This couple’s multicultural double wedding was simply stunning

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Alexandra Soumalias and Abdi Bulle attribute their meeting in 2015 to chance. At the time, Alexandra was on a break after a few years of dating. She met Abdi when they were both out with friends for drinks after work. Abdi introduced himself, and although Alexandra wasn’t looking for romance, she immediately felt a strong connection with him. “I kept telling Abdi that I wasn’t interested, but there was a voice inside me that urged me to continue our conversation,” says Alexandra. “He was so sweet and kind and kind, and his sincerity was refreshing.”

Alexandra shares special moments before the ceremony with her mother, Nora, and her mother-in-law, Giorgina. Photo: Mango Studios

That night, they stayed out until 3 a.m. talking outside the club long after it closed. They exchanged numbers and drove to their house, but Abdi called Alexandra that morning to go to brunch. It was the very sweet beginning of their eternity together.

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Fartumo, Abdi’s mother, helps him get ready. He chose a bespoke tuxedo from Empire Customs: “It made me feel like the stars I took inspiration from for the look!” Photo: Mango Studios

The couple dated for three years, and in 2018 Abdi landed a job in California. At the time, it made no sense for Alexandra to move in with him as she was building her own career in Toronto, so the couple managed a long-distance relationship. When COVID lockdowns hit, Abdi was able to come home to work. In May 2021, it became a more permanent arrangement.

“We learned that a lot of things had changed in those three years,” explains Alexandra. “We weren’t who we were anymore, so in many ways we had to learn to be together and reconnect on a daily basis.” Ultimately, says Alexandra, it led to a deeper connection. “We realized we had what it took to get through anything together.”

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The couple’s ceremony at Hart House. Guests shielded themselves from the July midday sun with hunter green umbrellas, courtesy of Alexandra and Abdi. Photo: Mango Studios

The couple had discussed marriage for over a year and they chose a ring together at Cynthia Findlay Fine Jewelry and Antiques. Still, Alexandra was unsure when Abdi would propose. In November 2021, it happened. “I took the day off to set everything up while Alexandra was hiking with a friend,” says Abdi. “When she arrived home, she was greeted with candles, roses and a star map diagram of the exact sky and star alignments of the night we met.”

Alexandra says she was so excited that she grabbed the ring even before Abdi finished asking the big question. “He spoke beautifully from his heart about what our relationship meant to him and then got down on his knees. The whole experience was intimate, personal and so moving.

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Abdi says Alexandra is his perfect match because she made him a better person. “I am inspired by Alexandra’s good heart. She showed me how to empathize with others and love them through their struggles. Photo: Mango Studios.

The couple planned two celebrations in July within days of each other, which paid homage to their two rich cultures: a traditional Greek Orthodox wedding and a traditional Somali wedding known as Shaash Saar. For their first wedding, they chose an outdoor ceremony at Hart House at the University of Toronto. Alexandra and Abdi say they avoided many wedding traditions, including the first dance, the cake cutting and the wedding feast. Most important, however, was the bride’s walk down the aisle. Alexandra’s father, Peter Soumalias, died in October 2021, and she says trying to fill her father’s role on her wedding day seemed impossible.

“We missed him deeply that day, and I didn’t feel good about trying to have someone else with me,” Alexandra says. “As Abdi and I were uniting our families and building a future together, we both decided it was important to arrive together and we walked down the aisle together.”

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“We didn’t think too much about what we wanted our wedding aesthetic to look like,” Alexandra says. “We knew we wanted the daytime vibe to be natural, intimate and not overdone.” Photo: Mango Studios

Abdi and Alexandra entered their ceremony with an instrumental piano rendition of their Beach Boys song “God Only Knows.” The couple’s 100 guests sang from provided lyric sheets. Alexandra’s mother, Nora, and Abdi’s mother, Fartumo, were included in the ceremony. In a heartwarming twist, some of Alexandra and Abdi’s family and friends were also wedding vendors. “We’ve been blessed to have so many inspiring and talented people in our lives because one thing we love the most is supporting good people and bringing them together,” says Alexandra.

