A woman who met her husband through a “wonderful circumstance” at the Notting Hill Carnival more than 10 years ago said she is looking forward to her daughters discovering the place where their parents met.
Bernadine Brocker Wieder, who is the chief executive officer (CEO) at arts-focused blockchain Arcual, met her husband Theo on the first day of the Notting Hill Carnival on Sunday, in 2011, but at the time, he was known by a different name.
“I got ready at my flat in Clapham and was planning to go to the Carnival and hang out first with a group of Puerto Rican friends with my friend Nina, then with some British friends with my friend Jon, and that’s the moment I met Theo,” the 36-year-old told the PA news agency.
“He saw me and he kind of blanked because he either liked my headdress, sequined top, or liked me.
“When I asked what his name was, he didn’t say anything and after a while, he thought it was too long to not say anything so tried to say something witty and called himself the Carnival Man.”
Mrs Wieder skipped a rave/hip hop party she was meant to attend with a friend later that evening as the pair ended up “chatting all night”.
She said the encounter was “written in the stars”, with Mr Wieder, 37, who is a director of Thwack Partners, an investment firm based in London and the chairman of Toad Hall Nursey Group, initially intending to leave earlier, but the smell of the Caribbean food lured him in and led to him meeting his future wife.
Despite it being 12 years later, Mr Wieder has not been able to completely detach himself from the first words he uttered on that fateful day in 2011, with his name saved as “Theo Carnival Man” in his wife’s phone.
“Every time I try and edit it and go back to his real name, my phone will think it is some kind of a record that it has and it keeps going back,” she said.
“I’ve stopped trying to change it anymore and have decided that’s going to be his name in my phone forever.”
The couple have been to every in-person Carnival since, went on to marry on September 3 2016 and now live in Camden together with their two children – Blake, three, and Willow, one – who Mrs Wieder hopes to bring to the upcoming Carnival this weekend.
“My first daughter was born in 2020 and there wasn’t an in-person Carnival that year,” she said.
“I gave birth to my second daughter in July, so this is the first year we can all go.”
Growing up in the Dominican Republic, she said Carnival has always been a part of her life, but culturally, the Notting Hill Carnival is different to Caribbean carnivals she has been to.
“British Caribbean culture is very beautiful and probably similar to Brazilian carnivals,” she said.
“The Dominican Carnival is a little scarier – there are devils called Diablo Cojuelos and the atmosphere is a bit more intimidating.
“In Holland, where my mum is from, carnival is all about dressing up, so I mix those cultures in how I think about carnival.”
Mrs Wieder also had her bachelorette party at Notting Hill Carnival in 2016, as part of a group of 15, including friends, cousins, bridesmaids and her mother Jorien Brocker Streur, 69.
“My mum thought it was funny but colourful that I met my husband at the Carnival,” she said.
“For us as foreigners, Notting Hill is a neighbourhood that has this fun reputation.
“She mainly was confused how I could be so serious about a guy called Carnival Man in my phone!”
At the bachelorette party, the CEO recalled wearing a very colourful and striking hat and said: “People actually stopped and took photos with me because of the feathers on my head!”
Mrs Wieder said that it is hard to pinpoint exactly what makes the Carnival so “wonderful”, but mentioned the food and music as being some of the highlights for her, as well as the fact that you “never know what to expect”.
“There’s always going to be something surprising and that year when I was the bachelorette, I feel like the funny outfit my friends made me wear made me the thing that people didn’t expect to see there,” she added.
Her love story has led to her friends hoping they can have a similar happy ending.
“Some of my friends have said that if I met Theo at Carnival, maybe I will meet the love of my life there,” she said.
“And I’m not sure if it is one of those things that is replicable – but why not try?
“The inspiring thing about the Carnival is that it brings people together and creates wonderful circumstances
“What’s interesting is that I work with art and Theo plays the drums and the Carnival is a place where art and music really come together, so I think that’s why we both love it so much.”