While visiting Johannesburg in 2017, Rahiel spotted an African print boutique in the Braamfontein area. Briefly stopping in she perused the shelves before continuing on her way – a seemingly trivial moment that would come to shape the rest of her life. When a few months later, Rahiel was in need of tailoring services she remembered the boutique shop. After returning, the owner began making custom clothing for her, and it was during her third visit to the shop when she noticed a “tall, dark and handsome Zambian man” who took her breath away. Gideon, a fashion designer himself, was the youngest brother of the shop owner. The connection between Rahiel and Gideon was immediate, and within a few weeks they were going on their first date. In Rahiel’s words, “it was definitely love at first sight…”
Bride & Groom: Rahiel & Gideon
Occupations: Media Strategist, Founder/Publisher: Urban Cusp & Founder/Head Designer: I am Deovolente
Wedding Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
Photographer: Xavier Saer
For Gideon, he knew he wanted to marry Rahiel from the first date, asking her that evening if her mother would consent to her “marrying someone who was not Eritrean.” It wasn’t long before they were discussing engagement ring choices and attending pre-engagement counseling, so Rahiel was well aware of a proposal on the horizon – but when it would occur she had no idea. After Christmas and New Years passed without a proposal she was even more caught off guard when it finally took place. On the fourth of January, while having dinner with a friend at an outdoor restaurant in Johannesburg, Rahiel noticed her friend starring over her shoulder. When Rahiel turned to see what was capturing their attention she saw Gideon, kneeling down with a ring in hand. Gideon’s best friend was also present recording the moment as Gideon asked Rahiel for her hand in marriage. In Rahiel’s words, “I immediately started crying and screaming at the top of my lungs out of shock…no matter how ready I thought I was – nothing prepared me for that breathtaking moment.”
Like Gideon, Rahiel knew he was “the one” from the beginning. Being a Christian Minister and seminary graduate, it was important to Rahiel that her husband share her passion for faith, and Gideon’s biblical knowledge was impressive. Gideon possessed all the qualities Rahiel desired in a partner, and even some she hadn’t realized she wanted until meeting him. In her words, “as I learned more about him and his life story, I came to believe that God had been preparing us for one another our entire lives.”
Their beautiful Pan-African wedding in Johannesburg honored all sides of their cultural histories while directly incorporating their Eritrean, Zambian, Black American and South African heritages – all expressed through music, attire and overall wedding day aesthetics. The wedding weekend began with Rahiel’s Zambian initiation into marriage; an all-women gathering led by the Zambian elder women of Gideon’s family. During the wedding ceremony Rahiel was gorgeous in an off-the-shoulder, rose-gold couture wedding dress with a deep v-neckline and mermaid silhouette, incorporating her Eritrean culture in a traditional “Albaso” hairstyle, as well as jewelry and henna art. Being a fashion designer, Gideon designed his own suite; a soft tweed black and gold-infused suit trimmed with brocade silk. He also designed the bridesmaids’ South African Xhosa inspired dresses with Cleopatra inspired beaded accessories, and the groomsmen’s African print accessories.
Advice for Brides: Be a gracious, joy-filled bride from beginning to end. Cherish every second of this season of your life and of your wedding day because it will go by so fast and you can never get it back again. Make sure that you and your groom have a clear, shared vision of your wedding day, as that will determine everything. Focus on the big picture items first then gradually make your way to the details. Download helpful wedding planning apps. Secure a resourceful planning binder.