Vows – Stamps of Approval
“Our story starts like a lot of couples’ do these days… online! A couple of swipes right on an app, and then a 1991 badass Jeep with no doors shows up to take me on a trip down Atlanta’s I-285 to a vegan restaurant for our first date. This is August 2021, in the height of the coronavirus pandemic. It turns out dining was closed, so we were forced to get creative. It literally took that one date to know I had something special with Khalief,” says Ashley-Ann Smith.
It came as no surprise when Khalief Stamps invited her out on four consecutive dates. Both visiting Atlanta for different reasons, the two hung out during the days while Khalief, a special needs educator, taught online at night. After two flight postponements, it was time for Ashley to head back to Jamaica and ‘adult’ again.
The relationship continued long-distance and the couple decided Khalief would fly to Jamaica since he could teach virtually from anywhere in the world. But that wasn’t God’s plan. His departure date coincided with the US Embassy requesting his passport for visa processing, making flying internationally impossible.
“I’d say the rest is history, but no; it gets juicy! Two weeks after leaving Atlanta I flew back, and on the second night Khalief asked me to marry him. We got married on September 28, six weeks to the date we met,” Ashley explains. Soon after, Khalief relocated to the Philippines, and Ashley moved from Jamaica to be with him.
Not the average love story, but the short courtship and whirlwind series of events were not surprising for those who knew Ashley. Quite the nonconformist, the young bride, though thrilled to be living in Asia, felt she cheated her friends and family from sharing in her special moment, and immediately launched into wedding planning mode.
The couple’s midweek January 3 nuptials took place this year at Laughing Waters, Steer Town, St Ann; and, it was as thrilling and unconventional as their union.
While the couple wanted a modern approach to their wedding playlist, their close friends insisted on maintaining the classical tradition, and enlisted violinist Rosemary Marín Guerra to deliver a rendition of Can’t Help Falling in Love by Elvis Presley as Ashley, with the help of her father, Adur Smith, walked up the aisle.
Bishop Orane Williams officiated the ceremony. The pair opted out of the traditional bridal party and flower girl arrangement, and instead focused on fun alternatives to make family and friends feel like an integral part of the celebration.
The bride commissioned Filipino atelier Haydee Garcia to craft her fairy-tale dress, complete with romantic dusty rose lining, sparkly top-to-bottom beadwork and ultra feminine silhouette. Khalief’s taupe suit was cut to perfection by a local tailor located near their home in the Philippines.
As the sun set, and the tranquil sounds of water lapping on seashells filled the air, the intimate group gathered for an al fresco dinner curated by Chef Jovan Smith. Guests joined in games, with the evening including the blessing and cutting of the cake, the first dance to Perfect by Ed Sheeran, and the traditional bouquet toss.
Then it was time to party! Guests followed an illuminated lantern trail to the beach where a bonfire soca fête (IFYKYK) complete with fire-breathers and a jerk pit was in full swing. The celebration went on into the wee hours, with the happy bunch releasing lanterns into the night sky.