Emily Margaret Shakeshaft’s childhood soundtrack became a means of comfort and grounding as she grew up. One of the songs on this soundtrack that his mother curated was “Babyfather” by Grammy Award-winning singer Sade. As fate would have it, Sade’s son, Izaak Theo Adu-Watts, sang on this track, and on April 16, Mrs. Shakeshaft married Mr. Adu-Watts.
It’s no wonder that for Ms. Shakeshaft, being with Mr. Adu-Watts feels like coming home.
The couple met for the first time in May 2019 via Instagram. Ms. Shakeshaft began to follow Mr. Adu-Watts on the application in 2014. “Just out of curiosity to his career as a man transgender,” said Ms. Shakeshaft. In 2019, she sent him a message.
“I didn’t know anyone who was transgender and I haven’t seen anyone go through this process,” Ms Shakeshaft said. “I come from a very conservative area and I went to conservative schools and it was never really talked about in a positive way.” Seeing him go through the process, she says, made her realize that it wasn’t something people had a reason to judge.
“I actually sent him a congratulatory message first,” she said. “I was so proud that he fought so hard to get to where he is now. I consider myself a straight woman, so that’s also something the straight community needs to understand, when you’re trans, you are that kind and not something separate.
Mr. Adu-Watts replied to his message a few minutes later. “FaceTime and messaging back and forth continued until November 13, 2019, when Mr. Adu-Watts finally flew from England to Fresno, California, so the couple could meet in person. . “He ended up moving in straight away and since that day we’ve been together,” Ms Shakeshaft said.
Ms. Shakeshaft, 24, is a hairstylist and artist from Fresno. Mr Adu-Watts, 24, is a model and artist from London. They currently reside in Fresno. “But we travel overseas quite frequently to visit our extended families,” Ms Shakeshaft said. “His parents and his family and my father and my family are all overseas.” (His father, Eric Shakeshaft, lives in Lithuania. The groom’s mother and her partner, Ian Watts, live in England. Mr. Adu-Watts has changed his surname to reflect the role that Mr. Watts, whom he considers like his father, played in his life.)
Their trajectory may seem impulsive. But when Ms Shakeshaft met Mr Adu-Watts online, she knew she wanted him in her life. “Still, I never really imagined that we would get married because it all seemed so far-fetched,” she said. “But once Izaak flew to the United States to basically profess his commitment and his love, I was hooked.”
“I knew I wanted to marry this person when I saw how perfectly he fitted into my family and how easily he was a part of my life,” she continued. “It was like he had always been a part of my life, especially through his mother’s music. When he came into my life, it felt like my heart was finally full and complete. Everything about him is familiar and easy to me.
In May 2020, the couple got engaged. Ms Shakeshaft and Mr Adu-Watts were listening to music and looking at old books when they started talking about a conversation Mr Adu-Watts had had with his parents the day before.
“He had told them he was pretty sure he wanted to marry me and wanted their thoughts,” Ms Shakeshaft said. “They were very supportive.” After discussing the conversation, the couple said it made them feel like they were already engaged.
“So we pulled out our Stick and Poke tattoo kit, and I tattooed my initials on her ring finger and, alas, we were engaged,” he said.
Helen Folasade Adu, known to the world as Sade, saw a kindred spirit for her son in Emily. “She’s an independent thinker, she’s funny and beautiful,” Sade said. “Since I got to know her and a bit of her story, I see that she has had a great life so far, similar to Izaak, and not always easy. What I love most about her is her empathy. There is no formula when it comes to the heart. It’s mostly impossible to explain. I think Izaak and Emily must have collided like two seabirds blown away by the wind.
The pandemic has put a bend in the couple’s wedding plans. “It was all rainbows and unicorns and then Covid hit,” said Hannah Chapman-Serimian, Ms Shakeshaft’s mother. They were hoping to elope in New York on Nov. 13, 2020, a year to the day since they met in person. But Mr Adu-Watts was working in England at the time and, due to the Covid travel ban, he was unable to travel to the United States.
“So I spent July to December 2020 traveling back and forth to England to be with Izaak,” Ms Shakeshaft said. “He was finally able to return home at the end of January 2021 thanks to a medical exemption.” It was quite an experience, having your partner stuck in another country in the middle of a pandemic, Ms Shakeshaft said. “But we got there. And, although Covid sucked and really redirected our plans, I’m grateful for the growing pains.
