Working on a Sunday is never fun, but for India, 31, who’s in marketing, it was just another part of her job. That day, on her way to work, something amazing happened. She locked eyes with construction worker Jerej, 32, who had pulled over to run into his favorite corner store in Spanish Harlem, New York. They locked eyes and sparks flew. After a brief conversation, she gave him her business card. Undeterred by the fact that she hadn’t given him her personal number, Jerej called her up and invited her out for sushi. Six years later, they became husband and wife on November 11, 2012 in the Dominican Republic. Share their love!
For a romantic look for her island wedding, India wore this gorgeous Lusan Mandongus wedding gown that she discovered at the Gabriella New York Bridal Salon on 14th Street in Manhattan. “Before finding the dress, I visited six other bridal shops,” she admits. “Dress shopping was fun. The only stressful part was managing other people’s expectations.”
The future Mrs. Haggins brought along this sweet custom dress hanger to hold her lovely gown.
India relied on the expertise of the on-site makeup team at the resort to help with her wedding day makeup. The result was absolutely stunning!
“I knew he was the one when I ran my first half marathon,” says India. “He was so supportive, following me through NYC with signs and encouraging me to push through when I was ready to give up. At the end of the race, he was there with my family and friends, and it just felt perfect. There’s nothing like feeling completely comfortable with someone. It’s hard to describe. He just became a part of my life story, and that was it.”
“The girls’ dresses were found at David’s Bridal,” says India. “The dresses were perfect!”
For her bridesmaids, India knew she wanted the girls’ dresses to be reasonably priced, light and breathable so they wouldn’t fry under the sun.
With these rings, India and Jerej pledged their undying love to one another.
India gets a helping hand from her girls as she slips into her wedding gown.
India found these pretty white-drop earrings at Loehmann’s. They were beautiful and not too much for a beach wedding.
“My bracelet was my something old. My dress my something new, and I borrowed a gold bracelet from my mother that I wrapped around my bouquet and I wore a blue lace garter.”
“I figured the stylists in DR would have limited experience styling locs,” India tells us. “Before leaving for Punta Cana, I had two hair trails at Turning Heads Salon in Harlem. The stylist showed me how to do the side ponytail-style I wanted. For our final appointment, I did the style myself while she watched and corrected me.
India opted to go with open white roses, white spider mums and coral orchids for her romantic bridal bouquet. “I wanted something that was romantic and whimsical,” says India. “The combination was perfect. It was full and light.”
To walk down the aisle in style, India chose these fierce and fabulous 4-inch heels she found at a DSW.
“Jerej is funny, considerate, supportive, driven, smart and an amazing friend,” says India. “He’s loyal.”
What’s not to love about this sweet, picture-perfect moment between the bride and her mother?
“I never thought I would find my husband on a street corner in Harlem,” says India. “I wasn’t looking for love, but I was open to the idea of meeting someone. I typically don’t speak to people on the street but something that day made me let down my guard and look what happened. You just never know.”
India chose seven lovely ladies for her bridal party – her sister, her high school best friends, her old college roommates, Jerej’s younger sister and her 9-year-old niece.
India’s proud father gives his daughter a kiss on the cheek as they pause for portraits on their way to the ceremony.
India is working that train. We know a fierce, fun and fabulous bride when we see one.
The Paradisus Palma Real Golf & Spa Resort provided just the picturesque backdrop India and Jerej were in search of when they began planning their destination wedding.
With her girls behind her, India makes her way to Jerej as they prepare to meet for the very first time that day.
The groom wore a Calvin Klein suit. He selected both his suit and his groomsmen’s suits from an online retailer. “My one request was that the suits be gray,” his bride tells us.
Jerej and India staged a “first look” before the ceremony, and she was all smiles as she surprised him on a romantic bridge. These two look so happy together.
“The first look was by far the highlight of the wedding day,” says India. “I was worried about breaking tradition and seeing him before the ceremony but that one moment was so incredibly special and personal because it was just the two of us seeing each other for the first time. We were both so happy in that moment. I remember the silence and walking up to meet him and feeling so nervous, but the second he turned around, it all went away. I was looking into the eyes of my husband.
“Jerej cried when we first saw each other during our first look at each other before the ceremony,” says India. “His friends took bets on how many times he would cry.”
Jerej admires his beautiful bride as he finally gets a chance to look into her eyes on their wedding day. We love this portrait!
