Elena and Monequa’s vibrant wedding at the Andy Arts Center in Detroit, Michigan was one of the most memorable weddings I’ve ever been a part of. From meeting at the Big Fake Wedding in Detroit, to planning out their wedding day timeline, every time Elena and Monequa talked about the amazing things they were scheming up for their big day, I got more and more excited. I’m talking about a marching band grand entrance, bourbon tasting bar and so much more.
Elena and Monequa had several mutual friends while in undergrad at the University of Michigan but only wound up meeting several years later when a friend connected them. They eventually went out on their first date at Dave and Busters (because who doesn’t love some healthy competition). But it was their second date at John King Bookstore followed by walking along the Dequindre Cut in Detroit that left them feeling butterflies.
During the pandemic, without very many excuses to get dressed up and go out, Monequa devised a plan to propose to Elena. She booked a couple’s photoshoot on the Dequindre Cut where she proposed, joined by a saxophone player, in the exact spot where they had spent hours talking on their second date. And to make things even better, once Mo put the ring on Elena’s finger, Elena surprised Mo by pulling a ring out of her own pocket…for Mo! She had been carrying it around for days in anticipation of Monequa’s proposal!
I should have known when they first ever told me their proposal story how elaborate, creative and unique their wedding would be. Something they said to me early on that I love was, “Our love feels big to us everyday, so we’re looking forward to celebrating it in a big way.”
And they didn’t disappoint. They each got ready at the Motor City Casino Hotel with their entourage before heading off to their first-look. As a ‘sneakerhead’ Monequa and Elena each got custom sneakers for their big day. Guests were also invited to show off their favorite sneakers with their wedding attire!
The couple initially wanted to do their first-look at John King bookstore but when that wasn’t an option, they opted for another option to head over to Vault of Midnight comic bookstore, something they both love!
So, surrounded by comics (with their wedding party peeking in through the front store windows), Elena and Monequa did their first-look! With extravagant and beautiful wedding attire, including Mo’s white and gold ornate suit from Addicted Bespoken and Elena’s statement gown from Pantora Bridal, they had quite a bit to take in before we kickstarted photos with their massive wedding party.
Right outside Vault of Midnight was a bold mural that coordinated perfected. It definitely fit the vibe of the teal, purple and yellow suits of their wedding party. It was so refreshing and fun to see their mixed-gender wedding party wearing brightly-colored suits! I loved the look, especially with the sneaker dress code they asked of their guests.
Their ceremony and reception were held at Andy Arts Center, a community arts center and gallery space. The unconventional Detroit wedding venue, with several multi-use flex spaces, transformed into a really cool venue with a slightly grunge and industrial feel. Their ceremony was held in the round essentially, and with guests all around encircling them, Elena and Monequa were truly the center of the show. Filled with intelligent, personal and meaningful moments, their ceremony was truly special. I loved how they incorporated the tasting of the four elements, an african-inspired wedding unity ritual. And even better, when deciding what their new family name would be, neither Elena nor Monequa felt it made sense to use one or the other’s last name. Instead, they chose to honor Elena’s mom by using her maiden name as their new family name. They announced this towards the end of the ceremony and seeing Elena’s mom so emotional made me emotional!
After the ceremony, while guests enjoyed cocktail hour, we finished some family photos. Then, Elena and Monequa went to check out their moody yet romantic teal and black reception space. They signed their license before cutting their Homestead Kitchen cake privately. Meanwhile, the ceremony space was flipped into a lounge area featuring Lola’s Perfect Pour, a mobile cocktail bar and truck! Monequa loves a good bourbon, so they even offered guests a bourbon tasting bar featuring 4 Michigan-made bourbons.
After guests were seated, they were treated to an epic size with a full high-school marching band escorting Elena and Mo and their wedding party into the reception! It was so cool and definitely brought the energy level up to a whole new level. Following a few speeches guests enjoyed a buffet dinner and then they celebrated their first dance as newlyweds along with a few parent dances. It didn’t take long at all for the dance floor to fill up after. Guests meandered from the dance floor to the lounge throughout the night.
And later in the night, they even surprised their guests with a fun drag performance and a late-night taco food truck. It’s safe to say Elena and Monequa did what they set out to do which was celebrate their love in a big way. The day was filled with unique touches, alternative wedding ideas, vibrant colors and lots of entertainment for their guests. I loved being a part of their vibrant wedding with a marching band at Andy Arts. I even hand-drew a pair of sneakers with a photography theme to creatively take part in their sneaker dress code!