Black Bride Magazine: 2018 Winter Issue

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VOL. 7

The Ultimate Resource for Before and After “I Do”






Zena & Tank


CATESBY FARM ESTATE Where Luxury Happens

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Table of Contents/ Volume 7

Cover Story


ZENA & TANK An Everlasting Love First Comes Love: Real Engagements



Pierrette & Andrew


Maureen & Billy


Teciem & Ariel


Salena & Jonathon


Alexia & Ashton

Miami, Florida

Tampa, Florida

Upper Marlboro, Maryland Hoboken, New Jersey Miami, Florida

Then Comes Marriage: Real Weddings



Briana & Keeslon


Therese & Deshawn


Toneka & Robert


Lafayette, Louisiana Nassau, Bahamas Leesburg, Virginia

104 Tricia & Emmanuel

South Windsor, Connecticut

110 Marissa & Marcus

Gordonsville, Virginia



16 In Every Issue


After the Aisle


Editor’s Letter

116 Navigating through Marriage


Editor’s Picks



Social Scene


Real Engagements


The Picture-Perfect Look


Wedding Gown Goals


Real Weddings

138 Events

Beauty & Health 9


Bridal Hair Care 101

CEO and Co-founder Miko Branch of Miss Jessie’s shares tips for healthy bridal hair

Glowing Skin Cheat Sheet

How to get your summertime radiance back


Wedding Day Beauty Tips



How to take the best engagement photos ever Camera ready on your wedding day How to choose the right gown for your body type

Styled Shoots

Fashion 60 Fall 2019 Bridal Trend Report

Wedding fashion trends we’re loving for 2019

Winter Beauty Must Haves

Colors: Emerald Green, Au Naturale and Sugar Plum


2019 Wedding Ring Trends

16 Wedding Day and Beyond Wellness

Gems from NFL real bride and wellness expert Toneka Royal


Bridal Bootcamp

Essentials you need in your life before and after the aisle


Inspiration Color Boards

An inside look from the pros at Doyle & Doyle

Special Feature 84

118 One Year Down with a Lifetime to Go

Meet Marquita: What I’ve learned after one year of marriage

120 The Best Part of Moving into the Nest Together

Check out our happy home wares for newlyweds

Meet Belle

Boutique Spotlight: The Boutique by B.Belle Events

126 Wine, Dine & Marry

Say “I Do” in Italy – Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco

128 Epitome of a Luxury Venue

Celebrate Your Love at Catesby Farm Estate

131 Escape the Cold

Budget friendly sizzling all- inclusive resorts

132 South Africa

One of the hottest honeymoon destinations

134 Honeymoon Travel Essentials

What to Pack for Your Honeymoon

Bridal Suite 135 Collection of Fine Vendors


8 Tips for Thriving After “I Do”

Get inspired by superbly styled Travel bridal photo shoots: Natural Tresses & Dresses, Chronicles of Narnia and 1960s Bohemian Love 121 Baby its Cold Outside Top 5 destinations for winter travel

Exclusive makeup advice shared by celebrity makeup artist Tatiana Ward, Instagram’s Beat Face Honey

16 essentials for your beauty arsenal

Tips for a Flawless Engagement Session

Resource Guide

on the cover MARY CHATMAN Editor-in-Chief/Publisher SCOTT CHATMAN Chief Financial Officer CORTNEY MOORE Senior Editor VIVECA SHEARIN Copy Editor AMBER SPENCE Sales Manager Contributors JOMUELLE ANICET MARQUITA C. RICHARDSON TONEKA ROYAL Bridal Suite Expert Contributors ANDRE BROWN KAMAREE ODOM

COVER PHOTOGRAPHER: Haley Ringo Photography PHOTOGRAPHER: Dionysius Burton CREATIVE DIRECTOR, STYLIST & PRODUCER: Belle Manjong, LOCATION: Catesby Farm Estate, Jodi Moraru MAKEUP ARTIST: Nicki “Nicki Mac” McPherson

Bride The Ultimate Resource for Before and After “I Do”

Vol. 7


Volume 7



Bridal ion Fash Trends

FeaTuring The BaBBs

Zena & Tank


Talk loVe, Marriage & FaMily

HAIR STYLIST & WIGMAKER: Merlande Petithomme


HAIR STYLIST: Bernadette Wilson




Published by BLACK BRIDETM 320 Town Center Avenue Suite C-11 Suwanee, GA 30024 Copyright © 2018 Black Bride. All rights reserved.

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editor’s letter

Hello Beautiful! Welcome to the winter issue of Black Bride Magazine. This is a magical time of year filled with winter wonderment. It’s the perfect time to get cozy in front of a fire with your honey while planning your dream wedding. Speaking of joy, they don’t call it “engagement season” for nothing! Between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, we look forward to all the engagement announcements. This issue is chock full of wedding inspiration. We amped up our beauty, health and travel section plus loads of wedding gown inspiration. Black Bride has been around since 1998 stirring up diversity in the industry and invoking change for the past 20 years. The brand continues to share and showcase beautiful love stories, vendors and curated inspiration for brides of color around the world. The niche platform is a huge deal to me. The evolution of the brand is methodical and grounded in faith.


T For more inspiration and wedding vendor information, visit our website at, follow us on Instagram @BlackBrride1998. Email us at and let us know what you think of the winter issue.

We are bringing you beautiful real weddings from coast-to-coast including wedded bliss in Lafayette, Louisiana with National Gospel Recording Artist Briana Babineaux and Keeslon Fontenot. Travel with us far away from the hustle and bustle to Middleburg, Virginia for inspiration from our amazing cover shoot at Catesby Farm Estate, featuring newlywed couple Zena and Tank Babbs. The former professional dancer and R&B singer celebrated their union in grand style this past summer at the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. We chatted one-on-one with the happy couple about all things love, marriage, and family. Earlier this year, an industry legend lost her battle with breast cancer. The iconic couture bridal fashion designer, Amsale Aberra, passed away. Like many people, when we heard the news of her passing, we were shocked and saddened. We knew we wanted to do something special in her honor. After our NYC annual Tresses and Dresses event with our partners for the event TresseNoire, we teamed up with our special guest, the iconic celebrity stylist and inspiration beauty speaker Felecia Leatherwood. Along with Felecia, and an amazing team of New York industry professionals and models, I’m incredibly proud of what we created in honor of Amsale. Be inspired by our natural wedding day hair and fashion photo shoot featuring Amsale gowns, natural hairstyles and flower girl dresses by the one and only Pantora Bridal Mini. As you flip through the pages of this issue, we hope that you enjoy the experience and learn valuable tips to help you on your journey to the aisle and beyond. Share Black Bride with your friends and family. We’re wishing you happy planning and savored moments with the one you love. Cheers!


Mary Chatman Editor-in-Chief



editor’s picks


EDITORS’ Top Picks

Here are a few of our favorite things for the season.



Hide and Rose, Just Married 1.0 Leather Jacket, $220;

Panache Gift Baskets, Wedding Welcome Gift Bag, $100;

45 Gianvito Rossi Satin Sandals, Opera, $1,245;



Beauty Bakerie Glazed So Icy, Mini Illuminator, $16;

Belkin MIXIT Lightning to USB Leather Tassel, Gold (iPhone, iPad & iPod), $17.99,


Glow Recipe Avocado Melt Sleeping Mask, $45;



Becoming by Michelle Obama, $19.50;

Cambridge Avenue, Bride To Be Honeymoonin’ Shirt, Ocean Blue, $15.19;


Love Quotes Personalized Photo Album, $38;

10 Kendra Scott, Rose Quartz Large Tumbler Candle, $65;


Sparkling Drop Earrings Marquise, Teardrop & Round Cut, Aurelia, $80;


Redwood & Vine The New Mrs. Personalized Bride Luggage, Starting at $210;













25,596 LIKES @jfstudioz



Share your best wedding centric photos with us on Instagram and hashtag #BlackBride1998 to be featured on our page @BlackBride1998.










Miss Jessie’s BY CORTNEY MOORE When you’re planning a wedding, it’s easy to skip ahead and dream up what your perfect bridal hairstyle is going to be. Although we have to admit that fantasizing about yourself walking down the aisle in long runway waves or a pristine curly updo can be fun, you also need to face reality and take care of those tresses before you say, “I do.” That’s why we consulted Miko Branch, CEO and Co-founder of Miss Jessie’s — a natural hair care brand that is honestly a go-to for many women \of color. SEE THESE INSIDER BRIDAL HAIR TIPS PHOTOGRAPHY courtesy of Miss Jessie’s BLACKBRIDE.COM | 9




Miko Branch

Learn these tips for healthy bridal hair and look great on your big day from CEO and Co-founder of Miss Jessie’s 1. What do you recommend brides do to ensure their hair not only looks good, but is also strong on the wedding day? A healthy hair regimen really starts with cleansing your hair and scalp, followed by a conditioner. Our hair in its highly textured state typically needs a lot of moisture to be restored. So, we definitely want to take the time to hydrate hair daily aside from styling. In order for brides to ensure their hair not only looks good but is also strong on the wedding day, I recommend protective styling. Protective styling can be very ornate and range from updo, half-up, half-down, and so on. You can really be creative while protecting your hair. Also, keep in mind that textured hair can be unpredictable in hot or humid climates and it may not end up how you intended it to look after all the festivities. So, I advise choosing a style that’s predictable because you definitely want consistency. 2. It’s no secret that all brides want glossy, frizz-free hair on their special day. How can they achieve this look? If you want glossy, frizz-free hair, you’re definitely going to need a product with strong hold – especially if you’re wearing your hair in its natural state. 10 | BLACKBRIDE.COM




If you’re wearing your hair straight and your hair is completely natural and chemical-free, you may encounter the same challenges in that your hair may revert, get frizzy or end up with an afro. However, for those who are open to creative styling, I recommend wearing extensions because you can put as much heat and product on them without damaging your hair. 3. Can you offer any advice for taking care of color treated hair? You need to moisturize and condition chemically treated hair because it has been stripped. If you want to add extra hydration, apply your conditioners with a heat cap so it can open up the cuticles for penetration.

5 done. When it comes to bridal hair, there’s a great chance you’ll get the end result you want when you see a pro hairstylist. I’m also a fan of doing your hair at home because it’s a wonderful way for you to get intimately acquainted with your hair. I do believe that hair can be experimented with and if you approach it with an open mind knowing that hair grows back in case you make a mistake. It’s all repairable, so a DIY approach to hairstyling could be fun and interesting when it comes to noncommittal styling or non-damaging chemical services like cutting. 6. What are your go-to products for healthy hair?

5. What are your thoughts on DIY hairstyling versus hiring a professional?

I like to use the Miss Jessie’s Co-Wash for sulfate-free cleansing, and then I’ll follow up with our Grow Strong Mafura Oil [1] for a nourished scalp. I’m also a fan of applying leave-in conditioners before hairstyling products because it makes hair soft and gives it a nice coating that’s excellent for detangling and priming. When my hair needs more TLC, I’ll slather on Miss Jessie’s Super Sweetback Treatment [2] or our Rapid Recovery [3] for up to 30 minutes. For styling, I’ll grab the Miss Jessie’s Curly Pudding [4] or Pillow Soft Curls [5]. Last, I like to finish off with a spray-on gloss, which adds oil to hair. Whether you’re curly, kinky, wavy or tend to be on the drier side, that’s also a way to keep locks healthy.

I am definitely a fan of a going to a professional to get particular services

For more information on achieving weddingworthy hair, go to

4. How can a bride minimize or avoid split ends for long luscious locks? Brides can minimize split ends with regular trims and moisturizers. For people with textured hair, dryness is usually a factor that we have to pay attention to. So, keeping the hair moisturized is key.

Glowing Skin CHEAT SHEET

Figuring out a bridal skin care regimen before the big day can be stressful. Throw in the chill of fall or winter, and you’re sure to miss that summertime glow. If you’re not sure how to get your radiance back, we’ve put together this quick and easy cheat sheet to get your skin camera-ready in time for your wedding.

MORNING GLOW 1. Cleansing Water 2. Hydrating Cleanser 3. Toner 4. Essence 5. Serum 6. Lightweight Moisturizer 7. Sunblock (at least 30 SPF)

NIGHT GLOW WEEKLY GLOW 1. At-Home Peel or Scrub 2. Hydrating Clay or Sheet Mask 3. Face Massage

1. Oil Cleanser 2. Gel Cleanser 3. Toner 4. Essence 5. Serum 6. Ampoule 7. Eye Cream 8. Hydrating Moisturizer 9. Sleeping Mask BLACKBRIDE.COM | 11

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If you’ve never heard of Tatiana Ward, aka @BeatFaceHoney via social media – you’ll need to open up your Instagram Explore Page stat. Tatiana has painted the faces of the rich and famous, including Nicki Minaj, Keyshia Cole, Jazmine Sullivan and many more. Furthermore, with over 400,000 followers and counting, Tatiana continues to deliver classic looks for her clients; and we have to say that many of them are absolutely worthy of wearing down the aisle.


What should brides look for in a makeup artist specifically?

A bride should always look for professionalism in her makeup artist and choose someone with a well-documented portfolio that’s composed of clean and simplistic makeup styles.


Do you recommend makeup trials? What should a bride do to prepare herself when meeting a makeup artist for the first time? I’ve had brides do a trial and I’ve also had them hire me in good faith. More often than not, it boils down to how familiar a bride is with an artist’s work along with her budget.

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12 | BLACKBRIDE.COM 1204 likes

Either way, a makeup trial is still makeup being applied and brides tend to utilize their trial look for engagement photos or a night out. Therefore, she still must be prepared to pay for time spent on additional makeup applications.


Can you offer any skincare tips for brides to try prior to their wedding day?

I tend to think that skin care is half genetics and half water intake. I drink lots of water, but I also come from a long line of buttery skin. Of course, washing your face before bedtime is helpful in keeping your pores clog-free in addition to not wearing makeup every single day. Also, schedule yourself a good facial two weeks prior to your wedding and allow an esthetician to extract any blackheads. A good facial will oftentimes bring impurities to the surface, so you can clear them before your big day.


What’s your application method like for colder months?

My application doesn’t really change much due to the seasons. If anything, during the winter months, a bride may need a bit more moisturizer than usual.


How should a bride’s makeup differ on the wedding day from what she’s used to?

It’s really a matter of preference. Some brides want the drama that they don’t normally wear to the office. Some brides want to look like a more polished version of themselves. I always suggest the latter of the two. Personally, if I ever get married, I’ll look like the woman my guy fell in love with rather than a whole other woman. There really is no wrong way to go about it, though.


Weddings can be an all-day affair. How do you make sure a bride’s makeup looks great all throughout the portrait session and well into the evening? It’s always a good idea to have your makeup artist with you for the entire day. Any time a celebrity has paid me for a makeup application, they keep me with them. On a bride’s big day, she’s a celebrity too! She’s the center of attention and the focus of many pictures. Paying your makeup artist to stay ensures that at all times there is a set of eyes on you with a solution handy in their kit. Worry about enjoying your friends and family and let us makeup artists worry about whether or not

you need a blot or if there’s lipstick on your teeth.


Are there any trends you see in makeup now that you recommend a bride avoid?

Too much bronzer! That trend is only good for images but looks awful in person. I don’t know who started it, but I wish they’d end it!


A wedding can be an emotional event. Do you have any waterproofing secrets to stop makeup from running? I send all of my brides off with a tissue that’s been folded at a point. I tell them to insert the point into their tear duct if they feel a tear coming. Just catch it before it has a chance to drop. Waterproof mascara certainly doesn’t hurt either!


Any last-minute advice you think brides of color could benefit from?

It’s your day! Do it how you envision, there is no wrong way. Also, hire the makeup artist you have full confidence in and budget for a skilled professional. For more information on Tatiana Ward, at BLACKBRIDE.COM | 13




Pat Mcgrath Labs Mattetrance Lipstick Elson 2; $38; Get ready for holiday smooching with a shade dubbed, “The Perfect Red.”


Caudalie Nourishing Body Lotion; $30; Nourish your body with this ultra-hydrating grape seed oil lotion. Don’t forget to pair this with your other favorite grape product — wine!

7 Urban Decay Hex Remedy Mini 24/7 Eye Pencil Set; $29; Line those windows to your soul with creamy, colorful pencils that are sure to bewitch your beau.


Drunk Elephant T.L.C Sukari Babyfacial; $80; Receive derm-level results at home before the big day with this resurfacing facial that contains a whopping 25% AHA and 2% BHA.


