Written by Zamara Perri; Photos by RMN Photography
When Amena Johnson and Nikki Brooks exchanged wedding vows on a beautiful, sunny, September afternoon, both women were surrounded by absolute love. The wedding took place on a hill overlooking the Patuxent River on grounds of the Billingsley Mansion in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The outdoor setting served as a naturally beautiful backdrop for a couple whose love is natural, unfiltered and genuinely sweet.
The wedding, themed “Wine, Music and Art,” was a reflection of all the couple’s favorite things and included their favorite music, some of Nikki’s art and Amena’s favorite wines.
Three years after meeting and falling in love, the couple wanted their wedding celebration to not only celebrate their love, but the people who love and support them. The love of their 100-plus friends and family who celebrated with them was evident in the laughter and conversations heard that day.
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Looking back, the couple said their wedding day was one of their best days so far.
“Having my best friends and family there made it so fun,” Nikki shared. “Seeing my aunt was really important because my mom didn’t come. She led the soul train line. She’s always been there for me. Seeing her there, made me think everything is all right. On top of that, I was marrying the woman I wanted to be married to so the day was beautiful.”
For Amena, having her traditional Christian mom attend the wedding was one of the best gifts that day. “I didn’t know she was coming until Friday. (The wedding took place on Saturday),” Amena said. “When I told her I was engaged, she said she was not going because [gay marriage] was against her beliefs. I sent her an invitation anyway. I called her on Friday and asked her, ‘I’m I going to see you tomorrow?’ She said, ‘yes’ and I made arrangements for her to get to the wedding on time.”
The couple wrote their own vows, which brought their guests to tears. For family and friends who had known these two women for years and even decades, the vows rang true.
“I enjoyed hearing my family and aunt say, ‘It’s amazing that Amena gets you so much.’ A lot of the people in my family have been protective over me. My aunt was ecstatic,” Nikki recalls.
“People said, ‘Wow you are truly happy and it’s great to see you so happy,’” Amena adds. “Sometimes I’m a crier and sometimes I’m not. I didn’t cry at all that day because I smiled all day; I was truly happy to marry the woman I wanted to be with.”
All in all, the couple said they wanted their wedding to be about all the people whom they invited. “We wanted our guests to feel included because this was also for them,” Amena said.
Nikki agreed, “We were throwing a party because we loved each other and we love y’all and that’s what we wanted to convey.”
The couple’s love for their friends and their friend’s love for the couple was so evident. One of Amena’s friends traveled from South Africa to support them on their special day. Several of the speeches from close friends were heartfelt; the wedding officiant, who is a close friend, was so excited and emotional that she forgot to announce the ring exchange; and the wedding party danced up the aisle before the ceremony and back down the aisle afterwards. On that day it was clear how much the wedding guests were truly in love with Nikki and Amena as a forever couple.