Monique Yvette & Orlando
June 19, 2021
On a cold March night in 2018, Orlando and Monique Yvette met for dinner at Tryst Café in Washington DC. They ended up shutting down the restaurant, engrossed in their shared thoughts and experiences. Just a few days prior, they had both swiped right on the dating app OKCupid and as the couple says, it was digital destiny!
When is a STEM conference the best place to pop the question? When it’s in Hawaii! Orlando arranged an oceanside dinner in a private cabana with a gorgeous view of the mountains. With the sun ready to set, equipped with a ring he designed himself and a blessing from her father, Orlando got on one knee and asked Monique Yvette to become his wife.
When their dream mansion wedding was canceled last minute due to the pandemic, they shortened the guest list and revisited the first venue they fell in love with – the open-air, Historic Polegreen Church.
With an equally historic date of Juneteenth, the couple crafted a celebration of Black Excellence in black-tie complete with valet service, open bar, and a live band. To allow the unique structure of Polegreen to shine, Orlando and Monique chose minimalistic décor with clear ghost chairs for the ceremony and a clear tented reception.
The ceremony was officiated by a close cousin. The bride’s niece entered with a bejeweled broom, decorated with brooches, pearls, and family wedding pictures. Traditionally untraditional, the groom and his men entered to an instrumental of Jay-Z’s “Roc Boys (And the Winner Is).”
In lieu of a flower girl, bridesmaids handed sword lilies to each guest. The lilies were then used to form a tunnel of flowers through which the new Mr. & Mrs. Rodriguez walked into their new life.
Planning for a perfect day started exactly 30 days before when, according to tradition, they buried a bottle of Uncle Nearest 1856 whiskey upside down at the ceremony site to assure good weather. (Spoiler alert: There was not a drop in the sky, even though rain was forecasted up until the day before!)
After the Gold City band sang the black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” in honor of Juneteenth, the bridal party imbibed with the buried bottle of whiskey Orlando dug up during cocktail hour.
Monique Yvette’s favorite part of the day was when Orlando’s dad surprised them by serenading them in Spanish with the song, “Que Amigo Tenemos en Jesus” (What a Friend we have in Jesus).
Orlando and Monique Yvette’s best advice for engaged couples? Use your time wisely, a year can go by REALLY quick! Do the premarital counseling. Keep a clean, updated budget and calendar of payments. Provide your vendors with a clear vision and do your research. On the day of, forget it all and just enjoy! No matter what goes wrong (and something is bound to), c’est la vie!