A wedding between Yolande Wilson and John “Johnny” that blended Ghanaian and Italian traditions!
Yolande Wilson, a mergers-and-acquisitions investment banker, and John “Johnny” Prah, a private-equity investor, both were born and raised in Ghana. There, they attended rival high schools—but never met while growing up. In December 2010, they were home from their respective colleges in the United States—her Yale and him Brown—and they were finally introduced at a party at his uncle’s house in Ghana but spoke for only five minutes.
A few years later, in 2012, Yolande was at a bar in New York City and Johnny walked in. She recognized him immediately. He was interning, and she was working in the city at the time. “I had a sense that he was special,” Yolande says. “A friend he was with at the time told him I was staring intently at him before I walked up and initiated a conversation.”
The following year Yolande’s friend Kwesi Sey invited her for cocktails at his friend’s place. “I arrived, and it was Johnny’s apartment,” she says. “We spoke at length that night—much longer than five minutes. I was hosting a fundraiser in New York at the time to support an amazing orphanage in Ghana, the Marfo Children Care Foundation. I strategically asked him to be a member of the planning board.”
In August of 2018, Yolande and Johnny decided on a whim to get married at the Washington, DC, courthouse on a normal afternoon. “It was just the two of us,” Yolande says. “We were anticipating the challenges of being at separate business schools—him at Harvard and me at Wharton. [At City Hall,] we said a prayer together, signed the marriage certificate, had a stranger take our picture, and enjoyed a casual postnuptial meal at Nando’s. It has been our best-kept secret.”
Per Ghanaian custom, Yolande did not wear her engagement ring until their traditional engagement ceremony in Ghana in January 2019. This was a family-centric ceremony and a dowry gifting, with almost 400 people in attendance, including childhood friends, Johnny’s fraternity brothers, and Yolande’s best friends and suitemates from college. “In Ghana, it is not atypical to have two weddings—the traditional Ghanaian engagement and a Western wedding,” Yolande explains. So after the engagement ceremony, Yolande and Johnny had to pivot to planning the next event: their Western wedding celebration.
Yolande and Johnny worked with wedding planner Santa Vigante of Italian Boutique Weddings to orchestrate the wedding of their dreams. Neither Yolande nor Johnny spoke Italian or had time to directly liaise with vendors, so they were happy to hand over the reins.
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Photo credit: Getty