By Cortney Moore | Whether you’re aiming for a winter wedding or you just need to build your beauty arsenal for everyday wear, we’ve narrowed down a few of the season’s hottest picks. Check out these 16 beauty essentials and we’re sure you’ll get in touch with your inner ice princess regardless of the climate you call home.



Winter Beauty

Eyeko Black Magic Mascara; $26; Transform your lashes with a curvaceous brush coated in keratin and shea butter.


Makeup or Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation; $43; Be camera-ready at all times with a liquid-matte foundation that works for all skin types.


Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium; $124; Stay toasty with this highly addictive feminine fragrance that features adrenaline-rich key notes such as black coffee, white flowers and vanilla.

Tarte Cosmetics Tartiest Contour Palette Version III; $45: Maximize your purse space with a glam, multifunctional palette that allows you to contour, blush, bronze and highlight all-in-one.


9 10

NARS Delos Nail Polish; $20; As the temperature dials down and the leaves turn to rust, your nail color should have a moment to shine.

Natasha Denona Gold Palette; $129; Stand out from the dreary winter crowd with glistening color.





Benefit Cosmetics Soft & Natural Brows Kit; $34; The wind might be blowing, but that’s no reason for your eyebrows to look out of whack. Keep them in check with this allin-one starter kit.

FOREO Luna 2 for Normal Skin; $199; Take your cleansing sessions to another level with this gentle, antiaging brush system that’s designed to purify pores.

Black | Up Strobing Base Primer; $44; Prime to perfection with a formula that blurs uneven tone and adds a pop of glow before makeup application.


Fenty Beauty By Rihanna Diamond Bomb; $38; Dust yourself with an all-over diamond veil that’ll make hubby go, “Ooh na na!”

Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Replenishing Moisture Masque; $45; Fight off environmental damage with an intensely hydrating hair treatment.


Mizani True Textures Perfect Coil Oil Gel; $22; Make sure every kink and curl are moisturized and defined with this luxurious blend of coconut, olive and marula oils. BLACKBRIDE.COM | 15



wedding is a joyous occasion, but it can also add a bit of pressure knowing that all eyes will be on you. That’s why we consulted fitness guru and real bride Toneka Royal—who you’ll also see featured in the Real Weddings section of this issue—for some serious wellness gems. 1. Let’s run through your bridal wellness plan. Did you set any specific goals or come across challenges? Seeing that we planned our wedding in five months, the very first step for me was to write down my goals and create an organized wellness plan that included workouts, nutrition and a skincare regimen. I also kicked up my strength training and cardio sessions. But most importantly, I followed a 7-day detox to cleanse my body and give it a jumpstart. }} 3 Months Before: I met with my dermatologist to reassess my skincare regimen. Having healthy glowing skin was so important on our wedding day. }} Challenges: Being overwhelmed, which caused me to stress and not sleep. }} My Solution: I increased my water intake, attended more yoga classes, took time to breathe, sleep, and hit the spa for well-needed relaxation.

Fitness Tips From Real Bride


She walked down the aisle, now it’s your turn! By Cortney Moore 16 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

2. What question do you find most frustrating from brides trying to get in shape and what do you wish they would ask instead? “I need to lose 15-20lbs, what’s the fastest way to do this?” That’s a very valid question. For me, it’s less about dieting and losing weight fast and more about following a healthy life plan that works for you. Wanting to look healthy and fit all of the time should be the goal! 3. What are your favorite exercises for legs, abs, back and arms? Photography by Megan Gibbons Photography

}} Legs: Kettle Bell Squats are one of my favorite functional exercises because they work your entire lower body, including your glutes }} Abs: Stability Ball Pike. Although very challenging, this exercise is great for targeting your lower/upper abs and obliques at the same time. }} Back: Single Kettle Bell Row. This exercise is great for developing your mid back and even your biceps. }} Arms: I have to say that pushups are one of my favorite exercises because they work your shoulders, chest, core, and triceps. 4. Can you give us a sample meal plan for a bombshell bride? My healthy eating plan always consists of foods that aid digestive health and healthy skin. }} Breakfast: Omega 3 omelet with spinach, diced tomatoes, peppers, avocado and one slice of multi-grain toast. }} Lunch: Mixed green salad with legumes, kimchi and wild caught salmon with homemade lemon tarragon dressing. }} Dinner: Turkey meatballs with spaghetti squash and finely chopped asparagus. }} Snack: Glowing Green veggie smoothie. }} Dessert: Non-dairy warm apple parfait. }} Bonus Tip: Don’t forget your water with lemon! 5. What are your thoughts on supplements? Do you recommend any? With life being busy, it can be tough to get all the calories, vitamins and nutrients that your body needs. Supplementation is a great option if your diet is lacking. I always advise consulting with a nutritionist or health specialist before taking anything. My personal favorites: Isagenix Multi-vitamins, an organic or dairy-free protein powder, and Omega 3 fish oils.

(Left) Wellness expert Toneka Royal gained experience as a competitive fitness model. (Top Right) The Glowing Green smoothie is made from celery, apple, pear, banana, lemon, cilantro, parsley and leafy greens. Fun Fact: Toneka married NFL veteran Robert Royal on May 5, 2018.

6. What motivates you to stay fit and healthy long-term? I’m 43 now, so health and living my best life is my motivation. My husband, friends and clients also motivate me daily to continue leading by example. 7. Let’s talk stress! How did you de-stress during your wedding planning process? I did deep breathing exercises during the day as often as I could, especially when I felt myself getting stressed. I also did yoga because it’s the best natural medicine to cope with stress. 8. Ok, so you’re stranded on a desert island. You can only take three fitness items with you. Which would you choose? My three fitness items would be: }} Kettle Bell: It’s a great way to isolate your muscles, improve strength, tone and body composition. }} Stability Ball: It helps with balance, coordination and core strength.

}} Yoga Mat: Because I love yoga! 9. Do you have any final advice for these busy brides to be? Have a solid plan and enjoy your wedding journey! Planning a wedding can be stressful in addition to day-to-day life occurrences. Consult with specialists in each area to help you create a simple and realistic plan for you to follow. Embrace each moment!

Toneka is a certified health advocate from Real Balance Global Wellness. She’s also trained in the Wellness Mapping 360 Methodology, which is a holistic approach on behavioral change psychology. As a personal trainer and specialist in fitness nutrition, Toneka has more than 15 years of experience in guiding women through optimal wellness while embracing beauty from the inside out. Find out more at BLACKBRIDE.COM | 17


Bridal Bootcamp Essentials You Need in Your Life If sweating for the wedding is your thing, we’ve found all the items that’ll make your bridal bootcamp days a piece of cake. By Cortney Moore

BOOTEA SHAKE; $14.25; Aid your fitness goals with a delicious protein shake that’s low in calories.

LULULEMON LEAN IN TANK & ALL THE RIGHT PLACES CROP II 23”; $182; Be a vision in white with activewear that’ll get you pumped for the big day.

VITAMER MINI USB RECHARGEABLE BLENDER; $35.88; Who needs a boring old shaker bottle when you can make sure your drinks are perfectly blended anywhere and everywhere you go.

SOCIETY6 BRIDE PINK AND WHITE STRIPES DUFFEL BAG; $50; Carry all your items with a gym bag that let’s everyone know you’re the boss bride in charge.

BRITTNEBABE BUILD YOUR BODY PROGRAM; $30; Snap your body into shape with a workout program you can do in the comforts of your own home. 18 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

LIFORME TRAVEL MAT; $115; Get your “om” on with a travelfriendly mat that yoga instructors swear by.

BELLA BEAT LEAF CHAKRA; $139; Keep an eye on your progress with a fitness tracker that’s so stylish people won’t even realize you’re wearing one. FITBIT FLYER; $129.95; Jam out during your gym sesh with these super cute and reliable wireless headphones.

MODCLOTH SAVOR THE SCENERY CONTAINER SET; $39; Never miss a meal with these adorably vintage food containers. THE NORTH FACE WOMEN’S LITEWAVE AMPERE II; $100; These versatile sneakers have you covered whether you’re into cardio, strength training, CrossFit, or all of the above.



first comes love




Pierrette & Andrew

ierrette and Andrew met on a dating website and have been together for one and half years. Upon receiving a request, Andrew noticed Pierrette was from the Congo, so he replied with a simple greeting in her native language in hopes of impressing her. It worked, and she responded immediately. They ended up talking nonstop the entire night. The next morning, Pierrette thought Andrew wasn’t going to call her back. But of course, he called, and they spent the whole day talking again. They have been growing closer and closer each day ever since. The Proposal {Her Story}

We knew we had something special from the beginning. The engagement was just a formality. After several months of dating, Andrew followed traditional Congolese

custom and proposed to me in front of both our family and friends. My most memorable moment was when I walked into the room to be formally introduced while wearing a traditional African dress. After my family accepted Andrew’s marriage proposal, he got down on his knees and proposed to me with a beautiful ring. The Proposal {His Story}

As our relationship progressed, Pierrette explained Congolese marriage traditions to me. The more I learned, the more excited I got about marrying her. The process involved organizing a presentation ceremony for both families to meet and show their approval and support of our marriage. We all rendezvoused from different parts of the country in Columbia and it was such a whirlwind weekend. We all flew in for just BLACKBRIDE.COM | 21

first comes love


a few hours one Saturday evening and then returned to our respective cities the next day. Though it was a just a few hours, the importance of the meeting was what made it so special. Having my family there as I proposed to Pierrette in front of her family really was an incredible feeling and I can't wait for the wedding day. What makes your love special?

We share the same values and goals and we genuinely enjoy each other’s company no matter what we do. We also have a mutual passion for music and a strong spiritual connection. What was the theme of your shoot?

Classic Romance. Were there any memorable moments during the shoot?

The whole shoot was memorable to us because it was our first professional photoshoot together. Our photographer was amazing, and she helped us with poses since we had never done it before. We were really impressed with how many gorgeous shots she got.

Bride: Pierrette Pfingu, 32, Student Groom: Andrew Zupsich, 40, Personal Trainer

Have you started planning your wedding?

Place of Residence: Miami, Florida

We started planning our wedding as soon as we got engaged. Most of the major things are completed. We’re just working on some final details.

Engagement Shoot Location: Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami, Florida

What are you most looking forward to about your wedding?

Wedding Date: 11/10/2018

Celebrating our love with family and friends, spending time together, and dancing all night. We are very excited that many of her family members will be coming from back home.


first comes love




Maureen & Billy

aureen and Billy met in September of 2012 during a cookout at the University of South Florida’s Riverfront Park. They sat next to each other while Billy played a card game, but Maureen kept interrupting with questions. Later that year, they became dance partners for a student organization, which developed into a friendship, and eventually a date two years later. They have been together for four years and counting. Engagement Story

Billy asked me to go to South Florida with him, but I didn’t want to. So, he offered to take me to a spa and a romantic dinner if I did. After the spa day, we got dressed and headed out for dinner, but he wanted to stop at my parents’ house because he “forgot” something. When we got there, he went

inside. Then, my sister came and got me to step inside the house for a bit. She took me to the back room where he was waiting with all my friends and family. The Proposal {His Story}

Well, I knew it was going to be extremely hard to surprise her because she’s so nosy and she never gets her nails done. But I wanted a proposal fit for Mo. First, I ordered a dress she wanted without her knowing and surprised her. Then I enlisted the help of her close cousin, an event planner, and had the backyard of her dad’s place decorated with 10-foot poles, drapes, uplighting, chivalry chairs and tables, centerpieces, and more. I booked a caterer to prepare and serve cocktail food and beverages. I then contacted her family and had her friends from out of state fly in.


first comes love


What makes your love special?

We are total opposites, but we balance each other. He compensates where I lack, and I do the same where he falls short. We also don’t give up on each other — no matter what the situation may be. What was the theme of your shoot?

Our theme was modern vintage. We wanted a romantic yet chic feel to our pictures with a contemporary and classic twist. We couldn’t go to Italy, but our photographer knew the right location to execute our vision. Were there any memorable moments during the shoot?

Changing outfits inside the car stands out because there was no other place available.

Other than that, we had fun with our photographer. He was very professional and friendly. Being in front of the camera felt natural. Have you started planning your wedding?

It’s all over now, but our wedding took place at The Vault, which is in the heart of Tampa. What were you most looking forward to about your wedding?

We already got married, but I loved seeing Maureen in her dress as she walked down the aisle to meet me. For Maureen, walking down the aisle with her father was a great moment along with the vows, and the “LITuation” that took place at the reception.

Bride: Maureen D. Amilca, 26, Registered Nurse Groom: Billy E. Saint, 27, Senior Recruiter Place of Residence: Tampa, Florida Engagement Shoot Location: Worth Avenue, West Palm Beach, Florida Wedding Date: 04/19/2019


first comes love




Teciem & Ariel

eceim and Ariel met at the Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. while attending a festival to celebrate D.C. Emancipation Day in 2015. Rather than approach Teceim right away, Ariel walked around with his friends and planned to say something later in the evening. When he returned, Teceim was gone. About an hour later, he glimpsed Teceim as she was leaving with her friend. Determined to not miss another opportunity to introduce himself, Ariel quickly went up to her and said, “Hello, my name is Ariel, like the mermaid.” Teceim laughed and entertained his conversation until she explained she was on her way to church. Intrigued, Ariel gave Teceim his card because he knew he was not getting her number that night. Teciem texted him the next day and said, “I love the smell of possibilities in the morning.” They have been inseparable ever since.

Engagement Story

We got engaged in 2017, on our second anniversary, which happened to fall on Easter. I thought we were going to brunch to celebrate after attending church. Little did I know, family and friends traveled from New York, Florida, and Virginia to see this moment. On the way to brunch, Ariel drove by Freedom Plaza and insisted we take a picture. As he faked taking the picture, everyone came out of hiding, and he took a knee, asking me to be his wife. The Proposal {His Story}

First and foremost, I am not a planner, but I am old school and wanted everything about my proposal to be right. A few months prior, I flew to Orlando and secretly asked Teceim’s parents for their blessings. Then came the big task of coordinating 50 people to arrive BLACKBRIDE.COM | 29

first comes love


in one location on time, with very specific instructions, and keeping it all secret. We went to church that day and I communicated with everyone to make sure everything was set. When we arrived, Teceim was surprised to see all her family and friends. It did not go exactly as planned, but it was amazing!

Were there any memorable moments during the shoot?

The entire shoot whisked us back in time! Each location reminded us of our nervous butterflies, our conversation topics, and all the fun we had. Have you started planning your wedding?

What makes your love special?

The expression, “opposites attract� is true! Neither of us were what we thought we wanted, but we quickly learned we were what each other needed. We are the perfect blend orchestrated by God. What was the theme of your shoot?

We recreated our first date. From our sweet talk at Starbucks and walking the gardens and halls of a local art museum to sharing poetry and best reads at Barnes & Noble. It was a date neither of us will forget.

We are happy to share that the wedding planning is over! We were wed on May 27, 2018 at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. We honeymooned in Spain. What are you most looking forward to about your wedding?

We looked forward to having our prayers answered and represented as we walked down the aisle. It was a joy to marry the love of our lives and party with loved ones.

Bride: Teceim Nyoka Guerrero, 36, Social Worker Groom: Ariel Enrique Guerrero, 34, Racial Equity Manager & Trainer Place of Residence: Upper Marlboro, Maryland Engagement Shoot Location: Baltimore, Maryland Wedding Date: 05/27/2018


first comes love




Salena & Jonathan

alena and Jonathan met on July 3, 2011 during a barbeque at Salena’s stepfather’s house. One of Salena’s high school friends introduced the pair. However, before actually meeting Jonathan, Salena’s friend told her that Jonathan would be a perfect husband. Turns out that friend was right, and they’ve been together for seven years. Engagement Story

It was Thanksgiving of 2017, we were spending time with family when Jonathan asked me to go for a ride with him. I thought he wanted to go to the store or something, so I didn’t ask questions and we took the ride. We ended up at my stepfather’s house and he told me to look in the glove compartment. Inside, I found a card that read, “Here is where I attended a struggle cookout with a friend and the love story of Meeka and Popeye began.” I sat in the passenger seat wondering what was going on, but Jonathan

told me to relax. He then drove to a friend’s house and told me to look under the seat. There I found another card which read, “Here is where I first uttered the romantic words, ‘Guess what, I love you.’” We then arrived back at our family’s home to celebrate with our loved ones. Maybe 10 minutes after we returned, he asked me to come into the living room. As I walked into the room, his cousin dropped another card on the floor in front of me. This card read, “And here is where I humbly ask you to be my wife!” He opened the box and dropped to one knee. It was such an amazing and emotional moment. Of course, tears were in my eyes when I said yes! My son Donte, who was 10 at the time, was beyond excited and jumped up to hug Jonathan and I after my acceptance. Then Donte shouted, “Mom, do you like it? I picked out the ring!” Everyone laughed, and I told him I loved it. BLACKBRIDE.COM | 33

first comes love


The Proposal {His Story}

Family is very important to us. So, I knew proposing to her in front of her family during the holidays was the best option. I chose to do a scavenger hunt because I wanted us to relive those important moments within our relationship before asking her to be my wife. Everything went as planned! Although I was nervous, I knew I wanted to be her husband and love her for the rest of my days. What makes your love special?

