Photography by Astrid and Rene
According to Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. For Nailah Brown and David Wagner, that single step was an impromptu agreement to travel to Dubai together—when they were only casual friends.
The two had known each other through mutual friends for a couple of years, talking on and off as life’s circumstances allowed. They had lost touch when Nailah moved from New York to California, but when she moved back to New York to attend Columbia’s business school, they reconnected. During one of those conversations, she mentioned that she was annoyed at some friends who had backed out of a winter break trip to Dubai.
“I suggested that maybe she was asking the wrong friends and she should ask someone else, i.e. me,” says David. “A couple of minutes later, she asked if I would like to go. We have been speaking every day since.”
That was in 2008. Since that initial trip to Dubai, they’ve traveled together to Egypt, Monaco, France, Italy, Guatemala, Malta, St. Kitts, Amsterdam and Puerto Rico, as well as various spots around the States. Their shared passion for travel—and the fact that they were terrific travel companions—sparked something beyond friendship.
On February 26, 2011, they were married. Nailah, originally from Jamaica, grew up in Miami and wanted the city’s sexy, sultry, urban vibe to set the mood for their wedding. The reception and ceremony were both held at the Miami Tower, whose sleek, modern decor and fabulous views of the Miami cityscape provided the perfect stage for her vision.
Because of their love for travel, the theme was “A 50,000-mile journey of love.” “Each table was named for our favorite restaurant in each of the countries or cities we’ve visited together, because while we love to travel, we also love to eat,” Nailah says. Even the groom’s cake played into the theme. Shaped as a Delta Sky Miles Platinum membership card, the traditional Jamaican rum-fruit cake spoke to David’s penchant for accruing miles and always planning the next trip.
The flowers were chosen as a tribute to her father, who had passed away six months before the wedding. The decor and the bride’s bouquet consisted mainly of orchids, her father’s favorite flower, in shades of purple and deep pink. Feathers, crystals and hanging votives added sparkle and glamour.
Though they cherished every moment of their wedding day, Nailah and David had some distinct favorites. For her, the most special time came right after the ceremony. “That was when tears came,” she says. “When we hugged and kissed and felt the emotional high of being officially married. It was such an amazing feeling to look at David, hold him close and know he was my husband.”
For David, there was nothing like seeing Nailah in her wedding dress, a strapless gown by Marisa, during the “first look”—the private time shared by the couple before the ceremony. Though David initially did not want to spoil the surprise of seeing his bride for the first time as she walked down the aisle, he eventually agreed to the first look—and was glad he did.
“For me, the first look was the defining moment of the wedding,” he says. “Seeing Nailah in her dress for the first time, feeling the magnitude of the occasion and sharing a quiet moment before the ceremony was the most amazing part of a phenomenal night.”
During the reception, they danced to “Love is You” by Chrisette Michele. “David made me sing this song to him during one of our first dates and promised that one day I would sincerely mean it … and he was right,” Nailah says.
The couple, now residing in Philadelphia, planned a two-pronged honeymoon. The first part was in St. Lucia, where they spent five days immediately after the wedding. They are planning a second honeymoon trip to Moscow and the Maldives.