This Couple's Wedding in Washington, D.C., May Have Been Small, But It Was a Major Celebration

bride and groom in front of washington monument
Angelika Johns Photography

Tkeyah and Solomon grew up in the same town, but didn't meet until their freshman year of college at the University of Baltimore in 2010; the two moved into the same apartment complex and became good friends—and remained that way over the next year (Tkeyah admits to keeping Solomon in the friend zone at first). But in September 2011, Solomon asked Tkeyah on a double date with their mutual friends—and they completely hit it off.

In 2019, the couple booked a trip to Los Angeles to celebrate Solomon's birthday; while enjoying a scenic hike in Malibu, he got down on one knee. The couple began planning their August 8, 2020, nuptials at The Westin in Washington, D.C., inviting friends and family from all over the world to join them for a wedding weekend. But when COVID-19 restrictions began limiting events around the country, the couple ultimately decided to pivot; they kept their original date, but changed their venue and considerably cut down their guest list. They kept as many vendors as possible, knowing that most were small businesses and that they had already done a ton of work leading up to the celebration.

Ultimately, Tkeyah and Solomon invited 46 guests to join them at the D.C. War Memorial (in between the Lincoln and World War II Memorial) for an urban jungle-themed ceremony ("Interestingly enough, before the pandemic, we considered this location originally, but opted for the Westin Hotel to accommodate our ceremony and reception being held at the same venue," the bride shares). More than 100 guests watched the wedding via Zoom—including the bride's grandmother, who watched the ceremony from the Virgin Islands.

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Urban Jungle

wedding invitation suite with illustrations of palms and banana leaves
Angelika Johns Photography

Solomon and Tkeyah used their engagement photos as the focal point for their invitation suite, printing them on cardstock with a matte finish. The design incorporated illustrations of palm and banana leaves to fit the urban jungle theme they were going for.

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On Her Own

bride getting ready surrounded by bridesmaids wearing white
Angelika Johns Photography

Tkeyah stepped into the wedding dress she had planned to wear all along: an ivory Calla Blanche gown from Designer Loft NYC with a V-neckline, open back. and beaded details. After trying the dress on in New York, she couldn't stop thinking about it—and ultimately knew it was the one. "Brides should feel empowered to try on dresses by themselves," Tkeyah says. "While I had fun dress shopping with family, I appreciated finding my gown by myself, without worrying about how others might have felt."

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bride wearing cape posing in front of washington monument
Angelika Johns Photography

The bride wore drop earrings from one of her favorite local designers, Mallory Shelter, and finished her look with a cape made by Green and Blue Studio. "I opted for a cape instead of a veil as a nod to Solomon's love of comic books and superheroes," she says.

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Textural Bouquet

bridal bouquet of greenery and white roses
Angelika Johns Photography

Tkeyah's bouquet, a lush organic arrangement of various types of greenery and white flowers, was created by Designs by Oochay.

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Groom in Green

groom wearing green tux and black velvet loafers
Angelika Johns Photography

Solomon wore a green tuxedo jacket from The Black Tux, which he paired with black pants and velvet loafers.

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Finishing Touches

groom adjusting watch
Angelika Johns Photography

The groom finished his look with a black bow tie, a rose gold watch from MVMT, and a gold-and-silver Hammer of Thor pendant—a gift from his bride on the morning of the wedding.

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Lovely in White

bride with bridesmaids wearing mismatched white dresses in front of washington monument
Angelika Johns Photography

Tkeyah's bridesmaids wore white dresses in varying styles; they chose their own gowns (and masks!) to suit their personalities.

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Neutral Groomsmen

groom wearing green tux walking with groomsmen
Angelika Johns Photography

Like the bridesmaids, the groomsmen chose their own ensembles, resulting in a mix of navy, black, and gray suits.

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The First Look

bride and groom sharing first look
Angelika Johns Photography

Tkeyah and Solomon shared their first look at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. "Before the first look, I was excited and anxious," Solomon says. "I was ready to see my best friend on our big day and couldn't wait to celebrate the day with her."

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Bicycle Parade

bicyclists circling bride and groom
Angelika Johns Photography

During the first look, a few hundred bicyclists—part of the Streets Calling Bike Club DC—began riding through the area. But instead of finding a different location for their portraits, the couple rolled with it—and asked their photographer to snap some photos of them as the bicyclists formed a parade and cheered them on.

