Match Made in Heaven
Honoring lost loved ones throughout their journey, a couple builds a strong foundation for their future.
Jamila Harris, 32
Conservation Education Consultant, Missouri Department of Conservation
Geoffrey Reid, 30
Graduate Student in Student Personnel Administration and Graduate Hall Coordinator in Housing and Residential Live at Saint Louis University
When Jamila Harris and Geoffrey Reid met at a First Friday event in Clayton, they exchanged small talk and went their separate ways. They didn’t know that in March 2006, they would meet again—and this time, fall in love. One evening, Jamila went out with her sorority sisters for a movie at the Chase Park Plaza. Afterward, the ladies headed to Cafe Eau, where Geoffrey was having a drink with some friends. As Jamila’s friend went over to say hello, Geoffrey noticed Jamilaand immediately had tunnel vision—he could only see her face, and everything else went blurry. He struck up a conversation, and that was the start of their fateful relationship. When Geoffrey accepted a job at Colgate University in New York, flying back and forth to visit one another became routine. Still, Jamila didn’t expect to return from her spring break visit in 2011 with a ring on her finger!
Geoffrey’s late mother and Jamila’s late grandmother played a special role in the proposal. One afternoon while Geoffrey was in the shower, he had a flash of brilliance. He felt the spirits of his mother and Jamila’s grandmother guiding him, and headed to the library to pick out a meaningful African passage to recite when he proposed. When Jamila arrived, he led her to the small chapel on campus. As they removed their shoes to enter, Jamila noticed the photos of Geoffrey’s mother and her grandmother placed throughout the chapel, along with orange candles—his mother’s favorite color. He read aloud to Jamila from the passage he had chosen about how their ancestors visit them in their dreams and during special milestones throughout their lives. As Jamila rose to pray, Geoffrey got down on one knee and popped the question. Although she was surprised, Jamila, too, felt the presence of their loved ones as she said “yes” through happy tears.
THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE
The ceremony and reception were held at Chandler Hill Vineyard, where guests mingled between the charming reception hall and spacious balcony overlooking the vineyard in Defiance, MO. While Jamila primped and her bridesmaids changed into their champagne colored dresses at the ceremony site, Geoffrey and his groomsmen readied themselves at his childhood home in Ballwin. When Geoffrey arrived, the couple had a special reveal before the ceremony between the grapevines in the vineyard. The ground had just been tilled, and Jamila almost fell into the vines. She laughed the whole way, but was but careful not to tear her ivory-pleated organza mermaid gown. Seeing one another before the ceremony helped the couple calm their wedding day jitters and enjoy a moment of serenity before walking down the aisle.
Although ancestral traditions were an important part of the big day, Jamila and Geoffrey made some slight changes to some typical wedding customs to make the celebration their own. Instead of a traditional cake, the bride and groom cut into a giant cupcake, and guests chose from smaller cupcakes with a variety of toppings and flavors. In lieu of favors, the couple made a donation to the Muscular Dystrophy Association on behalf of their guests.
The floral arrangements by Belli Fiori paid homage to Geoffrey’s mother with vivid spray roses, mini calla lillies, coxcomb, gomphrena and hypericum berries in red and orange. Despite the 92-degree temperature, a cool breeze on the balcony and paper fans provided by the couple helped ease the heat. After exchanging their own vows, Geoffrey and Jamila “jumped the broom” as a traditional symbol of new beginnings. Meanwhile, guests wrote wishes and words of wisdom for the couple’s memory box as the beautiful blaze of the setting sun set the stage for their first dance. The bride and groom slowed down and reflected on the day as they danced cheek to cheek to Luther Vandross and Cheryl Lynn’s “If This World Were Mine.”
Jamila Harris & Geoffrey Reid
Photo credit: Lance Omar Thurman Photography