The fates aligned to bring Ama Oppong and Zavontae Holmes together while at university. “We had the same advisor, classes, and teaching-assistant jobs,” Ama explains. “Our dorms were also right next to each other.” It only took two weeks at school before they met, but at first they were just friends. “As new students in college, in a completely new setting and thousands of miles away from home, we both were stuck in the mindset that we had to reinvent ourselves,” Zavontae shares. “We ended up getting to know the more authentic side of each other, and we found that our true characters were much more compatible than the ‘cool alter egos’ that we were portraying.”
After a few years of dating, Zavontae knew it was time to propose and reached out to ask for the blessing of Ama’s parents. “They told me that I was accepted as their son long before I could even think to ask the question,” he reveals. During a trip to Orlando with Ama’s father, the lovebirds planned a hot-air balloon ride before sunrise. “Z initially didn’t want to go because he claimed he didn’t feel safe in it,” Ama shares. Under the guise of waiting until the night before to make his decision, he allowed himself to be “convinced” by his sweetheart to go on the ride and hired a violinist, guitarist, and singer to play when the balloon landed. “I was so intrigued by the musicians that I didn’t notice he was still in the balloon on one knee with a beautiful ring,” she admits. “I freaked!”
The Minneapolis nuptials were inspired by the concept of heaven, as well as Ghanaian royalty in honor of the bride’s family. “Z wanted to emphasize the idea of me being sent from heaven to him,” the bride muses. Donning a truly stunning haute couture gown, Ama carried a bouquet made of Swarovski crystals created by the designer of her dress. The bridesmaids held gold or silver white-feathered fans from Ghana, but flowers still had a big part in the ceremony. The aisle was coated in rose petals and attendants walked through a tunnel of floral arches. In addition to family, flower girls, bridesmaids, and groomsmen, hired ballerinas – representing angels – danced down to the unique altar formed by ivory blossoms. “It was truly a heavenly experience,” Zavontae reflects.
The palatial and ethereal quality of the vow exchange continued to the reception. “Lily V Events created full lush floral trees from scratch using hydrangeas, roses, and orchids for texture and to keep the feeling of heaven alive,” Ama describes. The design team also built custom gold-mirrored tables for the event. Other tables showcased vases dripping with crystal strands topped with cream blooms. Seating for the newlyweds was placed atop a lifted white pedestal wide enough to support the bullion table with a cascade of orchids down the front. Alabaster circles filled with curtains of even more orchids created the exquisite backdrop.
Traditional drums accompanied the honorary seating of the royal family of Ghana before the reception festivities officially began. Shortly before the first dance, the newlyweds found they had forgotten the choreographed steps. The bride quickly tried to create alternative moves. “Thinking back on it now we both laugh, but it was extremely nerve-racking during the time,” the groom remembers. Once they hit the dance floor, however, things changed. “Surprisingly, muscle memory kicked in and we executed the dance perfectly,” notes Ama.
Following the sit-down dinner, guests enjoyed slices of the towering cake. The six-tiered round confection had a 32-inch base and layers fully covered by both fresh and sugar flowers, while the top tiers were accented with gold and alternated between fondant and buttercream frosting. As a nod to the bride’s family, the cake was also stamped with the royal monogram.
“The day was perfect,” confirms Zavontae. Passing on advice she and her husband received while planning the celebration, Ama says, “Never lose sight of the true meaning of your wedding. Always remember it goes beyond the lavish items and is actually a proclamation of your love for each other.”