When Ayanna and Sully first met at mutual friend’s birthday dinner, they didn’t know ahead of time that the birthday boy and Ayanna’s best friend were trying to set them up, sitting them next to each other. They didn’t care either, because despite such efforts, the two didn’t say more than a handful of words to each other during the night.
“I was more interested in being friends with her roommate at the time,” Ayanna admits. “We instantly hit it off as friends. At the end of the dinner I gave her roomie my card so we could stay in contact and my best friend told me I should give it to Sully, too.”
Though her eyes weren’t initially on Sully at the dinner, after getting into contact with one another following the passing along of her business card, the two went on to make a connection. It wasn’t a linear path to love, but when is it ever?
“One nervous yet engaging first date, a month of miscommunication and a second make-up date sealed the deal,” Ayanna says. “Nine years later here we are.”
Though they quickly came to the conclusion that they had found their person shortly after entering into a relationship, a proposal didn’t occur until 2020 — make that two proposals, actually. The couple didn’t realize that they both had been planning to pop the question around the same time and ended up proposing a week apart from each other with help from their circle.
“We both had no idea, and our family and friends did so well at keeping it all hush!” Sully says.
They also didn’t realize that the world was about to come to a halt. Both women, who live in NYC, proposed in March. Days afterward, the city went into lockdown due to COVID-19. Their attempts to plan their wedding were upended more than once due to restrictions in place.
“We changed the date about three times from October to March until we landed on June 13 ,” Sully says. “Similarly, the location of where we would get married changed and varied as well, based on costs, the vibe we were looking for, and number of guests allowed during a pandemic.”
After landing on a date, Ayanna and Sully ultimately decided to do something simple, sweet and safe — an elopement in the park. The couple said “I do” in Brooklyn Bridge Park, in Brooklyn of course, in front of 25 of their family and friends (and around 100 people on Zoom).
“We read our own vows and our officiant married us off through storytelling, words of wisdom and tying in our belief in God in such a fun, authentic and non-traditional way,” Ayanna says.
There were plenty more personal touches, from the Pride rainbow sneakers worn for their photo shoot, to the specialty cocktails offered at their post-wedding brunch (Ayanna’s New Fashion, a take on an old fashion and Sully’s Passion and Pride, a spin on a rum and passionfruit drink), and the locations, from where the ceremony was held to the post-wedding fun on a rooftop, all taking place at spots special to the couple.
While they had a completely different vision for their wedding day before COVID hit, what their special day ended up being was even better than what they could have imagined.
“Honestly, the whole day was just magical and special,” Sully says.
After a time of great uncertainty in the world, they were able to be surrounded by a lot of love, in person and virtually, as they welcomed in this next chapter of life together. What could be more perfect?
Check out photos from their big day in the park, and learn more about their love story below.
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The ladies are pictured getting dressed up together at 1 Hotel in Brooklyn Bridge.
For Ayanna’s proposal, Sully enlisted Ayanna’s sister to take her for a girls’ night out, eventually bringing her to a special spot by a pier to take pictures. As Ayanna and her sister were preparing to snap those photos, Sully popped up, dressed down, makeup done, surprising her. She surprised Ayanna even more by proposing.
“I asked her to marry me, and of course she said Yes!” Sully says.
As for the proposal for Sully, Ayanna had her friends set up Hershey kisses in a garden to spell out “Marry Me?” As the couple walked to a nearby restaurant for date night, they stopped through that garden and stumbled upon the message.
“It took her a second to realize what was on the ground, but once she did she was blown,” Ayanna says.
How Sully Knew She Found the One
“I knew Ayanna would one day be my wife year one of our relationship,” Sully says. “Within that first year, I felt the ease of us being together, how we appreciated the beauties of life like food and travel. And when I realized that her core values of family, communication, and trust matched mine, that all solidified it for me. She was a breath of fresh air that walked into my life and I wanted to hold on to that feeling.”
How Ayanna Knew She Found the One
“I knew I found the one when I realized she not only checked the boxes for what I wanted in a partner, but for what I needed,” she says of Sully. “She fulfilled me; mind, body, spirit and soul and it made me realize how complete you can feel when someone brings their whole self into a relationship.”
“We provided our in-person guests with light blue hand fans as souvenirs with our names and wedding date printed,” says Ayanna of the gift, pictured.
Ayanna’s gown, which she had altered to add a corset lace-up effect in the back and to shorten the train, was from Black-owned bridal salon Pantora Bridal in Brooklyn.
Sully’s jumpsuit brought the drama she wanted, and it came from ASOS Bridal.
Taking Pride in Their Footwear
For their bridal photo shoot, and the reception, the ladies wore one-of-a kind sneakers.
“We had Pride-inspired rainbow sneakers, which we adorned for some photos during the photo shoot and during the reception/after-party,” Ayanna says. “My sneakers are from the Trevor Project collection in collaboration with Dolce Vita and Sully’s are Converse – PRIDE edition.”
It’s a Photo Shoot
Loving the personal touch of the sneakers, which match the colorful wall the ladies posed in front of.
Elopement in the Park
The ceremony took place on the Prospect granite steps in Brooklyn Bridge Park, right next to the East River.
As Ayanna mentioned, the couple shared their vows and their officiant celebrated their love in a “fun, authentic and non-traditional way.”
The Bridal Tribe
“In-person attendees, including our officiant, were asked to dress in our color palette of beige, nude, burnt orange, light blue and gray,” Ayanna says. She’s pictured with some guests who got the memo on that burnt orange, nude and light blue.
Bridal Tribe II
As for Sully, those in her circle opted to wear light blue.
Sully’s Favorite Moment
“For me, my most memorable moment was at the top of our photo shoot during the first looks moment when I finally looked into Ayanna’s fully beat face, so gorgeous, and knew that today was the day she would become my wife,” she says.
Ayanna’s Favorite Moment
“The entire day turned out to be perfect beyond my wildest dreams. But my most memorable moment was listening to Sully’s vows and finally saying ‘I Do.'”
“After being together for so long, the main thing that has changed is that now we are married, but the day-to-day hasn’t,” Ayanna says. “Now that we are in a formal union, we do want to accomplish a lot together and our goals and vision for the future has to be intentionally aligned. For example, deciding on where we want to live and raise our family.”
Looking to the Future
“Almost three months in, we are definitely still getting used to being a whole wife to one another. However, with nine years strong of a relationship, not much has changed in our day-to-day, except for the fact that now we are in the process of leveling up,” Sully says. “Our hopes for the near future are to be homeowners and parents. So a lot to look forward to; a future full of abundance and blessings.”