I stand before you a humbled man. Humbled that you’ve seen the real me and accepted what you found…Your smile lights up the nights sky and your compassion melts the toughest of exteriors.
HELLO JOY! I am taking you to idyllic multicultural wedding in Bali today to celebrate another gorgeous love story.
Meet Jeannette and Sean-Paul.
Jeanette of American, English and Irish heritage moved to Brooklyn, New York in her 20s said yes to Sean-Paul of American-Guyanese heritage, who grew up in New Jersey. Jeannette’s known for her big smile, and Sean-Paul for his big, deep laugh, laughter is what they most definitely shared in common right from the very start!
Their love story began in Brooklyn, (another online dating success story) and continued via moves to North Carolina and then Singapore, and was finally solemnified into marriage at a beautiful tropical villa in Bali, Indonesia, surrounded by friends and family from around the world who made the trip to witness the big moment and to share their own traditions and customs with the couple.
Thanks to wonderful New York City travel photographer Amber Marlow Amber has a beautiful ability to story tell through images, we get to share this amazing day in a spectacular location with them! Delighted to share Amber’s debut on Nu Bride with you today.
Over to Jeanette for the very heart-warming low-down (and drum and bass!)
How did you meet?
We were matched by an algorithm (Nu Bride: God-bless those algorithms!) on the online dating website, OkCupid. Sean-Paul wrote me a quick note and asked what I did over the weekend, and I wrote back a few weeks later. We exchanged a lot of messages back and forth about dance parties, work and ziplines. Eventually we decided to meet up at the Afropunk event in Clinton Hill in Brooklyn. He was very late – I almost gave up on him! He was hung up having brunch with his mom and sister, but we agreed to get tacos once we finally got together. After that, we went on a series of dates in Williamsburg before moving in together a little less than a year after meeting. I fell in love with his big laugh, and he says he fell in love with my infectious smile!
We’d talked about getting married a number of times, but after we’d been together for many years, I thought he would never ask. In true Sean-Paul fashion, he took his sweet time to propose and wanted to get just the right ring and put the finishing touches on his master plan. On my 33rd birthday, he planned a big surprise and got several friends in on the act.
I went wine tasting with two friends, and was later escorted to a local Caribbean restaurant for a surprise dinner, before Sean-Paul took me out to a club called Cherry for a night of dancing to old school and ‘90s hip hop. We danced like we hadn’t in many years and at some point, Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)’ came on, and all of our friends started oohing and pointing at him. I started to get nervous and wasn’t sure I wanted to be proposed to in the club to Yonce, so I danced away! Later that night, after we’d gotten home, he told me he still had one more surprise, but wasn’t sure he wanted to do it then because it wasn’t part of the plan. I begged him to give me his surprise. By now, I knew what was coming, but was still so excited and wrapped up in the moment that neither of us remember if I actually said “yes”. I definitely meant it! (Nu Bride: LOL!)
Our wedding was colourful and fun, which is what we are and how we live our lives.
It was upscale but relaxed, high-end but low pressure. We didn’t really choose to have an ‘international’ theme to our wedding, but realised afterwards that many countries were represented by our guests and the traditions they shared with us! We are from two very different backgrounds and had very different lives until we met. The details of our wedding represented specific moments from our lives.
Our attire and accessories, for example, represented our families, where we’ve lived and traveled, where we’re from, and the fact that we don’t do things a certain way just because that’s how you’re ‘supposed’ to do it!
Bali was the first place we vacationed after moving to Singapore years ago, and it’s somewhere in Southeast Asia that we’ve returned to again and again. The architecture of our venue, The Palm House, fit with our aesthetic completely – modern but tropical, clean and comfortable, with special surprises around each corner. Sean-Paul is a designer and put his skills to use making all the signage and paper goods. We chose songs for each part of the ceremony, not knowing we would both choose our beloved drum ’n base songs that we knew would make the other smile! For food, we had Mexican food/taco carts – we have a long history of eating at these!
A Korean friend brought us a special gift from Korea – a beautiful box which we keep some of our wedding keepsakes in, and he explained some of the Korean traditions when getting married.
There’s not a lot out there in wedding magazines to represent interracial or inter-cultural marriages. I think it’s better than it used to be some years ago, but it certainly doesn’t represent where we were coming from (although it would be hard to have exactly that represented!). God bless excellent Google and Pinterest skills which helped me find the inspiration I needed!
My dress was, no lie, the first one I tried on. (Nu Bride: Don’t LIE! lol)
I was in Raleigh, NC (my hometown) for Christmas, and the pressure was on to find a dress quickly. Southeast Asia is not a good place to look for a bridal gown if you’re over a US size 8 and I’m a US size 18/20, so my prospects were not good! I had been following Gilded Bridal on Instagram for months beforehand, and I knew it was probably a good fit for me. It has trendy dresses, but there is a touch of calling back to my southern Raleigh roots, and that was important to me. Susan knew what I needed. She was magical! I was not sure that I didn’t want the full WHITE GOWN experience, but I look terrible in white. My mom made ‘the face’ when I put this gown on, too, and she’s pretty good at calling out what looks good on me. The dress I chose was hand-made by Kate McDonald’s team. The fabric is hand painted silk from Thailand, that was then flown to NYC to be cut and sewn. This was a really touching background story for me, since Kate is also from my hometown. So the dress really represented a lot about me and about my life with Sean-Paul. We met in NYC, we’d been to Thailand several times, and, of course, it was my touch of home!
