Certified Coordinated Bride Oniki

Journal Entry #1

I Had Him Even Before Hello

“How so!?!” do you wonder? Let me tell you all about the perfectly imperfect love story of Oniki Cole (that’s me) & Jamel Hardtman, a shoe designer turned event planner and the unexpected love of her life…


In April 2013, one of my close girlfriends invited me to a going-away party at Brooklyn Bowl for a mutual friend. As we walked in the door to get our bowling shoes, Jamel rushed over to us to say hello and to introduced himself. I should have known then and there that it was a set up!! After all, my friend Evangelynn played the role of Relentless Matchmaker for years while I traveled the world for work and sacrificed having true love to be a jet-setter!


Lots of flirtation throughout that fun afternoon led to two dates immediately, but a now silly disagreement led Jamel & I in separate directions personally and professionally. Jamel to live in Boston where, as a Business Development Manager for Bermuda Tourism, he was transferred for and me to travel practically everywhere else BUT Boston as a shoe designer. Through social media, we kept subtle tabs on one another and communicated every now and then. I thought nothing much of it until Jamel sent flowers to my office in June of 2014…and I still didn’t really catch on to “JH401’s” advances.

Once September 2014 rolled around – birthday month for both of us, we began communicating a lot more frequently, to the point that we were speaking every day despite the long distance and our 3rd date finally took place a year and a half after the 2nd date. By the 5th date, however, I had introduced Jamel to my family.


For one year, our relationship continuously grew and as the universe would have it, Jamel’s career would lead him back to NYC, but only after we arranged dates to travel and see each other in quaint New England towns, partying in Miami for New Year’s Eve, posh visits to Palm Beach, breathtaking Bermuda (several times), sports action in Montreal, concerts, gambling, fun & thrills in Atlantic City & Vegas and naturally, our respective cities of Boston & Jersey City. With all this travel together under our belt, less than one year after our hard-to-get 3rd date, Jamel was ready to propose. But how do you pull off an epic surprise with an admitted Type-A event planner such as myself!?! You act as if it’s just another night. Another night that is a week after my birthday and before a big trip to Vegas. Trust me – it totally threw me off his scent because I totally knew the diamond was coming at some point soon!


So one random Monday evening when out to a casual dinner with my family, Jamel will tell you that he “accidentally slipped on one knee” while proposing. But the truth is, he asked my parents’ blessing far in advance and I was so glad to have my two nephews, both my parents, my brother & my sister in law present to witness the most special day in my life thus far! I’d have to watch the iPhone video to tell you exactly what was said because I ugly cried through it all once I realized what was happening. Best. Moment. Ever.

So here I am, sharing my journey as a Wedding Planner planning her own wedding! Did I forget to mention that I’ve been doing that “on the side” for years? Yep, well that’s another blog post for another day.

Stay tuned to #MeetTheHardtmans and witness our eternal love story from #SeptemberTilForever

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Engagement photos by @twoandquarter