We both agree that laughter is what makes our love special. We aren’t afraid to just have fun with each other and truly be ourselves. We’re also learning throughout this journey. Learning to be vulnerable, to love deeply, and spiritually. Our love is fearless and fun! What was the theme of your shoot?

Jonathan is Nigerian and from the Igbo tribe, so we chose to have an African themed engagement shoot. Were there any memorable moments during the shoot?

Jonathan and I were pretty awkward during

our photo session, so it was weird for us. Our photographer, Aida, made us feel comfortable and not like we were mannequins. We laughed the entire time. Even Donte had a great time! Our personalities truly shined through and we absolutely loved our shoot. Have you started planning your wedding?

We were wed on September 6, 2018. Alicia from Ilé events was our planner. She listened to us and guided us without pressuring us with her own ideas. My uncle married us while our photographer Aida captured the day perfectly. Our wedding day embraced Jonathan’s Nigerian roots with our entire bridal party wearing traditional Nigerian garb for the ceremony. The wedding took place at the Tides Estate in North Haledon, New Jersey, where the staff was truly kind and attentive to Jonathan and I as well as all of our guests.

Bride: Salena Ezeokoli, 34, Case Manager, State of New Jersey, Department of Children and Families Groom: Jonathan Ezeokoli, 32, Owner, Imperial Acquisitions Accounting Firm Place of Residence: Hoboken, New Jersey Engagement Shoot Location: Jersey City, New Jersey Wedding Date: 09/06/2018

What are you most looking forward to about your wedding?

Jonathan looked forward to us being introduced as husband and wife. I, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to see his face when I walked down the aisle.


first comes love




Alexia & Ashton

n 2011, Alexia and Ashton were introduced to each other by a mutual friend on the campus of Florida A&M University. They majored in Criminal Justice, joined Greek organizations in the same year, shared academic courses and had a similar social circle. However, it was post-graduation when they reconnected. Ashton asked Alexia out on a date and after a few months, he asked her to be his girlfriend. By August 3, 2019, they’ll make it to their fourth year as husband and wife!

times to plan a surprise at my “surprise” birthday dinner. The most memorable moment was walking into the room and pretending to be shocked seeing all our friends and family there, including Alexia’s parents who told her they weren’t going to make it. After thanking everyone for attending, I thanked Alexia for planning it and everything else she does to make my life better, and then I got down on one knee and asked her to be my wife.

Engagement Story

The Proposal {His Story}

After purchasing the wedding ring in November of 2017, it was just a matter of planning the perfect surprise proposal. Months later while on the phone with my mom, she told me about the surprise dinner Alexia was planning for my birthday on April 20, 2018. Weeks leading up to the dinner, it was both funny and difficult at

Leading up to the engagement, I attempted to propose on several occasions, but something always came up. Either there was a change in scheduling or it just didn’t feel right. My mom told me about the surprise dinner Alexia was planning for me, and a lightbulb went off. I knew that was it! The planning of the engagement was very easy. BLACKBRIDE.COM | 37

first comes love


I just had to ensure Alexia’s parents were present, and due to Alexia planning my birthday dinner, she made all the other arrangements. I only needed to prepare my speech. What makes your love special?

The love we share for each other comes very naturally and easily. We challenge each other to become the best version of ourselves in addition to encouraging and respecting each other. We’re sympathetic towards the needs, wants, and desires of the other. We also value our friendship and individualism. What was the theme of your shoot?

We wanted a very elegant shoot that captured different aspects of our relationship. We’re both members of a Divine Nine Greek Letter organization, proud graduates of Florida A&M University and share a similar sense of humor. Mr. Jules captured every aspect beautifully!

Were there any memorable moments during the shoot?

Ashton is not a dancer! So, when Mr. Greg instructed us to dance, seeing Ashton’s attempt tickled me completely! That was my first time seeing him dance full out, with no music! We laughed so hard, we could barely complete the moves. Have you started planning your wedding?

Yes! We will say “I Do” on August 3, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia! All the planning has been completed except for a few minor details. What are you most looking forward to about your wedding?

We are excited to witness all our preparation unfold, as we celebrate with our family and friends. Being a daddy’s girl, I am also looking forward to having a father-daughter dance, as I transition from being daddy’s girl to Ashton’s wife.

Bride: Alexia Simone Jones, 27, Forensic Technician Groom: Ashton Khambrel Lesane, 27, Deputy Sheriff Place of Residence: Clearwater, Florida Engagement Shoot Location: Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami, Florida Wedding Date: 08/03/2018



How to Take the Best Engagement Photos Ever By Kamaree Odom | Photography by Social Shots Photography As the holidays draw near, it’s not uncommon to see a spike in engagements. If you find yourself in the fall-winter crowd, you don’t have to wait for the warmer months to plan an epic engagement session that can be memorialized for all time. From what to wear to where to go, here are my top tips that’ll ensure you get the best engagement photos ever!


Practice For The Big Day | Your engagement session is a great time to get comfortable in front of the camera before the wedding. Your photographer will teach you how 40 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

to pose and they’ll provide direction on how to look amazing in your photos regardless of your shape or size. Enhancing your physique on camera is the goal. Be prepared to spend at least one to two hours for your session.


Incorporate Who You Are As A Couple | When preparing for your e-session, consider what characteristics best represent you as a couple. Do you love sports? Are you diehard alumni? Maybe it’s the place where you first met or even a shared love for cooking! Think of these pictures as an introduction to whom you

are as a couple. Bonus points if you can give a little insight to what your guests can expect on the wedding day.


Don’t Curb Your Enthusiasm | Show up to your engagement session well rested, energized and ready to have an amazing day together! I know, sometimes one partner may not be as eager to participate in the process; but you may be surprised with how much fun you’ll have during your e-session! Sharing

some silly laughs, putting forth your best diva and debonair poses will really bring out your personality in your photos. Together, consider incorporating a theme for your e-session and coordinate your outfits so you’re both involved with the decision making for the shoot.


Location And Time | There is a rule of thumb for most photographers: do not take photos during “noon hour.” The sunlight is harsh and glares down on faces in an unflattering way. Also, try to avoid peak temperatures, so you won’t sweat out your fabulous hairstyle and makeup. Consider early morning sunrise sessions or an evening one to capture a beautiful sunset. Furthermore, choose a location that sets the tone for your big day. Botanical gardens, state parks, and even some hotels will provide gorgeous outdoor backdrops. For indoor venues, remember that not all locations allow patrons to take photos, so always get permission first.


Prepare Your Vision In Advance | Remember, this is your time to express not only who you are, but what you want to share about your wedding day. Set realistic expectations while sharing your dreams and desires with your photographer. Make sure to convey your vision for the engagement session in advance, not on the day of your shoot. You can send sample photos of what inspires you but also allow your photographer the opportunity to use their creativity to make your session special and unique.


Find A Photographer That Matches Your Style | Speaking of personality and style, make sure to research and find a photographer whose work reflects those characteristics. You may admire rustic, light and airy or maybe a little glam and drama for your session. Please know that there are many talented artists that can produce photos to meet your needs. Recommendations are great to utilize but make sure to check out your photographer’s website, portfolio,

social media pages and even read their reviews to aid your decision. Lastly, pay attention to their lighting, posing and editing style to ensure that it meets your expectations.


Invest In Your Moment | If I have any advice for you, it’s this…invest in you. Make sure to hire a professional makeup artist and hair stylist. This is not the day to experiment! Buy a new outfit or pull out that gown you love. Don’t forget

to press or steam these garments in advance. Also, brides and grooms should consider getting a manicure, so your hands are ready to show off those gorgeous engagement rings! Relax, be prepared and enjoy the moment, it’s finally your time! Social Shots Photography is a multicultural wedding boutique photography studio based out of Atlanta, Georgia. For more information, visit BLACKBRIDE.COM | 41


Be Camera Ready

on your

Wedding Day Andre Brown Photography is an Atlanta-based, full-service photography and videography studio serving Georgia and destinations throughout the world. For more information, visit

Photography by Andre Brown Photography 42 | BLACKBRIDE.COM


ou’ve likely been dreaming of your big day since you were a little girl. Over the past few months, you’ve purchased every magazine and scoured countless Instagram feeds for wedding inspiration. Well, look no further. I’m going to give you five tips on how to be picture perfect on your wedding day! As a wedding photographer, we are hired to capture the essence of your wedding, so you can look back at your album with glee. 1. Find Your Light

First things first, in order to have great photos, you have to have good lighting. Sometimes we can create it, but you can’t make lemonade out

of oranges. The bridal suite at many wedding venues are not conducive for creative photos. If bridal prep photos are important to you, choose a location with an abundance of light, even if that means getting ready at a location that is different than your venue. 2. Pick a Side

Part your hair on the side that you’re going to be photographed on. That way, we aren’t unnecessarily fighting around your hair to see your beautiful face. On the wedding day, you’ll align camera left during the ceremony. So, I always ask my brides if they have a favorite side. If they do, I suggest parting their hair on that side. This way you’ll emote confidence and will

look happier in your photos instead of worrying. 3. Prioritize Your Makeup

There are tons of talented makeup artists out there. But be mindful that this is the person that’s creating the look of the biggest day of your life! So, pick someone you trust and who you are comfortable with. You can’t book someone on price alone because we all know the saying: you get what you pay for. If you aren’t happy with your makeup, you won’t be confident in how you look. While I’m photographing you, I can tell you a million times that you look beautiful. But if you don’t feel you are at your best, you won’t be able to give your best to the camera.

4. Enjoy the Experience

You know the saying: “happy wife, happy life.” This applies here, too. It’s your wedding day. So, don’t get hung up on the small things. Big or small, something is going to go wrong, but let your wedding planner deal with it. Negative emotions can show through in your photos, so surround yourself with the people you love. Your Bride Tribe should also help make your wedding day a happy one, not drag you down. 5. Invest in Your Photos

You’ve done the hard work, researched your poses, spent countless hours in front of the mirror giving face and learning your angles, got your face beat by your favorite MUA and found

the right lighting. Now you have to be in front of the right camera. Having an unskilled photographer would make all of that hard work and preparation go to waste. Hire a professional—one who truly knows what they are doing, someone who knows how to bring the best out of you. Again, don’t book solely on price. Remember, you get what you pay for. Book the photographer whose images reflect your personality. These photos represent the biggest day of your life, for the rest of your life, so you need to choose wisely. If you follow through on these tips I’ve presented to you, I promise you’ll truly enjoy yourself while looking your very best on your wedding day. BLACKBRIDE.COM | 43



Your Body Type By Anastasia Hunter |

Illustrations courtesy of Feathers of Style

Finding your dream gown is stressful. You’ve likely never tried one on before, and it’s the most expensive garment many women will ever own, so the pressure is definitely on! Plus, your dress sets the tone for the wedding, whether it’s a grand ballroom affair or an intimate church celebration. There’s also an entirely new language to decode – organza, tulle, A-line, sheath, trumpet, fit and flare. The choices can seem overwhelming for sure. No matter your budget, your personal style, or your timeline, check out our wedding dress shopping tips for finding the gown of your dreams – one you will love today, on the big day, and 30 years from now when you look back at your wedding photos. Grab a friend, ask her to measure the widest part of your shoulders, bust, hips, and the narrowest part of your waist. Once you’ve got your measurements, see which of these categories are most representative of you. 44 | BLACKBRIDE.COM









f your shoulders, bust and hips are roughly the same size, but your waist is significantly smaller than your hips, then you’ve got an hourglass body type. For an hourglass figure, consider a classic sheath gown to show off your curves with a streamlined silhouette that’s slim from head to toe. Capture the sophistication of a bygone era by adding lace cascading sleeves. Bonus: they’re less constricting than other styles, so you can dance the night away with ease! If glamour is your middle name, opt for an A-Line style gown with three quarter-length sleeves and a godet skirt that has just the right amount of flare. Itching to show off those sexy curves? Choose a fit and flare style like a trumpet or mermaid styled dress. You can get a cold weather upgrade with ruched detailing, crystal encrusted straps, a sweetheart neckline, or a fabulous feather bridal belt to emphasize your narrowest asset. Top off your wedding style with a chic cover up by adding a real or faux fur in white, ivory, or a contrasting shade. It’s a wonderful option for a trim either across the neckline or around the hem.



f your hips are wider than your shoulders and bust, then you’ve got a pear body type. The perfect dress for a bride with a pear body type will accentuate her tiny waist and slender upper body, by cinching in under the bust while skimming over the tummy, hips, and bottom. Balance is important. Therefore, you want to either make your top half seem bigger or bottom half smaller. Wedding dresses that flatter the top portion are ideal. Highlight your petite torso with a detailed top to draw the eye up. A wedding gown with a plunging and open V-neckline draws attention away from your bottom upwards to your bare neck, shoulders, and cleavage. If you prefer a more conservative neckline instead of a revealing one, then a traditional neckline will work fine as long as It’s still low. Add a little bit of sparkle or embellishment on the bodice or opt for a bridal cape. Capes are great options for the winter season because they are whimsical and fairytale-like for a glamorous winter affair.











f your shoulders, bust and hips are roughly the same size, and your waist isn’t much smaller, then you’ve got a straight or an athletic body type. Brides that lack curves can create them! A princess ball gown or an A-line styled gown are ideal for you. A top that highlights your natural waist and extends into a voluminous skirt will show off your slim figure and create an hourglass illusion. If you have a small bust, choose a top with ruching or extra texture - such as organza, tulle, velvet, floral, or decadent embellishments to create more curves. Sleeves work perfectly with either gown type. Winterize this classic style by adding heavily embellished illusion sleeves, or delicate cap sleeves, and exquisite embroidery to create an irresistible combo for wintertime nuptials.



f shoulders and bust are larger than your hips, then you’ve got an inverted triangle body type. For designers, broad shoulders really are an asset. There are always perfect dresses for women with broad shoulders no matter if you decide to hide or expose them. With a wide top, you can look for something with a heavy bottom to balance out your shape. A simple yet resplendent trumpet gown would fit right in against a frosty winterscape. To hide your shoulders, look for one-shoulder dresses. The strap should be set more to the middle and not on the shoulder bone edge, making it look smaller. Scalloped lace details and heavy beading will mesmerize your guests. Believe it or not, exposing the shoulder actually takes attention away from them, so it’s a yes to strapless dresses. You can accept your broad shoulders and make them an asset by wearing a halter neckline or a dress with long sleeves. You should also look for a dress that highlights your waistline to create an hourglass shape.

Anastasia Hunter is the founder of Dream Day Bridal Boutique, a business that aims to share the joy of finding your perfect wedding gown in another bride’s closet for a fraction of the price! For more information, please visit 46 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

Styled Shoots





Photography courtesy of Amsale




arlier this year, iconic couture bridal fashion designer Amsale Aberra unexpectedly left us after her long battle with breast cancer. As an Ethiopian-American that made waves in the bridal industry for all women of color, we knew we had to do something for the elegant renegade that was Amsale. Thus, our 2018 Natural Tresses & Dresses styled shoot was born. Behind the Scenes with Mary Chatman, Black Bride Editor-in-Chief

When we visited the showroom in New York, the team was so gracious and extended a tour of where Amsale worked daily. It was a surreal honor to do so and see her desk nestled in a corner of the showroom with a window view – just the way she left it.

