An Emerald, Black, and White Wedding with Breathtaking Rooftop Views of Dubai
For Vanessa and Abidemi, their wedding was kind of a full-circle moment: In 2016, they met at Vanessa's cousin's wedding, where Abidemi was the best man. They went on their first date the next day and began an across-the-world relationship that had Abidemi flying from his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to visit Vanessa at her home in Dubai. On one of those visits, he planned to surprise her with a proposal at the Dubai Miracle Gardens—but when he couldn't convince her to join him for a night out, he made a quick adjustment. "As I was sitting on the couch, I felt Abidemi's presence and turned to see him on bended knee," says Vanessa. "Because of the excitement and emotion of the moment, all I could hear from what he said was him asking, 'Will you be my wife?'"
Vanessa and Abidemi decided to host their celebration in Dubai—a destination for most of their guests—because it had been "the scene of Vanessa's ascension into the person that Abidemi met and fell in love with." The Five Palm Jumeriah hotel offered sweeping views of the Persian Gulf, custom catering, and a stunning ballroom where the couple's black, white, emerald, and gold color palette created the "formal, modern, and sophisticated" look they wanted.
Their wedding, which was witnessed by 110 guests on November 25, 2018, incorporated several cultures and traditions. "We wove together elements of Yoruba culture, Anglo-Indian culture, and American culture," says the couple. And although they created an event that spoke to guests from a variety of backgrounds, they stayed true to themselves. "I learned that the focus of the wedding should always be on your shared journey and happiness as a couple," says Abidemi. "Ultimately, that is the point of the whole experience."
"We chose the Five Palm Jumeriah Hotel as the venue for our wedding because it was the perfect marriage of our style: modern, energetic, and posh—and the views of the Persian Gulf are idyllic," explains the bride.
A Clear Statement
Vanessa and Abidemi worked with their planners from Save the Date on a modern acrylic invitation suite with striking black print. A leafy envelope liner previewed the tropical plants—and the vibrant green shades—the couple used in their wedding-day décor.
A Dream Come True
The first of Vanessa's four outfits of the day was a custom wedding dress in ivory crepe from Bridal Room Dubai; she designed the garment herself. "I did not try on any other wedding gowns because I always knew I wanted to have my dress made," she says. "I loved that the dress was simple, classy, but sexy."
Her Black-and-White Bouquet
Vanessa's bouquet played into the high-contrast color palette. The arrangement was comprised of white anemones accented by emerald green leaves and was tied off with a black-and-white ribbon from Tulipano Décor.
Women in White
The bride asked one of her bridesmaids, Chika Okafor of TNL Designs, to design and make the long-sleeved, slim-skirted gowns her friends and sister wore. "I wanted the bridesmaids' ensembles to be very similar to my wedding gown," says Vanessa, "therefore we chose the color ivory."
Abidemi and his groomsmen wore black shawl collar dinner suits with tuxedo pants; the groom donned a matching waistcoat and a spread collar French cuff pique bib shirt.
At First Sight
The bride and groom shared an emotional few moments during their first look. "When I first saw Vanessa, I was excited at the sight of my beautiful wife," says Abidemi, "and thankful that we have reached the next stage in our journey through life."
Vanessa and Abidemi's guests were just as stylish as they were. The diverse group hailed from all over the world—something that was reflected in the rich, cultural fashion of the day.
Up in the Air
The couple hosted their ceremony on the rooftop of the hotel, where a honeycomb-inspired window and acrylic chairs gave the space a chic, minimalist feel, complemented by the sweeping views of the below city and the water.
Ladies Pulling the Strings
Vanessa and Abidemi hired an all-female string and piano trio to perform during their ceremony; they played contemporary love songs before, during, and after the service.
Here Comes the Bride
The trio played Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" as Vanessa's uncle escorted her down the aisle.
Saying "I Do"
Abidemi's sister and Vanessa's aunt each participated in the ceremony by reading selections from the Bible, while Binny Baker of HS Celebrants oversaw the couple's exchange of traditional vows. Ellie Goulding's "How Long Will I Love You" played as the couple read each other their promises.
A Lucky Break
Despite sunshine that morning, a sudden change in the weather made for one of the most memorable moments of the day: "There was a clap of thunder the moment we were pronounced husband and wife," says Vanessa, "and the skies opened with showers of blessings."
Inside the hotel's Vista Ballroom, long gold tables with mirrored tops were paired with black cane chairs for another vivid contrast. Oversized arrangements of leaves and ferns suspended from the ceiling offset the room's dramatic chandeliers. "I wanted the reception to feel like we were entering a tropical forest," says Vanessa.
A Sleek Seating Chart
A simple sheet of black acrylic with white printing gave the couple's traditional seating chart a modern upgrade—and called back to the original acrylic invitations.
Getting Their Greens
Tall centerpieces drew the eye up thanks to arrangements of sculptural leaves and ferns. On the table below, taper candles added a warm glow that was reflected by the mirrored surface.
An International Menu
Black plates fit the color scheme, while cards tucked into each white napkin did double duty: One side served as a place card, and the other listed the menu. Guests dined on shrimp doka, Nigerian beef stew, roasted chicken, grilled seabream, and an assortments of desserts.
In Your Arms
The newlyweds' first dance took place toward the beginning of the reception, as they circled the floor to Sam Cooke's "Nothing Can Change This Love," a favorite dating back to the beginning of their relationship. "I played this song for Vanessa shortly after telling her I love her," says Abidemi. "The lyrics of the song spoke to me and the song will forever have a sentimental value for us."
While a group of African performers entertained guests with dancing and drum music, Vanessa and Abidemi changed out their ceremony attire into traditional Nigerian outfits in emerald green. The couple returned to the dance floor for the "spraying of the money" custom while the crowd danced to "old-school Nigerian music" and Afrobeats.
Sweet on Each Other
After honoring their Nigerian heritage, Vanessa and Abidemi made another quick outfit change before cutting their red velvet cake. Vanessa traded her gown for a Champagne-colored lehenga covered with Swarovski crystals and pearls, and Abedemi chose an embroidered dinner jacket.
For the remainder of the evening, Vanessa turned again to a custom gown from TNL Designs. "I wanted something fun and short to stand out from the other dresses," she says. She paired a shimmering cocktail dress with black Jimmy Choo heels and a comfortable ponytail, so she and her new husband could dance the night away with their guests.
Photography, Maria Sundin
Venue and catering, Five Palm Jumeriah
Event planning and Stationery, Save the Date
Flowers, Tulipano Décor
Officiant, Binny Baker, HS Celebrants
Music, DJ Aklef
Makeup, Temitayo Beauty
Bridesmaids' dresses, TNL Designs