Academic advisor Nicole, 27, was out on the town with her friends when they wound up at popular restaurant Pican in downtown Oakland. It was there that she first locked eyes with cute sous chef Derryk, 28. They didn’t speak that night, but the next week she returned with one of her girlfriends hoping they still had some sort of spark. They did, and when she had the waiter slip him her number, he called right away. Their connection was instant and on April 29, 2012, they officially became husband and wife. Share their love!
“My favorite color is pink, but I thought going with pink might have looked too girly,” says Nicole. “I wanted to feel like a real adult, so I went with purple and grey with accents of pink. I made sure to have small elements of sparkle in different places and I tried to keep everything timeless so I could look back on our pictures 20 years from now and still love them.”
“One of my close friends and business partner, Nyeshia, was my sounding board and our day-of coordinator, too,” says Nicole. “She met with me leading up to the event and organized my friends who offered to help setup that day. I knew I could trust her because she had recently planned her own wedding and she’s very meticulous about detail. I knew she would give everything. I would encourage brides to hire a planner or find a trusted friend who can be a point person on that day.”
Nicole wore a lovely gown designed by Allure Bridal and purchased from Flares Bridal & Formal in Walnut Creek, CA. “My first few dress shopping trips were lackluster and left me very unexcited, so I decided to wait until my maid of honor could visit to pick out my dress,” says Nicole. “I had a vision in my mind of what kind of dress I wanted, and when I tried it on, I loved it. Then I put on my dress. It wasn’t what I expected to walk down the aisle in, but once I put it on, I didn’t want to take it off. That’s how I knew it was my dress.”
Nicole only trusted one person to do her natural hair on the big day: Akiya Penny of Love of Hair, who is a close friend and the hairdresser who helped her transition from relaxed to natural a couple years ago. Her friend Ranti Akande did her makeup.
Roses are Nicole's absolute favorite flower, so she requested that they were placed everywhere on her wedding day.
All of Nicole’s bridesmaids lived in different locations, so they decided to go with David’s Bridal to find dresses everyone would have access to. Nicole picked the color and fabric and let them choose their preferred styles—a great way to simplify the drama for the bride and keep bridesmaids happy.
The ladies show off their fancy (and non-mandatory matchy-matchy!) footwork.
“Derryk chose his siblings as his bridal part members,” Nicole explains. “Phalycia, Sonya, Airyque and Devin. He has a particularly close bond with one of his youngest sisters so she was his Best [Wo]man.”
Nicole and Derryk chose to rent the guy’s tuxes from Men’s Wearhouse. “I knew, since the dress color we chose was dark, that I didn’t want the suits to be dark as well,” she explains. “Since it was a spring wedding, we needed some lighter colors, so I chose grey suits, and Derryk chose to wear ivory to match my dress.”
“I knew Derryk was the one within a couple weeks of us spending time together,” says Nicole. “We both started to fall for each other right away, and we were on the same wavelength in so many ways.”
“We chose to marry in Oakland specifically because it’s where we live and where our romance blossomed,” says the beaming bride. “Neither of us is originally from here, but we’ve grown to love the city over the years.”
“Derryk is the only man with whom I’ve ever felt equally yoked,” Nicole says. “He’s the only man I feel safe and protected with.”
“One of the things I admire and love the most about him is his passion and dedication for learning,” Nicole shares. “He has so many goals for our future, and he’s the kind of man who’ll stop at nothing to achieve them. He dives, head first, into everything he does and will always do his best, which also means he expects the same of others.”
Nicole, a traditional bride at heart, walked down the aisle to the traditional sounds of “Here Comes the Bride” escorted by her proud mama. “As the only child of a single parent, no one could take my mother’s place when it came time to walk me down the aisle,” she says.
“I wanted to stick with seasonal flowers so we wouldn’t have to worry about availability,” says Nicole, who worked Lyal Nickals Florist to create her vision. “From there, I chose flowers based on color: white, multiple shades of purple and bright pink accents. They used white, pink and lavender roses, deep purple and white carnations, gerbera daisies and gladiolas throughout our wedding.”
“At the altar, standing in front of Derryk, I couldn’t believe we were really there, in front of our friends and family, getting married,” exclaims Nicole. “It was very surreal!”
“We went with traditional biblical vows,” says Nicole. “Some things I just preferred to do the ‘old fashioned’ way."