The seamstresses worked as we walked through and made plans for our styled shoot. We wanted it to be special and take place in the city. The icing on the cake during this shoot was the fact that we worked with natural hair expert and celebrity hairstylist Felicia Leatherwood while we explored the New York City streets and Grand Central Station, which served as an awe-inspiring backdrop. To round out the dream team, we were excited to work with some of our favorite creatives on the east coast, including lifestyle photographer Kesha Lambert, fashion stylist Jaquea K. (aka Yoko J.), makeup artist Cynthia Walker of TresseNoire, floral designer Nikki Diaz, Pantora Bridal Mini and our friends at Nina Shoes. BLACKBRIDE.COM | 49




omen of color need to know they can have a natural hairstyle for their wedding day and still look absolutely stunning. Here the inspiration for the shoot’s look comes from Yoko J., who has styled for designers like Berta Bridal, Julie Vino and Odylyne the Ceremony during New York Bridal Fashion Week. Look #1: This look speaks to your more classic, sophisticated bride. I wanted to add a bit of drama to the simplicity of this gown with a large statement earring and an ostrich and pearl hair comb. The bridesmaid’s navy gown has a sequined top that went beautifully with the embroidery in the bride’s gown.

Bride: Amsale, Alina; Bridemaid: Amsale, Lorena

Look #2: This look speaks to millennial brides who want that Cinderella moment with a more modern- and contemporary-styled ball gown. I paired this with an ornate headband, minimalistic bracelet and crystal earrings. The bridesmaids’ blush-pink gowns work so well with the bride’s dress. I wanted the flower girls to also mimic the bride with one wearing a mini ball gown and the other wearing a full ruffled dress that looks like a flower.

Look #3: This look speaks to a bride that wants to show her curves off with a subdued touch. This fit and flare is soft, yet sexy. I added a blusher veil and crystal statement earrings for a romantic look. The bridesmaids’ fitted wine gowns flow with the silhouette of the bride’s gown. Meanwhile, the flower girls wore two different dress styles, one with a classic full gown and the other with a sequined, feathered dress. 50 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

Bride: Amsale, Iris; Bridemaids: Amsale, Alexis & Blair; Flower Girls: Pantora Mini, Kylie

Bride: Amsale, Jo; Bridemaids: Amsale, Bray & Reyna; Flower Girls: Pantora Mini, Fantasia & Siri

For more information on Yoko J., visit



he natural hair bride surely wants to stay true to who she is and wants to have a hairstyle that is both stylish and unique. Ms. Felicia Leatherwood shares how natural hair and locs can be elegant in a way that complements your wedding day fashion and theme.

Celebrity hair-stylist, Felicia Leatherwood divulges behind the scenes on the looks for the shoot. For more information on Felicia, visit

Textured Pomp: For the natural hair bride, a cute and simple updo with a pompadour in the front is timeless and complements any dress style. Fold-and-Tuck: Playing with shapes is a must with natural hair. That’s why I created a fold-and-tuck hairdo with luxuriously loose wand curls in an alternating pattern.

Queenly Locs: Brides with beautiful locs can benefit from a woven, double-strand twisted crown. For this shoot, I made sure I swooped these strands to the side and decorated them with faux diamonds to accentuate the look. A Better Bun: For a shoot like this, a simpler bun just wouldn’t do it justice. So, I opted for a lavish top knot bun and made sure to exaggerate it with synthetic hair to round out its overall appearance. Elegant Coils: Both flower girls had their natural hair styled in twist outs that were accentuated with blooms.


Photography: Kesha Lambert Photography

Q | Tell us a little about yourself and how you got started? Felicia: My mother didn’t know how to do my hair as a child, so at 9-years-old, I took matters into my own hands and taught myself. The rest is history. I’ve been a natural hair stylist in the entertainment industry for over 15 years.

Q | What tips do you have for natural brides on their wedding day? Felicia: For a natural style on your wedding day, find a good stylist that you like and schedule a trial run three to six months ahead of time to make sure everything goes as you’d like for your wedding day.

Bridal & Bridemaids Gowns: Amsale

Q | What are your favorite natural hairstyles and who have they been featured on? Felicia: Some of my favorite styles to do are updos. And I love all the styles I’ve been able to create on Issa Rae for HBO’s Insecure.

Q | Other than creating amazing natural hairstyles, what do you want our readers to know about you? Felicia: I want everyone to know about my wonderful beauty tool, the Felicia Leatherwood Detangler Brush. I’m really proud of it and I’m excited that I can share this tool with everyone to make natural hair care easier.

Hair Accessories: Philadelphia Bridal Co.

Q | What’s the most exciting thing in the natural hair industry? Felicia: Women are embracing, loving and learning their natural hair more these days and it brings me joy!

Flower Girls: Pantora Mini Jewelry & Shoes: Nina Shoes

Fashion Stylist: Jaquea K. (Yoko J.) Makeup Artist: Cynthia Walker, TressesNoire Floral Designer: Events by Nikki Diaz





Chronicles of Narnia F

or the bride and groom who are fans of whimsical pop culture, imagine the impossible, and make sure everyone knows they’re magical – this shoot goes out to you. Transport yourself into The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with a wedding styled shoot the White Witch Queen Jadis would have chosen for herself! Centerpieces

An understated centerpiece arrangement composed of white fur, moody foliage, red and white roses, and golden

candlesticks with white candles. Place Settings

Gold-trimmed white plates with matching chargers, golden utensils, merlot goblets, hunter green napkins, and two carved apples for the bride and groom. Stationery

A personalized invitation suite with a hand-painted watercolor map of West Narnia, including the lamppost, Mr. Tumnus’ dwelling, the wardrobe, and the White Witch’s castle.

Shoot Location: Woodend Sanctuary & Mansion, Chevy Chase, Maryland Color Combinations: Berry, Orange, Green, Gold and Hints of Blue Favorite Details: The Turkish Delight and the lamppost inside the envelope for the invitation suite.



Photography: Photography by Kelsey Rae Venue: Woodend Sanctuary & Mansion Bridal Gown: Elisabetta Polignano Bride’s Hair: Felicia Renee Beauty Bride’s Makeup: Shauné Hayes Makeup + Hair Artists Bride’s Headpiece Soliloquy Bridal Couture Bride’s Accessories A. B. Ellie Groom’s Tux: Alfani Groom’s Shoes: Aldo Wedding Planner: Jade & Joy Events Cake: Charm Decor Cakes Flowers: Rocking Bird Flower Co. Stationery: Grove Lettering Co. Furniture Rentals: Blue Ridge Vintage Affairs Tableware: Something Vintage Rentals





1960s Bohemian Love

P H O T O G R A P H E D B Y A U R O R A C R E AT I V E & C O R T I E L L A P H O T O G R A P H Y


he styling for this shoot was strongly inspired by the aesthetic and romance of postwar Paris and NYC in the 1960s. It’s also infused with the Pantone Color of the Year, Ultraviolet. The fashion and decor selected were unexpected and exploding with detail, which aimed to represent the different faces of bohemian style throughout the years. Lyrics from iconic songs of that era were infused into the design to symbolize love throughout the entire wedding.


Velvet tablecloths in shades of eggplant, beige, gold, and midnight. Centerpieces

An eclectic collection of containers, including golden jars, terrariums, and wooden centerpieces filled with mixed florals, violet kale, cacti, and succulents.

Shoot Location: Redland Koi Gardens, Homestead, Florida

Color Combinations: Ultraviolet, Midnight, Gold Favorite Detail: The laser cut sign on the sweetheart table.

Place Settings

Iridescent violet chargers and plates.




Photography: Aurora Creative Cortiella Photography Venue: Redland Koi Gardens Bridal Gown: YolanCris at Chic Parisien Bride’s Accessories: Tarbay, Bride’s Hair: Vanessa G Beauty Instagram @vanessagbeauty Bride’s Makeup: Makeup by Safai Instagram @safai305 Groom’s Tux: My Groom’s Room Groom's Cufflinks: Over the Moon Bridal Wedding Planner: Pink Wasabi Cakes: Cloud 9 Bakery Delightful Delites Instagram @delightfuldelites Flowers: Flower Fanatic Furniture Rentals: Amuse Decor, Mobile Bar: Hitched Affair, Table Settings: Different Look Rentals Linens: Over the Top, Laser Cut Sign: Ten 23 Designs, Cactus: Isaac Farms,



S T R A I G H T F R O M T H E R U N W A Y, Y O U R M U S T - H A V E F A S H I O N G U I D E

FALL 2019


Another season, another Bridal Fashion Week under wraps. We at Black Bride were more than happy to scout the runways and numerous studio presentations to dissect all the wedding fashion trends we’re loving for 2019 so far. As expected, a number of designers took inspiration from Her Royal Highness Meghan Markle’s simple wedding and reception gowns – which included Edwardian sleeves, high collars, capes, classic silhouettes, and more. Other trends ranged from ornamental appliques, playfully short skirts and striking hues. If you’re not sure what kind of bride you want to be on your wedding day, take a look at what’s going to be big next year with our Fall 2019 trend report.

LELA ROSE Photograph courtesy of Taylor Jewel

FLORAVERE Photograph courtesy of Floravere

CLASSIC SILHOUETTES For starters, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” That’s the motto and approach many designers take when it comes to bridal wear. And we can’t say that we’re mad at this – classics are classics for a reason and we love seeing conventional silhouettes made fresh each year. From princessworthy A-line skirts and toned-down sheaths to fit and flare trumpet and mermaid gowns, Fall 2019 Bridal Fashion Week outdid itself with timeless designs that are suitable for every bride. 60 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

ROMONA KEVEZA Photograph courtesy of Kurt Romona Keveza

PNINA TORNAI Photograph courtesy of Kurt Wilberding

WTOO BY WATTERS Photograph courtesy of Masato Onoda

ALEXANDRA GRECCO Photograph courtesy of Masato Onoda

PNINA TORNAI Photograph courtesy of Kurt Wilberding

CUSHNIE Photograph courtesy of Cushnie


VERA WANG Photograph courtesy of Vera Wang

BERTA Photograph courtesy of Collin Pierson

There’s no denying that this season was all about the sleeves. From removable ones to off-the-shoulder, sheer, and so on — sleeves for 2019 are meant to make a statement. This trend is great for brides that want to stand out from the sea of strapless gowns we’ve all seen in the last few years. It’s also the perfect alternative to a bridal shawl if your venue is going to be in a less than warm climate.


fashion CUSHNIE Photograph courtesy of Cushnie

DAVID’S BRIDAL Photograph courtesy of David’s Bridal

LELA ROSE Photograph courtesy of Taylor Jewell

INES DI SANTO Photograph courtesy of FirstView

SARAH JASSIR Photograph courtesy of Sarah Jassir

CAPES AND SHRUGS Designers are combining functionality and style for 2019 brides with the inclusion of luxurious capes and shrugs that not only block out the cold, but also elevate bridal ensembles with a touch of regal elegance. Whether it be on a jumpsuit or traditional gown, capes and shrugs are classy additions for fall and winter brides. And with fabrics ranging from opaque to sheer, you’re sure to find a glam design that complements your wedding day attire. 62 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

ALLISON WEBB Photograph courtesy of Allison Webb

CAROLINE HAYDEN Photograph courtesy of Caroline Hayden

JENNY YOO Photograph courtesy of Danielle Elizabeth

HIGH COLLARS The high collar is making a comeback for fall 2019! Better yet, it’s making a reappearance with a modern twist that won’t make brides look matronly. These queenly necklines are ranging from sheer and ruffled to lacey and simplified. Not to mention, brides that opt for this look won’t have to worry about their necks getting chilly on the big day.

INBAL DROR Photograph courtesy of Anton Oparin

FRANCESCA MIRANDA Photograph courtesy of Francesca Miranda



HAYLEY PAIGE Photograph courtesy of Hayley Paige

AMSALE LITTLE WHITE DRESS Photograph courtesy of Janice Yim

OLVI Photograph courtesy of Olvi

RIME ARODAKY Photograph courtesy of Rime Arodaky

DAVID’S BRIDAL Photograph courtesy of David’s Bridal

MINI DRESSES The temperature might be down, but that doesn’t mean you can’t show off your fabulous legs. Whether you want a short and sweet number for your ceremony or reception, designers are in full support of vintage mini dresses with a modern twist. From mod-like sheath silhouettes and asymmetrical lengths to fun embellishments and romantic lace, fall 2019 will surely see a rise in flirty minis. 64 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

PRONOVIAS Photograph courtesy of Pronovias

SOPHIA TOLLI Photograph courtesy of Kurt Wilberding

JULIE VINO Photograph courtesy of Julie Vino


JUSTIN ALEXANDER Photograph courtesy of Dan Lecca

REEM ACRA Photograph courtesy of Maria Valentino/MCV Photo

Boho chic has gotten a sophisticated upgrade with texture being the main focus of these ensembles. We’re talking prominent lace, daring floral appliques and embroidery, feathers, fur and more! This trend also extends into bridal accessories, including chunky jewelry, belts, shawls and headpieces for an enhanced flower child look. BLACKBRIDE.COM | 65


ANITA DONGRE Photograph courtesy of Anita Dongre

DAVID’S BRIDAL Photograph courtesy of David’s Bridal

HAYLEY PAIGE Photograph courtesy of Hayley Paige

GOODBYE VICTORIAN WHITE More and more brides are opting for a pop or even full splash of color when it comes to their wedding dresses, and 2019 is no exception. Nude shades and sweet pastels are definitely on the rise as women inch their way into nonconformity, however, highly pigmented gowns make a bold cultural statement that simply can’t be ignored. Floral patterns and ombre skirts are just a few fun ways designers have played off this vibrant trend.

KELLY FAETANINI Photograph courtesy of Kelly Faetanini VERA WANG Photograph courtesy of Vera Wang 66 | BLACKBRIDE.COM



PLUM By Jomuelle Anicet Perfect for the holidays, this sugar plum theme is just what you need to take your wedding to the next level. Not only can your bridesmaids be just as original as yourself, but the decor also transports your guests into a breathtaking winter wonderland. Moreover, you can enhance your seasonal festivities with these magical drinks.




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6. 1. Wedding Decor Designed by The Aspen Branch,; 2. Kim Rogers Silver-Tone Oblong Cord Statement Necklace in Dark Berry,; 3. Plum Bourbon Cooler by Maya Dutta-Linn,; 4. Cake Designed by For The Love of Cake,; 5. J By Jasper Conran, 'jessie' High Stiletto Heel Court Shoes in Dark Purple,; 6. Bouquet Designed by A Garden Party,; 7. Invitation Set Designed by Mustard Stripe,; 8. ZIZWAY Tulle Convertible Dress in Wine Violet, BLACKBRIDE.COM | 67





NATURALE By Jomuelle Anicet This sophisticated, rustic theme is perfect for almost any season. You can’t help but feel utmostly elegant on your wedding day because everything just fits so perfectly with this neutral hue. What’s even better for this fall-winter theme is the warmth of your guests, as well as an old-fashioned apple cider cocktail.



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1. Invitation Set Designed by Artepapery,; 2. Essie, Blush Nude Pink,; 3. Wedding Decor Styled by Chloe and Mint,; 4. Kendra Scott Elisa Rose Gold Pendant Necklace in Iridescent Drusy,; 5. Valentino Garavani Patent Rockstud 100MM in Poudre,; 6. Apple Cider Old Fashioned by Josh Johnson,; 7. Cake Designed by A White Cake by Lauren Bohl White,; 8. Bouquet Designed by Plants n’ Petals,; 9. Vera Wang Tatiana Gown, Spring 2019 Collection, 68 | BLACKBRIDE.COM





By Jomuelle Anicet This dark green theme takes you into another world to make all your wedding dreams come to life. Perfect for the fall-winter season, this decor sets a fantastic backdrop to celebrate with your guests. As the leaves begin to change, this emerald dream is just what you need to complement a chilly wedding season.



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1. Rachel Comey Bond Earrings,; 2. Wedding Decor Designed by Beloved Coordination,; 3. Gianvito Rossi Gianvito 105 in Leaf Green,; 4. Bouquet Designed by Lisa Foster Design,; 5. The Last Word by David Lebovitz,; 6. Judith Leiber Couture Faceted Box,; 7. Invitation Set Designed by Beacon Lane,; 8. Cake Designed by Savannah’s Hall of Cake,; 9. BHLDN Lena, BLACKBRIDE.COM | 69






Doyle & Doyle was founded by sisters Elizabeth and Irene Pamela in 1998. They started the business from a lifelong love of jewelry, which was born out of childhood excursions to flea markets and treasure hunts in their grandmother's jewelry box. Their shared passion drove a desire to spread this love and appreciation for jewelry with others. So, they started a boutique that continues to be a space for people to discover and enjoy the world of gemstones and precious metals. Led by a love of history, Doyle & Doyle is always inspired by the past while keeping firmly in the present. That’s why we wanted to check in with these experts for 2019 wedding jewelry trends. Learn how you can mark your sentimental affair pre- and post- “I do.”


