Kategoriler: Style

The Wedding That Became a Music Festival


As Alexis Major walked down the aisle to a violinist’s rendition of John Legend’s “All of Me,” she could see her beloved, Karim Butler, seated beneath the ceremonial white floral arch, crying. She settled into the chair across from him, wiped the tears from his face, and the traditional Muslim wedding ceremony commenced.

From the ceremony to the after-party, the entire evening was a lavish affair — and the logo of their cannabis company, Gumbo, was a motif throughout the wedding.

The idea for Gumbo — the couple’s “baby,” as Mr. Butler called it — started in October 2019, after they noticed that many of their friends in the music and major league sports industries were becoming addicted to opioids. Both had long careers in those industries: Ms. Major, 45, was a manager for N.F.L. players; Mr. Butler, 47, who goes by Luka, worked with various musicians and record labels in management, marketing and promotion.

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They wanted to develop an alternative pain management option, Ms. Major said, so they created Gumbo, which sells cannabis products in a variety of consumption forms. “It’s a mixture of a bunch of different strains that we say melted in a pot and became gumbo,” she said.

The couple hadn’t intended to build a large business, but as word of the strain spread, there proved to be a demand. “We were just medicating the people we knew,” Mr. Butler said. “And then it metamorphosed because the people wanted it.”

From there, Gumbo took off, and today it is sold in dispensaries worldwide. Mr. Butler is the chief executive of Gumbo, and Ms. Major is the chief financial officer. (“He’s the beauty, and I’m the brain,” Ms. Major said, jokingly.)

Many of Gumbo’s earliest supporters attended their wedding on June 8 at Park Château Estate and Gardens in East Brunswick, N.J., including the musical artists Davido, Quavo and Fat Joe — some of whom gave impromptu performances at the reception.

After guests snapped photos outside and dined on seafood and pasta during the cocktail hour, they made their way down a candlelit hallway draped in white silk fabric and adorned with life-size photos of the couple to the reception.

Ronald Isley of the Isley Brothers, dressed in a black tuxedo with silver sparkling lapels, serenaded the couple for their first dance as a billow of smoke enveloped them and fire sparklers lit up the hall.

Guests joined the couple on the dance floor and belted out the lyrics to some of the Isley Brothers’ biggest hits, including “Contagious” and “Footsteps in the Dark.” (One 24-year-old guest asked his mother, “Is this the actual artist?” She said, jokingly, “All the kids today only know the samples and the remixes. This is the real thing.”)

Ms. Major said that watching the young guests get excited by Mr. Isley’s performance was a highlight. “Little girls and little boys that look like us have never seen anything like that,” Ms. Major said. “If you don’t see it, you don’t know it’s possible. And we really showcase our life just to let people like us know that if you want something, you can have it. It’s obtainable.”

She added, “You work hard and you play hard.”

The couple plays hard, indeed. The reception turned into a mini music festival. During the reception, Davido, the Afrobeats star and a friend of the couple, grabbed a mic and started singing “Sensational,” his song with Chris Brown and Lojay, and dancing with the bride, who had a drink in her hand.

“Make some noise for my people,” he said before singing “Fall,” a popular wedding song that starts with the lyrics: “Money fall on you.” In fitting fashion, guests threw cash in the air.

From there, the rappers Quavo and Moneybagg Yo, who were on the stage dancing with their sunglasses on, spontaneously performed a few of their songs. “They were just there as guests,” Ms. Major said, “but they all were so excited, they performed.”

Ms. Major and Mr. Butler first met at Tajia Diamonds, a jeweler in New York’s diamond district, in September 2017. Both were there for the same reason: The locks on their chain necklaces needed fixing.

Ms. Major approached him first, and though he was blushing, he said, he kept it professional. He handed her his business card.

Instead she told him, “Take my number.”

“She was feeling me, I was feeling her, but she was going a little bit harder,” Mr. Butler said. “I think she knew what she wanted.”

Asked if she agreed with that narrative during an interview the day before the wedding, Ms. Major said, “I plead the fifth, I gotta marry this man tomorrow.” Ms. Major was in her suite, getting her hair and makeup done for their rehearsal dinner at Orchard Park by David Burke in East Brunswick, N.J. Mr. Butler was calling in from his car. They have playful personalities, poking fun at each other while they reminisced about their journey together.

A few days after meeting at the jewelry store, Mr. Butler called her on FaceTime. Ms. Major was in the shower at the time, but she was so excited to receive a call from him that she answered the phone, forgetting where she was.

