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This Couple Jumped the Broom at their San Francisco Wedding

By Alexandra Macon | Photography by 

Emily Jean Images

Lawyer Brittany first met Stanley Onyimba—co-founder within Area 120, Google’s workshop for experimental products—on the subway in New York. Her first impression of him was that he was a cute (but rude) guy who wouldn’t look at her when she was talking to him; while Stanley remembers her as a beautiful girl he didn’t want to disrespect by staring at her too hard. Thankfully, a year later, they re-met at a launch party in the Meatpacking District, and this time, both of them were single.

A little under two years later, the couple’s families were all in town for an official “meet the parents” brunch. Brittany had a feeling a proposal was coming soon, but didn’t expect it to happen during that meeting—even though everyone else was in on the surprise. She described herself as “ill prepared” with no makeup, a broken sandal, and a hole in her dress. “I ugly cried in front of the whole restaurant when I saw the piano with roses on it and realized it was all for me,” she says. “It was one of the best days of our lives.”

Brittany and Stanley had moved to San Francisco about a year into their relationship, and while they had no friends and family when they initially arrived on the West Coast, they worked hard on building a life and community there. “It only felt right to celebrate our wedding in our new city,” she says. Since Bay Area weather is unpredictable, they looked for a location indoors and decided on the Bently Reserve in the heart of downtown San Francisco. The old Federal Reserve building also perfectly combined the couple’s aesthetic—Stanley wanted something classic and traditional, while Brittany wanted a place with a bit of character that would be naturally beautiful. To help with the planning, they hired Ceanna Stephens of Jane Hammond Events.

The wedding dress search process was exhaustive and exhausting. Brittany tried on close to 80 dress in the course of ten months, making a point to go to every bridal shop in San Francisco and to visit a bridal store in every city or country she traveled to for work or personal reasons. (She even made a pit stop at a boutique in Tel Aviv!)

After many failed missions, she finally decided she needed to go to Kleinfeld Bridal and condense her wedding dress council to only a few trusted advisors—she had previously gone shopping with several aunts, cousins, and her mother and that had not gone well. Of course, the first dress she tried on there ended up being the one. Initially, she was skeptical because of its plunging neckline and somewhat revealing bodice, but the consultant and bride ultimately worked together on some changes more suited to her style.” “It felt sophisticated without being too princessy, and a little funky and different,” Brittany says. “Friends at the wedding said it was a very ‘me’ dress.”

She finished off her look with gold crushed velvet Jimmy Choo strappy shoes she had been stalking for a few months, and BHLDN flower earrings that mimicked the florals on her dress. “The dress itself was so intricate and detailed that it didn’t need very much,” she adds.

As for Stanley, finding his look proved to be a lot easier. They started tuxedo shopping about three months before the wedding, and he eventually settled on a Hugo Boss mohair shawl collar tux that fit him like a glove. His attendants all wore tuxedos from the Black Tux showroom in San Francisco, while Brittany’s bridesmaids had custom one-shoulder dresses in a shimmery gold fabric she found at Dessy. “I knew we would be taking pictures at the Legion of Honor museum, which has a lot of big columns, so I wanted the bridesmaid dresses to convey a drapey, Grecian vibe,” Brittany explains.

The day of the ceremony, a violinist and cello player welcomed guests by playing pop and classical standards. The bridal party entered to an instrumental version of “All of Me” by John Legend, while the bride walked down the aisle to “Blessed” by Daniel Caesar, a song that Brittany chose because she had gone to one of his concerts together in Oakland and it was one of her favorite experiences as a couple. The ceremony was orchestrated by their friend, Pastor Kevin Cooke, and included readings from each of their siblings and a table dedicated to lost loved ones. “We also chose to “jump the broom,” which is an African American tradition that is seldom seen anymore at weddings,” the bride explains. “It felt like the right way to acknowledge ancestors who weren’t here.”

During cocktail hour, a DJ spun ‘90s R&B while the ceremony space was transformed into a dinner and reception area. “Again, we played with lighting and champagne colored iridescent tablecloths to compliment the space,” the bride says. Britanny’s aunt and uncle emceed the night, while the couple’s siblings were the only ones who gave toasts during dinner. Later on, Stanley’s father performed a traditional kola nut ceremony, which is a Nigerian wedding practice to honor elders and out of town guests.

On the dance floor, the couple first danced to “As” by Stevie Wonder, a song near to their hearts, and they even chose to have its lyrics scripted as their wedding cake topper. The party later transitioned into a full hour of Nigerian music (Stanley’s favorite), where guests were encouraged to participated in the Nigerian wedding custom of “spraying money,” or showering the couple with single dollar bills as the danced. “We knew that Stanley’s family would be ready for it, but we were surprised to see how many of our other guests got into it!” Brittany says. The DJ later ended the evening with a mix of contemporary hits that had guests on their feet all night. “Luckily the guests and the staff had such an amazing time, they let us extend the wedding an extra hour!” Now that’s how you throw a party.