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On Location

dc war memorial steps lined with garlands of greenery
Angelika Johns Photography

The ceremony took place at the D.C. War Memorial; the couple worked with their florist and planner, Tiffany Rivera of Simply Breathe Events, to turn the city landmark into a garden, adding trailing greenery to the entrance. "When COVID-19 hit, we knew that we wanted an outdoor location that was equally beautiful and meaningful for us, and the D.C. War Memorial was just that!" Tkeyah says.

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Greenery Halos

white chairs in semi-circle and greenery with white roses arranged at dc war memorial
Angelika Johns Photography

White chairs were set up in a semi-circle on either side of the altar, and placed at a safe distance. Designs by Oochay created two arched greenery installations, featuring white roses, for the center of the space.

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Here Comes the Bride

wedding ceremony processional ascending dc war memorial steps
Angelika Johns Photography

A cellist played Lana Del Rey's "Young and Beautiful" as the bride made her way toward the altar with her father. Solomon says that watching Tkeyah walk down the aisle stood was one of the most memorable moments of the day.

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wedding ceremony at dc war memorial
Angelika Johns Photography

The couple exchanged letters they wrote to each other on the morning of their wedding in lieu of vows. They asked one of their best friends to officiate; both Tkeyah and Solomon's mother read a passage of scripture during the ceremony.

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Friends and Family

man wearing mask delivering wedding speech
Angelika Johns Photography

During the service, the duo's friends and family shared personal stories and anecdotes about their relationship.

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Their First Dance

bride and groom sharing first dance at dc war memorial
Angelika Johns Photography

Tkeyah and Solomon shared their first dance—surrounded by their nearest and dearest—to "By Your Side" by Sade, played by their cellist. "We chose this song because of the lyrics. We promise to stay by each other's side through life's ups and downs," Tkeyah says.

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Signed, Sealed, Delivered

wedding couples guestbook and green fujifilm instax camera
Angelika Johns Photography

After the ceremony, attendees signed the couple's guestbook—and grabbed individual bottles of Martinelli's sparkling apple cider and white gift bags filled with popcorn.

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Soca Dancers

wedding soca dancer wearing blue feathers and gold jewels
Angelika Johns Photography

To conclude the festivities, Tkeyah and Solomon surprised their guests with soca dancers to honor Tkeyah's Caribbean heritage.

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wedding soca parade with blue-feathered dancers
Angelika Johns Photography

The dancers led guests in a small parade called a j'ouvert. "Everyone loved it!" the bride says.

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Picnic Time

casual wedding reception picnic on national mall
Angelika Johns Photography

Solomon and Tkeyah decided to skip a formal dinner reception in light of the pandemic, and instead hosted a casual picnic with friends on the National Mall post-ceremony. The bride changed into a short white dress from Lulus, so she'd be comfortable lounging in the grass.

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Looking Back

groom kissing brides cheek in front of martin luther king jr memorial
Angelika Johns Photography

The couple was happy that they were able to pull off a day that felt like a true wedding. "We decided to make COVID-19 the storyline, not the plot in our love story," Tkeyah says. "It helped our wedding feel like just that—a wedding. We literally got married in the middle of D.C. on a warm summer day. It was perfect!"

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bride and groom interlocking arms walking across street
Angelika Johns Photography

Photography, Angelika Johns Photography
Ceremony Venue, DC War Memorial
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Tiffany Rivera of Simply Breathe Events
Flowers, Designs by Oochay
Bride's Gown, Calla Blanche; Designer Loft NYC
Bride's Second Dress, Lulus
Bride's Cape, Green & Blue Studio
Bride's Jewelry, Mallory Shelter
Hair, Tress Art by Serena
Makeup, Sa'Leithia Latrice
Groom's Attire, The Black Tux
Groom's Accessories, MVMT
Music, Johnny Walker Jr.
Cake, Nothing Bundt Cakes
Rentals, Select Event Group
Favors, America's Favorite Gourmet Popcorn
Live Video Feed, Dan Goldman Events
Entertainment, Soka Tribe

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