Why should couples consider going antique, vintage or estate for their wedding jewelry?

Antique, vintage, and estate jewelry covers such a wide variety of styles that a bride or groom is certain to find a ring that speaks to their personal style. The different time periods have unique design elements that are strikingly varied. A geometric platinum Art Deco ring will be very different than a hand engraved yellow gold Victorian ring. These styles also offer a link to history. When you choose a ring from the 1920s, you have a beautiful piece that's lived through the Jazz Age and has seen the fabulous parties of the roaring 20s. These designs are timeless as well, and not just the trend of the moment.



What are trends you see in engagement rings and wedding bands now?

We’re seeing the return of shapes, colors, and styles that are a departure from the classic white gold or platinum diamond solitaire or halo design; although those remain popular! Rose and yellow gold are taking center stage, while pearand oval-shaped diamonds have resurfaced as a popular trend. A lot of brides love the look of an antique gold solitaire. It’s universally flattering and has a romantic vintage feel. For wedding rings, diamond eternity bands never go out of style and we also love the return of simple gold or platinum wedding bands. They set off a diamond ring beautifully without overpowering it.


What will be big in wedding jewelry for 2019?

Regal romance is on top right now, with the iconic diamond tiara as the hair accessory of choice. We love seeing brides find new ways to wear jewelry in their hair, including brooches and necklaces. We’re also excited to see next year’s weddings be awash in colorful hues, perhaps inspired by newlywed Princess Eugenie’s pink sapphire engagement ring and emerald tiara. We anticipate that fancy shaped stones will continue to rise in popularity, as well as yellow and rose gold. Brides are on a mission to be original while also capturing a classic, timeless feeling in their jewelry.


Do you have any advice to offer for brides and grooms that are trying to decide on their rings?

The most important thing to remember when choosing (or hinting) at a ring is to try on as many different styles as possible. A ring design that you’re not initially drawn to may look great on your hand, so keep an open mind! Once you fall in love with an engagement ring or wedding band, don't hesitate. For vintage, antique, and estate rings, we only ever have one of each, and once it sells, it may be difficult to find a similar one. And remember that engagement rings and wedding bands don’t necessarily have to look a certain way. Your rings are reflections of you as a couple. If you’re drawn to amethyst or ruby or even black onyx, go for it!



Art Deco Square Diamond; $14,300; Sing your way down the aisle with a hand engraved Art Deco-styled square step cut diamond solitaire that’s fashioned in platinum.

Photography courtesy of Doyle & Doyle

Do you dream of donning a ring that’s red carpet ready? Check out these standout pieces in Doyle & Doyle’s upscale collection, which feature designs reminiscent to the bedazzled bands our favorite black brides wear daily.


Vintage Pear Shape Diamond; $15,300; Channel your inner bachelorette with a centered pear-shaped diamond flanked by two smaller pear-shaped diamonds fashioned in platinum.


Victorian Wedding Band; $595; Combine simplicity and a regal flair with luxe 14-karat rose gold.


Channel Set Diamond Eternity Wedding Band Ring; $2,450; Make a sophisticated statement with round brilliant cut diamonds fashioned in 18-karat yellow gold.


Estate Solitaire Diamond; $5,200; Steal the show with a centered, round brilliant cut diamond set within four prongs and a platinum fashioning.


Geometric Crossover Diamond Eternity Band Ring; $3,850; Stack your contemporary style with a channel setting comprised from round, brilliant cut diamonds fashioned in platinum. BLACKBRIDE.COM | 71

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Zena & Tank





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Travel with us far away from the hustle and bustle to Middleburg, Virginia for inspiration from our amazing cover shoot at Catesby Farm Estate, featuring newlywed couple Zena and Durrell Babbs. The former professional dancer and R&B singer celebrated their union in grand style this past summer at the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles.

ena Foster and Durrell Babbs, who is also known as the R&B sensation that is Tank, first met in the early 2000s. Zena was an up-and-coming dancer while Tank was preparing for his solo debut. Their fateful meeting was actually arranged by a friend who did choreography. However, when this pair came face-to-face at rehearsal, sparks flew. From that moment on, Zena and Tank formed a friendship and eventually a romance that spans over a decade. On July 22, 2018, these longtime lovebirds tied the knot with a star-studded ceremony and reception in their hometown of LA. Guests, including Michael B. Jordan, Kelly Rowland and Jamie Foxx were just a few top names treated to the lavish affair. Tall blush-toned floral arrangements and a delectable dinner menu, as well a custom ice cream station completed the special day with a unique and romantic flair. Now that the Babbs have settled into married life with their two children, Zoey and Zion, they’re ready to take on the world with their strengthened love. Our Editor-in-Chief, Mary Chatman, interviewed the happy newlyweds about their affection, gained wisdom, and how to overcome challenges with your soulmate. Q | How did you end up dating each other? Tank: I think the first time we actually talked and kind of looked at each other from that first encounter – well, to me, she was pretty special. There were 10 other dancers in there, but nobody else was really in the room compared to her. Q | What was the one thing that you both found attractive about each other? Tank: I was new to Los Angeles and kind of new to being an artist. And I think the thing about Zena, she’s just really warm and personable. When you meet her and talk to her, it’s almost like you’ve known her for a long time. So, for me coming in fresh to LA, meeting someone like her just wasn’t a normal experience for me. And I was like, ‘Wow, she’s that 74 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

LOOK #1 (Left) Groom Jacket: Hand-Made Silk Oxford Cloths for Tony The Tailor Groom Shirt, Vest & Pocket Square: Sebastian Cruz Groom Shoes: Bruno Magli, Tony Tailor Groom Pants: Jos A. Bank Bride: Lian Rokman at The Boutique by B.Belle Events Bride Bracelet: Misayo House Bride Earrings: Tiffany & Co. Bride Shoes: Christian Louboutin at Yarid’s Shoe

LOOK #2 (Above) Groom Pants: Jos A. Bank Groom Sequin Blazer: Provided by Fashion Stylist, Katie Brinson Groom Shoes: Bruno Magli, Tony Tailor Bride: Danny Mizrahi at The Boutique by B.Belle Events Bride Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti at Yarid’s Shoe


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LOOK #3 Groom Suit: Hickey Freeman for Tony The Tailor Groom Shirt: Sebastian Cruz Groom Pants, Bow Tie & Shoes: Jos A. Bank Groom Pocket Square: Sebastian Cruz 76 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

Bride: Danny Mizrahi at The Boutique by B.Belle Events Bride Shoes: Christian Louboutin Bride Hat: Z Malan Bride Earrings: Tiffany & Co.

beautiful and that cool.’ Like it was a weird combination and so it just automatically made me gravitate towards her. Zena: Initially, we weren’t single when we first met, but there was definitely chemistry. Nothing could happen then, but we both were definitely eyeing one another. He was very open and friendly. It’s like the second that you meet him, you just want to give him a big hug. But of course, he was easy on the eyes, very sexy, had a good smile, and he was so cute because he was trying to dance but he really couldn’t. He was trying to keep up with the girls and do the choreography – it was so hysterical. Q | Tell us about the highs and lows you experienced while dating? And in particular, can you share how you managed to overcome the lows? Zena: I think the thing with Tank and I was that we always remained friends. There was even a point in time where I was in another relationship and I would call Tank to ask him questions about things. He would be very honest with me about stuff even though I still had a place for him in my heart. There was one time he cut me off, but I found my way back. Tank: We finally got together in 2004. Our relationship at that point was awesome. I thought that we’d be something that’d last for a long time, if not forever. But life happens, and when you’re young and you’re out in the entertainment world – I think we all make mistakes. However, those mistakes were necessary in order for us to both go our separate ways and grow. And then, oddly enough, come back to it with a better perspective. We figured out how to bring all of those challenges and make them into advantages. And when we got back together the second time, here we are forever at this point. So, it was always destined to be. We just had to go through some things and be tested, and now we’re ready to fight for it. Q | What made you both decide to go ahead with a wedding? Zena: I gave Tank a timeline. I didn’t have a ring, and I wanted my ring because I was getting antsy. We’ve known each other since 2000, and we got married on July 22, 2018. That’s a long time to know somebody before you walk down the aisle. So, I was very impatient because in my mind, I felt I always knew that he was going to be the one. But for him, he had to figure it out, in a sense. When he finally did propose, then he started asking me, ‘Well, you got your ring. Are you going to plan this wedding?’ And I was procrastinating because I got what I wanted. It was just, I was thinking about planning the wedding and I started getting anxiety. There’s a lot of pieces in wedding planning. When I really started looking into it and saw all that I had to do, I figured out a date, hired a wedding planner and got to work. I think it took us about six months to plan it, and everything was absolutely perfect.


cover story Q | One thing our readers are gonna want to hear about, since we do cater to women of color, are those Tweets from four years ago on colorism. Can you share some background on what you were going through in your mind and how you both got through that situation? Tank: I think it’s just really weird how many people just don’t really see the truth about it and haven’t really processed what all women of color go through. And that’s all shades, from the darkest to the lightest. And ultimately, they forget that we’re all black at the end of the day. One shade hating on another shade is counterproductive and misleading to the fact that we’re all black. And so, sometimes what society has done in terms of creating this separation gets the best of all of us. But it’s not us. We don’t have the mediums to create this divide, we don’t have the businesses, we don’t own the entertainment companies or these things that push out these images that make you feel or think a certain way. Attacking each other is just a wrong way to go about it. I experienced a lot of hate because I was with a lightskinned woman and I was like, ‘How is that even possible?’ My mom and sister are light-skinned women while my grandmother was a dark-skinned woman and my great grandmother was brown. I come from many shades in my family. So, all I ever knew was that everybody in my family, regardless of the shade, were black. I just didn’t understand what the problem was. When you talk colorism, society depicts certain things, yes, but that’s not us. We can’t let that dictate how we treat and handle each other now. Going back to my mama who is light-skinned, some people would say, ‘You’re ashamed of what your mama look like.’ I’m like, ‘No, actually. I’m not. I’m right within the guidelines of where my mama at.’ So, I just think that, people, and women of color, for that matter, have been through so much that sometimes it spills over into blaming each other for what we’ve gone through. And we have to get out of that. We’re missing the true enemy. Zena: I never look at the color. When it comes to social media, it’s kind of a lost cause because there’s so much I could say but I refrain from saying. At the end of the day, I’m just talking to strangers with a damn keyboard that are angry, so it really doesn’t matter. I know what I am. My father’s black, my mother’s white. I’m black and white. I can claim whatever, I can claim both sides. I love both sides. I’m married to a black man. Some look at it like Tank came up and now he married a lighter-skinned girl and that black men in Hollywood all do. There’s a lot of light-skinned women that are married to men in the industry who are black, some from Africa. But that time on Twitter people just decided it’s me and it doesn’t add up. It’s not like I went to God and I said, ‘Hey, can you make me this shade? Can you make me a little lighter?’ There’s nothing you can do. My mom and my father created me, so I don’t see the point in being mad at something that I had no choice over. 78 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

Q | What values are most important to you as a couple? Zena: My values are family, being honest and communication. I’m a talker and Tank definitely lets me talk, but it’s great because he’s a talker as well. We discuss stuff that some couples might just shut down. Whenever we do speak on things, I always have a better understanding by the time we’re done with the conversation. Tank: I think mine is also family. Zena helps me with that because I’m very much a worker. She keeps me reminded like, ‘Hey dude, we got a family.’ She keeps me focused with everything that I do. The time that we spend together, we’re just developing our nuances as a family. That helps keep me balanced. Q | As public figures, what are your thoughts balancing what your family and friends need to know versus your personal business? Zena: We keep our personal life off of social media and that’s the best way to be. For our followers, we let them know what we want them to know and bits and pieces of what they need to know as far as them feeling like they know us on a personal level. But in order to keep a relationship and family together, there’s a lot that needs to stay between a couple, and I feel like we’ve managed it very well in maintaining our private life.

LOOK #4 Groom Suit: Hickey Freeman for Tony The Tailor Groom Shirt: Sebastian Cruz Groom Shoes: Bruno Magliano, Jos A. Bank Groom Bow Tie: Jos A. Bank Groom Pocket Square: Sebastian Cruz Bride: J’aton at Mark Ingram Bridal Atelier Bride Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti at Yarid’s Shoe Bride Earrings: Misayo House BLACKBRIDE.COM | 79

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LOOK #5 (Above) Bride: Lian Rokman at The Boutique by B.Belle Events Bride Cape: Custom, The Boutique by B.Belle Events Bride Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti at Yarid’s Shoes Bride Earrings: Misayo House 80 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

LOOK #6 (Right) Bride: Kartel Boutique International Bride Hair Accessory: Z Malan Bride Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti at Yarid’s Shoe

Q | Please tell us more about your children and how you manage blended family life? Zena: Well, as far as managing it, I work from home, so that helps me out a lot. Tank is the one that’s always on the road and he goes to the studio on the weekends. So, he’s definitely away a lot more than I am. But when he is home, we try to do family gatherings or take the kids to go do something fun and memorable. We both do a great job of balancing it out and helping each other. Tank: I just always want to be involved and make sure I go to their school programs and parent-teacher conferences. I’m trying to be there. I mean there’s no feeling like that when you pick the kids up from school and hear ‘Daddy!’ Nothing’s better than that. When I think back to me being a kid, I think back to my father coming home from work and me pulling off his boots every time he came in and that type of thing. I was a very independent kid and not that I missed anything, but my parents had to work. My mom had two jobs and my father worked for the military. So, there was no, ‘Let me meet you at the bus stop.’ My parents had to come to school so much because I was bad. They never had time to enjoy the good stuff I did. So, I just wanted to change that narrative. I want to be there in a different way. My parents did what they had to do, and they did a great job at it. They paved the way for me to be able to be here for my kids. Q | What do you want them to take away about love and life? Tank: The biggest part of love is being available. When your kids start feeling like they can’t count on you, that’s when cracks develop in the relationship. As a parent, you should be dependable. And my parents were. I never missed a meal. I never missed a Christmas, no matter what we didn’t have. As a kid, I didn’t feel it. I didn’t know until I got a little older like, ‘Oh, we’re kinda poor, huh?’ But that was my parents’ job to make sure that I didn’t feel any of those things. And that’s what they did. They were there, they were available for me. So that’s what I think is the most important thing to pass down to my kids. I’m always going to be here for them. Q | On the topic of romance: we’d love to know; do you have date night? If so, what’s your ideal date and how do you keep the spark alive? Zena: We have date night. Usually it falls on a Wednesday. Half the time, we’re so busy and active throughout the week or the weekend, by the time we get to date night and it’s just the two of us, we’re often doing dinner and a movie and just chilling or having a drink or whatever. And because I’m a huge foodie, we’re trying a new restaurant every date. When Tank and I got together, I already told him traveling, vacationing and seeing different parts of the world are important to me. I want to create memories. Tank never PHOTOGRAPHY BY DIOBURTO PHOTOGRAPHY BLACKBRIDE.COM | 81

cover story took a vacation before we got back together. So, the first time he ever took a real vacation was like four or five years ago. All the years he’s been working, he’s been to a lot of places, but he’s never not had an itinerary. Now I got him asking about trips all the time. He’s like, ‘Babe, we got those glimpses. Where are we going to go next?’ I also make sure that we always do a vacation with the kids at least twice a year; and then with he and I, we try to do a vacation at least two to three times a year. And that definitely keeps it interesting and fun. Tank: Of course, with the traveling, trips, date nights and all those things, there are no kids. Having those moments where you can still feel like you’re at the beginning, like you’re kind of courting in a sense. I think that helps, and you need that. You need to stay connected. I’m always like, ‘Hey man, as long as we’re together, we’ll be fine.’ Q | What do you love most about each other? Zena: His understanding of who I really am because that’s the only way we can work. I’m a special type of individual, and not everybody can handle that. But he’s definitely helped me balance myself out and I think that’s the most rewarding thing about our relationship. I’d probably drive myself crazy half the time if it wasn’t for him, but he has a way of keeping me grounded. Tank: Cakes! No, I’m just kidding. I love that she’s a very strong alpha female. It’s exciting being with her. I’ve been in relationships and have dealt with people where I’m like, ‘You ain’t got nothing else to say? You got nothing else to talk about? You don’t have any feelings on this?’ I’m used to Zena being Zena and having somebody who has a thought process on everything. I think that a healthy conversation and that healthy back and forth, whether it be heated or whether it be fun, keeps my mind stimulated. That’s the sort of difference. You gotta have my mind, you gotta somehow penetrate my thought process. If you can’t do that, then it’s going to wear out. But she’s managed to excel at that. Q | What are you guys most looking forward to in your future as a couple? Zena: Well, we just decided we’re done with kids. It was a tough decision that we went back and forth with for a long time. But finally, we concluded that we’re good where we are, and we really want to enjoy this marriage because it’s so new and fresh. We already have kids and we’re building our legacy with our children. Tank: I’m looking forward to everything. Even in terms of when I think about my career and the things that are happening or can happen. I think about us being on more red carpets or us being on Oprah. I think about how all of these cool things could happen, but how they can also help us. I think about what I’m going to get her when I get my first $30,000,000 check. I’m always thinking of ‘we.’ How we can be better, how we’re going to be more fun, how we’re going 82 | BLACKBRIDE.COM


to be more influential. It’s always about us. I’m always looking forward to the next thing and trying to not just wait on it, but to make it happen. We want to be good examples and help lead a new generation of married couples and parents. Q | What’s the best piece of relationship advice that you’ve received that you’d like to pass on to our readers? Zena: Just have fun. That’s the key to life. Tank: In our counseling, the one piece of advice I took from it is that you never stop compromising. Meet each other in the middle in terms of what the decisions are. It doesn’t always work out that way, but at least you tried. Understanding that there are still two sides, there’s still two people involved and still two sets of feelings and mindsets that need to be considered with every decision. So, if you never stop compromising, you never stop wanting to make each other happy.

