by Bob Marley and our last was “I Found Lovin’” by the Fat Back Band. We also had our friend Zalika King perform an acapella version of Luther Vandross’ “Never Too Much” just before we took our vows. (Nu Bride: Amazing. I wish I was THERE!)
Both our mum’s had a reading each during the ceremony and my nephew was the most adorable ring bearer.
Again, wanting to mean every word, we wrote our own vows that we rehearsed at least once a night for the 2 weeks leading up to the wedding.
At end of our ceremony, with our carnival theme, we had our guests “follow di leader, leader, leader” from the ceremony to the cocktail reception, where they were met by a steel pan band playing Motown classics, CALYPSO STYLE, with handmade bespoke whistles as favours. We partied to the small hours of the morning to classic soca hits from the late 80’s and 90’s and House & Garage tracks from the late 90’s, early 2000’s… It really did feel like we were raving to one of the almighty carnival sound systems on the streets of Notting Hill
My late Nan, who passed in January, was my absolute everything! However, she couldn’t stand flowers haha… So we decided not to have any flowers at all during our wedding but instead, have some fabulous balloons.
The reason for the balloons were simple as I’ve often used the analogy of a party balloon to describe Mark and I in our relationship. He’s the balloon weight; solid, sturdy, practical, strong. I, on the other hand, am the balloon; bouncy, colourful, festive and always ready to cheer someone up. Without him though, I could get blown away, lost in the wind, end up bursting on a tree branch and without me, his purpose, his motivation for being, doesn’t really matter.
We had black table cloths with gold sequinned runners that went with the theme of our wedding stationary and cake, whilst all the other colours, whether they were the balloons or uplighting, were that of a sunset; Purple, Pink, Orange and Yellow because there’s no more perfect time of day or natural beauty in the world!
We chose Gary at Marshal Gray Photography after meeting at a photography workshop where we were modelling for Gary – we then asked him to photograph our wedding day and we 100% recommend him!
Our wedding film was brilliantly captured by my filmmaking partner Sam Bradford and his team at Praxima
The Feather Balloon Company who provided all of our custom balloon creations and my Auntie who created the most awesome treat table and photo booth.
Simeon Artisan also did a smashing job with creating all of the bespoke ties and pocket squares for the groom and groomsmen.
Our favourite moment? Aside of hearing our guests sing “Is This Love” at the beginning of our ceremony, it would have to be the moment we made our entrance into the reception… The sound of nearly 200 whistles being blown and reverberating around the room whilst our guests welcomed us in… I will never forget that moment for as long as I live.
The funniest moment of the day has to go out to my father-in-law, Otis who, during Mark’s speech, decided to get up and cheer himself, “macho man” style hahahaha. I mean, it’s something that all of our guests remember and is so true to who he is… Simply, a funny guy! The Best Man, Darren, did come close though, with his brilliantly orchestrated speech, which included musical interludes and everything!
The speeches were all amazing, especially those of my Maid of Honour (best friend) and Chief Bridesmaid (sister) who both “don’t do public speaking” but made me bawl my eyes out and also my Dad, who sang an original song for the first part of his speech.
The very first dance to open the dance floor actually took place between my Grandad and me. We danced to soca band Mighty Power’s “Ah Comin’” as it’s a classic carnival rhythm that always makes me think of him and as my late Nan and he were known as “The Dancers” who opened up any dance floor whichever party or dance they went to, it was only appropriate to honour my nan’s memory by opening the dance floor with him. (Nu Bride: How poignant and bitter-sweet)
Our first dance, again, was something that was completely us! Believe it or not, we had a medley and a routine hahaha… We started with Ginuwine’s “Differences” but then broke it down to Bel Biv Devoe’s “Poison” and ended with Rufus & Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody”. For the fortnight’s worth of rehearsals, it was definitely worth every second, getting up there and smashing it with my husband!
I also had a father-daughter dance with my dad later in the evening, where we danced to The Spinners “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love” which was simply unforgettable.
We upgraded the “electric slide” though, starting with Cameo’s Candy but moving into General Leavy’s Incredible and other classic Drum’n’Base rhythms… Whilst my 4-year-old nephew gave Michael Jackson a run for his money once “Billie Jean” was played! (Nu Bride: Dance-floor epic-ness)
I mean, our guests were siiiiicccckkkk…. They really made the party one like never before!!
Challenges and Triumphs
The main one was the fact that we were in a dry-hire space and wanted an original wedding but there wasn’t a one stop shop that could facilitate that for us. So we had to search low and high, make sacrifices and compromises, find alternate ways of achieving the same look or vibe whilst also trying to keep costs reasonably low.
I wouldn’t have changed it for the world though because it ensured that we had a celebration that was as unique as Mark and I as a couple and we got exactly what we wanted!
Top Tip for Couples
Make sure your day is as unique to you both as possible and get as many friends and family to support your vision and help bring that to life on the day.
WOW! Thank you so much Kyla and Mark for sharing a snippet of your world and your beautiful wedding day with Nu Bride. Enjoy your first Christmas together as husband and wife!
Cake: Fee Kakes at SCrumbtious Kakes
Décor: The Feather Balloon Company
Food: Adwoa Mwanza at Peppercorn and Mr Jerk
Favours: Whistles made by bride, groom and bridesmaids Connie Falusi and Beatrice Baidoo
Stationery: Adrienne Frye
The Entertainment: Dejay Longers and Steelband Music Ltd