The couple chose Hawaii for their wedding and what the couple described as “the least traditional ceremony ever”.
“We have decided to get married as soon as possible for many reasons, but mostly because we are so ready for this step, and also for travel and documentation purposes, so that he or I will never again be stuck in a another country and separated against our will,” Ms. Shakeshaft said.
They chose to stay at the Fairmont Orchid in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii because, Ms. Shakeshaft said, she has many wonderful memories of being in Kona with her family. “We had never stayed at the hotel but nearby in the condos, and I wanted to create memories and share the magic with Izaak as a new family unit there,” Ms. Shakeshaft said.
Neither of the two families contested their choice. Sade said: ‘I think it’s lovely that it turned out it was just the two of them, with Hannah, Emily’s mother, presiding, making promises to each other. They plan to bring us all together in the future if they are brave enough.
The couple say their wedding day in Hawaii was otherworldly. “The whole day felt like a dream,” the groom said. “Really, it was like you were making a movie.”
The couple flew to Hawaii a few days before their nuptials and stayed there for two weeks. Little pre-planning took place – not even the exact location or the couple’s attire was decided. “I’m a last minute person,” Mr. Adu-Watts said, “I hope things work out.” In the end, everything worked.
Mrs. Shakeshaft was unable to get the dress she intended to wear altered, so she instead wore a vintage blue dress she picked from her mother’s closet the day before she left for Hawaii. She put flowers in her hair from all over the resort property. Mr. Adu-Watts found a shirt to wear in a thrift store the day before their trip, which coincidentally matched Mrs. Shakeshaft’s dress.
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The couple met their photographers in the lobby of the Fairmont the afternoon of their wedding and strolled around the area. They landed in a small cove right next to the resort rarely used by other customers. “It was beautiful. Magical,” Ms. Shakeshaft said. “We stood in the water and took a minute to get our bearings.” They decided to do the ceremony standing in the water.
“We literally stood in the sand and in the ocean in the space on earth where Emily walked all her life,” said Ms. Chapman-Serimian, the founder of Boxy Girl, which sells acrylic organizers and organizers. skin care products. She was wearing a thrift store dress found the same day Mr Adu-Watts found her wedding outfit.
Prior to the wedding, Ms Chapman-Serimian contacted her family members and collected vows which she read during the ceremony. “I knew I would get some kind of feeling,” Ms. Shakeshaft said, “but I didn’t expect to be so emotional.”
Ms Chapman-Serimian, who was ordained for the event by the US Marriage Ministries, said she was both honored and surprised that the couple had asked her to perform the ceremony. “Izaak came to me and said, ‘We want you to officiate,'” she said. “He took my breath away. I’m not usually someone who is at a loss for words.
Although they miss their families, the couple said they still feel their presence as they communicate via FaceTime and phone throughout the day. “Wherever I am, I always feel like my mother is with me,” Mr Adu-Watts said. “Just the day before our wedding, we were driving through town and right in front of us was a license plate HFS444. The initials of my mother, Helen Folasade Sade. Throughout her life, her mother had told her: ‘I am with you always,” Mr. Adu-Watts said.
After the ceremony, the couple took their own photos in various locations. Mr. Adu-Watts said he plans to print many of these photos. “I always wanted to have my own house with pictures of me and my wife,” he said.
On this day
When April 16, 2021
Or Kona, Hawaii
Visitor with thin feathers The couple kept the doors of their hotel suite open to hear the waves crashing against the shore. The morning before the wedding, a Yellow-billed cardinal arrived by plane “and said hello and left,” said Ms. Shakeshaft. “On the wedding day, he came back and dragged him and we gave him the crumbs. It was the sweetest thing. They say the yellow-billed cardinals represent harmony and domestic loyalty.
Concierge to the rescue The couple had no plans or reservations for a celebration after the ceremony. But the hotel concierge arranged a small table that juts out into the sea just outside the hotel. Leis for the group and a haku lei, or floral crown, for the bride awaited them there. “They put so much intention into this place,” Ms. Shakeshaft said. “They had leveled it and put flowers. We shared a wonderful dinner and talked about the day. The restaurant had closed, so it was just us.
Foggy Moments On the day of the wedding, the sky was gloomy and filled with clouds. “It’s started to mist up a bit, which is good luck when you’re tying the knot because it makes the knot tighter when wet,” Ms Shakeshaft said.