Names: Ayanna & Kelsey Vest-Hill
Ages: Ayanna, 40; Kelsey, 33
Professions: Ayanna is an Attorney and Kelsey is a Nuclear Medicine Technologist.
City, State: Washington, D.C.
Date of Wedding: June 25, 2012 and July 27, 2013
The Big Day:
The 2012 Wedding: We would describe this wedding as intimate; last minute, beautiful, perfect, and touching. Because we got married exactly six days after discussing it, we didn’t have a lot of time to plan. Kelsey’s parents were already planning to visit from Oregon, so we just decided to do it. We got married by Tiffany Newman of Marriage DC at her ceremony space near Cobalt. It was a perfect day, with only the two of us, both sets of parents, Ayanna’s sister, Taylor, and three dear friends. It rained as we pulled up to the venue, which we knew was good luck. We had a nice afternoon tea/lunch at The Mayflower Hotel immediately following the ceremony.
The 2013 Wedding: We would describe our 2013 wedding as lavish, unique, tender, expensive, and perfect! This was the big shebang. If the 2012 wedding was Kelsey’s dream, the 2013 wedding was Ayanna’s dream. She had the perfect dress (which she named Sassy Pants Pretty Girl), in blush. Kelsey got a custom tuxedo made by Alton Lane, who had such wonderful customer service. She was the first woman the D.C. branch had done one for, and because she’s small in stature; it was definitely a challenge for them. It fit her perfectly, and her name is embroidered in the lining, and the wedding date is embroidered in her custom shirt. What made the ceremony unique is that we did everything exactly the way that we wanted it to be done. We bought all of the decorations. We had our attendants wear long black dresses, even though it was a summer wedding at noon. We had a tribute to our deceased loved ones, during which the string quartet played Ave Maria, and we gave charm bracelets to each mom, with a charm representing three of Kelsey’s grandparents, Ayanna’s grandparents, Ayanna’s great uncle, and Ayanna’s dog.
We didn’t share our vows in advance, and we both ended up crying. We had a “flash mob” band of sorts playing along with the string quartet as we exited to “Call Me Maybe”. We had our friend Miasia perform a belly dance routine at the reception. It was all just lovely. Ayanna’s favorite part of the wedding was watching Kelsey’s face as she walked toward her. Kelsey’s favorite part of the wedding was entering to the string quartet playing “Smooth Criminal”. The guests enjoyed the mashed potato bar and the overall feeling of love in the room. We know that every couple says this, but quite a few people truly did tell us that it was the best wedding that they’d ever attended. Some of them still mention it to us now, over a year later, and ask when we’re having a vow renewal so they can celebrate again.
First meeting: The online version of Washington City Paper matches.
First date: Chipotle in Silver Spring, MD. Kelsey knew what Ayanna looked like, but not vice versa. When they met, Kelsey was still an active duty soldier in the Army, so she didn’t have a photo online. (DADT was still very real at that point). She texted Ayanna as she was walking up to her.
First kiss: May 28, 2006 during DJ India’s annual Black Pride bar hop. We’d been dancing and having a good time, only month after we met. It was the first time Ayanna realized there was a spark there.
When They Knew: Ayanna knew first. She waited patiently for Kelsey to put a ring on it. After quite a few years together, including a long-distance stint while Ayanna was in law school, Kelsey proposed on the sixth anniversary of their first kiss. They got married exactly four weeks later. Ayanna wasn’t letting her get away.
The Proposal: We spent the day at the public pool, and then went to Rockland’s in Georgetown with two friends. We went home and took a nap. When Ayanna woke up, still wearing only her bathing suit, Kelsey got down on one knee and proposed…with a promise ring.
The Ring(s): Both sets of rings came from Treasure Trove in Washington, D.C. It’s a family-owned business, which really appealed to us. For the first ceremony—because it came so soon after the proposal—we got matching white gold bands. For our “real” rings, they worked with us to make sure that Ayanna got exactly what she wanted: a white gold halo surrounding a 1-carat center diamond. Kelsey is much more low-key, so she didn’t wear an engagement ring. For thesecond wedding, Ayanna got the match to her engagement ring, and Kelsey (reluctantly) upgraded to a thin diamond and white gold band.
Honeymoon: They took their honeymoon 18 months after their first wedding. They were too busy planning the second, larger ceremony to take a honeymoon in 2012. They spent a glorious six days at two resorts in Costa Rica. They fed toucans, Ayanna caught a trout that the resort cooked for them, they went on an ATV tour, and rappelled down five waterfalls. It was an eco-friendly honeymoon, which appealed to the Oregonian in Kelsey.
Looking into the Future: Earlier this year, we purchased our first home, which we weren’t sure would be possible. We live in D.C., which was Ayanna’s dream as a native Washingtonian. We’re thinking kids, maybe, but we’ll see. Right now, Kelsey is training to run her first Marine Corps marathon and Ayanna is training for her first half marathon: Trenton. They’re enjoying being #swirlmarrieds, and building a community of beautiful people.