On December 22rd, 2018, Johnny and I got dressed up and he took me to our favorite restaurant, Smith & Wollensky, in the Seaport District of Boston. We met Ian, one of the managers there, and were getting to know him, having fun, cracking jokes. I had a feeling Johnny was up to something. The very first time he took me to Smith & Wollensky I thought he was going to propose to me. So this time, I had a feeling, but I figured he wouldn’t, since he didn’t the first time. Ian had just stopped by our table to check on us and to make sure we were happy. I had gotten up to give Ian a hug. Ian hugged me, but said, “you don’t have to hug me. Just turn around.” I looked at him with a quizzical look. He said, “I need you to turn around.” I hesitated and slowly turned around. I turned to look at Johnny and saw him on his knee with a shaky smile and teary eyes. I know he spoke words, something along the lines of “Monique Eboni Govan, will you marry me?” I didn’t hear anything in the moment. I was frozen in surprise. I remember sticking my hand out for him to put the ring on, I said, “yes”, we hugged, kissed, and I turned to see Ian recording the whole thing on his phone! I asked him if he was in on it, and he said he didn’t know anything about it, that he just stopped by the table at the right time. It was amazing, fun, and beautiful. Ian brought us champagne and cake to celebrate the proposal.
3.) What was your favorite moment(s) from the wedding?
My favorite moment from the wedding was during the ceremony when we all realized that no one had Johnny’s ring! We had to send his dad up to our room to go get it. During all the pre-wedding fun and laughs, I guess no one thought to grab his ring. Johnny’s favorite moment from the wedding was during out reception when our friends and family were making toasts. Johnny loved all the stories and beautiful words that everyone shared.
4.) How long have you been together?
May 2020 will make 3yrs that Johnny and I have been together, not including our high school friendship of 13+yrs.
5.) How would you describe your overall wedding experience?
I would describe our overall wedding experience as, “so us!” It wouldn’t have been our wedding if we didn’t have funny, unexpected moments like not having Johnny’s ring, the fun poses for our wedding pictures, and the people we had celebrating with us, including Steve! It was definitely memorable.
6.) What advice would you offer to other couples planning a wedding?
Ugh… don’t do it! And if you do, don’t forget the rings! Just kidding. Make sure you enjoy it. It goes by so fast. All the planning, preparation, and anxiety that comes right after that engagement ring is put on your finger, it can really take away from the fact that you’re marrying your best friend. Admittedly, I spent too much of our engagement feeling stressed, pressed, and depressed over every detail, trying to make other people happy, worrying about all the “what if’s” and “I wish’s”, and struggling over the loss of my mom. So MY advice, is to be present. It isn’t easy, because this day only happens once, and you want it to be “perfect” (whatever that means), but it is ONE day of the many more you get to spend with your partner. Everything can go wrong on that day, but as long as you smile, it’s perfect; as long as you laugh, it’s perfect; and as long as you enjoy it, it’s perfect! Also… set a budget, decide on how much “cushion” you have for overspending or unexpected spending, and stick to your guns on it. Prioritize what expenses matter to you and your partner the most and let those be the areas where you allocate a larger chunk of your budget. And, if you’re into it, there are lots of DIY wedding things you can do. For me, it was very therapeutic to do a lot of the creative stuff myself. I did our Save the Dates, I designed our invitations, I made our wedding favors/goodie bags, and I repurposed some things. For example, I wore a dress as my wedding dress that isn’t sold as a wedding dress, and it didn’t have a wedding dress price tag… WIN!
7.) What photography-related advice would you offer to a couple?
Do your homework, research photographers. Start this as early as you can. You don’t even need to wait for a wedding or any special occasion to find a good photographer. It’s always good to have a great photographer ANY time you need photos. Graduations, birthdays, proms, headshots, family portraits, engagement photos, weddings, newborn pics, maternity shoots, passport pics, just-because photos… whatever! Don’t let the prices scare you. Once you’ve found a photographer you love, it’s ok to cross-reference their prices with other top-rated photographers’ prices. Make sure you’re not getting ripped off. Set-up a meeting to sit down with the photographer, see their work, let them explain what services they offer, and find out how they like to work.
