Amy Btiebet doesn’t like the spotlight. So when her attention-loving boyfriend, Terrell Washington, proposed while on a cruise in the Caribbean, she was relieved it was in private.
Washington had hid one of Btiebet’s rings she had removed to take a shower. He pretended to search for it, producing an engagement ring in its place. “It was really unexpected and really beautiful,” says Btiebet.
The pair had met on the dating app Bumble and quickly bonded over the fact that they both have Crohn’s disease. “It’s something that we kind of struggled with in our dating lives up until we had met each other,” she says. “But we very quickly grew comfortable with one another because we have that in common.”
As executive director of the Northeast Ohio Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, Btiebet soon roped Washington into volunteering, and early in their relationship, he cared for her after she had Crohn’s-related surgery. It was clear the bond was permanent.
When it came time to plan their Sept. 7, 2019, wedding, holding it at the Cleveland Museum of Art was a no-brainer. The couple love art and museums, they needed space for 350 guests, and the natural light and simple beauty of the museum’s terrace and atrium were blank canvases. But their wedding-day vision itself proved a little trickier: Washington wanted extravagance and Btiebet was looking for more subtlety.
“Terrell’s a little bit more showy and flashy than I am,” says Btiebet. “He likes being the center of attention, but I am totally fine being behind the scenes.”
The couple brought in two design companies to collaborate on bringing their ideas to life in a cohesive way, with Somer Khouri Bedran of A Charming Fete focusing on Btiebet’s aesthetic and Joe Mineo Creative on Washington’s. The result was a ceremony and reception that flawlessly melded the couple’s personalities and backgrounds (Btiebet is Jordanian and German while Washington is African American and Hispanic).
“It was perfectly us,” says Btiebet. “The design was very over-the-top and beautiful, but the colors were so muted and classic and me, so it was this perfect marriage of decor when you walked in. You could just tell everything about it was us. Somehow Somer was able to incorporate such polar opposite taste in one experience.”
The ceremony took place outside on the terrace, against a Middle East-inspired backdrop decorated with small gold chandeliers, greenery and florals. It was officiated by Washington’s long-time mentor.
Not ones for convention, the couple had a string quartet play Disney songs as the bridal party walked down the aisle. Their vows and readings incorporated references to Star Wars and Winnie the Pooh.
Once inside the atrium for the reception, the decor took on an industrial feel, with Edison bulbs juxtaposed against greenery, and white and buttercream flowers. Guests enjoyed a dinner catered by the museum’s on-site caterer, Provenance, followed by a cake by KB Confections.
More than 1,000 cookies were baked by Btiebet’s grandma to honor Washington’s hometown of Youngstown, where it’s tradition to have a cookie table at a wedding.
A Charming Fete designed a marble dance floor with “The Washingtons” displayed across it, a more subtle compromise on his desire for a flashing sign with the couple’s name. A belly dancer got the crowd moving before a few polka songs were played — both nods to Btiebet’s heritage. For the grand finale of the evening, Washington flew in Atlanta hip-hop group, Crime Mob, for a surprise concert and a perfectly over-the-top ode to his personality that brought the whole night together.
“It was just a really nice melting pot of a whole lot of cultures and religions,” says Btiebet.