Lisa Desta and Robert Holland threw a American-Eritrean wedding at Catholic University and it was the perfect celebration for blending two families, with two different cultures, together. Lisa, being from Eritrea, and Robert from Virginia, both knew they wanted to plan a wedding that was joyful, loving, but most of all, reflective of their two heritages. So, they opted for a multi-day celebration with a traditional wedding on Saturday, and a cultural Eritrean wedding on the Sunday that followed. “My favorite part was seeing both cultures coming together,” says Robert. See more of their American-Eritrean wedding, which they designated with the hashtag #DestinationHolland, to see how they prioritized their families’ comfort and experience during the two-day event.
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The Wedding Fashion
For their two-day American-Eritrean wedding, Lisa and Robert wore two different looks. On the first day, Lisa opted for a glamorous ruffle-and-lace gown and wore her hair down in loose waves. Robert also donned a formal look on the first day with a white tuxedo jacket accessorized with black lapels and trousers. Groomsmen and bridesmaids also complemented the couple in white bridesmaid dresses and black tuxedos.
For the Eritrean Melsi that followed on Sunday, the couple and their wedding party wore time-honored Eritrean attire. Lisa donned henna tattoos on her hands, bridesmaids wore their hair in braids, and the men all wore traditional white clothing to represent Lisa’s heritage.
How They Met and Got Engaged
Lisa and Robert met while they were attending college at Chowan University, where Robert spotted Lisa and then befriended her on Facebook. They dated for seven years, and on their anniversary at Walt Disney World’s Magical Kingdom, Robert proposed. Truly, Lisa says, “fairytale-filled event.”
The American-Eritrean Wedding Ceremony
It was important to the couple to make sure that both of their families were comfortable throughout their wedding. So, Lisa and Robert decided to incorporate a few Eritrean customs and traditions in their American ceremony.
The Reception and Melsi
To achieve a formal wedding-style, the Saturday reception featured round tables decorated with white-and-black linens, Chiavari chair seating, and various high-low, floral, and candle centerpieces. For dinner, they opted for Eritrean Cuisine, including injera flatbread, lamb, rice, and more. They also served a three-tiered fondant-frosted strawberry-and-vanilla cake adored with a black ribbon detail at the end of the night.
The Melsi included an array of traditional dances and blessings from the couple’s family and friends, and more Eritrean dishes, like Dero Wot, a traditional chicken dish, and curry.
Following the celebration, the newlyweds spent their honeymoon in the Dominican Republic.
Photographer & Videographer: Raif Rucker Productions | Venue: The Catholic University of America | Event Design & Florist: Destawed | Invitations: Vistaprint | Cake: Fluffy Thoughts Cake | Hair Stylist: Mahogany Hair Salon and Spa | Makeup Artist: Brittany Rogers Makeup | Bride’s Attire: Lazaro from Nordstrom Wedding Suite; Abaynesh Ayalew from Betty’s Cleaners (Eritrean ceremony) | Groom’s & Groomsmen’s Attire: Vera Wang from Men’s Wearhouse | Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Lulus | Music/Entertainment: Wedi Kokob & DJ Bontello | Transportation: NET Limousine Service