Bryna Bankston and Emmanuel “Manny” Cumplido met at the University of Rhode Island, where both were members of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. “We spent time getting to know one another at friends’ dinners, bonfires and movie nights,” she says. “After several months, Manny asked me to go watch a sunrise with him at Roger Williams Park. That’s what we call our ‘first date.’”
Manny proposed to Bryna in his parents’ backyard garden in Pawtucket in July 2013. They both love the outdoors and wanted their June wedding in a natural setting that could accommodate a crowd. “Camp Jori had the woodsy feel that we wanted, as well as being right on the water,” the bride says. “The view from the campground is so stunning and the day we saw it, we knew it was the place.”
The bride chose a Dessy Group sheath-style gown in a soft white with a lace overlay. “It was the very first dress that I tried on,” she says. “I loved the simplicity and elegance of it.” The groom wore navy blue dress pants, light blue jacket and a white button-down shirt with a floral tie Bryna made for him. “I really loved making the ties,” she says. “Manny and I went to Folk Art Quilt in Wakefield to pick out the fabric together.”
With the help of friends, they decorated the camp in pastel colors, with homemade touches and lots of flowers. Each table was set with a cross-stitched table number, homemade crocheted doilies and small pails stocked with rustic pencils, so the guests could offer “advice for the bride and groom.” “These were so fun to read later,” the bride says. A friend painted a tree on a canvas, and guests could leave their thumbprints on it to create the tree’s leaves.
Bryna’s father, Calvin Bankston, officiated at the ceremony and the couple wrote their own vows. “It was so special to read them aloud to each other for the first time during the ceremony,” the bride says.
Manny’s father grew up in Colombia, so they chose a traditional Colombian dish, bandeja, which is made from rice, beans, fried plantains, avocado and meat, for dinner, along with shrimp étouffée, a traditional Cajun seafood and rice dish that paid homage to Bryna’s father, who is from Louisiana. They found a four-tier vanilla cake design on Pinterest that a friend recreated and topped with flowers and two pink wooden love birds.
Their first dance was to “Evolve,” by Bosc. “We have very different musical tastes so it was hard to choose something that we both liked,” she says. “It didn’t have any special meaning attributed to it before; but now we love to listen to it together and remember our first dance as a married couple.”
During the reception, the couple stole away for a few minutes for a walk by Worden’s Pond, where they found a little shack they had not seen before. The photo they took there is their favorite, she says. Their advice to South County couples? “Take time to be together, just the two of you, at some point during the day,” Manny says. Bryna adds, “Take time to thank all of the people who have helped you put the day together.”