LOOK #7 (Left) Groom Jacket: Sebastian Cruz Groom Shirt: Zara Groom Shoes: Bruno Magli Groom Pocket Square: Sebastian Cruz Bride: J’aton at Mark Ingram Bridal Atelier Bride Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti at Yarid’s Shoe Bride Bracelet & Earrings: Misayo House Bride Fascinator: Z Malan

LOOK #8 (Above) Bride: Idan Cohen at The Boutique by B.Belle Events Bride Shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti at Yarid’s Shoe Bride Bracelet & Earrings: Misayo House Bride Hat: Z Malan BLACKBRIDE.COM | 83

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Meet Belle

O U R COV E R S T ORY S T Y L IST T HE B OUT I QUE B Y B . B E L L E E V E NT S Photography by Kevin Jack Photography

There is a common saying that if you do what you love, you’ll love what you do. If you need proof of this statement, look no further than Belle Manjong, owner of The Boutique by B.Belle Events.

An attorney by trade, Belle began planning weddings and special events in her spare time. Working only parttime, Belle quickly became an established and highly sought-after wedding planner. In lieu of vacation, she spent time traveling throughout the country to purchase wedding gowns and coordinate events for her discriminated bridal clients. Finally, about five years ago, it was officially time for a career change, and The Boutique by B.Belle Events became a reality. Belle hasn’t looked back since. Over the past decade, while assisting brides internationally, Belle recognized the unique challenges facing today’s brides. Offering boundless, imaginative, innovative ideas, and impeccable style, Belle and her team at The Boutique focus on creating an experience. This is not merely purchasing a dress. This is finding the dress you are going to wear for your wedding – a moment you will remember for the rest of your life. For many brides, today’s unlimited online resources and influences can be overwhelming to comb through. A simple web search reveals endless options and a pressure to be exceptional, which can also be confusing. Enter Belle. When visiting The Boutique or meeting Belle, avoid confining your experience to only the dress. Belle has the capability to join you on as many 84 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

stops on the wedding planning journey as you’d like. From the most impeccable selection of wedding attire, she can also exceed your wildest dreams in areas such as event planning, setup, coordination, and flower arrangement or design. These components do not come together overnight but are often crucial to the complete bridal experience. By immersing themselves in the bride’s vision, the team of The Boutique captures not only the spirit and beauty of each celebrated event, but also the details and unique qualities that make a wedding magical and unforgettable. For any or all of these components comprising your bridal experience, Belle's expertise helps you avoid wedding planning stress through the sheer delight of knowing that your day will be exquisite in the hands of this industry expert and revered taskmaster. “When a client is rendered absolutely speechless and has a twinkle in their eye, that’s when we know our work is done,” Belle says. When you meet her, don’t let her diminutive stature fool you. Belle is a commanding go-getter and visionary artist with a touch of fairy godmother. As she immerses herself in the vision of her bride, Belle has the ability to truly capture the experience the bride has envisioned for her wedding day – and make it a reality. For more information on Belle, visit




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Briana & Keeslon

riana and Keeslon met in church back in August of 2012. After spending six wonderful years together, they decided to tie the knot in their hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana.

the bakery to make our favorite dessert, a tres leche cake, and they wrote “Marry Me Bri,” and put it in the showcase of desserts. When we walked in and got to the cake, he got down on one knee and proposed.

What makes your love special?

The Wedding {Her Story}

God makes our love special! Without him, we have nothing of substance. 1 Corinthians 13 describes an unselfish love that is not easily provoked. A love that endures longevity and is kind. And that is what we strive for because we understand that emotions and feelings are fleeting and fickle. They can change with the wind. Instead, we choose to focus on perfecting true charity that is not conditional or subject to human emotion.

The entire experience leading up to the wedding was very surreal for me. I was so nervous, because I wanted everything to go smoothly, so I literally woke up at 4 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep. Of course, we had some mishaps, but all the worrying went away when I saw Keeslon during our first look. In that moment, all that mattered was that I was about to spend the rest of my life with my best friend.

The Proposal

The Wedding {His Story}

Keeslon proposed at one of our favorite dessert shops back home in front of most of my immediate family. He arranged for

The wedding was an amazing event. Surprisingly leading up to it, I wasn’t nervous at all. My groomsmen and I stayed up until BLACKBRIDE.COM | 87

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4:30 a.m. and barely got two hours of sleep. But to be honest, I was too excited to sleep. So much so, that when I woke up, I then woke my groomsmen saying, “Rise and shine, it’s the big day!” The ceremony went well, and we enjoyed being with all of our friends and family. Memorable Moment

Our most memorable experience was when we spent a day in Kemah. It was loads of fun and it really helped us learn to be friends first. From the laughs and the rides to dinner and the open road, we learned more about each other by spending quality time together. Wedding Song

Our wedding song was “Still” by Mali Music. We chose that song because Keeslon and I are both huge fans of Mali. Another reason we were both drawn to that song is due to its lyrical content. Favorite Wedding Detail

Bride: Briana Nekiah Fontenot, 24, National Gospel Recording Artist

Our favorite wedding detail would most definitely have to be the photo booth. Our guests truly enjoyed themselves with that addition. I’m so happy that we decided to do a photo booth for our wedding favors.

Groom: Keeslon Ken-Trel Fontenot, 25, Car Salesman at Courtesy Chevrolet

Looking Ahead

Wedding Date: 09/15/2018

We are most looking forward to our continuous growth. We want to be positive examples and help others. Wedding Day Advice for a Bride and Groom

Take pictures before the reception if you plan on eating! Don’t stress yourself out and enjoy the moment. The most important thing is that you and your significant other have chosen to honor God.

Place of Residence: Lafayette, Louisiana

Wedding Location: City Club at River Ranch, Lafayette, Louisiana Wedding Theme: Romance Honeymoon Location: Western-Caribbean Cruise (Jamaica, Cayman Islands and Mexico) BLACKBRIDE.COM | 89

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Photography: Monsoleil Weddings Wedding & Reception Location: City Club at River Ranch Bridal Gown: Lorelei Gown by Hayley Paige Town & Country Bridal Bride’s Jumpsuit: D. Auxilly New York, Bride’s Jewelry & Headpiece: Helena Noelle, Bride’s Robe: Monde Noble Bride’s Hair: Darling Hair Experience, Ayana Washington Bride’s Makeup: Courtney Foulds Bridal Party Attire: Layla by Katie May Collection Bella Bridesmaid Groom’s Tux: Ike Evening by Ike Behar Mary Ellen’s Tux Shop Wedding Planner: Emily Sullivan Events Caterer: City Club at River Ranch Cake: Crystal Weddings Favors: Ohh Snap! Photo Booth Flowers: Keisha’s Kreations Stationery: Papered Wonders, Music: DJ Tyrone Jackson



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Therese & Deshawn


herese and Deshawn met in August of 2015 at his workplace, John Watling’s Distillery. They were introduced by a mutual friend during Therese’s birthday party. After the event, Deshawn contacted Therese and asked her on a date. Blushing on the other side of the phone, she anxiously agreed. Since that first date, Deshawn and Therese had been together for a year before he proposed in December of 2017. What makes your love special?

Our love is special because we deeply care about one another and want the best for not only our relationship, but our success in life. We’re best friends and keep each other laughing. Happiness keeps our love burning. We also uplift, encourage, and communicate with each other daily, and even remember to pray together.

The Proposal

Deshawn proposed to me on Christmas Day in 2017. We arrived at his grandmother’s home, where all of his family was gathered for their annual dinner. During the festivities, Deshawn proposed in front of family and friends and, of course, I said, “Yes.” I was overwhelmed with emotion! The Wedding {Her Story}

Walking into the church to see my husbandto-be was like a fairytale; our eyes made contact that very instant. It was a happy and joyous moment, one that I longed for. I felt like a queen throughout the day thanks to my Maid of Honor and bridesmaids who were a great support system. Locking hands with my prince during the time of our vows is something I will never forget.


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The Wedding {His Story}

My wedding experience was amazing. I woke up early to get a head start for the big day and called my wife-to-be to tell her I was anxious and couldn’t wait to spend forever with her. The ceremony went beautifully, and the reception was just the highlight of the big day. The coordination of everything was right on time. I felt excited and happy to know that I married the love my life and could officially spend the rest of my life with my queen. Memorable Moments

My memorable moment was walking down the aisle to greet Deshawn. He was so emotional, our connection in that instance was like no other. Wedding Song

Bride: Therese Pascale Evans, 27, Human Resource Coordinator Groom: Deshawn Victor Sturrup, 29, Assistant Manager Place of Residence: Nassau, Bahamas Wedding Date: 04/07/2018 Wedding Location: St. Anne’s Anglican Church and The Island House, Nassau, Bahamas Wedding Theme: Modern Chic Honeymoon Location: London, Paris, Rome and Barcelona

Eric Benet’s “Spend My Life with You.” The lyrics of the song were very fitting for our first dance. Favorite Wedding Details

My favorite wedding detail was my beautiful cake designed by Jessica Wilson. The intricate details surely stood out front and center at my wedding’s reception. Looking Ahead

As a married couple, we are most looking forward to raising a family and supporting one another throughout life. Wedding Day Advice for a Bride and Groom

Remain calm and relaxed. Reflect on the significance of the day and what it means for the rest of your life. Your wedding day should always be about you, no one else. This is your day to cherish with your significant other, a chapter in your life that will replay until the end of time. Enjoy every second of the day, from beginning to end. Time goes by fast when you’re having fun!


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Photography: Lyndah Wells Photography Wedding Location: St. Anne’s Anne’s Anglican Church Reception Location: The Island House Bridal Gown: Danielle Caprese at Kleinfeld Bride’s Hair: Lucena Sawyer Bride’s Makeup: Eye Candy Makeup Store Bridal Party Attire: The Dessy Collection Groom’s Tux: Kingsman Collection Wedding Planner: Xavia Rolle, Xa La Mode Caterer: The Island House Cake: Take a Bite Bahamas Favors: John Watling’s Distillery Flowers: Wildflower Bahamas Music: DJ Tank



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Toneka & Robert T

oneka and Robert first met in 2002 through mutual friends at a charity event one weekend in Houston, Texas. Throughout the years, they kept in touch, but it wasn’t until almost nine years later that they met for dinner in Los Angeles. And like many other great love stories, the rest is history. This lovely pair have been together now for almost seven years. What makes your love special?

We have an unbreakable bond and our love is effortless. We are best friends first before anything! We spend as much time together as we possibly can. Whether it’s going for our nightly walk, working out, traveling, cooking or just kicking our feet up lounging at home.

The Proposal

I have to say it was a fairytale and I had no idea he was going to propose. We were vacationing one year with close friends in Jamaica. We had such a beautiful day lounging on the beach and enjoying our couple’s spa treatments. When I was getting ready for dinner, there was a knock at the door. When I opened the door, there was a butler with a bottle of champagne and two glasses. The butler then began to escort us down a long path lit with candles and rose petals to the beach where Rob had a private sunset dinner arranged on the water. We then had a fun photo shoot followed by my favorite meal, lobster. I was in heaven! As we finished dinner and were about to leave, he whipped out a white towel and got down on one knee.


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I lost it with tears. It was one of the most magical days of my life! I cried for what felt like hours before I said, “Yes!” The Wedding {Her Story}

On our wedding, I was extremely excited, yet so nervous. I just wanted everything to go as planned and for all of our guests to have a great time. I made sure to take a step back to try and take all of the moments in. In the end, I had a blast and will cherish these memories for the rest of my life. The Wedding {His Story}

I felt amazing! I wasn’t nervous at all, just very excited to get married to my best friend. Having our family and friends all in one place to celebrate our special day was truly a blessing. Memorable Moment

Definitely our first look! Rob and I wanted to see each other privately for the first time before saying our vows. When Rob turned around and we saw each other, we were overwhelmed with joy, tears and pure love. Wedding Song

Ed Sheeran’s, “Thinking Out Loud.” We both love this song! The words are breathtaking, and it fit us well. Favorite Wedding Detail

We have so many, it’s hard to pick a favorite. From our personalized wooden “Welcome” and “Bucket List” board, which we used instead of having our guests sign a wedding book, to the beautiful décor and lighting. Other things we loved were our romantic blooms and crystal glass cylinders filled with candles. Looking Ahead

Our journey being united as one and continuing to make and enjoy experiences together. Wedding Day Advice for a Bride and Groom

Enjoy each and every moment as much as you can. From the time that you begin planning until your special day. Take it all in since the day goes by so quickly. Remember, the wedding day is about the both of you. Not family or friends, only you.

Bride: Toneka Royal, 42, Management Consultant for Accenture Federal Groom: Robert Royal, 39, Real Estate Investor Place of Residence: Leesburg, Virginia Wedding Date: 05/05/2018 Wedding Location: Bella Collina, Montverde, Florida Wedding Theme: Classic, elegant and romantic with a Tuscan feel Honeymoon Location: Early winter to Greece and/or Italy BLACKBRIDE.COM | 101

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Photography: Regina Hyman Photography Ceremony & Reception Location: Bella Collina Bridal Gown: Badgley Mischka at Elegance by Roya Bride’s Hair & Makeup: The Spa at Bella Collina Groom’s Tux: Custom Designed Suit by Elevee Wedding Planner: Vangie De la Concha Caterer: Bella Collina Cake: Bella Collina Music: Gary White Flowers: Vangie De la Concha Stationary: Paper Goat Post Megan & Cedar Watson Lighting: Get Lit Productions



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Tricia & Emmanuel


ricia and Emmanuel met during the summer of 2007 in East Hartford. Tricia’s brother introduced them, but Emmanuel likes to say he was sitting in the friend zone for years. On one Good Friday, Emmanuel decided to shoot his shot and threw Tricia for “the perfect alley-oop,” and the rest is history.

me with all our friends and family around.

What makes your love special?

Favorite Wedding Detail

Our love is special because we are truly best friends. We are able to laugh at each other and share everything. That’s what unconditional love is about. Loving someone even more because of their flaws. The Proposal

We got engaged on New Year’s Day of 2017. We went out to dinner to celebrate the new year and when we walked in, there was a violinist playing all my favorite love songs. He got down on one knee and proposed to

Wedding Song

Our wedding song was “(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time on You” by *NSYNC. We chose this song because we really feel like God prepared us for each other. Also, this is our favorite *NSYNC song.

