With plans for family and friends to fly in from across the world, Jameela and Midori had to cancel plans and simplify their wedding to just 25 guests.
Tell us how the love story began.
We always say we’ve been together since the ﬁrst day we met (May 3rd, 2018). We had been together for about a year and a half before the proposal.
We met during a podcast I was working on that was focused on Lesbian topics and issues in the community. Midori was a co-creator and producer of the show, and Jameela was a guest. Usually, I allow the host to talk to the guest as my job is to make sure the show runs as smoothly as possible regarding to time, extra notes, images, etc.
This day, the host was late, and I had to come out of my shell and talk to the guests. The ﬁrst thing that caught my attention was Jameela’s eyes, I felt butterﬂies in my stomach, and my heart skipped a beat. I brushed it oﬀ since I was in my professional mode. Towards the end of the interview, Jameela asked me if I was a Gemini (which she was correct), then she asked me if I liked girls and was surprised to ﬁnd out I said yes to that. Jameela started to ask about how to get in touch with me, and the host gave her my Instagram handle. Later that night, Jameela DM’d me, and we went on a date a week later.
Tell us about the proposal.
Since Jameela and I have big families, our Christmas lasts for four days – The Christmas Tour. We start December 23rd – 24th with her dad and bonus mom, December 24th – 25th with her mom, December 25th with my mom, and December 26th is our Christmas at home.
When we woke up on our Christmas morning, her gift to me was a day at the spa for a massage and mani and pedi. At ﬁrst, I was annoyed because I wanted to spend the day with her and our son, but I went ahead with the appointment. The day before she told me that she wanted a friend to do a photoshoot for us since we didn’t have a family portrait. I didn’t understand the point in that because, after all, it was Christmas.
When I got back home from the spa, I got dressed for our family pictures and entered the living room to our son handing me ﬂowers and a card. A scavenger hunt had begun for me throughout the house, and the last clue had me go outside to the backyard where she was standing. Two of our other friends were also there, her Best Woman and my Matron of Honor. Jameela talked to me about how much I meant to her and that she was ready to be a family. All I remember were her last words, “I’ve been meaning to ask you a very important question,” as she got down on one knee, she asked me to be her wife. The whole time we were crying, my MOH handed me roses, and Jameela gave a gift to our son as well, and we all hugged. We went back inside for a champagne toast, then we all went to the Cheesecake Factory for a celebratory dinner.
The lead up to the wedding was quite stressful, what happened?
A lot of stress happened before. Some in which we can laugh about now and others that we just have learned to deal with it.
A week after the proposal, my mom called a meeting to take place at our house with us and Jameela’s mom to announce she and her family wouldn’t be attending the wedding because they don’t support same-sex marriage. The funniest thing that happened from that was Jameela’s mom didn’t know what the meeting was for (we didn’t either), and she came with mother of the bride duties but told my mom she wasn’t getting the copy since she doesn’t want to be a part of it.
It was also really stressful for us to lower our number guest count. We invited about 100 people to Big Sur, and when we ﬁnally booked Saddlerock Ranch, they were only allowing us to have twenty-five people. Almost half of our guests were from out of state/country and would love for us to do a live stream, but since it was only twenty-five and now an intimate wedding, we decided to do an unplugged ceremony. This caused a few issues, as well as telling our twenty-five guests that they couldn’t have a plus one.
Getting a marriage license was also a challenging task because the county oﬃce was closed for a while. When they reopened, we were told that if we wanted to obtain a marriage license, we would have to get married via Zoom. I asked if we could get a notary to do it for us, they said yes, but that it had to be a notary approved by the county. They refused to give us a list of approved Marriage Notaries because it would show favoritism. Luckily, our oﬃciant (Midori’s cousin) set a day to sit down with both of us to plan and get to the bottom of our notary roadblock. We ended up ﬁnding an approved notary that was able to do it, but it could only be a conﬁdential license. Instead of paying $85 for a county license, we had to pay over $200 for the notary services.
