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Bridal Bliss: Whitney And Siya's Wedding Was An Epic Three-Day Event Called 'Camp Madikane'

It included a welcome party with stilt walkers, flamingo dancers and a steel drum band, as well as an emotional gospel brunch. That doesn't even include the beauty and extravagance of the wedding.
Bridal Bliss: Whitney And Siya’s Wedding Was An Epic Three-Day Event Called ‘Camp Madikane’
Stanley Babb

When Whitney first met Siya, it wasn’t necessarily love at first sight. Truth be told, the event she met him at in Brooklyn, “I absolutely did not want to go,” she recalls to ESSENCE. Something else she had no interest in? Dating. She didn’t want to mix nor mingle, instead focused on creative execution agency, 19th & Park, but she allowed herself to be persuaded into attending this particular party in support of a friend — and because there was food there. So when she was introduced to Siya, she didn’t think anything of it at first.

“I went about my business and proceeded to station myself in a chair with my full plate of food and he kept coming over and asking me questions,” she says. Despite that, she found that she wasn’t bothered by his presence.

When the two encountered one another at the after-party, Whitney, of Bahamian descent, was taken by the soca tunes. Siya came up to her and asked her to dance (which she would find out later was something he does NOT do). The dance would draw them closer, as they continued to communicate as the night went on. By the end of it, he smoothly asked for her number to call while she was driving back to her home in New Jersey to make sure she and her friend got home safely. She appreciated his concern, and would also appreciate the text message that would follow.

“The next day, he sends me a text message: ‘With everything going on yesterday, I forgot when we said we would get back together. How’s Sunday at 2 p.m.? I made us a reservation just in case,'” she says. “Obviously, we had never made any future plans but I appreciated the intentionality of it all, so I said ‘of course.’”

The rest, as they say, is history. The two would would hit it off swimmingly, which Siya felt would happen when he first laid eyes on her at that party.

“I’m a person who believes in love or the idea of it and I romanticize moments. The first time that I saw Whitney in Brooklyn at African Chop House, I knew I had to try and be as close to her as possible,” he says.

They would eventually grow as a couple, sharing a home together and according to Whitney, doing “all of these married people things without married people documents.” After some discussion in 2020, they decided that by 2022 they would get married, but she had no idea that Siya had already started preparing to propose. He went to a minority woman-owned jeweler to design a ring for her, which he drew by hand, and got all their friends and family involved in the proposal in a clever way amid the pandemic (more on that shortly!). Nearly two years later, on the weekend of June 11, 2022, the couple said “I do” in grand fashion, celebrating with a three-day event called Camp Madikane (which is Siya’s surname). It was a play on the sleepaway camps of childhood, filled with food, fun and opportunities for people to make connections. It involved a welcome event with stilt walkers, a steel drum band and flamingo girls, as well as a gospel brunch on the final day. Sandwiched in between was the beautiful wedding ceremony. It was attended by loved ones from all over the world, brought together at the Hutton Brickyards in Kingston, New York, two hours away from the city.

“These were really different people from all different walks of life/countries/cities,” Siya says. “They came for us and did not even know each other but were all getting along.”

Camp Madikane, made to create community and celebrate it as well, was a treat not only for friends and family, but most of all, for the newest Mr. and Mrs. Madikane.

“Everything was perfect because we made sure we did it our way,” Whitney says. “Now, we have all of these memories, from start to finish, that we will cherish and look back on forever and that is what is really important.”

They are memories that the couple decided to share with ESSENCE! Check out stunning images from the big day, and learn more about the love story behind it in this week’s Bridal Bliss.

Vendors

Wedding Location: Hutton Brickyards

Creative Direction: Whitney Headen of 19th & Park (the bride)

Wedding Stylist: Jenna Tyson 

Caterer: Chef Tiffani Janelle

Groom’s and Groomsmens’ Suits: Custom by 5001 Flavors 

Photographer: Stanley Babb 

Videographer: Bricks Group Media 

Florals: Javier Valentino 

Wedding Dress: Custom Ghalia Lahav designed by the bride. Dresses were coordinated by Vainglorious Brides.

Wedding Planner: Tricia Smith Brown