Hold on Jerej. Were you supposed to kiss the bride before the ceremony? It’s okay. Your secret is safe with us.
“After deciding to have a destination wedding, I knew I wanted the ceremony on the beach,” says India. “I practice Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism, which teaches you to be in rhythm with the universe and your surroundings. It was only fitting to be next to the ocean with our feet in the sand. Why have a destination wedding if you’re not going to be on the beach?”
“Jerej is the most driven person I know, and not just with his career,” says the bride. “He is driven to be the best husband, father, son, brother and friend. It’s so inspiring and makes me want to be a better wife and friend to him. He is willing to do whatever it takes to be successful, and I love that.”
India and Jerej’s beachfront ceremony began at 4 p.m. As the groom approached the aisle, he stopped to soak in the beauty of Punta Cana.
India walked down the aisle to Beyonce’s “1+1,” and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
“Since I’m a practicing Buddhist and Jerej is a Christian, I created the ceremony script and included some non-traditional elements,” says India. “His grandmother read a scripture from the Book of Solomon. My mother conducted a hand blessing ceremony, where she symbolically bound our souls together by tying our hands with a ribbon, and his mother led our friends and family in taking a personal vow to support us as a couple.”
Jerej and India chose to read their own vows. “The ceremony brought together the spiritual beliefs of both our families,” she says. “I really loved it.”
Even in the blazing island heat, India’s makeup remained absolutely flawless.
“It felt absolutely perfect looking into Jerej’s eyes,” says India. “I never felt so sure about my love for him and our relationship than I did at that moment. The joy in his eyes was surreal. He had never looked at me in that way. It really felt like just him and I while we were up there.”
A sweet kiss seals the deal.
The fun-loving couple couldn’t wrap the ceremony without jumping the broom.
“Our recessional song was ‘Ignition Remix’ by R Kelly,” India tells us. “He’s Jerej’s favorite artist. It really got the party started right away.” We love that this couple kept the focus glued to having fun and cherishing their love.
India and Jerej were blessed to have 45 cherished guests on hand to celebrate with them during their wedding weekend.
India gives her new husband a squeeze.
The newlyweds walk along the beach as they make their way to the cocktail reception.
“He’s never afraid to tell me how much he loves me, and he does all he can to make sure I’m happy,” says India. “He has always been there for me, and I know he always has my back, no matter what. It’s the best feeling knowing that your heart is safe in someone else’s hands.”
What a well-dressed group. The ladies’ coral gowns complemented the mens’ grey suits perfectly. Wouldn’t you agree?
The new Mr. and Mrs. Haggins show off their wedding rings.
Jerej was sure to have the fellas by his side when he tied the knot with the woman of his dreams. These cool brothers sure are beating the island heat.
“Jerej’s proposal was so genuine and unexpected,” says India. “I loved it.”
“Jerej likes to think we planned the wedding together,” jokes India. “But it was really all my amazing wedding planner and I.”
India and Jerej’s reception was supposed to be outdoors as well, right off of the beach next to the pool area, but there was a threat of rain so they were forced to move it inside to the Apollo Foyer. “It felt outdoors because it was open on three sides but was covered to shield us from the rain,” she says. “I was sad that we had to move the reception at first, but the new location gave us more privacy, and as soon as we were done with our first dance, it started to pour.”
For a unique spin on a traditional guest book, India and Jerej requested that their guests sign a leaf on this sweet tree print instead.
To add extra touches of romance to their reception style, the couple chose purple and pink lighting effects.
For their first dance, India and Jerej hit the dance floor to the sounds of “One In A Million” by Ne-Yo. “Our first dance was amazing,” the bride recalls. “We were so in sync everyone thought we rehearsed. I’ve never had so much fun.”
“We had a vanilla cake with white fondant icing and strawberry filling,” says India. “We thought it would appeal to the masses. The cake was surprisingly delicious. Everyone was shocked.”
India and Jerej laughed and smiled their way through a wedding weekend that looks like so much fun, we wish we’d been there.
“We had a $15,000 budget but we definitely spent more than that,” says India. “You only get married once!”
From the minute India and Jerej laid eyes on each other on a corner in Spanish Harlem, they knew they felt something truly special. And, we can feel the love! Did you enjoy their fun, destination wedding style? Tell us your favorite detail below. Want to see your wedding featured on Bridal Bliss? Email us now!