Before COVID, we had planned to have a staycation bachelorette party during (West Hollywood) Pride weekend (which always falls on my birthday). Because of the pandemic, I changed my plans and set a new plan in my mind – relax for my birthday. I wanted to lay in the pool, listen to music, and just relax because wedding planning had been so stressful, but Jameela had other plans. Little did I know, she had planned for a handful of people to come over so they could still socially distance and celebrate my birthday. As they were leaving, someone spotted our pros and cons list of having a wedding. She had a chef cook for us at home, but I was really stressed out all day by the whole thing; although, she meant well. The chief said dinner would be ready by 7 (I believe it was ready by 7:45 or 8 pm). We ﬁnally sat down at the table (light low, candles, ﬂowers), trying to have a full vibe. The chief kept talking to us every time we started talking and stayed until 9 pm (a point in while I had to ask Jameela to extort him out).
Another stressful moment was on the day of the wedding, we did our ﬁrst look, and everyone wanted to be a part of it. Jameela’s brother drove us to the ﬁrst look location, and my cousin wanted to join us as well, so she followed along. However, when we were done and ready to go to the venue, Jameela’s brother took her bridal party back to the house to get their cars. We ended up not having a ride, and no one was there to pick us up (we called four diﬀerent people, and no one answered). Our photographers drove us to the venue.
Talk to us about your experience ﬁnding the perfect outfits.
J: Growing up, my fashion identity was always a challenge because I could never ﬁnd a suit or clothing that worked for my body or style (masculine-centered). I decided to go with Sharpe Suiting not only because they’re queer-owned, but they understand ﬁnding the right ﬁt in a safe space. It was important that in the planning process, it didn’t feel like how I did when I was younger trying on clothes in the men’s department, and they would abrasively push a more feminine style on me.
I knew I wanted to wear all ivory or cream pants and a button-up shirt since I was also a Bride. The goal was to have brown accents (i.e., brown buttons in the shirt and pants and a monogram on the shirt) with suspenders to keep with our Boho/Rustic vibe. My shirt had a white ﬂoral print to stay with the Boho theme. I opted out of a jacket because we still wanted a casual and sincere energy (plus outdoors in July would be extremely hot).
M: I had an idea on what type of dress I wanted, which was more of a Boho themed dress, but I was told I was too top-heavy to have that type of dress. I thought about having long lace sleeves on my dress because I don’t like my arms being out and wanted my back out (not as out as it was). Needless to say, all of my ideas went right out of the window once I had to actually look for a dress.
Jameela’s bonus mom had volunteered to help me ﬁnd a dress (because my mom didn’t want to be involved) and helped me look. I tried on about four dresses and said yes to the dress. I wasn’t expecting to say yes to the dress so soon since I had heard it takes time to ﬁnd the right one. While I ordered this in January, it wouldn’t arrive until May.
By the time the dress came in, Coronavirus was already happening, and my bridal store was closed as they were trying to ﬁgure out how to have customers back safely. We waited until the last second to get my alterations done, but the process was easy. They only allowed me to have one guest, so I brought my Matron of Honor. We had to wear a face mask the entire time and wash our hands upon entry. I did two alterations, and it all came together just in time.
Give us the detials of the elopement day.
We had our fourteen person rehearsal dinner at the Calamigos Ranch that night before with our wedding party and parents. We spent the night at Jameela’s dad and bonus mom’s house since they live in Malibu. When we arrived at their home, they had laid out rose petals for us with a heart on each of our beds. We spent the night in separate rooms, Jameela stayed in the main house, and Midori stayed in the guest house.
The morning of the wedding, our bridal party arrived. We had breakfast and got dressed since we had to be at our ﬁrst look location around 2 pm. Everything leading up to this moment was hectic, getting ready, making sure everything was set for the ceremony, and just the build-up of the anticipation of the day. In the guest house, we had the make-up artist set up to do make-up for ﬁve people.
Our oﬃciant (Midori’s cousin) and Jameela’s brother put together the guest favor bags. Meanwhile, the photographers arrived and set up for the detail shots. While Midori was getting her hair done, we exchanged our gifts. I received my gift while I was getting my make-up done, and she got hers after she was dressed.
