A Chic Island Wedding in Barbados
Akua and Folu
Akua Boakye and Folu Okunseinde first clicked on OkCupid in 2011. Though she still wasn't sold on the whole online dating thing, Akua, an ad tech in New York City, liked the playful banter she had with Folu, a data architect. She was into Jay Z and Kanye's latest collaboration; he was not a fan. But as they cyber-chatted, it became clear they had more in common than not—both grew up in New Jersey families with West African roots, went to college in Boston, and have three siblings. And while their musical tastes differed, romantically they were completely in sync, as one date led to three within that first week.
When they got engaged more than two years later, they knew a destination wedding was in their future. Folu had proposed to Akua while they were vacationing in Belize with friends, and they wanted their guests to experience the Caribbean's beautiful beaches and lively culture, too, says Akua. They chose the West Indian island of Barbados, finding their ideal spot in Codrington College, an ocean-facing, 18th-century Anglican theological seminary.
On April 25, 2015, friends came from as far as Singapore and China, and family members traveled from Nigeria, Ghana, and Great Britain to be among the 194 people who witnessed Akua and Folu recite Christian vows in front of the property's tranquil lily pond. Later, everyone moved to the back lawn, where the newlyweds twirled to Miguel's "Adorn" before joining their guests for dinner, served under a tent at rows of long tables. (On the menu: breadfruit vichyssoise, roasted red-onion-and-tomato tart, mahimahi, and braised beef short ribs.) Back out on the dance floor under a canopy of stars, guests danced for three hours straight to everything from hip-hop to highlife (a fusion of indigenous African dance rhythms and Western jazz). "The power cut out briefly," remembers Folu, "so we all just sang and made our own beat until it was restored." In fact, the couple, who had once passionately disagreed about music, were so focused on dancing, "we totally missed out on dessert!" says Akua. "But it was so worth it."
Codrington College, built in 1743, is the oldest Anglican theological institute in the Western Hemisphere.
Akua's bridesmaids helped Akua get ready for her walk down the aisle.
The dapper duo strolled the grounds just before they entered the reception. "Folu was dead set on getting a custom suit made so that he could continue to wear it for the rest of his life," says Akua. He worked with Brooklyn Tailors to come up with the design for his navy blue suit and white shirt, which he paired with a navy bow tie from Thomas Pink. "What really stood out were his orange socks, which matched the lining of his suit jacket," says Akua, who chose a lace mermaid dress by Inbal Dror.
The Bridal Bouquet
Akua's white bouquet included lisanthus, roses, orchids, wax flowers, and carnations that were offset by pink spray roses.
Metallic Chanel wedges kept the bride from sinking into the lawn during the ceremony.
The Wedding Party
The 12-person wedding party in something blue: navy suits for the guys and pale Jenny Yoo gowns for the gals.
The Groom's Entrance
Folu's parents wore traditional Nigerian Yoruba attire and walked with him down the aisle.
The couple wed beneath a canopy of greenery and spider mums overlooking a lily pond. "For our ceremony, we asked Folu's aunt, who is a nun in Belize, to give a biblical reading, and Akua's close friend to give a secular poetry reading by Maya Angelou," says Akua.
Double-Duty Escort Cards
"We incorporated elements of our love for travel," says Akua. "The escort cards were bright red Coach luggage tags, and they were set on a table decorated with mini suitcases." Instead of using table numbers at the reception, guests found their seats by table name. "Each was named for a city we had traveled to together and included a photo of us there."
Cream linens, white carnations, and local greenery gave the tables a modern, island vibe.
A Naked Cake
The naked carrot cake had layers of vanilla buttercream and was decorated with mini carnations, spider mums, stock flowers, and ruscus leaves.
Location, Codrington College
Event planning, Island Bliss Weddings
Catering, Couture Caterers
Photography, Evonne & Darren Wong of U Me Us Studios
Stationery, Robinson Press
Cake and desserts, Patisserie & Bistro Flindt
Bride's gown, Inbal Dror
Groom's suit, Brooklyn Tailors
Videography, Cielo Productions
Officiant, Reverend Dr. Ian Rock
Hair and Makeup, Tiffany Marie Atkins
Bridesmaids' dresses, Jenny Yoo
Groom's shoes, Crockett & Jones
Lighting, Spartan Lighting
Kids' Entertainment, Liv's Party Box
Nanny Services, Dale Carrington