Christmas 2013 came with an extra special gift for Anita and Rodrick — each other. Rodrick walked into Anita’s parents’ home on that day and into her life. The rest, as they say, is history.
“Rodrick and I actually met at my parents’ home on Christmas Day. He shared a mutual friend with a family member and they invited him to Christmas dinner and that was where we met,” she tells ESSENCE. “We have been talking every day since.”
They didn’t officially become an item until March of 2014, but after that, they were inseparable. Years later he would get down on one knee and propose at the boardwalk in Virginia Beach during his birthday weekend. They would soon begin the process of wedding planning, which wouldn’t come easy, though it never is, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Due to COVID, we had to not only change our original wedding date but also reduce the number of guests,” she says. But less people didn’t mean less joy on their big day.
On May 30, 2021, the couple said “I do,” becoming Mr. and Mrs. Zacharias in front of loved ones. And while they married at the Conrad Hotel in Washington, D.C., they transported guests to Malawi, where the couple is originally from, by incorporating their beloved traditions into their wedding day.
“Though the guest count was lower than we wanted, we did not want to reduce the celebration,” she says. “We wanted a bright, joyful ceremony and reception just like we would expect in Malawi.” And they had just that.
Learn more about how Anita and Rodrick’s nuptials came together, some of the unique Malawian customs they brought to the celebration, and how premarital counseling helped them be ready to go from long-term loves to husband and wife in this week’s Bridal Bliss.
Venue: Conrad Washington D.C.
Planner: A Bride’s BFF
Photographer: Tori Del Photography
Hair: Edge by Mikelia, LLC
Florist: Violet’s Touch
DJ/MC: Lou Chikuni
Dress 1: Labella Bridal Boutique
Dress 2: Pronovias01The Inspiration“Our wedding was an intimate Malawian wedding affair,” she says. “We wanted a bright, joyful ceremony and reception just like we would expect in Malawi. We wanted a modern but timeless decor and style but with a pop of flair. There is nothing more timeless than white and silver, and nothing that gives more of a pop of color than yellow. We incorporated Malawian wedding traditions not only during the ceremony but at the reception as well.” Tori Del Photography 02The Wedding Gown“As a kid, I remember watching Princess Diana getting married in that big ball gown and long train and I always thought that is what I wanted when I got married. Of course I grew up and realized that was entirely too much,” Anita jokes. “For my ceremony dress, I chose a sparkly, crystal beaded sweetheart bodice and a drop waist dress with a flared tulle skirt with a train. We added crystals to the bottom of the dress to add sparkle.A tiara served as the perfect accessory to hold the lace cathedral veil with beaded bling appliqués along the edges and center.” Tori Del Photography 03The Groom’s Look“We did not want the traditional black tux,” she says. “He opted for a white Calvin Klein tuxedo dinner jacket with a black satin shawl lapel and black tuxedo pants and black round-toe shoes. We added a touch of sparkle with a black and white bow tie to finish off the look.” Tori Del Photography 04Ceremony Decor“Decor was one of my favorite parts of the wedding. For the ceremony, we opted for a candle-lined wide aisle and flower arrangements to frame the front,” Anita says. “Our florist, Violet’s Touch, did an amazing job of bringing our vision together. We used white and yellow roses in tall silver vases. The decor was a perfect match with the beautiful chandelier above the ceremony space. To tie in our colors and overall style, we used clear president chairs with silver cushions.” Tori Del Photography 05A Different Kind of Cake Table“Because the cake cutting ceremony is a major part of our wedding, the cake table had to stand out. My aunt, Linda Lole who owns a catering business, made us custom wedding stands,” Anita says. “All three cake stands were covered in crystals and decorated with rhinestones with matching cutlery. Yellow and white rose petals decorated the table and matched the yellow and white marble cakes.” Tori Del Photography 06The Reception Dress“The reception dress, we chose the Pronovias Constellation dress. It is a V-neck mermaid dress with clusters of white starry dots that glitter with every movement. The goal was for the second dress to be an elegant form-fitting dress and this dress was absolute perfection.” Tori Del Photography 07A Toast to LoveThe couple help each other take a first sip of champagne as husband and wife. Tori Del Photography 08A Sweet (Literally) Tradition“We incorporated two major traditions into our wedding,” Anita says. “The wedding cutting ceremony and Pelekani. It is customary for the bride and groom to include the family in the wedding cake-cutting ceremony. As a thank you and a sign of respect, the bride and groom will offer the wedding cake to the parents during the cake-cutting ceremony. We chose to have two smaller cakes to give to the groom’s parents and bride’s parents. We also offered pieces of cake to the grandmothers who were present.” Tori Del Photography 09A Money Dance“During the wedding, all guests are invited to take part in Pelekani (offering),” she says. “At the reception, a basket will be placed before the bride and groom while a traditional song plays. Guests who wish to participate are welcome to dance their way to the couple and drop small bills into the basket or shower the couple with small bills. You will know it’s time when the MC gives notice and the music starts to play.” Tori Del Photography 10Unforgettable Moments“The most anticipated moment was seeing each other for the first time at the ceremony,” she says. “We opted to not do a first look and did not see each other until the ceremony. To see your person waiting for you or your partner walking towards you is special. All of the hustle and worry and nervousness all melt away in an instant because they are there and it’s finally happening. The first dance was a special moment as well. We played our song, ‘By You,’ a song by Simi and Adekunle Gold, who happen to be husband and wife. It captures our love and dreams perfectly. But we also love to dance so we ended with ‘Yope,’ a fun dance song that opened up the dance floor for our guests. It was so much fun.” Tori Del Photography 11Advice for the Wedding Planning Process“Perhaps it’s inappropriate for us to offer any marriage advice being that we just got married, but we will say that premarital counseling is helpful,” Anita says. “If you are able to do it, do it. For wedding planning, you will have a lot of people offering advice on what you should do. But remember, this is your day. Do what you think is best for yourselves. At the end of the day, you want to be happy with the choices that you made and not regret something because you didn’t follow your gut. As long as you have good food and drinks, your guests won’t mind.” Tori Del Photography 12Mr. and Mrs. ZachariasInto forever the Zacharias go… Tori Del Photography
TOPICS: Bridal Bliss