Brigitte Rodriguez & Khalid Badeeb
October 11, 2014 in Miami, Florida
Many couples would have called it quits with the odds facing Brigitte Rodriguez and Khalid Badeeb on their path to true love. Not only did their backgrounds and cultures clash—she is from Catholic and Cuban roots, while he is Muslim from Saudi Arabia—but for two years they were separated by 7,400 miles and nine time zones.
They first spotted each other in college in Miami, where she was attracted to his long curly hair and carefree disposition, and he to her confidence and beauty. But before they formally met, she transferred to a different school. Not to be deterred, Khalid conspired with a mutual friend to introduce them.
“We got along right from the beginning,” says Brigitte. Their feelings for each other grew cautiously, as they were painfully aware that obligations would call Khalid home to Saudi Arabia after graduation.
“I was devastated when he was gone,” says Brigitte, while Khalid admits he “left his heart in Miami.”
After two years of long distance romancing, Khalid visited Miami. He asked Brigitte to walk on the beach with him. “I hadn’t a clue what was coming,” says Brigitte. “He was so vulnerable and real and raw when he proposed that my eyes blurred with tears. Of course I said ‘Yes.’”
Both families gave their blessings to the couple, if not their hearts. It took finesse to win them over, but Khalid finally moved back to Florida, where they were married at a Muslim mosque on an auspicious date.
Ten months later, the couple stood before family and friends for a non-religious ceremony at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami. Although not usually shy, Brigitte felt exposed with 300 people focused on her. “Khalid was my strength,” says the bride. “I held on to him for dear life.”
The reception began with an emotional 10-minute video introducing the couple to guests, many of whom had not yet met either the bride or groom. With high energy flooding the room, the newlyweds were announced and emerged at a run, no easy feat in heels and full-skirted gown. They launched into their slightly breathless first dance.
“My dance with my dad was special, but watching Khalid dance with his mother brought tears to my eyes,” says Brigitte, acknowledging the sacrifice her mother-in-law made in giving up her son to another woman and another country.
Opting to have food stations instead of a formal sit-down dinner allowed guests to eat when they were hungry and party the rest of the time. Musical selections from American, Hispanic and Arabic song lists, and props, including bride and groom smoke guns, helped the disparate crowd come together.
As a gift to Khalid, a huge Michael Jackson fan, Brigitte hired an impersonator to perform “Thriller” with mummy back-up dancers, fog and strobe lights.
The honeymoon plans consisted of purchasing one-way tickets to Hawaii, but while in Oahu, a forecasted hurricane prompted them to grab the first flight out, ending up in Los Angeles. When she went to sleep, the bride thought they were heading home to Miami. Instead, Khalid went online in the wee hours and Brigitte awoke to plans for an all new honeymoon to Bangkok, Phuket and Lebanon.
> Written by Francine Kaplan