Models Afiya Bennett and Lloyd Dickenson Marry in Romantic 'Royal' Ceremony
The models met while working at a Nike campaign photo shoot and got engaged in 2017
Models Afiya Bennett and Lloyd Dickenson have officially tied the knot — and in a royally romantic affair!
The model, who appeared as Naomi Campbell’s protégé on the competition series, The Face, married her actor-model fiancé Dickenson on Sunday at The Palace at Somerset Park in New Jersey.
They hosted an elegant black-tie affair for 165 of their closets friends and family. “With a name like The Palace you have to keep that going and you have to dress the part,” Dickenson told PEOPLE exclusively about their “royal wedding vibe.”
The couple, who first met on the set of a Nike campaign, married in a traditional Christian ceremony at Voorhees Chapel, and incorporated family traditions throughout the ceremony, including jumping the broom.
Bennett chose a princess-style wedding dress from Morilee and wore her mother’s veil for the ceremony. Dickenson kept to the royal wedding theme by going classic with his attire, wearing a white tuxedo jacket with tails and black pants.
For the reception, Bennett switched into a mermaid-style Galia Lahav gown and changed her hair from an updo, which she wore during the ceremony, to long, soft waves for the party portion.
Throughout the day, Bennett kept her makeup light and fresh with subtle gold accents. To get the look, she counted on her go-to beauty pros, makeup artist Ashley Johnson and hairstylist Mohan Jean Mary to help her get wedding-ready (and will be breaking down the full look on her new blog, AfiyasBeautySecrets.com).
The couple both exchanged wedding bands from Dickenson’s uncle’s jewelry shop, 3 G’s Jewelry and Repair.
The pair, who got engaged in late 2017, initially planned a destination wedding, but opted to keep it local near their home in New Jersey to include more family members.
“I wanted my family to be able to attend. Initially we were going to get married in Antigua, but in having a destination wedding you’re going to lose some people and you limit the people who can come,” Bennett told PEOPLE days before her wedding. “For me, I really wanted to have a wedding that my family would be at and would be a part of and I didn’t want any financial restrictions to come between them being able to attend.”
Family was a very important theme of their wedding. The two incorporated many traditions throughout and honored their roots in as many ways as possible.
“When we were picking the food, we wanted to be able to cater to our backgrounds. We are both Caribbean, so we picked a diverse menu that were very specific to Caribbean background which was nice,” Bennett said, adding that they made sure her mother’s favorite drink, an apple martini, was on the menu too.
Bennett also walked down the aisle to the same song her mother walked down to at her own wedding, and during the reception, her good friend performed a song and Bennett’s brother, a professional pianist, also performed a special piece for the newlyweds.
“There’s a lot of traditional values I wanted to make sure that I kept” explained Bennett.
After a year and a half of dating, Dickenson popped the question during the holidays in 2017 with a tear-shaped diamond set on a double-strand diamond band during a family trip to Stone Mountain Park in Georgia.
“Having both our families there with us made it really special,” Dickenson told PEOPLE at the time of the engagement. “I had conversations with my dad and my mom which was soothing but then [Bennett’s] dad gave me a tequila shot and that really calmed me down. Once I got started it just flowed and before I knew it I was on my knees and the she said ‘yes’”
And Bennett said he nailed the delivery and ring selection. “When I first saw the ring in the box when Lloyd was down on one knee, my first initial reaction was – ‘OMG that ring! It’s incredible,’” Bennett told PEOPLE. “It finally hit me that I was going to be engaged and then someday married; everything was perfect.”
During the two years since their engagement, Bennett said she handled most of the logistics when it came to wedding planning, but that Dickenson has “definitely been supportive with all my crazy ideas, which has been really great,” Bennett shared.
“There has definitely been some [stress] but I don’t want to call it bridezilla moments, but this wedding has tested our patience at times,” Dickenson said. “She’s been a little bit stressed, but that’s where I come in. I’ve always been that balance to keep her calm, or be the voice of reasoning or sometimes just be the person that listens to her. That’s part of my job as a future husband.”
Before the wedding, Bennett said the thing she was most looking forward to about married life was a simple one: “I’m most looking forward to being able to say I’m a wife; there’s just a certain honor about that.”
Adding, “Everyone in my family is married, my mom, my aunt, my grandmother, cousins. So for me it’s always been just standard and there’s an honor and prestige that comes along with being a wife and putting your family first at all times and that’s extremely important to me.”
Dickenson was also excited to start their new chapter together. “Having a successful marriage and staying married I think is more important to me than actually saying that I’m married. So we talk about legacy, to have a legacy you have to keep on going right? So I’m excited about the process and continuing to build a life together.”
While the duo didn’t get to wed in Antigua, they’ll be honeymooning there after the wedding. “We figured since we couldn’t have the actual wedding in Antigua, we would do the honeymoon there,” said Bennett.
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