With This Ring

December 2021 View more

After six years of dating, David Lwanga hatched a plan to propose to Cherise Mangal on the Naperville Riverwalk on Valentine’s Day in 2019. Every detail was in place; he just hoped she’d go along with it. 

He recruited a photographer friend to pose as an art student looking for subjects to photograph. “I mapped it out: We are going to park our car here; we are going to walk right by the [Nichols] Library and he’ll come up to us … and then he would lead us to the fountain,” says Lwanga, 29, who grew up in the Homewood-Flossmoor area and is a geographic information systems analyst at CBRE in Chicago. “Of course, it wouldn’t have worked out if Cherise decided she didn’t want to take pictures. But she was game with it, and it just happened perfectly and I got down on one knee and she said ‘yes.’ ” After, they celebrated at Fat Rosie’s Taco & Tequila Bar—and they have their sombrero-clad photos for posterity.

They originally planned a wedding at the Haley Mansion in Joliet in August 2020 for 200 people. But after pandemic-related delays—and house hunting and settling on a home in Lisle—they decided to instead host a celebration for 70 guests in their yard a year later.

Officiant Marguerite Griffin of Meaningful Moments created an incredibly personal ceremony for the occasion. “She gave us the option of doing a few ceremonial things that weren’t necessarily super religious. We decided on a ring warming,” says Mangal, 27, who attended Waubonsie Valley High School and works as a health policy analyst for Mathematica in Chicago. “Both of our parents came up and they took turns holding our rings and blessing them in their own way.”

Honoring their families’ respective heritages was important to them both. Lwanga’s family wore traditional Ugandan clothing for the ceremony, and guests feasted on Jamaican beef turnovers, jerk chicken, and fried plantains as a nod to Mangal’s Caribbean roots.

They ended the night by forgoing the tradition of freezing their cake topper. “The cake was delicious. We ate it all!” Mangal says. Lwanga adds, “I said, ‘We can always just buy another one. I’m not freezing this glorious cake!’ ” 


Venue The couple’s Lisle home

Wedding planner Qiana Turner of Madison Elyse Events, Naperville

Bride’s attire Galina Signature gown from David’s Bridal, Lombard; Jessica Simpson shoes from DSW; jewelry from lunaandstone.com

Bridesmaids’ attire David’s Bridal, Lombard

Groom’s and groomsmen’s attire Suits by Express, Aurora

Florist Karen’s Floral Expressions, Bolingbrook

Decor Ceremony arch by Blossom Me Up, Des Plaines; tents, chairs, and linens by Abbott Party Rental, Lombard

Catering Caribbean buffet by Garifuna Flava, Chicago; cocktails by Creative Clique Cocktails, Calumet Park

Cake Simply Sweetness Food Design, Joliet

DJ Dependable Wedding DJs, Melrose Park

Rings Matthew Erickson Jewelers, Aurora

Invitations shutterfly.com 

Photographers Monique and Rudy for TWA Photographic Artists