A DIY Picnic Wedding at Prospect Park in Brooklyn
For Brooklynites, summer days spent hanging out at Prospect Park are a quintessential part of life in the borough. Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Karolena and Hamade were able to celebrate their marriage safely with a laid-back picnic in Prospect Park that was filled with nods to Brooklyn, elements of traditional West African culture and guests dressed in all-white attire. "I knew I wanted to be married outside, I am a city girl but I have always felt connected to nature," shares Karolena. "A friend of mine had a birthday picnic gathering by the lakeshore near The Peristyle. It was so pretty and as soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to be married there. Arti Gollupudi, a fellow comedian, joked that she would love to marry us since the courts were closed. I told her she should and an hour later she was ordained. That's when I decided I really wanted her to marry us under the trees and near the water." With that as the starting point, the rest of the couple's wedding plans began to take shape. "Elaine Welteroth, a fabulous girl I follow on Tik Tok who used to be the editor of Teen Vogue, had a gorgeous all-white socially-distanced block party wedding, so I was inspired by that and asked my guests to wear white," shares Karolena of the inspiration behind the celebration's all-white fashion. "From there my wedding planners and friends Danielle Miller and Jassmin Yalley picked white, tan and baby blue as our color palette. My husband Hamade is from Burkina Faso, and really wanted African BBQ food. He also randomly wanted to be married under an arch full of flowers that aren't cultural but surprisingly chic. He also had traditional wedding outfits custom made using Baizen material in Burkina Faso. We also felt it was important to mention the indigenous people's land we were married on."
Flowers and picnic blankets were two of the most important details that helped bring the couple's picnic wedding to life. "We knew we wanted lots of flowers and for people to really feel like they were at a picnic, a really chic one from the ’30s," says Karolena. "I ordered big picnic baskets and large light-blue-and-white blankets. Each basket had a custom hand sanitizer, a vase of flowers and individual containers with cupcakes. I had my two ushers wearing elbow-length white gloves walking around with baskets full of masks for our guests. My dad and friends built the arch the morning of the wedding and my florist Emily Berg decorated it and scattered petals on the ground near the lakeshore creating an aisle. As all of the guests wore white, they were an important part of our aesthetic. Flowers were everywhere. We used a combination of white dahlias, spray roses and Catalina roses, thistle, fern, stock flower, delphinium, tanectum daisies, Echinops and white astilbe with smilax on everything"
Although the flower-filled picnic wedding was aesthetically beautiful, the couple's most cherished memory from the day is the love they felt from the friends and family who joined them. "The most special moment of our wedding day was the dancing in the park with our friends and family. We loved seeing the blend of Burkina Faso with New York City."