He immediately hung up. “I was so taken aback,” he recalled. “I was like, ‘Oh my god, I can’t call this woman again.’”

But she called him back and apologized, and they got to know each through subsequent phone calls. In October, they made plans to meet at Made in Mexico, a hot spot restaurant in the Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan.

When she showed up at the restaurant, she stood around waiting for him. But, despite his boasts about being “the man of the area,” she recalled, Mr. Butler accidentally went to a different restaurant with the same name. By the time he finally showed up to the correct place, she needed to make her way to the singer Keyshia Cole’s birthday party at Philippe Chow.

Mr. Butler wanted to accompany her there to make up for lost time. He insisted on sitting at the bar while she attended the party in a private room at the restaurant.

Ms. Majors friends asked her why she was so late. “I met up with this guy,” she recalled saying. “I think I really like him.” They didn’t believe her because Ms. Major was famously hard to please.

Ms. Cole convinced the entire group to go to the bar and meet the man who had seemingly achieved the impossible. And, to impress her friends, Mr. Butler offered to buy everyone a shot.

Little did he know that they were drinking expensive Martell cognac shots. Through hand gestures, Ms. Major tried to communicate to him to not order a round of shots. He didn’t get the memo.

The bill came to $15,000, and he paid it. “I liked her — I was going to do what I had to do to impress her,” Mr. Butler said. But Ms. Major was not impressed. She was mortified that he picked up such a pricey bill.

Binge more Vows columns here and read all our wedding, relationship and divorce coverage here.

Their first official date was at Lure Fishbar in SoHo on Nov. 1, 2017, which they considered a do-over.

“And after that, we’ve been inseparable,” Mr. Butler said. In January 2018, the couple moved in together to an apartment in Englewood, N.J.

At the time, Ms. Major was in a rough period in her life. Her mother had just died, and Mr. Butler was a pillar of support.

“Luka was a ray of sunshine,” she said. “He pushed me to be a better person and to be happy — just a very positive influence, driving and motivating.”

Part of that included building Gumbo together, a labor of love. Another was his role in her spiritual journey. Mr. Butler is Muslim, and in 2018, she observed Ramadan, a month of fasting for Muslims, for the first time. Last year, she converted.

“Embracing Islam has brought a sense of peace to my life,” Ms. Major said. “His support and deep understanding of faith guided me through every step, making the experience not just a personal evolution, but a shared bond that strengthened our connection.”

Before her first Ramadan, Mr. Butler proposed in front of the Grant Projects in Harlem; he had grown up between there and the Bronx. A previous marriage ended in divorce. He has three sons — ages 18, 24 and 26.

Ms. Major is from New London, Conn. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with an associate degree in marketing and a bachelor’s degree in merchandising. A previous marriage ended in divorce. She has a 9-year-old daughter.

On June 8, the couple were married in front of 320 guests by Imam Izak-El Mu’eed Pasha of Masjid Malcolm Shabazz, a mosque in Harlem.

After the reception, a portion of the venue was converted into a club with fire dancers, a dance floor and lounge seating. The after-party ended around 2 a.m. Some guests on their way out headed directly to the airport, including Donny Flores, an A & R executive who flew from Miami just for the wedding. He has known Ms. Major for 20 years.

“To see her happy with Luka makes everything feel Godsent,” Mr. Flores said. “I had to be there for their special day.”

On his way out of the after-party, blunt in hand, Mr. Butler said: “I hope everybody enjoyed the wedding of the century.”


When June 8, 2024

Where Park Château Estate and Gardens, East Brunswick, N.J.

Custom Couture Ms. Major made five trips to Paris to perfect her custom silk Zuhair Murad gown. Her daughter wore a miniature version of the dress. During the reception, Ms. Major changed into a strapless gown from Edyth Couture. Mr. Butler wore a custom suit by Frère.

New York Pride Mr. Butler wanted to inject New York pride into the wedding. A yellow food truck, called Bodega Truck, was parked outside of the venue during the after-party so guests could grab chopped cheese sandwiches on their way out.

A Gumbo Pop-Up Shop A room in one corner of the club was stocked with goodies, including Gumbo flower in zipped pouches embellished with a cartoon drawing of the bride and groom, T-shirts, mugs, Sour Patch Kids and ashtrays. Guests grabbed shopping bags to fill. For the couple, the gift bags were about “giving support to our community, letting them know that Black love is here and alive and thriving,” Ms. Major said.


Source: nytimes.com

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