LOVE STRUCK // Vanessa + Lempe

I was lucky enough to work with these two when I was working as a waitress at Fonda in Albany, back I when I was first starting Kate Ellen Metals.  Vanessa was the always brightly smiling bartender, and Lempe and I worked the floor together, climbing up and down the stairs all night, cracking jokes, and keeping clients entertained late into the night.  

The pair met and married in Senegal, and when we all worked together they were planning their American vows in Sonoma County and wanted to do something special to their silver bands that Lempe had purchased and engraved in Senegal.  I was so happy and thrilled to be a part of this-- we ended up stacking up gold bands on their silver.  Simple, clean, and honoring the original rings and wedding vows exchanged overseas.

1// How did you meet?  What was your initial impression?

V: We met in Senegal in 2003 at my host family's house.  I was studying abroad there.  Lempé is a friend of the Gbaya family and he was also living there at the time.  My first impression: who's that mysterious guy with the sweet face? And how do I pronounce his name again?

L: We met in Dakar, Senegal in 2003 when she was studying abroad, and her host family was my best friend's house, it happened at that time I was living with my best friend.  My initial impression was the LIGHT I was seeing on her face.

2// What is a memorable moment from your courtship prior to getting engaged?

V: We used to walk around the Olympic swimming pool in Dakar, the capital city. We would talk for hours.  That's where we laid the foundation of our relationship and figured out that, if we're going to be together, there will be a lot of compromise and sacrifice.

L: The memorable moment prior to getting engaged was in 2008 when she came back for work, and both realized we can do it anymore with the long distance, and we didn't want to let it go, we just said let's get married. 

3 // How did you become engaged?

V:  Lempé and I were working on a solar oven project in Senegal in 2008 and I got Typhoid Fever. Lempé took such good care of me. Before I was properly diagnosed, he gathered a variety of traditional remedies for my symptoms - remedies his grandmother had taught him when he was a boy. I asked him to marry me one night.  He smiled and told me "you're sick and have a fever, let's talk about it later." But I was dead serious.

L:  In 2008 when we were working together in Senegal, she got sick, and I took care of her as much I can, and then one day she asks me if I want to marry her.

4 // What was one of the highlights from your wedding?  Did you include any special tradition or ritual?

V:  We've had two weddings: our Senegalese wedding in 2008 and our American wedding in 2011. In Senegal, after being married at the mosque, we returned to Lempé's father's house for the reception.  The highlight was meeting close family members I had never seen before.  It was now official in everyone's eyes: I was part of the family. In the States, we celebrated at my family's house in Northern California.  The highlight was most definitely the photo booth with silly hats and props.  All ages of people were crowding into the booth in whimsical attire and then laughing at themselves when they saw their pictures.

L:  Wedding in Senegal: All my family member was able to know her a little bit better, and everybody was in LOVE with her.  We had a ceremony at the mosque, and she wore a traditional clothes for the occasion. The Wedding in U.S: My father and my friends were able to make it to California, and that was HUGE for me.

5 // The magic ingredient is: 

V:  The desire to evolve with your partner. 

Photo by Elizabeth Lloyd Photography
Photo by Elizabeth Lloyd Photography

L O V E + M E T A L