8.) Tell me about your dress. Where did you find it, how did you choose it, how did you know it was the one?
I didn’t actually wear my wedding dress. I started looking online at wedding dresses when Johnny first told me to start looking at engagement rings. I learned a lot about dresses, like neckline, hem, shape, blah blah blah. Once we were engaged and I actually started shopping for a dress, I went to a local bridal boutique and tried on some dresses. They didn’t have anything I liked. I found a style that I really loved online, so that’s what I was looking for when I was trying things on. I went to another bridal shop, tried on more dresses. Found one that was beautiful and very close to the style I wanted. I ordered it! It was going to take about 3-4 months before the dress would be ready. In that time I couldn’t really remember what it looked like, I started having doubts about the dress, then I started worrying about whether the dress would even be ready in time. So I started looking for backup dresses. I didn’t want a “wedding dress” because I didn’t want to dish out another $1000+. A few months before the wedding, my dress came in and it was time for my first fitting. I tried it on and I didn’t really like it. *Sigh” I love the dress, but immediately realized that it would be too heavy and too hot for Jamaica. I continued with the fitting, but when I got home I decided not to get the alterations done. I picked up my dress a few days later. I found another dress online on a fashion website, and it was the EXACT dress I wanted, and a fraction of the cost of my wedding dress. I couldn’t return my wedding dress so I kept it, and the plan is to wear it for our celebration in the states for all our family and friends that couldn’t make it to Jamaica.
9.) How was your experience taking photos/working with me on your wedding day?
It was amazing! It really was. We had so much fun, and Steve captured all the distinct details, which were a big part of our decision for a destination wedding. It didn’t feel tedious. He didn’t complain. He worked WITH us and let us do poses or locations we wanted, as well as taking his own creative liberties and coming up with some really creative photo opps. The entire process with Steve has felt like a luxury experience. You feel like a celebrity or a model, you feel catered to, you really get a first class experience working with Steve. Steve did our engagement photos, our wedding in Jamaica, he gave us (and whoever we wanted) access to our pictures online (as well as on a USB flash drive), he gave us clear instructions for picking pictures for our albums, and his turnaround time is remarkable.
10.) Did you see each other before the wedding? If not, did you like waiting or would you have rather done it differently? Tell me why or why not!
Yes, we did choose to do a “first look” before the ceremony. We chose to do a first look because we figured we wouldn’t have had the time or opportunity to get in pictures of just the two of us once things started. We wanted to have a moment for ourselves… especially while we were still looking fresh, and before the drinks and partying started. Also, we wanted to get some pictures with Johnny in his uniform, and doing a first look gave us the opportunity to do that. And Steve was so flexible in making this moment possible for us.
11.) Any tips on how to prepare for the wedding photos?
For me, it was pretty hectic. So I would advise having a semi-plan for getting ready. Who will be in the room with you. Who will help you get dressed. Who will be doing your hair, makeup. Limit the amount of people you have in the room so that you don’t feel overwhelmed, and to cut down on all the chaos. Too many people around tugging at you, throwing in their two-cents, making you feel rushed, and leaving you no room to breath will drain you before the wedding even starts. Designate a person for each task. For Johnny, having someone there who will keep you calm and relaxed. Who will keep you focused, make sure you have everything that you and your wedding party will need… like the rings! Have someone to make sure things run smooth. Have someone there who will make things fun and enjoyable.
12.) Any tips that you have about preparing your wedding party for the photos? What did you tell them, how did you get them to cooperate, what did you do or what would you have done differently?
We didn’t tell our wedding party anything. We told them what time we were all going to start getting ready, what time Steve would be there to start taking the “getting ready photos”, what time we were going to be taking the “wedding party” photos, and where to be. We didn’t have to “get them to cooperate”. Our wedding party was all about making it our day, and making sure we had things how we wanted. They were all happy and excited to get in on the pictures and it was just a good time, all of us hanging out with Steve taking pictures. If we had to give any tips we would suggest writing out a schedule if you have a forgetful or unorganized wedding party. Depending on time of day, location and weather, you can prepare your wedding party by suggesting they bring something to drink or snack on. You can give them a heads up with an estimate for how long it will take for the photos, or even what ideas you all have in mind for poses.
