Lena and Adrian met through mutual friends at a soul food restaurant in New Jersey. After exchanging numbers, they reconnected to New York City, where Lena just landed a new job and Adrian had an established network. First, they formed an unbreakable friendship, which quickly blossomed into something more. “He’s the most consistent, reliable, person I know,” Lena says, “and he knows me better than I know myself.”
After a romantic proposal in the Bahamas, they came to the conclusion that a destination wedding would better suit their union. That’s when they landed on – Chateau Bouffemont – a “sophisticated, beautiful, sexy, and something from a fairytale” venue in France that fit the bill in every way. For those that weren’t able to make the voyage abroad, the couple held a pre-wedding ceremony in New Jersey attended by their parents, siblings and children.
Scroll through for priceless moments from Lena and Adrian’s big day.
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Meet The Hawkins's
Theme: Parisian glam
Venue: Chateau Bouffemont, France
Wedding and Bridesmaids dresses: Vesa Dresses, Nutley, NJ
Photographer: Oana Boloni
Videographer: Tuan Nguyen
How He Proposed
"He proposed to me on our anniversary, in the Bahamas. I had no idea Adrian was going to propose there. Although, I was curious as to why he was holding on to his backpack for dear life and wouldn’t put it down anywhere. He arranged for the staff to pull me up on stage after the Bahamian Dance Show. He then approached the stage with a beautiful speech and a ring to match. Overwhelmed, excited, and happy, I obliged."
She's My Queen
"I knew she was the one when I was delighted to make her smile and when my heart was captivated by her eyes displaying growing love between us," Adrian says. "I also knew she was the one when she listened to the big and little things that mattered to me consistently and affectionately."
The Bride Didn't Break A Sweat
"From the moment I woke up on that beautiful day, I was at peace. I did my own hair, my own makeup, and got myself dressed without breaking a sweat. My best friend and my cousin came in to help me with some last-minute touches (like the buttons on the back of my gown and the infamous boob tape, thank God for that) but for the most part, everything was simple."
Let's Get Married
"It felt amazing to be a groom marrying my friend and partner to continue this amazing journey of life’s enjoyment. Having the wedding ceremony in Paris France was magical and seeing my bride walk down those stairs to the music of a violinist was extraordinary."
The Music Of Love
"We had a violinist playing while I walked down the stairs of the Chateau and down the aisle with my brother."
"I was excited and felt blessed on my wedding day. It was more than I could have ever dreamed of as a little brown girl from Camden, NJ. There was no way I could’ve dreamed of a day as special as my wedding day. It was magical."
You're Only As Strong As Your Circle
"The ceremony was outside in the garden. We also had all the married couples come up, and get in a circle with us, so that we could share our love with them, bless them, and pray over their unions as well."
From The Heart
Lena and Adrian chose to read vows they'd written each other.
I Now Pronounce You...
"I’m still on cloud nine and it feels amazing to be his wife. I am truly proud to be in this union, and of all the things that are being created in this world due to our energy and the God we share between us."
About The Dress
"It was the very first dress I tried on. I knew it was the one because every other dress I tried on, I compared to that dress. I just couldn’t believe it was thee dress because it was the first one I tried on. However, all the others just didn’t compare."
"I wanted everyone to feel beautiful, to be comfortable, and purchase something they’d like to wear again," Lena says. "So I gave them a color palette (Gold to Rose Gold Metallics) and let them choose whatever dress they wanted to wear. The only request I made was that everyone wear a different color."
How sharp does this wedding party look!
The Way You Love Me
"As simple as it may seem, Adrian is THEE nicest person I know! No one, no one, on this earth has treated me as good as this man treats me. I’ve never felt a love, a care, and a friendship so true, so raw. And he is the epitome of 'When they go low, we go high.'”
"The guests were led from the garden area to the cellar, where there was a bar and appetizers. The violinist played classic R&B music that had everyone dancing, surprised, and impressed. After the cocktail hour, guests were led upstairs to the beautifully decorated dining area."
We Did It Our Way
"We did EXACTLY what WE wanted to do," Lena told ESSENCE. "Not what we thought would be best for someone else, or what would make someone else happy… we did what WE WANTED TO DO. This is a very special day."
A Gift For The Guests
"Each guest received a handwritten personalized welcome notecard thanking them for their presence along with a white dreamcatcher. All of our guests knew and understood the difficulties we were both leaving behind. I wanted to give our guests something that also symbolized an opportunity for them to find and have the peace, joy, and fresh start that we had."
Forever and Ever
There was no way we could’ve dreamed of a day as special as our wedding day," the couple says. "It was magical."