Iman Dean was hosting a brunch event in August of 2015 when she first met Manuel Strong. Under the pretense of collaborating professionally, Manny asked for her name and the two connected the next day.
“Because I had heard that line before,” Iman shares, “I brushed him off and tried to walk away but he gently grabbed my arm and whispered, ‘I wasn’t done talking.’ I was intrigued, to say the least, so I obliged; and true to his word, the next day was strictly business.”
“We brought the best of Chicago and New York to one resort for three days; and by the end, everyone was in love."
Their third encounter, however, was different. As Manny approached, Iman felt overwhelmed with emotion and elbowed her best friend. “That’s my husband,” she said. Her friend shrugged it off as they parted ways, and Manny and Iman headed out for drinks in Greenwich Village.
“The energy between us was cosmic,” Iman describes. “Who initiated that first kiss is still up for debate! Thereafter, we would meet every day that week until Manny was back in Chicago. It took three weeks of endless phone and text exchanges for him to return and ask to try this long-distance relationship out.”
For three years, the couple traveled the world, back and forth, New York to Chicago, until Iman moved to Chicago permanently.
The proposal was reminiscent of the moment Iman realized Manny was “the one.” Manny and his partners planned an event the same weekend as Iman’s best friend’s birthday, so she was able to invite some of her friends to Chicago to celebrate. The night before, Manny insisted on going out to dinner to welcome everyone to Chicago. After dinner, the group walked towards the water and Iman felt a familiar, overwhelming sensation again. She knew what was about to happen. Manny began his proposal speech and was soon down on one knee.
“As a planner myself, I knew we wanted and needed support,” says Iman. “We wanted to enjoy our engagement and wedding and not worry about the details. So, after interviewing six planners, we decided Kia Marie Events was the best option, and we were right. Kia went above and beyond through every step of the process. She trotted to NYC to help me find my perfect gown, accompanied Manny and me to Cabo to tour venues, answered the phone at 2 a.m. when I was having a breakdown, and even gave me a spreadsheet to manage to keep me busy.”
True to any wedding planning process involving a talented team of vendors, Manny and Iman’s wedding was nothing short of a fairytale. Eighty of their friends and family members joined them for a three-day destination wedding in Mexico, held at the Waldorf Astoria in Cabo. As the day unfolded, both the bride and groom found themselves intermittently crying tears of joy.
The décor elements were classic white with simple touches of gold. Guests walked into the ceremony and were greeted with the couple’s signature XLV champagne and gin cocktail, donned with a custom Iman & Manny drink charm. Cocktail hour offered an array of hand-selected canapes and his and hers signature cocktails – “First Kiss” Smoked Paloma and the “21st Street” Cucumber Jalapeño Margarita.
Dinner involved a menu personally curated by the bride and groom, offering seabass, short ribs, and black truffle chicken. Their wedding cake was a carrot cake – the groom’s favorite – and also served as an elegant and understated showstopper.
“We brought the best of Chicago and New York to one resort for three days; and by the end, everyone was in love,” says the bride. “Our guests danced, laughed, and danced some more. We have not gone on a honeymoon yet but plan to take two weeks in 2022 to tour Thailand, Australia, and Fiji.”
Wedding Dress: Mark Ingram, New York, NY; Photography: Imagery by Jules Photography, Miami, FL