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The couple’s custom logo, created by close friend Brother Jopa. Photo: Mango Studios

Alexandra’s close friends included her cake and dessert maker Alana Perri; her childhood friend and hairdresser Tomara, who styled her hair as well as that of her mother and stepmother; and DJ Travis who flew in from Dubai for the party. Abdi’s cousins, Abbas, Fardowsa and Kamaal greeted guests as they arrived for the ceremony, while Alexandra’s cousin, Natasha, and her husband, George, as well as close friend, Sarah and her husband, Stuart, helped set up and deliver their weddings. The couple also asked close friend Brother Jopa to design a custom logo for the day.

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Toronto’s intimate restaurant Fieramosca was the perfect venue for the couple’s personalized day. Photo: Mango Studios

For the reception, the party moved to Trattoria Fieramosca, which was a scenic walk from their ceremony. “The Italian food was amazing and so authentic,” says Alexandra. “A family friend recommended him to us, and the team was a dream to work with.”

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For the couple’s Shaash Saar ceremony, Alexandra wore a traditional dress and beads known as Kuul. Photo: Ryan Jones

They partied into the wee hours with an epic dance party, a vibe that continued less than two weeks later at Alexandra and Abdi’s Shaash Saar, or headscarf ceremony. “This event is a gathering of women who surround the bride and put a scarf on her head,” explains Alexandra. “It’s a form of respect given to her for being married and as a symbol of being a married woman.”

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“I’m still learning about Somali culture, but Abdi’s family and the community welcomed me so warmly that day, it helped put me at ease,” says Alexandra. Photo: Ryan Jones

The Shaash Saar also includes dinner and traditional Somali dances, including Buraanbur, a dance associated with a drum circle and poetry calling for the lineage of the bride and groom. “Even though we reworked many traditional aspects of our wedding, it was important for us to embrace some of the cultural celebrations,” Alexandra explains. “We want our children to grow up enriched in their cultures as well.”

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The couple’s two wedding days were filled with joy, fun and amazing cultural traditions. Photo: Ryan Jones

Highlight Coil

Select stars of Alexandra and Abdi’s big day

The dress

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Photo: Mango Studios

Alexandra chose a glamorous sequined, backless column dress from Toronto bridal line Whyte Couture. “I fell in love with the fabric and the silhouette, which looked like a very old Hollywood and a bit edgy,” says Alexandra. “I worked with Francesca Guzzo-Whyte, owner of Whyte, to customize the dress – it was such a cool process! She put me at ease, listened to my personal requests and My mother-in-law, Giorgina, also helped shape the design by suggesting a few details to customize the design to best accentuate my body type.

The dance

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Photo: Mango Studios

“Dancing is an integral part of both of our cultures, especially at weddings,” says Alexandra. “Traditionally, the Somalis have a dance called Buraanbur, and the Greeks have a dance called Zeimbekika. We wanted to make sure we showcase both of these dance styles at our reception. The couple hired Alexandra’s close pal Travis Sewchan, a Dubai-based DJ, to shoot at their wedding. “He closed it! Travis got the dance started by mixing Somali and Greek music for the first hour and then he continued to keep everyone up all night – we were dancing and singing like tomorrow would never come!

The speeches of mothers

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Photo: Mango Studios

Since their wedding was a bit untraditional, the couple reworked the speeches and asked both of their mothers to say a few words about the day’s joy and significance. “We asked them both to share a bit of history about us, our respective families and how now we’re bringing everyone together as one,” says Alexandra. “It’s not often you see your mother, who has been in the ringside all your life, publicly professing how proud she is of the person you have become. Abdi and I feel very lucky to have this kind of support and community around us.

Alexandra and Abdi’s wedding directory

Wedding dress: Whyte Couture
The groom’s tuxedo: Imperial Customs
Hair: Tomara Harmer
To put on makeup: Wendy Rorong
Flowers: Jong Young Flower Market
Cake: There’s a hole in this cake
Stationery store: SL Charts
Favors: 4print
Restoration: Trattoria Fieramosca
Celebrant: Q Wilson, Wedding Officiant Canada
Music: Travis Sewchan aka DJTJ
Photography: Mango Studios and ryan jones (Shaash Sarr)
Venue: Hart House at the University of Toronto

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