My headpiece was also a Brooklyn reference – it was by Hushed Commotion. My jewellery was a necklace that’s an heirloom gift from my mother, and I carried another necklace wrapped around my bouquet in honour of my grandmother, with her initials on it. My shoes were white platform sneakers from Steve Madden, because you have to be comfortable and ready to dance at any moment!
Sean-Paul’s suit was custom-made.
I tried to find a suit in that colour green for a while before finally realising that if we wanted that shade in a fabric that would be appropriate for how hot and humid it is in Bali, we would just have to have it made! COLOC Tailors in Singapore measured Sean-Paul more than once. They made a ‘paper’ toile version, then re-measured, before finally making the real deal. The green picked up on the colours of the flowers in my dress. It’s also a fantastic colour for Sean-Paul, and it represented Singapore for us! He wore a gold pin of a jaguar to represent his parents’ home country of Guyana and in honour of his father.
Some suppliers we had the pleasure of working with that deserve some love are; Amber Marlow. She was our chosen photographer and we would recommend her, as well as our cinematographer, LEURA films and our planner Chimene Harper.
Susan Langford from Gilded Bridal helped me find my amazing wedding dress, and COLOC suits made my husband’s suit.
Other suppliers we want to mention that made our day great are our makeup artist, Kat from Dollface Darlings, Butter Bali, who made our cake; our florist, Florette Bali; our caterer, LacaLaca; and Kate McDonald, who made my bridesmaids’ dresses. Our bobble heads were from Hellominime.
We wrote our own vows, which included a few inside jokes. The ceremony was held by the pool at the villa, in front of massive palm trees and underneath a breathtaking arch of bougainvillea. We had one of Sean-Paul’s cousins Facebook Live the ceremony, because there were so many people who couldn’t be there. I cried – thank goodness for good handkerchiefs! The breeze blew and it wasn’t as hot as it could’ve been. It would’ve only been better if we could have teleported in all the people that we love!
Of course, we had several drum n bass songs.
We are both big drum n bass nerds, and I chose the song I walked down the aisle to as a surprise for Sean-Paul. He chose the song we walked out to, and I chose the first dance song. All references to some of our favourite artists! And a reference to our love of going out dancing.
Sean-Paul says his favourite moment was getting to see me come down the aisle, as this was the culmination of our relationship and the coming together of all the months of planning… plus drum n bass!
Our reception details were inspired by about 100 Pinterest boards. No lie! (Nu Bride: OH MY – that is some SERIOUS pinning!)
Once we secured the venue, we started figuring out furniture, food, accommodation, and the vision. Once I had the dress, I figured out the colour scheme. I figured out which flowers we could get easily in Bali, worked with our wedding planner to choose excellent vendors, and worked out a run schedule. I found the DJ through some thorough Googling and discovered a set of his on Soundcloud.
If I could design events for a living, I probably would! (Nu Bride: You should – you have impeccable taste and style. So inspirational and different)
For our first dance, we danced to ‘I Got U’ by Duke Dumont and Jax Jones – mega tropical steel drums, heartfelt lyrics, and great beat to dance to. The lyrics are: “Ask me what I did with my life. I spent it with you. If I love my fame and fortune – it really don’t matter, as long as I got you baby.” And I’ll never forget the steel drums and the beat starting out as the breeze was blowing and the sun was setting – we entered the dance floor and started dancing as she started singing the chorus. And when the second breakdown started, we invited our friends to dance with us. Magic.
The speech that my mom gave was so touching (as was her face when she walked me down the aisle and hugged Sean-Paul). We also loved the speeches that Sean’s best friend Jessae and my best friend Whitney gave. The breeze that was blowing. The surprise candles along the walls on the property being built next door. The laughter, the dancing – it was all an overwhelmingly memorable experience.
Our Singaporean friends insisted on a tradition called the Yam Seng, which was super fun. It’s a Cantonese tradition where you are ‘drinking to victory’. You toast with your friends and family and shout “yam seng” as loudly as possible for each toast. You’re supposed to “yaaaaaaam” until you run out of breath – great fun! At the end of the night, we all joined hands and a ton of us jumped into the pool together at the same time! We had so much fun dancing our hearts out, and swimming under the stars until it was time to go to bed, exhausted and happy.
Challenges and Triumphs
Our biggest challenge was that we got married so far away from our families that it was really hard for them to get there. The saddest part about our wedding was that not everyone could be there that we wanted to be there.
Sean’s dad passed away a little less than a month after we got married, and we travelled home for the funeral. We were able to share a special moment with his mom, as she was our witness to get legally married in NJ. Not everything works out in life or with your wedding as you hope or plan it to, but it’s a beautiful set of memories that we will keep forever.
Start early, start a spreadsheet, find someone who gets your vision, know how to tell people ‘no’, and do it your way.
Be prepared that not everything will go perfectly but to just let it ride as best as you can.
You cannot control everything and everyone, and I think I had a much better time not being a Bridezilla and being a Bridechilla.
Photographer: Amber Marlow
Venue: The Palm House
Event Design and Florals: Bali Event Styling
Planning: Chimene Harper for Harper Co Events
Cinematography: Leura Film
Officiant: Tracy from Bali Bliss Celebrant
Shoes: Steve Madden
Makeup and Hair: Dollface Darlings
Suit: COLOC Tailor
Accessories: Neatstuff Antiques (brooch)
Bridesmaid & Groomswomen Outfits: LulaKate
Bridesmaid Robes: Missoni
Paper Goods: Designed by the couple
Cake: Butter Bali
Rentals: Bali Event Hire
DJ: DJ Stevie G