I got dressed and ﬁnished doing my hair, and we headed oﬀ to the ﬁrst look. Jameela’s brother drove us to the ﬁrst look (he took Jameela ﬁrst and then returned for me). Once I walked up the trail to the ﬁrst look, I saw Jameela standing on the edge of the cliﬀ, overlooking the ocean. I was able to breathe and take it in for a moment. Jameela anxiously waited for Midori and started tearing up once I began to rub her shoulders. We both stood, taking a moment before Jameela turned around to see me.
When we ﬁnished our ﬁrst look, we were ready to go straight to the venue. As soon as we arrived at Saddlerock Ranch, we began taking couple pictures because we were a bit pushed for time. Luckily we returned in time before guests could see us and hung out in the Bridal Suite.
We started the ceremony with an introduction and prayer. We moved onto the Unity Paint Blending while our Oﬃciant spoke of the symbolic nature of starting from a blank canvas. We exchanged vows and asked for everyone in attendance’s blessing, and without hesitation, they responded with “we do.”
Before we could realize it, the ceremony concluded with our secret handshake and a kiss. We went into the bridal suite with our wedding party and took a shot! Shortly after, we took our family and wedding party photos.
Due to COVID, we got a food truck to replace a sit-down dinner just in case people felt more comfortable leaving or wanted to stay and eat; we had cocktail tables and benches instead of a table. Our photographers were able to sneak us away for a moment to take our newlywed and individual photos. We also took pictures with the famous Stanley the Giraﬀe.
When we returned to our guests, we talked to our family for a bit, and then the toasts/speeches began. The speeches weren’t planned, but our family and friends just felt moved to share their love. We squeezed in cake cutting and a little bit of dancing before everyone left. We went to enjoy our wedding night at Calamigos Ranch while Jameela’s Dad and Bonus Mom watched our son.
We arrived at the hotel to a beautifully-decorated room ﬁlled with champagne, wine, fruit, chocolate-covered strawberries, and rose petals throughout the room and bathtub that Jameela had all coordinated.
Tell us about some of the old, and new traditions you incorporated into your wedding day.
We put our grandparent’s name on the program, who had passed away, and we wished they were there with us on our special day. As Jameela’s “something old,” she wore her grandmother’s bracelet. Jameela’s dad walked her down the aisle and our son walked me down the aisle.
We both grew up Catholic. We wanted to have something during our ceremony in the same aspect as handfasting or lighting of the candles, so we decided to do a Unity Paint Blending because we love art and love to have fun.
We love going to paint nights and have our art hung up at home. We wanted to create something special that represented the blending of our hearts and families. Although we got a really thick paint and it didn’t fall the way we thought, this piece of art we created together on our wedding day, we get to keep it forever.
The paint colors signify the experiences that lie ahead, colors of joys and sorrows, blessings and heartache. The colors represent Jameela and Midori’s milestones, their celebrations, tribulations, passions, and dreams. These are the moments that become the days that make-up the years. There will be places on the canvas when the colors blend and mix, ﬂowing together, creating a new color of shared experiences. There will be places when the colors stay separate and stand out alone and independent. Yet, still a compliment to the bold color by its side. There may be places of contrast. Parts of the canvas that look dull or messy and not at all to the couple’s liking. While another spot remains, blank and bare. However, when you step back and look at the canvas in its entirety, you will see, it is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It clearly is “An Original Masterpiece.” Each color, contrast, shadow, and blend as unique and beautiful as Jameela and Midori.
Photography & Film by Authentic Collective
Accessories Haiting Shop, Glitz & Love, Jakawin
Cake 12 Oaks Desserts
Cake Topper Luxtomi
Ceremony Venue Saddlerock Ranch
Engagement & Wedding Rings Angel City Jewelers
Entertainment Lo Brooke Music, DJ Jiji Sweet
Florist Fern & Mist
Food Trucks The Tropic Truck
Furniture Hire A Rental Connection
Gown Boutiques Pebbles Bridal, Essence of Australia
H&MU Lexi Morin, Locafella
Planner & Stylist AyOne Party & Event Planning
Shoes Cole Haan, Magosisters
Stationery Twist Stationery, Paperless Post, InkAndVeil
Suit Designer Sharpe Suiting
Wedding Favors EF Planner, Your Wedding Shop
Wedding Party Gifts RCH Gift
Wedding Party Outfits Sharpe Suiting, Radiant Rooster