Lake Mary Event Center Wedding - Joan and Richard
Joan and Richard's love story started five years ago, and this April it was time for them to tie the knot! Their wedding at the Lake Mary Event Center beautifully reflected their heritages - bits of African culture was incorporated into the ceremony, and Haitian culture included in the reception. Bright purples and blues stood out in the bridesmaid dresses, florals, and reception decor - plenty of color to catch your eye! Joan looked stunning in her fitted wedding dress, which created a gorgeous silhouette. Lake Mary Event Center's giant windows splashed tons of outdoor light into the ceremony room as she walked down the aisle to meet her groom. Their portraits are adorable - we love the face Joan is giving the camera as Richard gives her a kiss! After the ceremony, guests were offered delicious comfort foods and Kremas, a popular Haitian drink. Joan and Richard's wedding cake was full of pretty details, finished off with a bow and a topper that read "Meet the Conleys." And you can get to know the Conleys - find out more about their special day from the bride herself below!
From the Bride, Did you incorporate any culture into your wedding? My husband is African American and I am Haitian American so we had so much fun incorporating both our cultures into the entire wedding festivities. At the ceremony, we opted from the traditional sand ceremony and performed a Love Letter Wine ceremony instead, which we wrote love letters to each other and placed them in a wine box so that we can open, read the letters and toast to many more years at our one-year anniversary. Additionally, we jumped the broom, which is a traditional African American ritual that symbolizes a blessed ceremonial uniting. Finally, we incorporated the Haitian culture in our wedding day by having our entertainment open up the dance floor with Haitian Kompa music and providing "Kremas" (popular Haitian Liquor/Drink) as our wedding favors to our guests.
Tell us how you met and all about the proposal. Our story began March 2, 2012 on Black People Meet, an online dating website! We talked on the phone the first night for hours and hours. We agreed to meet the next day at a local restaurant in the area. I was very nervous and hesitant about meeting so soon after one lengthy phone conversation the night before but eventually, my curiosity and interest in him led me to follow through with it. Richard was actually late to our first date but as soon as we met, we immediately hit it off. There were a lot of smiles, laughter, giggles and butterflies across the table coming from the both of us. Richard says what first attracted him to me was my attentiveness and said I was intrigued and paid close attention to him while he spoke about himself, his family and his interests. My initial attraction to Richard was his genuineness and how he made me feel comfortable and had a wonderful sense of humor. He was not trying to be anyone else but himself. Richard met my children, Jalen and Jonas on Easter Sunday of that year and they immediately developed a connection. As the days and months went by, we were able to spend a lot of time together, getting to know one another and meeting each other's family's and over the past 5 years, we have developed a natural connection and undying bond. The engagement was very sentimental. Although, we had been talking about moving forward with the next phase in our relationship, I definitely had no idea it was going to happen that day, on June 13, 2015, the day all our lives would change forever! On a weekend Rich was supposed to be out of town attending his daughter's graduation, he came home early and started a petty and argument with me. I was so upset...like, noooo this dude is not starting with me...I mean, it was from "why didn't I wash his car" to "why be there food in the refrigerator" ...I mean, it was just so very silly... He later asked if the boys and I wanted to go to get something to eat and of course, we all said YES (we do not pass out on food, we LOVE to eat)...lol.... In my mind, I was thinking we were going to some fast food joint; however; we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Benihaha's. We were all sitting very quietly on the table at first until the mood changed, for the better, as I am happy to say that now. Now, if you've ever been to Benihana's, you would know the chef performs certain tricks while preparing the food right in from of us so prior to being seated, Rich politely asked the chef prepare an "I Love You" sign using the chicken fried rice as he pulled my chair closer to him so I couldn't see my oldest son, Jalen, place the ring box on my plate. He began to get up and kneel on one knee and profess his love for me and the boys and opened the small little black box that was on my plate. The people and restaurant staff cheered and raised a glass of bubbly to us. I was in utter shock but I was able to gather my thoughts enough to say "YES". .... To see the look on both my sons' faces was priceless and made my decision to say YES even more just.
From the Bride, What is your best memory from your wedding? This is a tough question - especially to pick just one as we have so many great memories on our wedding day. Our ceremony was romantic, full of love as we recited our personal vows to each other, as it was a special moment for the both of us. At the entrance to our reception, we were introduced as husband and wife for the 2nd time and came in the ballroom to the popular Dade County native, Trick Daddy', "Can't Mess with the South," which had the crowd on their feet screaming. In addition, Rich and I had a very special dance we choreographed, Michael Jackson's, The Way You Make Me Feel. We had so much fun rehearing this dance and I believe it brought us so much closer during the process. We wanted the night to be a personal experience for us as well as our guests.
From the Bride: What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples?
The best advice we can give to engaged couples is to be really prepared for the step you are about to take. Always put God first in all your decisions throughout the entire process because it can get tough in the midst of planning. Take time to think about what you both want for your wedding and for your future together. Plan extra extra early even if it takes you more than a year... have a blast- the night will fly by so quickly.