“The man I married makes me feel loved every day,” says Nicole. “He’s smart and ambitious, which has challenged me to grow. He’s an amazing cook, which I literally prayed to God for (no joke!), and he’s quiet-natured but incredibly goofy and fun to be around, once you get to know him. But, most importantly, he has a smile that warms me from the inside out.”
Nicole wore a lovely short birdcage veil for her big day and a feathered fascinator she purchased on Etsy. “My jewelry came from various places and is where I incorporated my something old, new, borrowed and blue.”
Nicole and Derryk wed in an outdoor ceremony with a traditional Christian format. They didn’t cry at the altar, but she says they were smiling uncontrollably the whole time, especially once they knew they were officially husband and wife.
Derryk’s grandmother officiated the couple’s wedding ceremony. He is her first grandchild, and they share a birthday, so it was important to him to have her marry them. “We kept with the Black ceremony tradition of jumping the broom,” Nicole explains. “My aunt decorated the broom, which was handed down from another aunt’s wedding, with our wedding colors and a childhood memento.”
"I didn't know when I was going to find love, but I was starting to become incredibly impatient shortly before Derryk emerged," Nicole admits. "My best friend of the past 13 years (and matron of honor at our wedding) will tell you that on almost every single phone call we had up until that point, I would simply ask her, 'Where is he?!' And, she knew exactly what I meant. Never in a million years did I think that the little note I sent to Derryk at the restaurant that night would lead us all the way to the altar."
“Prior to even meeting Derryk, I had already been in four weddings and helped with three others in many different capacities, so I was familiar with the fact that weddings are a lot of work,” Nicole reveals. “I wanted to minimalize that, so I literally Googled ‘all inclusive wedding venues’ and found Wedgewood Metropolitan in Oakland, California. They had packages and add-ons that allowed us to build the wedding we wanted without running all over the place to meet with potential vendors.”
Nicole and Derryk hosted an evening reception at the same location. The venue had a special tent on-site for receptions and large banquets. The guests were served hors d'oeuvres and beverages during the cocktail hour, while the newlyweds took their portraits. A full buffet style dinner was served. “We chose buffet style over plated dinners to offer more options and because it was easier on me when it came to invitations and the seating chart,” admits the bride.
Nicole and Derryk had only one request for their wedding cake — no fondant! “We both hate the way it tastes so we opted out,” says Derryk. “Our cake had three layers, so we chose a different flavor combination for each. The top was mango cake with a vanilla custard and fresh banana filling, the middle was Ube cake, which is a purple yam that made the cake naturally purple like our wedding colors, with a mocha filling. And the bottom layer was red velvet with cream cheese, since it’s a classic that most people love.”
“I told my friends and family who helped plan the wedding that I wanted something simple yet elegant,” Nicole recalls. “The biggest thing was not being too over the top. I didn’t want too many flowers or random plastic decorations. I didn’t want centerpieces the guests couldn’t see over. I didn’t want anything DIY that I would have to make in mass quantities and need a team of people to assemble.”
Nicole and Derryk didn’t have a set number in mind for their wedding budget, but admit that the plan was to keep the cost around $25,000. “We were definitely able to do it,” says Nicole. “I was so proud of my savings, because I was a self-proclaimed ‘deal-ista,’ and also happy that it didn’t involve too much DIY-ing.”
“The number one money saver was the choice to go with an all-inclusive venue and to get married during the off-season,” says Nicole. “This allowed us to have the wedding we wanted without scrimping in other areas.”
“I consider myself to be pretty creative, so I did make a lot of little pieces, but I just wanted to avoid doing things just because they’re conventional,” Nicole adds. “I was more than pleased with the end result!"
Derryk and his new bride danced to Musiq Soulchild’s “Greatest Love” for their romantic first dance as husband and wife.
Eighty guests attended Nicole and Derryk’s romantic wedding ceremony and reception.
“DJ Andrew was very charismatic,” says Nicole. “He really kept the guests entertained!”
Kitschy favors are one of Nicole's pet peeves. "I didn't want to give my guests something plastic that they'd just end up throwing away later," she explains. "I've noticed a trend with brides having a candy bar for their guests but I don't really care for candy that way, so I decide to have a cookie bar. I ordered cookies from Pacific Cookie Company in Santa Cruz, CA, and they were delicious. I put our wedding logo on cookie bags for the guests to take home, though most of the cookies didn't make it off the premises because they were that good."
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