Rakim Brooks and Ray Briggs Marry in Washington

Ray Anthony Biggs II and Rakim Hassan Daquan Brooks both describe themselves as “genteel” — leave it to a nightclub to loosen them up.

One night in November 2017, Mr. Biggs was invited to go dancing by Aaron Rodgers, a mutual friend. Mr. Biggs went over to Mr. Rodgers’s townhouse in Anacostia, a neighborhood in Washington, to meet up. When Mr. Brooks — who had been renting a room in the townhouse — walked down the staircase in his basketball shorts and a T-shirt, Mr. Biggs invited him along. (“He was very attracted to me and thought that I should come out,” Mr. Brooks, 36, said with a laugh.)

So Mr. Brooks threw on some jeans to match the gym T-shirt he was wearing, and he joined the group. In the pouring rain, the three of them went to Bliss Nightclub, where Mr. Biggs and Mr. Brooks had a few drinks and danced together. They soon realized that they wanted to set up a date to have a proper conversation.

A few days later, the two met over dinner at Legal Sea Foods, a restaurant in Chinatown that has since closed. Both men are typically punctual, but Mr. Brooks was 15 minutes late. While that wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for most people, Mr. Brooks was still embarrassed. To make up for it, he ordered several different wine tastings and selected what he thought was the best bottle for them to share. The two spoke about wine for hours.

“It was a long date, even though it started late,” said Mr. Biggs, 37, teasingly.

Some weeks later, Mr. Biggs invited Mr. Brooks to his church, Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md. The pastor preached about “making peace with all people,” a message that resonated with Mr. Brooks because of his values and career path. He is the president of Alliance for Justice, a judicial advocacy group. Mr. Brooks holds a bachelor’s degree in Africana studies from Brown and has a master’s in political theory from Oxford, where he was a Rhodes scholar. He also has a law degree and an M.B.A., both from Yale.

“I thought, if this is the community Ray is a part of, I can trust him with my work and my heart,” said Mr. Brooks, who is from East Harlem. “So I felt really drawn and connected to him.”

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

Mr. Biggs, who is from Monroe, Ga., is a project director for the Maryland Transit Administration and is passionate about creating equitable access to public transportation. He graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. He also earned an M.B.A. from George Washington University.

Before meeting Mr. Brooks, Mr. Biggs had claimed that he would never date a lawyer or a New Yorker. “Now I’m about to marry someone that’s both,” he said in an interview two days before the wedding. He said his perception had been that New Yorkers were “always on the go all the time” and “didn’t take time to enjoy life,” and that “all lawyers tell lies” — a sentiment passed down from his grandmother.

“He challenged my perspective on that,” Mr. Biggs said of Mr. Brooks.

In May 2018, the two officially became a couple and then briefly lived together in Harlem the next year. In September 2020, they decided to move back to Washington together.

On Dec. 12, 2021, just as the sun was rising, they proposed to each other with matching rings at the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

On Sept. 23, the couple were married at Sequoia DC, a restaurant along the Potomac River. Joycelyn McGeachy-Kuls, an administrative law judge from New York, officiated the ceremony in front of 156 guests. While the couple’s mothers had already met each other before, the rest of their immediate families were meeting for the first time.

Mr. Brooks’s mother read a poem in honor of his grandmother, a book collector who died 20 years ago. The poem was in a book called “The Universal Language and Other Poems” by Edmund Terry, and next to it was a note that Mr. Brooks’s grandmother had written when he was just 3: “Rocky, when you find this, remember me.” (Rocky is his family nickname.)

“It is a really beautiful poem about growing old and maturing,” Mr. Brooks said, “and the importance of valuing things.”

The couple noted the symbolism behind the name of the restaurant, too. “They are resilient and never stop growing,” Mr. Brooks said about sequoias. “Thinking about the strength of those trees and our own relationship, and then to go to a place that was called Sequoia DC just felt like perfect symbolism.”

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