written by Dolly Marshall
When Cladia and Khalif started preparing to “Jump the Broom,” they experienced the normal stresses a lot of couples go through when planning a wedding. Jumping the Broom is an African American phrase and custom for marriage that originated in Ghana. With a world crisis looming daily, their love and teamwork as a couple was put to the test, however they successfully managed to create a memorable and mindful DIY wedding that was overflowing with romance and love!
From the photographer, John Ryan J&J Studios: “Even in the midst of a pandemic, one thing remains: The inseparable bond and connection between these two. I had the honor of capturing their intimate engagement session at Hunting Hill Mansion back in June. Both are humble and caring humans who are madly in love. Recently, I had the immense privilege of being their Lancaster wedding photographer. It was a day they will remember for the rest of their lives.”
How They Met
“We met on December 1st, 2012 at Bougainvillers, a bar in South Miami. On this great night our friends coerced us to go out, and for whatever unknown reason, we both said yes. I went out to celebrate my friend’s David’s (The Best-man) birthday where he had one request: to leave with the phone number of one woman. What can I say? We were 21 and 22! I was reluctant to stay, however, he was my ride home so I played. I saw Cladia a few times that night, and though she looked amazing, I wasn’t brave enough honestly to approach her, so I settled. At the end of the night, when we all gathered, it turned out, one of our friends hadn’t completed the task. So there was no leaving yet. I decided I’d be his wingman so we can finally leave and of course the women he chose to approach were Cladia and her friend. My task was to distract Cladia while he chatted up her friend. However, once she looked up at me from her phone, I was smitten. I asked her to dance and if you know Cladia, you know what she said: “no, I don’t like this song and I don’t know you.” According to her, I was polite, so she didn’t chase me away. We’ll go with that! We ended up talking the rest of the night until my friends had to come find me to leave. I did get her number and texted her minutes later to make sure it was real. We had our first date 5 days later at Santa’s Enchanted Forest and I knew I was in trouble for real this time just by how my heart was beating while I was next to her.”
“I love the holidays and 2018 amplified this! We were preparing to drive to NYC for my dad’s Christmas extravaganza when I noticed Khalif was more hyperactive than usual. I thought my contagious holiday spirit had finally gotten into him! However, when we arrived to NYC, as the Plantins always do, we started opening presents when the clock struck midnight. After we’ve managed to open all the presents and recreate a Michaels aisle in the living room, Khalif said I had another present under the tree. My brilliant self looked and looked everywhere, perplexed as to what could be this small. After what seemed like an eternity (it was 5 minutes), and after countless probing, I found an ornament hanging on the tree that read: Cladia and Khalif are engaged.
Again, my remarkable brain having not processed what was happening stated that we were not engaged. I then turned around, and Khalif was on one knee, as I temporarily lost my hearing due to my siblings screaming and maybe me screaming as well (just a little) , and I screamed YES, right after I said, “It was about time!”
“Where to begin? It was extremely stressful. Planning a wedding in general is a complex endeavor, add a global pandemic, then things become really interesting! We had to constantly adjust, from our vendors to our guests, to the set up of the venue. We kept putting things on hold and starting back again. However, we had each other and I think since we had a vision of what we wanted in our wedding, we did all the planning ourselves. We spent late nights deciding on vendors and scheduling zoom calls and ordering things online. It was exhausting but we enjoyed doing it together.”
“We had a specific vision in mind when it comes the venue: we wanted something rich in history and we wanted a combination of something very modern, yet rustic. When we made the drive from Philly to the 19th century restored farmhouse and met with the owner, we feel in LOVE! Being an island girl, I have this obsession with water and when I saw the river I was sold and Khalif fell in love with it instantly! The outdoor terraces and the gorgeous pavilion were just to die for. We wanted to limit the amount of travel for our guests and wanted a venue that could accommodate both ceremony and reception and Riverdale exceeded our expectations.”
“We wanted a simple, elegant, and earthy wedding so we drew inspiration from the mighty Pinterest and of course and countless of wedding blogs and films. Cladia always wanted live musicians because all of our favorite romantic comedies always contained a live band in weddings. An indoor ceremony was never really on our minds which made Riverdale Manor so perfect for us. We were able to accentuate the natural beauty of the outdoors perfecting our aesthetic.”
“My (Khalif)’s best memory from the wedding is walking up to Cladia for our first look. Cladia’s motto in life is: “It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed”, so her dressing up is a common occurrence in our home. Walking up to her that day really assured I made the right decision in not seeing her dress until the wedding day. She was an absolute vision to behold, from her literal crown to the great train trailing her. Cladia outdid any expectation I could’ve had for how she’d look. She was the definition of an angel standing before me that day, waiting was the best thing I could’ve done. (She wanted me to see earlier.)
Wedding Planning Advice
“To make a budget, and always have it available when you’re researching venues and vendors. We read an article that mentioned to have 3 major focuses on importance for your wedding and then prioritize in order of significance for you and your spouse. For example ours were photography, venue aesthetic, food, so we budgeted a larger percentage of our budget on these aspects in this order. Everything else involved such as invite and flowers etc., we did a more budget friendly or DIY option.”
“We got pretty lucky because all of our vendors have been very nice and very accommodating! I had to change my makeup artist last minute, and there was a slight hiccup with Khalif’s suit, but we’re working with humans and everything was easily rectified and didn’t prove detrimental to our wedding at all. We would recommend everyone we used!”
Vendors |Venue Coordinator & Wedding Cake: Monica Wagner Thyme & Seasons Catering |Photography: J&J Studios, LLC | Florist: Plenty of Petals DJ Services: Occasions Disc Jockeys |Band/Music: Cherrywoods Strings Ensemble DJs and Entertainment |Wedding Rings: Zales |Shoes: Badgley Mischka |Wedding Signs: Etsy |Invitations: Minted |Wedding Dress: The Sample Rack | Bridesmaids Dresses: Azazie |Tuxs: Men’s Wearhouse Makeup Artist: Dr. Gina |Hair Stylist: The Philly Hair & Make Up Co.