Brooke & Nelson’s love story will make you believe more in love and also let you appreciate everyone that comes into every phase of your life at any particular given time!
Brooke and Nelson were high school sweethearts before they went their separate ways after dating for a couple of months. But when you find the one who is specially created for you, your soul leaps for joy. Little did Brooke know when she missed her flight that she would be falling head over heels with her high school sweetheart, Nelson, all over again as their love got rekindled and the two found themselves in an unexpected adventure.
Read the couple’s beautiful love story as told by the NYTimes
Once upon a “magical airline ticket,” Brooke Watson and Nelson Madubuonwu made a connection that brought them to a special place in each other’s hearts.
Ms. Watson and Mr. Madubuonwu first met in 2007 as students at White Station High School in Memphis. They lost touch for six years before finding each other again on social media.
“Brooke and Nelson have always felt like they have this wonderful, kind of magical connection,” said Ms. Watson’s father, Dennis Watson. “They’re both very bright and interested in similar things, and they have very interesting careers — they’re just a nice match.”
The two dated briefly in December 2012, but were just friends in August 2013 when they boarded a train for Kennedy International Airport, where Ms. Watson had a one-way ticket to Australia and dreams of starting a new life there after graduating from the University of Tennessee. She was a four-year athlete there on the swimming and diving team, and competed in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Trials in swimming.
But Ms. Watson, who had asked Mr. Madubuonwu upon arrival in New York to help her navigate the city’s subway system to the airport as he was now living in Manhattan, soon found herself in an unexpected adventure. The travel agency she used to book her flight had printed the wrong name — “Brooke Wa” — on her ticket. With the last four letters of her surname also missing in the airline’s database, she was not allowed to board the plane.
“I was sort of freaking out, and to make matters worse, the flight was delayed several times,” Ms. Watson said. “I called my mom, who proposed that I come back to Memphis. But that really wasn’t an option.”
She tried cancelling her ticket and buying it back, but the new fare, she said, was $6,000, which she could not afford.
“At some point, the plane left and I wasn’t on it,” she said. “I sort of meekly turned around, holding a backpack filled with all of my belongings and with nowhere to stay in New York City, a place where I had never been.”
Her plane had departed, but Mr Madubuonwu had not.
“I was just about to leave when I heard this kerfuffle at the check-in counter,” he said. “Then Brooke came back and told me what had happened, and I told her that she could stay with me and my roommate at our apartment in Morningside Heights for as long a she needed to.”
Ms. Watson accepted the invitation, and rebooked a ticket she would use three days later. In the interim, she and Mr. Madubuonwu walked around Manhattan, enjoying museums and restaurants, and most of all, each other’s company.
“I think I had always really, really liked Nelson, but I didn’t let myself think we could have a future together because our lives were going in different directions,” said Ms. Watson.
“Nelson was this extremely attractive and charming 22-year-old man living in New York,” Ms. Watson said, “so the thought of him wanting to date someone exclusively who lived in another country didn’t make sense to me.”
But it all began to make better sense after spending that small stretch of unexpected time together, which Ms. Watson referred to as “our very wonderful delay.”
“During those three days, I think I saw a little bit more of who Nelson really is,” Ms. Watson said. “He’s a very caring, very smart and very thoughtful person.”
Mr. Madubuonwu, who graduated from Yale with a degree in political science, said those 72 hours “created a feeling of inevitability about us becoming a serious couple that was both incredibly powerful and palpable.”
“I had already seen Brooke as a wonderful person who could be a great partner, but it didn’t seem likely as we were going to be living in different parts of the world,” said Mr. Madubuonwu.
“Brooke and I were never going to work unless somehow we happened to be in the same place at the same time,” he said. “But as it turned out, that magical airline ticket gave us a glimpse of how great our lives could really be together.”
By the time Ms. Watson took off for Australia, Mr. Madubuonwu was grounded in the belief that he had found the woman with whom he would spend the rest of his life.
“At that point, I didn’t want to be with anyone else,” he said.
Nelson was incredibly supportive of my time spent abroad,” she said. “He never tried to persuade me to come back.”
Their long-distance relationship continued, each sending the other old-fashioned letters and a never-ending stream of emails, exchanging everything from jokes to newspaper articles to their deepest-rooted feelings for one another.
“Our relationship was built on a bedrock of communication,” Mr. Madubuonwu said. “Given our far-flung time zones, I would be in my bed talking to Brooke at the strangest times of the night or early hours of the morning.”
On one of those nights, in August 2013, Ms. Watson, who had spurned numerous offers to date other men while she lived abroad, called Mr. Madubuonwu to tell him, for the first time, that she loved him.
“I thought about Nelson constantly, and it got to the point where I could no longer hold in the fact that I loved him,” she said. “So I called him and just threw the “L” word out there because I wanted him to know how I was feeling.”
Mr. Madubuonwu returned the “L” word on the spot, and when Ms. Watson returned from Sydney in June 2014, they began dating immediately.
“Every time I learned something new about Nelson, I fell in love with him a little bit more,” Ms. Watson said. “There was never a time when I wasn’t interested in him or fascinated by him or excited about seeing him.”
There was a time, however, when Ms. Watson wondered if she would ever see Mr. Madubuonwu again.
In May 2016, Ms. Watson, who was in England, received a call telling her that Mr. Madubuonwu, who was in New York, had been rushed to an emergency room after his appendix had ruptured.
“He was so sick, we thought he was just going to die,” the groom’s mother said. “Brooke was in London at the time and flew all the way back and stayed at Nelson’s bedside the whole time — that’s when I knew she was the one.”
The Beautiful Surprise Proposal
They were engaged on New Year’s Eve 2017 in the company of friends and family in Memphis.
“My father appeared in a dream for me and gave me signs and indications that this actually is the woman for Nelson,” the groom’s father said. “I should not object. Because it is not uncommon for families from Africa to object to this kind of marriage — an interracial marriage. But my father gave me a clear sign that this is the right person for Nelson.”
“It’s funny, because they both kind of liked each other in high school, but they kind of tiptoed around each other, so I don’t think they were ready at that point,” said Mr. Karuri, as he gathered for pictures before the Nigerian wedding in an outdoor courtyard.
The couple dated briefly in high school, then reconnected when she was in New York to catch a flight to Australia. Their relationship began anew when her travel plans were put on hold.
“Brooke loves hard, and the Madubuonwus love her,” said Chelsea Cravens, the bride’s older sister. “She’s made a real effort to know all of them individually and learn parts of their culture, that’s just who she is, always.”
But as was the case years earlier, she found the man she had been searching for.
Official Photographer: The Warmth Around You
Venue: Fedex Event Center at Shelby Farms
Planner: Amy Tyler Weddings
Photographer: The Warmth Around You
Florals: L & Jay Productions
Cake: Kay Bakery
Photobooth: Far-Out Photobooths
DJ: Deep Blu DJs
Hair and Make-Up Artists: Tiffany Vollmer and Kimberly Yasmine
Catering: Simply Delicious
Wedding Dress: Low’s Bridal
Invitations: Rose Press
Videography: Josh Diliyok
Officiant: Sanket Karuri