Melanca, an attorney, caught real estate developer Moddie’s eye from across the room at a friend’s birthday party. They fell madly in love, and three years later he proposed with a romantic poem in their home. After she said yes, she asked him to marry her too, because she wanted him to know he, too, was her chosen one. They were married on September 2, 2011 at Studio 450 in New York City.
“We tried to streamline things down for the wedding to what to us were the most essential elements,” Melanca tells us. “So, we included our friends in ways meaningful to us, but didn’t have a formal bridal party with (expensive) bridal attire they had to wear.”
Every wedding venue has a story, and we love that Melanca and Moddie chose a location close to her heart. “The venue was a great loft space with terrific panoramic views of New York City,” she says. “My dad’s loft where I grew up is about ten blocks away, and has the same view of the Empire State Building. It was the closest thing to having the wedding at home, except in a much bigger, more deluxe space.”
Melanca tells us that popular online handmade goods and services site Etsy.com was her best friend when it came to seeking out unique wedding details. (We love these programs!) “I found everything I could possibly need for the wedding on this website, nicer styles and usually cheaper than if made by larger companies.”
Each detail of Melanca and Moddie’s wedding day was planned with careful financial consideration. “We definitely did not want to become victims of the wedding industrial complex,” she says. “People spend insane amounts of money on what is to be sure, a super important day, but just one day of what should be a lifetime of rational choices pertaining to finances. My father very generously covered the wedding, but we tried to keep things reasonable.”
“I walked down the aisle to ‘S’Wonderful’ by Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Davis Jr., which to me encapsulated exactly how I felt,” Melanca tells us. Her smile makes us smile. What a happy bride and a beautiful day.
“Moddie’s family is from Sierra Leone and so we tried to incorporate decorations, music and some traditions native to West Africa,” reveals Melanca. “My father is from New Orleans, and my mother’s family, while more recently from Philadelphia, is two or three generations ago from the South, so we tried to incorporate thematic elements including food and music from the African American southern tradition.”
“Moddie’s good friend, who is a pastor, married us,” Melanca says. “He did a great job of honoring God’s presence in a way that was inclusive to all the many diverse faiths represented by our guests at the wedding.”
“We showed our florist, Susane Gulbin from Cocorosie, an African print fabric that we were using for decorating the ceremony chairs, and told her to pick out beautiful flowers that matched,” says Melanca. “We just left it in her hands and I could not have been more happy with what she put together. She was spectacular.”
“Instead of favors, we created cards for each guest letting them know that in lieu of favors, we were making a donation in their name to Timap for Justice, an innovative non-profit founded by a friend of ours providing free justice services in Sierra Leone,” says Melanca.“We figured the donation would have a more lasting and significant impact, and honor our friends more, than anything we might buy.”
“We tried to combine West African and New Orleans themes,” Melanca tells us. “Sounds crazy, but we tried not to overdo it. We had African fabric bows on the ceremony chairs that my friend’s mom generously made for us. She also made the ring pillow out of the same fabric.”
After the cocktail hour, Moddie and Melanca joined everyone downstairs in the reception. They walked in to the sounds of P Square’s “No One Like You.” Melanca tell us, “Moddie’s entire family came up to dance with us, and then threw money at us — both traditions from West Africa. It was a really memorable moment. Everyone was so happy for us and you could really feel all the love in the room.”
Guests enjoyed a yummy southern-inspired dinner menu during the couple’s sit-down reception. “We had terrific food from Spoonbread Catering including shrimp gumbo, catfish in creole sauce, and cornbread,” says Melanca.
“We tried to honor our ancestors; all those that went before us We had framed photographs of our parents, grandparents, as far back as our great great-grandparents and put them out next to the escort cards. We raided our families’ photo albums and made color copies of the photos. I’ve now got all the pictures hanging in our home. We’ll have them forever.
From favors to music, there are so many ways to personalize your wedding ceremony. Melanca and Moddie carefully customized each detail. “Once we were married, we handed out parasols and handkerchiefs, and came down the aisle to Second Line music of New Orleans,” says Melanca.
Melanca couldn’t say enough great things about their wedding deejay, DJ Center. “DJ Center did all the music for the ceremony and the reception,” she says. "As he promised, ‘he hooked it up lovely for us.’”
Melanca and Moddie personalized their big day in every way possible. Rather than go for the traditional tiered wedding cake, they opted for a small red velvet cake with a custom designed topper and lovely clusters of yummy gourmet cupcakes (from Toni’s Minis in Harlem) in a variety of flavors.
The bride cut a rug with her father, abstract painter Ed Clark. She’d planned for them to dance to “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong, but the night before the wedding, he told her he’d prefer to dance to something with a faster beat. “He’s 85 but clearly young at heart,” says Melanca.