I loved my bouquet so much. It was designed with orchids and peonies. Everything was beautiful! Looking Ahead

Living together, growing our family, and growing old together. Wedding Day Advice for a Bride and Groom

Have fun! Take time to really enjoy your wedding because it is going to go by fast. BLACKBRIDE.COM | 105

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Bride: Tricia Nyarkoh, 28, Dental Hygienist Groom: Emmanuel Adu, 32, IT Manager Place of Residence: South Windsor, Connecticut Wedding Date: 06/10/2018 Wedding Location: Aria; Prospect, Connecticut Wedding Theme: Simple Elegance Honeymoon Location: Bali, Indonesia


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Photography: Suzanne Delawar Wedding & Reception Location: Aria Bridal Gown: Bridal Reflections Bride’s Hair & Makeup: Hair-Joyce Koomson Jessica’s Beauty Chair Bridal Party Attire: Zubair Clothing, Kola Designer; Groom’s Tux: Henry Coffie Wedding Planner: Lauren O & Co Events Caterer: Aria Cake: Modern Pastry Shop Inc. Music: FineStyle Entertainment Favors: Stemless Wine Glasses Flowers: Earth Blossom Flowers Stationery: Tulaloo



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Marissa & Marcus M

arissa and Marcus met each other on a few different occasions since they grew up in adjoined counties. However, the first time they “caught eyes” was during Marissa’s college graduation party in 2011. Eventually they communicated via social media until they decided to meet one night at a club called Raptures. From that moment on, they couldn’t be separated. People doubted we could make it work. But our love transcended all boundaries and showed our family and friends that it doesn’t matter who you were in the past. True love exists even in the face of adversity or tragedy.

he just shook his head yes. He asked me, “You know I love you, right?” And proceeded to tell me he loved me with all of his heart and that he wanted to be with me forever. He said, “I’m tired of calling you my girlfriend because you mean so much more to me than that.” Marcus then got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. At that exact moment, an attorney who was working at the firm stepped in through the door frame and asked if I had seen a file he was looking for. I quickly shooed him away and said I’d check in with him in a moment. I then made Marcus get up and come outside with me. When we were outside, I said, “Okay, do it again!”

The Proposal

The Wedding {Her Story}

Marcus showed up where I was working and walked into my office sweating bullets. I asked if he was okay, but no words came out,

I told my planner that I wanted to feel like a princess; and that is exactly what I got. Everything was taken care of. I only had

What makes your love special?


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to bring the wedding rings! Waking up that morning was pure euphoria, excitement, and of course, a bit of nervousness. My makeup artist had to stay near me leading up to the ceremony because I kept crying tears of joy and messing up my makeup." I remember when Marcus came up to the bridal suite for the first touch and knocked on the door; the photos of that moment show my genuine happiness. However, when I walked down the aisle and saw him in is suit, it left me speechless. I could only smile and look into his eyes. The Wedding {His Story}

I always told Marissa that she deserved a fairytale wedding. We were fortunate enough to have one and I was lucky enough to marry the princess. My day was complete when I saw Marissa walk down the aisle and when we said, “I do.” Our wedding day was the perfect beginning to the rest of our lives. Memorable Moments

The most memorable moment from our wedding was Major singing while I walked down the aisle, as well as our first dance. It was a total surprise! Wedding Song

Our wedding song was Major’s “This Is Why I love You.” Marcus and I chose this song because the lyrics are perfect for our love. We found love in each other and we learned to love ourselves at the same time. Favorite Wedding Detail

If I had to choose, it would be the flowers! Especially the altar. Seeing the before and after, I was so astounded by the final product and never thought it would’ve been possible. Holly Chapple and her team were one of a kind in talent and personality. Looking Ahead

We are most looking forward to traveling the world together and starting a family. Wedding Day Advice for a Bride and Groom

The guest list is everything. It can be hard to nail down, but make sure you make room for people who are genuinely happy for your union, people who you and your spouse love to be around and those who love you back.

Bride: Marissa Blair Martin, 29, Contract Negotiator Groom: Marcus Terrell Martin, 28, Landscaper Place of Residence: Gordonsville, Virginia Wedding Date: 05/12/2018 Wedding Location: Walden Hall, Culpeper, Virginia Wedding Theme: Romantic Gated Garden Estate Honeymoon Location: California Coast (Huntington Beach, San Diego, Santa Monica & Los Angeles)


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Photography: Michelle Harris, M. Harris Studios Videography: Katie & Floyd Studios Ceremony & Reception Location: Walden Hall, Bride’s Gown: Sottero & Midgley at Urban Set Bride, Hayley Paige at Annalise Bridal Boutique, Bride’s Hair: Hair by Reyunna, Bride’s Makeup: Shanelle Squire, Bridal Party Attire: Bella Bridesmaid, Bride’s Shoes: Badgley Mischka, Chinese Laundry, Groom’s Tux: The Clothing Coach Wedding Planner: Christina Moore, Bella Giornata Events Caterer: A Taste of Elegance Cake: Bijou's Sweet Treats Favors: The Rosy Co. Photo Booth Rescue Flats, Cotton Candy: Fluffness, Flowers: Holly Chapple Music Performances: Jen Violin, Major, DJ, Classic Entertainment




8 Tips for Thriving After “I Do” By Deona Frierson | Photographed by Casey Hendrickson Photography If you asked 20 people what’s the most important piece of marriage advice they’ve received, all their answers would be different. That’s neither a good or bad thing. Many have navigated through marriage by trial and error. But there are also those fortunate enough to journey alongside a wiser couple that’s been happily married for decades to take note from. As someone who has been married for over 16 years, here are things that my husband David and I have done that allow us to thrive after “I Do.”


Know Yourself | What has made marriage not seem like a grueling task for me is my understanding of who I am. Through the ebb and flow of marriage, you’ll have challenges, but knowing who you are and who your partner is will allow you to be honest and vulnerable enough to experience intimacy. 116 | BLACKBRIDE.COM


Honor Your Vow | When you decided to get married, vows were exchanged. Whether you went traditional or wrote your own, you made a promise to commit. Often, I see couples that do not fully realize the vow they made. And even couples that understand this magnitude still find it arduous to love, honor, cherish and take care of their partners. Whether you memorized your vows, have to revisit them or need to renew your vows, you must honor them.


Make Time for Friends | It’s important to cultivate healthy relationships outside of your marriage, whether it be family or friends. This will let you experience some separation from your spouse while you enjoy time and space with people dear to your heart. However, be mindful of bad influences that may compromise your character. You must remember that you are the protector of your marriage.


Take Care of Your Spirit, Soul and Body | Self-care is a hot topic today and I absolutely love that we see the need to care for ourselves holistically. Many of us, married or not, understand the enormous amount of healing and nurturing that’s needed to survive today’s world. Thus, being healthy in every area of our lives is imperative for a thriving marriage. I like to look at it this way. I’m a spirit that lives in a body that has a soul. Your soul is your mind’s intellect and emotions. If it’s wounded, it can be very difficult to experience intimacy.


Lean on One Another | Marriage is a partnership, but you do not have to become your partner. Many become intimidated by their partner’s strength, especially in an area that they’re weak in. Learn where you are weak, where your partner is strong and vice versa, and embrace it. Don’t allow your differences to turn your partnership into a battleground or unhealthy competition. Harmony in marriage is learning how to trust and depend on one another.


Spontaneity | Don’t let yourself get caught up in a daily routine that makes you forget adventure and enjoyment. A happy marriage requires a certain amount of spice to keep it alive. Try new things, go to new places, leave love notes in areas you know your partner will look. Initiate sex! Spontaneous romance isn’t reserved for novels alone. You need to intentionally pursue your spouse to let them know you love, appreciate and desire them.


Marriage Retreats | As important as it is to get away as a married couple, it’s equally important to take time to focus on your marriage. A retreat with your spouse is a great way to enhance your love. Many couples believe that something has to be wrong to go on a marriage retreat or get counseling, but that’s not true. Retreats allow you to connect inside and outside of the bedroom. They also provide opportunities to befriend other married couples.


Embrace Change | Change is inevitable. And the way we view it is the very frame that we see marriage. I believe that conflict often arises when change is running its course. Allow yourself to go through the process. Work through whatever circumstance with an understanding that things will be better on the other side. In the end, you both will evolve on this journey together.

The Excellent Marriage provides innovative preand post-marriage support and counseling options for couples committed to experiencing relationship excellence.


after the aisle


What I’ve Learned After One Year of Marriage By Marquita Casterlow Richardson | Photographed by Still Shots Photography


hey say it’s best to spend a small amount of time planning your wedding, and a large amount planning your marriage. I’d have to agree with that statement. My wedding was one of the best days of my life, but it was also short lived. What took a year to plan was over within 24 hours. Although I’m thankful to have had a wonderful wedding, what’s most important is having a great marriage. Now that it’s been a year after saying “I do,” I feel confident sharing a few tips that have gotten my husband and I through our marriage journey.

} KEEP GOD FIRST My husband and I dated for over five years before we got married. However, I knew things would be different when we made it official. Marriage has been fun, but it is an adjustment. We have had to adapt to a lot of “firsts,” which include our first time living together, our first time managing finances together, among many others. Some of these firsts have come with challenges, but with the right tools and support, we are learning how to navigate them. The most important thing that has helped in our first year of marriage is our relationship with God. We both realize that without God, this won’t last. Now that we’re married, we recognize that the decisions we make don’t just affect us individually, but they affect both parties involved. Thus, it’s important that we seek God and consult each other when it comes to making certain decisions. 118 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

} LEARN TO CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES Another thing I’ve learned, and sometimes still struggle with, is the importance of choosing my battles. Nobody is going to agree on everything all the time. The things I really believe in or feel passionate about, I will stand by. Other things that may be trivial, I try to keep quiet about. I’m not always successful, but I’m learning that having peace in my house and peace of mind is better than being right.

} THE IMPORTANCE OF FORGIVENESS I recently saw a post on Instagram that stated, “Marriage is a relationship between two good forgivers.” I believe that statement is so accurate for many couples. Forgiveness is a choice, so we can choose to do it or not. There will be times where we don’t always do things right and we fall short. But if we want things to work out, we must make the decision to forgive in order to move forward in the relationship. Depending on the severity of what you’re dealing with, choosing to forgive may not always be easy. That’s when it’s important to go in your prayer closet to hear from God regarding what you need to do for your particular situation.

} INVEST IN COUNSELING One of the best ways we’ve invested in our marriage is by going to marriage counseling. The entire experience has been rewarding for the both of us. Sometimes, it helps having a third-party give an unbiased opinion and helpful advice while lending an ear regarding a personal matter. We wanted to make sure that we set ourselves up for success by connecting with a faith-based marriage counselor to help us on this journey of blending our lives together. We’ve also attended local marriage seminars that have been effective.

} KNOWING THE LOVE LANGUAGES It’s not often that you and your spouse share the same love language. My top love language involves acts of service while my husband’s encompasses physical touch. Discovering each other’s love languages and making a conscious effort to love each other according to those specific love languages has been essential to how we give and receive love. Marquita Casterlow Richardson is a native of Greensboro, North Carolina. She began blogging in 2013 and is the creator of Meet Marquita, a life and style blog where she writes about travel, style, wedding, beauty and lifestyle content. Find out more at BLACKBRIDE.COM | 119

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Happy Home Wares For Newlyweds

RING VIDEO DOORBELL PRO; $249; Keep your household safe with a video doorbell that connects to your smartphone.

By Cortney Moore

There’s no denying that the best part of moving in together is the shopping. For that reason, we’ve narrowed down a few of the best items that’ll help keep your relationship in wedded bliss post-honeymoon.

ANOVA SOUS VIDE PRECISION COOKER 4.0; $159; Become the top chef you always wanted to be with a sous vide device that maintains your food’s temperature and delivers restaurantquality results.

MARSHALL STANMORE WIRELESS SPEAKER; $350; Listen to your favorite tunes and dress up your space with a gorgeous speaker that offers high fidelity.

PHILLIPS HUE WHITE & COLOR AMBIANCE STARTER KIT; $199.99; Turn on your lights and customize their color settings without ever having to get up from your seat.

JULIE-HOME FLOATING WALL MOUNTED MAIL HOLDER AND RACK SHELF; $33.97; Avoid mail pile up and lost keys with a contemporary wooden sectional.

IROBOT ROOMBA 960 VACUUM; $599.99; If you hate vacuuming, this self-operating dust banisher is absolutely worth the splurge.

LOVE AND VICTORY OURS DECANTER SET; $108; They say the couple that drinks together, stays together. But that doesn’t mean you have to share your glass. 120 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

AYESHA CURRY 11-PIECE COOKWARE SET; $129.99; Get a durable cookware set that actually motivates you to go into the kitchen after a long day of hard work.

KATE SPADE NEW YORK RING IT UP TURQUOISE RINGHOLDER; $30; Losing your wedding band or engagement ring won’t be an option with this eye-catching ring holder.

GOOGLE HOME; $129; Find out the answer to all your questions and control compatible smart home devices with this oncall virtual assistant.


Top 5 Destinations for Winter Travel By Binta Fondwi It’s getting cold outside. And while sitting near an open fire watching snow fall with hot chocolate in-hand sounds great—wet socks, biting temperatures, and frozen windows do not. It’s time to leave town! Winter is the best time to travel, especially to an exotic location. We’ve circled the globe for you and narrowed down five places you can visit when the leaves start falling. Here’s your insider guide on where to go, stay, shop, eat, and visit when traveling during winter.

5 Things To Do: Grab yourself a cup of mint tea, also known as “Moroccan whisky,” for its heavily sweetened flavor and sometimes frothy crown. 1

Morocco Make the most of the winter season by heading to Morocco. Located on the western coast of Africa, Morocco is filled with vibrant landscapes and an adventurous spirit that makes it a great place to ditch the cold.


Journey on camelback or in a 4x4 vehicle to the Sahara Desert for a night of luxury camping.


See everything that makes Morocco great from a hot air balloon. Gently float over mountains, deserts, and lively cities as Morocco dances below.



Immerse yourself in Moroccan culture and history by visiting one of the country’s beautiful mosques. The Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca is a stunning site to take in during sunset. 4


Visit the Espace Vitalité Chenot Marrakech, a Chenot Vitality spa that specializes in biontology—personalized, toxin-removing treatments.

CURRENCY: Moroccan Dirham BEST TIME TO GO: September to November

Mandarin Oriental Marrakech

Take in everything Morocco has to offer during the day and then unwind in luxury and decadence at the Mandarin Oriental Marrakech. Complete with marble floors, Moroccan tiles, lush gardens, and olive groves, take a deep breath and relax. Visit for more information.



Egypt Egypt captures the hearts of thousands of travelers each year with its lavish history that dates back thousands of years. Not only is it home to the ancient Pharaohs, but it’s also one of the best places to travel to during the winter due to its warm climate. The warmest locations to visit in Egypt during the winter are Luxor and Aswan, which also happens to be home to half of the world's monuments!

5 Things To Do: 1 Sample culinary delights from local tribes. In particular, you can get your fill with delectable Nubian meals in one of the country’s bustling restaurants. 2 Sail down the Nile River in style with an Egyptian cruise line. Onboard the Oberoi Zahra, travelers can take in the beautiful golden dunes, wildlife, temples, and countless historic sites.


Marriott Mena House Hotel

Where else on earth can you sit on the balcony and take in one of the seven wonders of the world? Mena House Hotel is located perfectly adjacent to the Pyramids of Giza. Originally used as a royal hunting ground and later converted into a hotel, these walls are rich in history and have seen many famous guests in their day. Visit for more information. Photography courtesy of Marriott Mena House


3 Tourists flock to St. Catherine’s Monastery located in Mount Sinai, you know, where Moses received the Ten Commandments! If that’s not enough to make you visit, this monastery holds a plethora of priceless artifacts, making it perfect for history buffs. 4 Thrill-seekers can rejoice because Egypt is home to many adventurous activities, including theme parks, submarine tours, ATV riding, snorkeling and more! 5 Go back in time to the days of ancient Egypt by visiting the Giza pyramids and the Sphinx. No trip to Egypt would be complete without a visit to these ancient monuments as they’re two of the oldest on the list of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Thailand Thailand is home to overflowing waterfalls, never-ending beaches, and rich culture. In the winter, the temperature doesn’t go below a comfortable 85 degrees, making it a perfect addition to your top winter destination list.

5 Things To Do: 1 Eat at Sirocco and Vertigo, which are located in the Lebua Hotel and Vertigo at Banyan Tree respectively. These restaurants not only offer the best fine dining in Bangkok, but the best views as well since they’re on top of the tallest buildings in the city. 2 Visit Koh Kood, an underpopulated island located on the eastern part of the bay. See Thailand as it was in the past in this virtually untouched tropical paradise. Koh Kood is also home to the Soneva Kiri resort. 3 Relax at Spa Athénée located in Athénée Hotel. This spa offers treatments unlike any other, including custom treatments for your blood type—a mastered tradition based off of Eastern medicine that’s aimed at balancing your wellbeing. But they offer other specialized treatments as well. 4 Thailand is famous for its floating markets, so visiting one is a must! The most popular markets are Amphawa and Damnoen Saduak. Wake up early with the locals to experience one of these colorful markets filled with goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, and tasty seafood.

