Weddings

This Couple’s Lush, Garden Micro-Wedding Featured African Diaspora Traditions and a Drive-Through Reception

Ciera and Jemar opted for an intimate wedding, while incorporating a host of rich traditions

A photography by Terri Baskin Photography

Just under a year after first meeting at a soca music party on Halloween, Ciera and Jemar tied the knot in an intimate celebration at DC’s Tudor Place Historic House & Garden, with 10 guests in attendance and 115 loved ones who turned in virtually through live stream. The big day included a garden vibe with boldly colored florals, and wedding traditions from across the African diaspora. And on an extra sweet note, the bride’s daughter played the role of flower girl, with a matching flower crown and henna. See more from the vibrant celebration below

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How They Met

Ciera, a foreign service officer with the State Department, and Jemar, a cyber security analyst with the Department of Defense, met at a soca music party on Halloween on Georgia Ave. “I was dressed as a scarecrow,” Ciera says. “It was the last costume in the store and I needed to take my sister out, who was visiting from out of town.” Jemar was there with friends, sans costume, but, Ciera says, she mistook him as dressing as the incredible hulk “due to his large muscles and white shirt.”

The pair, they say, locked eyes from across the dance floor, and Jemar came over to ask Ciera to dance, “flashing a confident smile.” Ciera says she was immediately attracted to Jemar’s “handsome face, perfect teeth, and chiseled physique. I noticed this pronounced scar on his face and thought, ‘This is a man that will fight lions and bears for me.’” The attraction was mutual. Jemar says he thought Ciera “looked exotic with her dark brows, luscious locs, shapely curves, broad smile, and bubbly demeanor.”

The chemistry was palpable, and the pair danced all night to reggae and soca music before exchanging numbers.  

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The Courtship and Proposal

Despite that first night’s connection, Ciera declined a dinner date, opting instead of something that could be cut a little shorter “in case they didn’t click.” They decided to meet for tea at Blümen Cafe in Arlington. Ciera was 30 minutes late, but Jemar waited and upon her arrival, “click,” they did. They ended up chatting for hours–well past the cafe’s closing time–and moving the date to Bob & Edith’s Diner, where they shared a fish-and-chips dinner and stayed up talking until 3 a.m.

The next day. Ciera left for a series of business trips to Japan, Vietnam, and Israel for several weeks. “But not even the time difference or distance could quell” their budding romance, and they spent hours each evening talking more. “I remember aimlessly walking the streets of Tel Aviv at 3 a.m. and being giddy while chatting with him,” Ciera says. Upon her return, the pair became inseparable. They dated for five months before Jemar proposed at Eddie’s Prime Rib Seafood on the eve of the shelter-in-place order. “It was romantic and unexpected,” Ciera says, but, Jemar adds, he had no doubts. ““I chose Ciera because she is beautiful, smart and accomplished and made it clear what she wanted. Communication between two people should be the foundation of a lasting relationship and it was clear from the first time we spoke that this was a different kind of connection.” 

“Despite all of the uncertainty swirling around us,” Ciera says, “it was easy to agree to Jemar’s marriage proposal–he is an Ephesians 5 man. He is diligent, patient, passionate, handsome, a great cook, and just so easy to love. Even more, he comes from an excellent family who were supportive of our relationship.”

Prior to their engagement, Ciera says, the pair completed several rounds of couples counseling to ensure their “behaviors matched [their] intentions towards one another.”

 

 

Their Big Day

The pair were engaged for four months before marrying July 11, 2020, in an intimate ceremony at DC’s Tudor Place Historic House & Garden, with 10 in-person guests, and 115 loved ones who turned in virtually through live stream.

For the big day, the couple say they wanted “an Afro-fusion themed wedding to celebrate [their] African heritage, complete with vibrant African textiles, music, dancing, and family: a celebration of the African diaspora, culture, and intentional love.” With the uncertainties of the pandemic, they opted for an intimate affair that captured all of the same elements. On the day, they exchanged gifts: a designer watch, new hair clippers, and Creed Cologne for Jemar, and bundles of authentic Ghanaian Kente cloth and traditional crobo (Ghanaian glass beads) imported from Ghana for Ciera.

“With a nod to the east African traditions of bridal henna, the African American tradition of jumping the broom, and the Yoruba tradition of the “Tasting the Four Elements,” [plus] the groom’s Jamaican black cake, and the afrobeat music selection,” says their planner, Melissa, “Ciera and Jemar celebrated their rich heritage.”

Following the ceremony, the couple hosted a drive-by reception at the groom’s parents house in Bowie. Guests drove through, and the newlyweds gifted them with prepackaged meals of Jamaican cuisine, including curry chicken, oxtail, rice and peas, and festival (a type of fried dough), plus Jamaican black cake, and favors to enjoy.

The couple took a staycation following the celebration at the Ritz Carlton Suites in Pentagon City, and say that they’ll use money they would have spent traveling for a honeymoon to expand their family and purchase their first home.

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The Details

Photography: Terri Baskin Photography | Planning & Design: B Astonished Events |Venue: Tudor Place Historic House & Garden | Florals: Pretty Petals Floral & Event Design  | Videography: Blair Williams Productions |  Officiant: With This Ring I Thee Wedd | Makeup Artist: Glam Qui Makeup Artistry | Cake: Jenny Baked It; Paulette McKnight-Brown (Jamaican Black Cake) | Dress: Ellie’s Bridal | Hairstylist: N Natural Hair Studio | Bride’s Attire: Essense of Australia, Ellie’s Bridal Salon | Groom’s Attire: Michael Kors, After Hours Tuxedo

 

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Amy Moeller
Editor, Washingtonian Weddings

Amy leads Washingtonian Weddings and writes Style Setters for Washingtonian. Prior to joining Washingtonian in March 2016, she was the editor of Capitol File magazine in DC and before that, editor of What’s Up? Weddings in Annapolis.

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