Jamaican-born Aroutis Foster, professor of learning sciences and technology at Drexel University, tied the knot with St Vincent and the Grenadines national Yolanda Hillocks, PhD candidate in human genetics at the School of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, on August 18 at Long Island in New York. Vows shares the couple's journey to the altar.
Aroutis Foster remembers it just like yesterday - the moment he first laid eyes on the woman he would marry. "We first met at Brooklyn College where we were pursuing our bachelor degrees," a smiling Foster recalls. "It was at a college volunteer activity to aid in freshman orientations in August 2000. As I saw her walk into the room I knew I had to be part of her group or she in mine, because I liked her immediately."
Days later, they would cross paths again on campus, further stoking Foster's interest. A friendship developed and the two would speak sporadically until it dawned on him he wanted much more. "She was a phenomenal woman so I applied the 'full court press,'" Foster shared.
After 10 years of long-distance dating through undergraduate and graduate schools, Foster wanted permanence and to solidify their union with marriage. He orchestrated the surprise engagement at XIX, one of Philadelphia's most chic restaurants, with most of the staff already in on the pending proposal.
Foster had conspired with the waiter to ask for Yolanda's hand in marriage just before dessert was served. "The waiter presented us with the dessert menu and as he walked away, I followed, telling Yolanda I was going to the bathroom. I gave the waiter the Jared Peerless Diamond ring and told him to approach Yolanda from behind after he took the order," the lovestruck would-be groom revealed.
"A few minutes later, in the midst of her talking, he placed the ring box on the table and I got down on one knee to propose. Yolanda started crying as I opened the box and asked her to marry me. The women in the restaurant began crying and clapping. The evening was beautiful. We drank champagne and reminisced about our life together. By the time the evening was over at the restaurant, four hours had passed and on the way home, we took a quick stroll through the Philadelphia Love Park, a fitting way to end a perfect proposal."
The engaged pair's Big Day came two years later with their nuptials at the Community Church of East Williston, New York, presided over by the Reverend Forrest Parksinon. The bride, outfitted in a satin ivory Pnina Tornai-designed wedding gown and the groom, clad in a woolen cashmere tuxedo from Italian designer Luciano Bardelli, exchanged vows before 230 of their nearest and dearest including their parents, Paulette Robertson and Herbert Foster, and Joel and Cheryl Hillocks. Guests flew from Jamaica and St Vincent and the Grenadines to attend the wedding. The reception followed at Jericho Terrace in Mineola, Long Island in New York. The colour scheme of choice for the reception was maroon and gold — a nod to Foster's alma mater, Wolmer's High School for Boys.
The newlyweds enjoyed a week-long honeymoon in Bora Bora in the French Polynesian islands.