We met on the second day of university at a house party on campus. We didn’t realise it then, but we both shared a mutual friend we had known separately for years. Because of this, we were invited to all the same parties and nights out, so over the next two months, we bumped into each other numerous times and had an instant attraction to each other each time we met.
Leila was seeing someone else at the time, so we just flirted casually, and then, on one night out at a jazz club in late October, we finally kissed. The chemistry was electric. Leila then ended it with the person she had been seeing.
When we next bumped into each other on another night out in November (11/11), at the same jazz club, we locked eyes and kissed and ran out of the club into the streets of Brighton, where Leila confessed that she had ended it with the other person because she wanted to be with me. From that day on, we were inseparable and have been together ever since.
What is your favorite memory together?
Leila– My favourite memory is when Fleur met my family for the first time. It was my dad and older siblings’ joint 60th and 25th Birthdays at a Caribbean restaurant/bar in Deptford, and my whole family was there. My dad kept making sure Fleur had a rum punch in her hand at all times, and my sister, who was heavily pregnant then, was so excited to meet her and made her hold her bump to see how heavy it was.
Fleur fit into my family like a jigsaw piece, and it was the start of so many beautiful relationships between Fleur, my nieces and nephews, and the entire family as a whole.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome together?
The biggest challenge we overcame started in 2018 when Fleur stopped an assault on a former friend at a party. The friend sided with the attacker and was complicit in a premeditated homophobic revenge attack on Fleur at their NYE party. I intervened in the attack, and we had to flee the party. This event resulted from months of racial abuse, bullying, and gaslighting from people we thought were our closest friends.
This all happened against the backdrop of ongoing traumas we were already experiencing, leaving us isolated without a support system. The aftermath left Fleur experiencing PTSD, and we were both depressed. We found it extremely difficult to trust people. However, we supported each other through this challenging time and have since cultivated a beautiful group of friends we deeply love and trust. Going through this brought us closer together, strengthened our bond, and proved to us the resilience of our relationship.
Tell us your favorite thing about one another.
My favourite thing about Fleur is that she has infinite wisdom. She constantly teaches me new things about nature, history, and how things work. I love that her head is full of so many interesting ideas, and she always has the best advice for her loved ones when they seek it. She is wise beyond her years, for sure.
My favourite thing about Leila is her generosity, sense of morality, and bravery. Leila strives to make the world a better place and spends her time creating opportunities for people and advocating loudly and passionately for what’s right and fair. Leila is fearless when it comes to standing up for people and their rights. Her fearlessness inspires me and so many others to feel brave.
Tell us about your proposal.
I knew I wanted to propose to Fleur for years, but I didn’t know that while I was planning a proposal, so was she, but I just got there first. During University, Fleur used to always half-jokingly say she wanted to get married in her university accommodation, which was called ‘East Slope.’ So on 11.11.19, which was the fourth anniversary of the day we got together at Casablanca, I took Fleur on a surprise trip to Brighton. First, we went for brunch, and then I took her on a tour of all of the places of significance to our relationship.
We started at Casablanca and did a walking tour of all of the places we met, danced and fell in love. We even rode the University bus during sunset, all the way to East Slope. When we got there, it was being demolished, and I took her to the gates of the construction site, where I asked her to turn around. I said a speech I had memorised, which ended in “I know you always wanted an East Slope wedding, but would you settle for an East Slope proposal instead?” then, when she turned around, her eyes were full of tears, and I had the ring box in my hand.
Tell us about your wedding day.
Our wedding day was relaxed and magical. Our venue was a beautiful farm wedding venue, complete with a stable for the ceremony, a barn for the reception, gorgeous gardens, and an orchard. It was only a 15-minute drive from our flat in South London but felt like a rural idyll.
We got ready separately, with Fleur getting ready at home and Leila getting ready in the bridal cottage at the venue. Our guests arrived in the stable at around 12:30 pm, and our ceremony began at 1:30 pm. The end of the rows had been decorated with small bunches of stocks, roses, and peonies tied in sage green ribbon.
Our bridal party (Fleur’s faves and Leila’s loves instead of traditional bridesmaids) walked down the aisle first to “Chapel of Love” by the Dixie Cups. Then Fleur walked down the aisle with her dad to “Is This Love” by Corinne Bailey Rae and waited for Leila at the altar. The song continued and Leila’s niece walked down, followed by her mum and then finally Leila. She looked ethereal, and Fleur fought and failed to hold back tears. Leila wore the gorgeous “Romance” gown by Wona Concept, embroidered with leaves and sparkles. Fleur wore a custom-made emerald green suit, lined with a personalised Brighton tube map to represent London and Brighton’s significance to us, and it included all the significant locations of our relationship.
The ceremony was quite a short and simple affair. First, we personalised the ceremony by writing our vows, and Leila’s sibling did a reading from All About Love by bell hooks. Then, we exited the stable to “Girls Dem Sugar” by Beenie Man and did the traditional confetti throw, using personalised pouches of rose and jasmine petals (Leila’s mum is called Jasmin, so we thought it was a cute touch).
Afterward, we snuck away to the bridal cottage for some alone time and to take in everything. We soon joined our guests in the orchard for a drink and canape reception, to mingle, giggle and take photos.
At about 3 pm, the wedding breakfast was served in the barn. We had the food served family style to give the reception a relaxed feel and to encourage our guests to mix and socialise. The tables were decorated with sage green napkins and exquisite pink, peach, and yellow floral centerpieces made up of an abundance of peonies, roses, craspedias, and gorgeous foliage. Once the food was served, our loved ones delivered their speeches, and then we cut the cake. Our cake was lemon and blueberry flavour and was decorated with pink and yellow roses.
Finally, at about 7 pm the party started. We opted for an amazing queer DJ called Lil C. She went to primary school with Fleur and brought all the amazing vibes to the evening. Our first dance was a mash-up of “Love and Affection” by Joan Armatrading and “Flowers” by Sweet Female Attitude. It was so much fun.
Once the party wrapped up, we invited a few guests back to the bridal cottage for an after-party which consisted of too many tequila shots. Finally, we called it a day at about 3 am and went to bed. It was a perfect day. Neither of us felt stressed at any point and were just overcome by the love we have for each other and the love our guests had for our union. The atmosphere was palpable and wonderful, and we wish we could do it again every day.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
I actually never foresaw myself getting married because before meeting Fleur, I was very independent and never imagined having a partner in my future. I aspired to be single and a single parent. Meeting Fleur spun me because I’d never met someone that fitted me like a glove, loved me wholeheartedly, and supported me fiercely in everything. I never believed in forever, but she is so kind, crazy intelligent and immeasurably funny, and I just knew I wanted our lives to be joined forever.
I knew this early on, and knowing her and loving her, made me want to be married to her.
Photography by Kaleido Weddings