Nigel and Pierrette | Willow Springs Winery Wedding Photos

My couples have the best love stories. When I meet with them months before the wedding, I want to hear the proposal story, the first date story, and everything in between. I’m here for all of it! When I sat with Nigel and Pierrette at Starbucks, I smiled so hard, my cheeks started to hurt. They have a beautiful connection. I was so moved. Like most things in life – it took time. They didn’t just meet and fall in love like the movies. Their journey exemplifies the ways love can grow, like a caterpillar into a butterfly. Can’t believe I had the amazing honor to witness and photograph their day from start to finish. As the photographer, I observed but I also felt connected. They shared so much of their story and I heard so many positive thing about who they are. Preparing this blog post brings back fond memories and all the emotions. Some of these photos were also shared on Munaluchi Bride along with some their answers to some questions. I have shared them within this post. Enjoy!

How did you meet each other?

{From the Groom} We met about 10 years ago at a community centre. Pierrette worked there and I played pick up ball once a week. Over the years we developed a friendship through shared spaces, including our church. I always thought that we had a good connection, but I never thought it would ever evolve into a union.

Through our friendship (and my brother suggesting that I date her), her fun loving spirit, kindness, zest for life and intelligence drew me to her.

I should also add, the fact that she is beautiful didn’t hurt either (lol). So when the opportunity presented itself to explore dating in 2013, we didn’t know what to expect. Along the way, some distance came between us, but eventually we decided to give dating another shot in 2014, and it was the best decision Pierrette ever made (LOL!).

And, it was the best decision that I ever made! We’ve been through our challenges, our ups and downs, but God’s grace is sufficient. In this time our love grew.

What was wedding shopping like for you? 

I didn’t enjoy my wedding shopping experience at first. I quickly realized how the industry limits or tries to poke fun of curvy bodies. It was also frustrating because I changed my dress 3 months before the wedding. Yikes! After a long engagement, my original Stella York dress did not feel like me. I didn’t pay attention to brands or names, so to be honest, I’m not sure “what dress I wore” until this moment. What is true is that I walked into a store one Sunday morning and walked out with a dress. It was literally an off-the-rack purchase, no major alterations, just breast inserts. It was God sent. When my mother joined me for the reveal, we both knew I had a found “the dress.” It was a mixture of elegance, sexy sleek, and just enough edge to feel like myself.

The Proposal 

{From the Bride} We were scheduled to attend a New Years Eve party at a friends house. We were supposed to go to church first, but Nigel wanted us to have some “alone time” and proposed dinner. At first we thought we would go to a restaurant, but we decided to do dinner at his house. Given the distance of all the activities that day, it seemed a little misplaced, but I went along with it. I didn’t make it to church that night, I had a migraine. In fact, I almost stayed home. Over dinner, we spent time reflecting on our year, our relationship and goals for the coming year. I noticed he had a card in his hand. All I could think of was, “shoot, I forgot a New Years Card. I suck!” He presented me with the card filled with a few of his favorite pictures of moments we shared that year and then got on his knees asking to share more. I said yes!

Did you incorporate any culture into your wedding? 

Culture was super important. Planning a wedding in three months is difficult. It’s easy to plan yourself right out of your own wedding. One way to combat this was to remember some of our values: God and Our African Roots. I wanted some grounding prior to the ceremony and as a way to usher our guests to sit we incorporated African Drumming. We also danced out to drums ceremoniously after we were presented as “Mr. & Mrs.” We incorporated a lot of poetry into our ceremony and had our bridal party read a litany I arranged by Clementine von Radics’s, “A Mouthful of Forevers.” Our Unity ceremony was definitely one of our cultural highlights.

Our unity ceremony was based on an African-American wedding tradition called “the Four Elements.” This ritual dramatizes the “traditional” promise to love “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.” Lemon, vinegar, cayenne pepper, and honey — represent the sour, the bitter, the hot, and the sweet times of marriage.”

What is your best memory from your wedding? 

Our ceremony was heartfelt, comedic and symbolic. We loved our officiant, the Pastor of our Church. He kept things spiritual and light-hearted. At one point, he got our Best Man and Maid of Honor to fan us in preparation for “the kiss.” We were both laughing, as well as our guests. The Unity ceremony has a call and response component to it. It was beautiful hearing our guests affirm that they would stand with us through the bitter, sour, hot and sweet moments. At the reception, the highlight was also lovely to witness the mother-son dance. My husband’s mother has an early onset of dementia, so to see them in that moment was special to say the least.

What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples?

Do “you.” This is the most difficult thing to remember when getting married. But try with your might to stay authentically you and don’t forget to pray through it. Marriage is a spiritual ceremony.

Take your time to reflect on what it means to you both; why you’re getting married and use that to craft whatever ceremony you wish.

Last, “non-bridal-brides,” you know the ones who said they had no vision of a wedding or never wanted a big wedding? Watch, out, you may surprise yourself and discover your hidden talents. I know I did.

Do “you.” This is the most difficult thing to remember when getting married. But try with your might to stay authentically you and don’t forget to pray through it. Marriage is a spiritual ceremony.

Wedding previously featured on Munaluchi Bride Magazine. Click here to check out the full feature!

Wedding Dress Salon: Blu Ivory  // Wedding Dress: Enzoani Blue: Huntington Gown // Bridesmaid Dresses: Dessy Lux Chiffon Formal Wear from Avenue 22 Bridal // Suits: Eaden Myles // Hair: Anya Grant // Make Up: The Look Beauty  // Cake and Flowers: Cocoa Fancy Events // Wedding Planner: Plan My Day Now // Photographer: Samantha Clarke // Stationary: Paperless Post // Reception: Crystal Fountain Banquet Hall  // Ceremony: Willow Springs Winery // Photo booth: Pandalini Studio

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Hi! I’m Samantha!

Hi! I'm Samantha - a Canadian lawyer turned international photographer who decided to follow my heart. I'm chasing my dreams and traveling the world to capture life's pretty things.