“Marriage is not the union of ‘the perfect couple’ but of two imperfect souls who appreciate the value of forgiveness and grace”
Allow me to introduce you to Rebecca and Jeff, whose delicious fusion of Guyanan, Ghanaian, Barbadian and British heritage is a match made in heaven!
Rebecca and Jeff were college sweethearts, and after more than a decade together, sealed the deal with a tropical wedding in Malaga planned by Paula Fallows of Perfect Spanish Weddings. Their celebrant led ceremony, which received a standing ovation, was conducted by popular celebrant Natasha Johnson of Engaged and Ready and included their love story, and vows they wrote themselves.
Enjoy these pictures of a day and with the help of Natasha Johnson of Engaged and Ready, read onto read about how they focused their union on a heart filled personal wedding ceremony in the Spanish sunshine.
Captured by Ruth Blamire of Jeremy Standley
We chose a destination wedding, mainly because we wanted to have a stylish ‘tropical’ themed wedding with lots of greenery and colours that popped! We also wanted it to be a laid-back, but lively and fun celebration. Above all, it was important that the wedding represented our personal and cultural identity. We are unapologetically black – we love who we are and where we come from, and so we wanted that to be clear too.
I was very open-minded about finding a wedding dress. I didn’t know which style or what fabrics would suit me best, so the first day was about experimenting and just trying loads on to see what worked or didn’t work for me.
Through this, it became clear what I was looking for and I actually chose my dress on the second day of looking. I couldn’t stop looking at it and didn’t want to take it off – a clear sign that it was the dress for me!
The traditional dress was much easier to sort out, because I essentially chose and created the design. I wanted it to be different from my white dress (which was A-line) because I also really liked the ‘mermaid’ fit. That way I could wear both styles on the day.
We had a very specific type of waistcoat in mind for Jeff (waistcoats were the ONLY option as we were getting married in a tropical climate, it would be too hot for a three piece suit). We had to do quite a bit of research into finding the exact style I envisioned. Once I found the style that worked with the overall look, it became clear that we could only make it work if we opted to have it tailored. So we went from tailor to tailor comparing quotes and seeing which ones could match the brief for the job (I’ll be honest, I was being VERY particular). As luck would have it, we discovered Zebel Bespoke. I was VERY impressed with their wears. It turned out perfectly.
The designer, Catherine-Monique, is a friend of mine, made a traditional waistcoat for Jeff, so it was a much smoother process.
Our non-religious wedding ceremony was by far our favourite part of the day and that is all thanks to Natasha! She delivered a very personalised, beautiful ceremony. Just perfect – it was true to us and our values.
We were able to speak to our celebrant, beforehand and had lots of input into how it would go. Consequently, it was very personal and Natasha really put us at ease. Telling the story of how we met was a very nice touch and we wrote our own vows too, which was extremely emotional and our ceremony started and ended with a standing ovation!!
Natasha our celebrant says: As a Celebrant in my eleventh year, it was the first time ever that I got to witness a standing ovation and loud rounds of applause for all their dearly departed relatives, whose absences were acknowledged at the start of the ceremony. It was a thunderous applause and such a beautiful and love-filled way to start the ceremony.
During the ceremony, I shared Rebecca and Jeff’s love story which they shared with me in the run up to the ceremony. They spoke about how they met at college and danced around each other for a long time before finally admitting to each other how they felt. It was a beautiful story, full of love and fun and lots of insight into their personalities.
In the planning of the ceremony, I also asked them both to share with me what love and marriage meant to them and this is what they said:
Rebecca: Marriage is not the union of ‘the perfect couple’ but of two imperfect souls who appreciate the value of forgiveness and grace.
Jeff’s – Marriage is the culmination of all the lessons learned in a loving relationship. There is no love in just marriage, the love is in the people. Friendship, companionship and intimacy; these are the things you have to infuse it with. Marriage must be earned, as essentially it’s an art form; two people who don’t just think alike, but think together.
They took part in a wine ceremony which was sweet and good fun, especially when Jeff remarked how worried he was that ‘light-weight’ Rebecca might not be able to say her vows if she drank too much!
They wrote their own vows, which were incredible, heartfelt and packed a punch. When the ceremony ended with more applause and standing ovation, they danced all the way back up the aisle.
For me, the ceremony was my favourite moment of the day, but the party was a close second. We had SO much fun and non-stop dancing until the end. Jeff is good friends with our DJs (Sarke Twins) and they did not disappoint!
We decided early on that during the wedding, we would change into more traditional dress using Kente fabric from Ghana. I did a bit of research into different dress/waistcoat designs. We always knew the clothes would be specially made for us and once Jeff’s mother got the fabric, our very good friend and talented designer Yuni Canon (Catherine-Monique) made them and we absolutely loved them and being able to honour some of our culture in this way.
Tips for other couples
Enjoy the process – with all its ups and downs!
Photographer: Ruth Blamire for Jeremy Standley
Ceremony: Natasha Johnson – Independent Wedding Celebrant –
Dresses: Giselle by Mori Lee from Alto Costura (western); Catherine-Monique (traditional)
Accessories and Jewellery: Monet, Accessorize. Veil borrowed from a friend.
Suit: Zebel Bespoke
Bridesmaid Outfits: SexyHer
Flower Girl Outfits: Debenhams
Groomsmen Suits: Moss Bros
Cake: Susan Archer
Flowers: Janne Lassen
Décor: Carol Green (Millie Green Styles)
Food: Mangoa Catering
Stationery: Designed and printed in-house
DJ: Sarke Twins
Violinist: Quike Navarro