When Anne Nicklin, a sustainability consultant, rented out a room in her home in San Francisco, she got more than a new roommate. Kpoené Kofi-Bruce helped a friend move into Anne’s place, and the two instantly connected. On their first date, they watched a three-hour art film with no dialogue called Drawing Restraint and have been together ever since.

Their relationship grew over the next two-and-a-half years, and Kpoené decided it was time to take the next step: “I have a rule that if you haven’t been proposed to after three years, then the relationship has gone as far as it’s going to go.”

Aware of this rule and that the three-year mark was fast approaching, Anne began dropping hints about getting married, and these hints led Kpoené to confusion when they coincided with hints about her birthday present. Expecting a proposal and getting a bike was quite a birthday surprise, especially considering Kpoené had discussed the possibilities of how the ring she was expecting might look.

Kpoené decided not to break her own rule, and proposed to Anne instead. With Proposition 8 looming in their home state of California, the two were in a time crunch to move forward with their plans.

In light of this, the wedding bands were purchased before the engagement rings. After perusing the options at Tiffany & Co. and Cartier, Anne and Kpoené opted for designs that provided sentiment and matched their unique personal styles. Mayra Williams designed Anne’s engagement ring, a thick, plated gold band with scattered black diamonds, intended to resemble Braille. Kpoené chose a vintage piece that resembles an antique Indian ring from Alix & Co.

On Nov. 4, 2008, just two months after the proposal, Anne and Kpoené were married at San Francisco City Hall, just before Proposition 8 passed. Their witnesses, three friends who were under the impression they would be joining the couple for lunch, ended up witnessing one of the last couples married before Proposition 8 passed.

The first round was intimate and meaningful, but not quite the party they had in mind to celebrate their love.  More time to plan the wedding they dreamed of allowed friends time to plan their own events as well, throwing a couples shower in Dolores Park, eating homemade fare and playing games. “It was incredibly sweet,” says Kpoené.

The planning process took eight months, leading up to the official celebration on Aug. 15, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec. “We thought about having a commitment ceremony–type wedding in California, but Kpoené wanted to have a legal wedding, so we decided to do it in a country where it was legal everywhere, and Canada was the best choice,” Anne says of the location choice.

Kpoené, a former museum store buyer for the Museum of Craft and Folk Art and lover of all things French, was pleased with the location, the Musée d’art Contemporain in downtown Montreal. The atmosphere and outdoor garden were ideal for the ceremony. The two kept busy leading up to the wedding and were involved in every detail.

“We wanted our ceremony to be about the incredible community we’ve managed to grow,” says Anne. “From the start, we incorporated our amazing friends and family into the event.” Friends of the couple, graphic designers Loreto Remsing and Ella Kruglanskya, designed the invitations, which were made from vintage maps and postcards from Montreal. Friends also came together at a sewing party hosted by Anne and Kpoené in San Francisco, where the table runners, made from vintage red-striped calico, were crafted. Even on the big day, the guests held a decorating party, helping finalize the décor for the wedding.

With the desire to involve their friends in each aspect of the day, Kpoené and Anne asked three couples whose relationships they admired to write their vows. “They wrote the most incredibly touching vows,” says Anne. “It was impossible to stop crying long enough to repeat them back to each other.”

Their sisters gave the readings, and the witnesses from the surprise first wedding repeated their roles in the second. The parents of both ladies were among the 107 guests in attendance. Malcolm, Kpoené’s nephew delighted guests with his vocal stylings, singing The Beatles “I Will” as the couple walked down the aisle in the gorgeous garden, with the sunshine cascading upon them.

The couple, who both agreed that finding something to wear was the easiest part of the planning process, looked as good as they felt on their special day. Kpoené, who owns Mignonette Bridal, designed her wedding gown, which was then made by her former assistant, Jane van Cleef in Brooklyn. Anne matched her bride’s grace and beauty in a suit, impeccably crafted from upholstery fabric.

A makeup artist they found on Craigslist showcased Kpoené’s natural beauty. Her hair, which she swept up in a bun herself, matched the simple perfection of her look.  Justin Lucarelli, their photographer, was also a very fortunate Craigslist find.

The flowers were provided by Anne’s sister Claire and her husband Andrew who are flower exporters living in Ecuador, who arranged for a plane full of flowers as a wedding gift to greet them at the airport. We had so many that we could hardly get them all into the apartment we rented for the week,” says Anne.

Sister-in-law Lina made Kpoené’s bouquet, a breathtaking arrangement of dahlias and ranunculus. Anne and the rest of the wedding party donned Gerber daisy boutonnieres.

The reception, a sit-down dinner followed by dancing, was a continuation of the couple’s appreciation of handcrafted creations.

Binky, a slow-food chef from Fuschia Epicerie Fleur, crafted culinary genius with love and slow preparation, capturing exactly what the couple had in mind. Prior to the wedding, Binky sat down with the pair to go over each detail of the menu and catered to every dietary restriction imaginable as vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free dieters and children would be in attendance.

The menu consisted of pork tenderloin, corn and tomato coulis, vegetarian ragout and a mixed green and beet salad, complete with heart-shaped beets to give a festive and intimate touch to the dish. “Epicerie Fleur tops off each dish with edible flowers, which flowed perfectly with the already incredible presence of flowers in the atmosphere,” says Kpoené. The cake was a simple and elegant white three-tier, also topped with edible flowers.

While the details all worked out seamlessly to create a dream wedding, the planning wasn’t carried out with total ease. The couple was thrown through a loop when their first officiator had to cancel with just a month left before the wedding. Montreal requires a legal officiator for all ceremonies. Also, they were surprised as to how quickly the cost of one very special day can climb.

The couple has some advice for anyone planning a wedding. “If you are planning the wedding yourselves, take the time to check in with each other to make sure you are both happy with every aspect of it,” says Kpoené. “Make sure to spend time with your partner talking about something other than the ceremony,” says Anne. “And make sure to cherish those friends and family who share your special day with you.”

They unwound after the revelry with a long weekend in Wilbur Hot Springs, sulfur springs bed and breakfast just outside San Francisco. Their second honeymoon was a surreal Christmas and New Years in Paris where they rented apartments in Montmartre and the Marais before returning home to San Francisco.

 

Photo by Justin Lucarelli
Photo by Justin Lucarelli

This wedding was first published in Oct. 2010 on equallywed.com. It was updated in April 2015.