13.) Any tips on what to bring?
Depending on location and weather, bring a cool rag or something to wipe away sweat and to freshen up. Ladies can bring a small makeup bag to do touch ups in between photos. Fellas, bring your swag! For us, we had gifts for the wedding party and parents. We brought those with us for the photos with the wedding party and parents before the ceremony. So we have some amazing shots of them opening their gifts, wearing their gifts, and hugs, kisses, and thank you’s!
14.) We love to hear about vendors you love. List any vendors here and feel free to share your experience. Be sure to include the name of the vendor, their profession, city/state, site or Facebook page and how your experience was!
We didn’t have any vendors other than the resort and Steve.
15.) Did you find a store/site that had everything you were looking for? Use this space to talk about favorite shops. You can include where you got your dress, sites you got your veils/décor/accessories, etc.
We found Men’s Warehouse, which is where we got all the men’s items, by happenstance. I was researching shoes and bridesmaids dresses at David’s Bridal, and there was a Men’s Warehouse nearby. I stopped in, just perusing, and that led me to another Men’s Warehouse in another location where I was able to put together all the men’s outfits… down to the accessories, and I got them great deals on everything. I was even able to get an exact color match for the men’s accessories and the women’s dresses. My dress came from a fashion website. I got a lot of my smaller accessories from Amazon. The décor and things for the ceremony and reception were provided by the resort and its vendors, but we hand picked every item.
16.) What were you most anxious, nervous or fearful about regarding your wedding day and what was the outcome?
For me, I wasn’t really nervous. I struggled most with the loss of my mom and her not being at the wedding and a part of our moment. As far as wedding planning and details, I was anxious about everything coming together because we had so many issues with our wedding planner right before we got out to Jamaica. Not everything worked out in the end, but I think things went according to God’s will, and Johnny and I couldn’t have been happier. For Johnny, he was most nervous about writing his vows, making sure they weren’t too long, and making sure they were meaningful. He says he was most worried about me and making sure I was happy with everything.
17.) What’s one piece of advice you would give to other couples for planning their wedding?
Make sure you enjoy your engagement. The details will come together. Talk to each other, communicate, hear each other out about what you both want for the wedding. Johnny and I had many conversations along the way about, “how do you envision the wedding”. It was very important to me that we both felt like our voices were heard and that the wedding reflected who we are, both as individuals and as a unit. We had little details that achieved that goal, like our cake topper. Our cake topper said “Mr & Mrs” with an anchor and the shape of Mickey’ Mouse’s head. That reflected Johnny being in the Navy and my love of Mickey Mouse. Even our location was a reflection of us both. We’re both of island descent, so we always knew we wanted to get married on an island somewhere, and we had been to the resort of the same name, but a different location on the island. Another bit of advice is to be there for each other and encourage each other. It’s very easy to get overwhelmed, upset, or even depressed planning a wedding. Lean on each other and press into God. Do NOT let anyone or any aspect of the wedding planning process come between you two. At the end of the day, it’s you and your partner and how you two choose to enter into this new part of your lives together. Don’t let the pressure of making other people happy or living up to others’ expectations of you cause you to lose sight of the whole reason you’re planning a wedding. Love each other. Be sensitive with each other. Listen to each other. Support each other. And really, don’t forget to just enjoy being engaged!
18.) What kind of food was served at your reception?
We had regular food. *shrugs* We had two options for our guests to choose from; blackened mahi mahi or grilled chicken and steak. We were careful choosing our menu because we had vegans and food allergies at our wedding. We wanted to make sure the food was safe, and that everyone would enjoy it. We did have Jamaican hors d’oeuvres for our cocktail hour.
19.) What was the first song you danced to as husband and wife?