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Can I Laugh On Your Shoulder?

Feb 19, 2020

I am a sucker for a beautiful love story. Celebrating two people coming together in holy matrimony is a beautiful display of love and an amazing way to see different family traditions come together. My guest today has a vision and passion for bringing to life the beauty and diversity of multicultural and multiethnic weddings through stunning portraiture. Petronella Lugemwa is an international wedding and marriage proposal photographer and speaker who specializes in helping multicultural couples celebrate their love in a modern way. Petronella believes that what makes you different makes you beautiful. I had such a great time chatting with Petronella and hearing about her passion for highlighting love through cultural traditions. Sit back, relax, and enjoy hearing about Petronella’s travels and her stories of love from all over the world!

3:15 - The Petronella 101

  • Petronella Lugemwa is the creative director and owner at Petronella Photography, a New York based international wedding and marriage proposal photography studio. She’s also a podcast host and uses her Instagram platform to share multicultural stories that help people learn more about each other and feel more connected.
  • In addition to being an extremely talented and skillful photographer, her niche and her story makes her very unique in the wedding photography industry. She’s very passionate about bringing different cultures to life through photography.
  • Petronella was born in Uganda and raised in Alabama. When she was born, the dictator Idi Amin was President of Uganda and it was a very unstable and dangerous time in the country’s history. Even on the night she was born, there were many bombs in the city and her parents knew they had to get out and find better opportunities for their young family.
  • When she was six months old, Petronella’s family moved to Kenya and continued to travel until they found better opportunities. Petronella grew up in Zimbabwe and when her dad found an amazing opportunity to persue his PhD in America.
  • When she was 10 years old, she arrived in Birmingham, Alabama with her mom, sister, and two suitcases. As her family started figuring out life in America, Petronella’s parents knew they wanted to be sure their kids received a good education and enrolled Petronella in private school.
  • There weren’t a lot of people who looked like Petronella at her school or in Birmingham. As a kid who really wanted to fit in, Petronella learned to hide certain parts of herself in order to assimilate and fit in.
  • Petronella received both engineering and business degrees and entered the corporate world. It wasn’t until well after that journey that she realized she’d been hiding a lot of her background and culture that makes her unique.

13:42  – A Wedding in Mexico   

  • Petronella felt some pressure to enter a stable, “parent-approved” profession when she considered her career, but photography has always been a way for her to share her mind and heart.
  • One of Petronella’s coworkers saw some of her photography and asked Petronella to come to Mexico to photograph her wedding. After that first wedding was published, Petronella quickly discovered a side of herself she wanted to explore more and slowly transitioned out of corporate America. She knew she had to find a way to make photography a career.
  • Petronella received a blessing in disguise when she was laid off from her job. It gave her the permission she needed to fully focus on her photography business.
  • Attending Lara Casey’s Making Things Happen Conference is where Petronella’s “pivot” began. Seeing someone else share her story of following a spark to something new made Petronella realize she wasn’t alone in her feelings of wanting to make a big change.
  • These experiences allow Petronella to guide people through big life changes like blending two different family cultures into a wedding day as a new family begins a new life through marriage.

22:00 - Celebrating Cultures Through Love

  • When we talk about something being “multicultural,”, it is to mean any situation where a person has to navigate two or more worlds on a daily basis whether interracial, biracial, interfaith, and/or being an immigrant. 
  • Petronella works closely with her clients to help them decide which parts of their culture and family details they actually want to incorporate and celebrate on their wedding day.
  • Often tension can arise for multicultural cultures when their families also want them to incorporate family traditions and blending older traditions into a modern wedding. Petronella’s life experiences help her clients navigate the many familial and cultural aspects of blending two families and two cultures on a wedding day.

32:43 - Getting To Know Our Guest

  • Find out what trend Petronella thinks we’ll be embarrassed by in 10 years, what her “walk up” song would be, something that’s really important to her that she doesn’t get to talk about often, and who would play her in a movie. Be sure to stick around to hear the question I ask all my guests, “What does it mean to you to run a business with purpose?”


Petronella Lugemwa is an international wedding and marriage proposal photographer and speaker based out of the New York area who specializes in helping multicultural couples celebrate their love in a modern way and believes that what makes you different makes your beautiful. 
She photographed the November 2018 cover of Rangefinder Magazine and was named 1 of 30 Rising Stars in wedding photography worldwide in 2018. Petronella Photography has been featured in Essence, Martha Stewart Weddings, The Knot, New York Magazine Weddings and MunaLuchi Bride.

Memorable Quotes

13:25 - I think sometimes we have an idea when we hear about a culture of what to expect, but I think it’s important to ask that person:” How do you relate to that and what matters to you? ”

8:31 - “Your wedding is one of those days where all your worlds intersect and what an awesome opportunity to really let these different parts of your world shine.”

38:59 - “My goal is to help make people feel more connected because it it’s something I struggled with when I was younger.”