If you’re into body art, Thailand is one of the best places to get a traditional Sak Yant tattoo at a Buddhist temple. Though, we advise doing research on the meaning behind the design you choose and the amount of time you need to dedicate before getting inked. 5


Six Senses Yao Noi

Take to island life at the Six Senses Yao Noi, a gorgeous resort located on a thrilling cliff that overlooks the Phang Nga Bay and houses several private villas that give off a modern tree-house feel. This resort is described as one of the world's most stunning hideaways and each villa is built with local teak that’s topped with a palm leaf roof. Visit for more information. Photography courtesy of Six Senses Yao Noi BLACKBRIDE.COM | 123


Cuba No matter the season, Cuba is a must on any travel list. During the winter, the temperature ranges from 79 to 82 degrees, making it a fabulous destination to escape the cold.

5 Things To Do: Rice, beans and fried plantains—there’s no better place to get your Latin cuisine fix than Cuba. Throw in some island rum and you’re sure to put on your dancing shoes after dinner. 1

Get a bird's eye view and use Cuba as your cushion when you skydive toward its lustrous Caribbean Sea and white sand beaches. 2

Forget walking around the city! Dress and drive the part of past Cuba during a driving tour of Old Havana, where you’ll get to take in the town behind the wheel of a 1950s-style convertible. 3


Hotel Saratoga

Hotel Saratoga was built in the 1930s and is located in the heart of Havana, which makes it easy walking distance to many famous tourist attractions. A rooftop pool and spa make it a hip spot for many celebrities, including Beyoncé and Jay-Z. Visit for more information. Photography courtesy of Hotel Saratoga



Cuban artists are garnering a worldwide following with collectors across the globe. You can find classic Cuban art in a number of state-run and public galleries. But in order to find the best pieces, check out the island’s private studios. 5

Take a yacht excursion to the island's beaches of Cayo Coco or Cayo Saetia for a day of swimming, playing in the sand, and sipping on fresh mojitos. Sounds a little better than eggnog, right?

Tenerife Say adiós to your winter blues and holá to some coveted Spanish sunshine on the Island of Tenerife. Located in the Canary Islands south of Spain and to the west of Morocco, this island getaway is the perfect way to experience the famous laidback Spanish lifestyle. With temperatures in the high 70s during the winter months, this European getaway is a must!

5 Things To Do: Indulge your sweet tooth with Tenerife’s wide range of delicious honey. From single blooms or multi-flower blends, you’re sure to say “sabroso” (yummy). 1

Tenerife offers some of the world’s most pristine beaches. From Los Cristianos to Fañabé, you’ll never tire of the deep turquoise ocean views. 2


Whether you’re looking to scuba dive or just leisurely explore with a snorkel, Tenerife is the perfect place to embrace your inner mermaid. With incredible underwater life, vibrant corals and water at a lovely temperature, you’ll end up asking when’s the next citizenship test. If you love the outdoors, you don’t want to miss the highest peak in Spain, Mount Teide, which also happens to be a dormant volcano. Or climb up on Pico Viejo to marvel at majestic craters.


Ever wanted to crawl around in the largest lava tube in Europe? Well, in Tenerife you’ll have the chance. This volcanic cavity offers a truly unmatched experience, its winding passages give you the chance to marvel at nature’s strange beauty.




Binta is a Luxury Travel Concierge and owner of Elise Travel. She is passionate about traveling and is on a mission to provide memorable experiences for her clients. Find out more at


BEST TIME TO GO: September to February

The Ritz-Carlton Abama

Luxury and The Ritz-Carlton go handin-hand. Inspired by Spain’s Moorish roots, the hotel is located on a clifftop in the southwestern coast of the island and offers seven pools, 12 restaurants (two of which are Michelin-starred), an exclusive beach and breathtaking views. Visit for more information. Photography courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Abama BLACKBRIDE.COM | 125


Say “I Do” in Italy |

Wine, Dine & Marry: The Perfect Tuscan Wedding

By Binta Fondwi TUSCANY: Complete with all the pasta and wine you can dream of alongside majestic hills and historic landmarks— you’ll want to get married the Italian way. When you combine the stylish lifestyle of Italy with the elegance of a Tuscan villa and throw some culinary arts in the mix, you get the Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco. This hotel boasts two restaurants, a cooking school and organic kitchen, a spa, and fitness facilities. If you weren’t already grabbing your card to book, there is also a lush golf club and a world-famous winery. Nestled in the gorgeous Val d’Orcia Natural Park, also known as the Brunello di Montalcino wine region, is the chic hilltop of Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, a resort that sits atop 5,000 acres of land. This resort, owned by Massimo and Chiara Ferragamo, is everything you dreamed of as a little girl for your big day. The stunning vistas of southern Tuscany are nothing short of a fairytale. If you want your wedding day to have a unique, contemporary feel and be more beautiful than you ever imagined, Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco is just for you. 126 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

Where to Wed: Whether you’re looking for an indoor or outdoor venue, an intimate or grand space, Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco has the ideal space for your nuptials. Here is a sampling of their offerings: San Michele Arcangelo

This is a medieval church with a deep history. Perfect for traditional ceremonies with up to 50 guests. The Ancient Ruins

The estate’s medieval castle provides a highly sought-after wedding experience for princess brides. The castle ruins are equipped to serve up to 200 guests. The Borgo Piazzetta

Nestled in the town square of the estate is the Borgo Piazzetta, which is a rustic outdoor venue that’s excellent for weddings or rehearsal dinners and can fit up to 200 of your closest friends and family. The Capanna Vineyard

Become ‘Mr. & Mrs.’ in the breathtaking vista of Capanna Vineyard—the

perfect spot for editorial-worthy wedding photos. This outdoor location is optimal for 100 guests.

Where to Unwind: With the Spa at Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, you won't have to go far to get a healthy dose of relaxation. From facials, massages, a body scrub made with Tuscan iris root, and of course your choice of mani-pedi, you can get pampered before you don your white gown. If you’re in need of deep relaxation, the sauna, steam bath, and private garden shouldn’t be missed.

Where to Dine: Ristorante Campo Del Drago

The spectacular views of the Montalcino countryside welcome you to this restaurant located right on the resort. Open daily for dinner and Sunday brunch serving incredibly delicious, upscale Italian dishes made with fresh produce sourced from the resort’s organic kitchen garden.

Osteria La Canonica

Located right outside your villa door in the heart of the Borgo, this charming spot offers a wonderfully authentic Tuscan experience. The awe-inspiring veranda overlooking the valley and its casual, relaxed vibe offer the ultimate dining experience. Boccon DiVino

A short drive from the resort brings you to this ristorante, a product of the Fiorani family's love of fine dining. Every dish is handcrafted with traditional methods. You can expect handmade pasta, fresh vegetables, and game sourced from local lands. Add in the gorgeous balcony and friendly service, and Boccon DiVino is unforgettable. Trattoria Il Pozzo

When you picture an Italian family restaurant, it’s likely you’re picturing Trattoria Il Pozzo. Located in the heart of a Tuscan village, Trattoria Il Pozzo offers ample outdoor seating, natural light and food so yummy, you’ll want to come back time and time again. This casual spot is a great choice for lunch or an early dinner.

Where to Explore: Firenze

If you’re looking for a day trip that will stun and delight you, hop in a car and take the 2.5-hour ride to Florence, a city showcasing some of the world’s most exquisite art and sculptures, cuisine, and of course, the Duomo. For dinner, don’t miss Enoteca Pinchiorri, Florence’s only 3-star Michelin restaurant. Their service is extremely attentive but not invasive, and the food is legendary. Arezzo

Fortresses, basilicas, art, and antiques, oh my! Arezzo is a quaint medieval town only a one-hour drive from the resort. Arezzo is an incredible place to avoid tourists and rub elbows with locals. The city is full of monuments, lovely views, and even a Roman amphitheater. While you’re there, make a reservation at Il Falconiere, a 1-star Michelin restaurant with incredible Tuscan dishes.

Photography courtesy of Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco & Studio Fotografico Bacci (Bride) Wine Tour

Rent a Vespa

If you haven’t drunk your body weight in wine during your stay, then schedule a half-day wine tour in the Chianti area. Half day tours usually start in the morning and last between five to six hours, so you’ll be back at the resort by dinner time.

What’s more Italian than cruising through the Tuscan hills with your lover on a Vespa? Cruise around Tuscany’s winding countryside past vineyards, olive groves, and villas fit for a queen. Visit for more information.

Cooking Class

Binta is a Luxury Travel Concierge and owner of Elise Travel. She is passionate about traveling and is on a mission to provide memorable experiences for her clients.

Learn how to make your Italian favorites from expert chefs with the resort’s handson pizza or pasta-making class. The best part: you get to sample your work!

Find out more at BLACKBRIDE.COM | 127


Celebrate Your Love at Catesby Farm Estate Introducing Catesby Farm Estate, nestled in the hills of scenic Middleburg, Virginia. Far away from the hustle and bustle of city living, this immaculate, ethereal 240-acre property in Loudoun County, Virginia sits on some of the most picturesque countryside in America. The historic Catesby Farm Estate redefines luxury and is just a short drive from our nation’s capital. Once you visit the property, not only will you want to get married there, you may never want to leave. This property boasts a Belmont style barn, a beautiful airy greenhouse and acres of green lawns, including the elegant Boxwood Gardens and so much more. The open lush green fields are perfect for a tented reception for up to 200 guests. If you want your wedding day to be the epitome of luxury and beauty, then Catesby Farm Estate is just the place for you. For more information, visit

PROPERTY FEATURES }} Belmont-style barn available for hosting events

}} Explore the quaint town of Middleburg

}} Luxuriously landscaped property – perfect for a tented reception

}} Virginia wineries

}} Pond for fishing and canoeing }} Swimming pool }} Tennis courts }} Basketall court



}} Health, beauty, and wellness options }} Horseback riding Photography courtesy of Stephen Karlisch for Catesby Farm Estate

The Manor House The crown jewel of Catesby Farm. There is charm and elegance around every corner of this beautiful 14,000-square-foot classic colonial-style mansion. The Manor House is equipped with 3 king beds, 3 queen beds, and 2 full beds along with 7.5 bathrooms.

The Stone Cottage Quaint and warm, this cottage surrounds you in elegance that will make any guest smile. The Stone Cottage is equipped with 1 queen bed, 1 set of twin beds, and 1 full bathroom. BLACKBRIDE.COM | 129


The School House A beautifully appointed home! The School House is equipped with 1 king bed, 2 sets of twin beds, and 2 full bathrooms.

The Greenhouse Filled with light and sunshine, the Greenhouse is a perfect spot for hosting your Friday evening welcome reception or a Sunday brunch to cap off your spectacular stay at the Estate. The Greenhouse is equipped with 1 king bed, 1 queen bed, 2 sets of bunk beds with trundles and 2.5 bathrooms.

The Hunters Lodge This is the perfect place for those looking for privacy during their stay at Catesby Farm. The Hunters Lodge is equipped with 1 king bed and 1 full bathroom.


Sizzling All-Inclusives To Help You Escape The Cold | By Adrie Bailey

Photography courtesy of each venue

If you’re not a fan of chestnuts roasting on an open fire while the weather outside is frightful, then perhaps leaving town and adding a spark to your relationship sounds more appealing. And maybe you don’t want to worry about the logistics of your trip, you know, like food or activities. That’s why we recommend cultivating your love at an all-inclusive resort. We’re talking hot digs that offer robust packages for a simplified and budgetfriendly experience. Take a look at our favorites below.

The Westin Playa Bonita, Panama City Nothing says escape the snow like a resort with “Playa Bonita” in its name. That’s Spanish for “Nice Beach,” and it’s an appropriate name for this wonderful property situated on a mile-long shoreline that’s also framed by lush tropical rainforests. Located just a 15-minute drive away from Panama City, this is one of the hottest destinations in Latin America with a cosmopolitan vibe. You can enjoy your own little paradise lounging by the pool with a cocktail and the one you love. Or take advantage of one of this resort’s award-winning international restaurants. The Clarins Spa is another great option for downtime.

El Mangroove, Autograph Collection, Costa Rica This exclusive, boutique hotel has 85 rooms tucked between a tropical mangrove rainforest and the Gulf of Papagayo — one of Costa Rica’s toprated beaches. Moreover, the in-room hammocks offer great views of local wildlife. A bohemian-inspired design meshes fabulously with indigenous influence. Be sure to check out the spectacular 130-foot pool along with the resort’s two on-site restaurants, state of the art spa, and four private bungalows. You can also take advantage of the property’s private boat tours and visit a secluded beach for some R&R.

Marriott Cancun Resort, Mexico On the western edge of the Caribbean, Cancun is a hot tourist destination and the Marriott Cancun Resort is at the center of this tropical paradise. With newly renovated rooms, seven international restaurants, and three tropical pools, this property is perfect for lovebirds who can’t sit still.

Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort, Curaçao If the only driving you want to do is at the range, check out the wonderful Santa Barbara Beach & Golf Resort. With 27 acres available, this upscale and romantic accommodation is meant for couples seeking luxury and relaxation. The resort features a full-service spa, four HydroGrid clay tennis courts, three pools and a Pete Dye-designed Golf course that’s rated number one in the Caribbean by USA Today!

The Landings Resort and Spa, St. Lucia The Landings Resort & Spa is situated on the shore of Rodney Bay — one of St. Lucia’s most celebrated and secluded beaches that screams luxury and elegance. Stunning views will leave you questioning if you really need to return home while you sit in one of the villa suites above the private yacht marina. Your spacious accommodations include private balconies, some of which feature plunge pools with enough room to fit a dozen party guests. For more information on these not so average all-inclusive resorts, visit



South Africa |

A Luxury Cape & Winelands Honeymoon | By Binta Fondwi

STUNNING SCENERY, exotic wildlife, and delectable delicacies are just a few of the many amenities that make South Africa one of the hottest honeymoon destinations. A wide array of unique cuisine, hundreds of wineries, and rich cultural diversity are all just the beginning of South Africa’s seduction. You’ve heard it described as wild and adventurous, but now we’ll show you the romantic side of South Africa and why you should go after “I do.”

Where to Stay: One&Only Cape Town

Make yourself at home with the One&Only Cape Town. Enjoy worldclass dining experiences, personalized pampering on a private island, and limitless shopping without even leaving the resort. This paradise is situated on the trendy Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, which overlooks the marina with panoramic views of Table Mountain. Take it all in while enjoying the art of being a “sundowner” – the South African term for going somewhere pretty to have a cocktail and watch the sun go down. La Residence – Franschhoek

Are you a food and wine enthusiast? Then, the culinary capital of Fran132 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

schhoek (‘French Corner’ in Dutch) is perfect for you. La Residence is a gorgeous 30-acre estate that sits in the Franschhoek Valley and is surrounded by exquisite vineyards and gardens. It’s a haven of luxury, sophistication, quiet opulence, and is just an hour drive from Cape Town.

Where to Dine: Beluga

If you want to dine like royalty or maybe spot a celebrity in Cape Town, then Beluga is the place to be. We mean that quite literally as guests such as Prince Harry and Kiefer Sutherland have been spotted here. If that doesn’t sell you, then the trendy New York loft-style setting, private courtyard, and signature sushi dishes will.

Photography courtesy of One&Only Cape Town and La Residence

Nobu Restaurant

The One&Only Cape Town is home to the first ever Nobu Restaurant in Africa. Master Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa brings his classically styled Japanese cuisine and mixes in some South African seafood and spices. La Petite Colombe

Looking for something très magnifique in Franschhoek? With countless awards, incredible handcrafted cuisine, and a robust wine list, you’ll want to add this dining experience to the top of your list.

Where to Entertain: South African Safari

It’s not a trip to South Africa without a daring safari in the grasslands. Lively elephants, cheetahs on the hunt, zebras, and fierce lions are just some of the animals that you can encounter on a safari in the world-renowned Sabi Sands or Kruger National Park. Swim with Sharks

You already took the plunge by getting married and now it’s time to do it again — this time with sharks! South Africa is known for some of the biggest sharks in the world and now you can come face-to-face with these sea giants. Jump right in, with or without a cage.

Surf the Coast

One of the most popular activities in South Africa is surfing. You can rent a car and drive up the coast from Cape Town to Durban while stopping at different surfing spots along the way. Check out Muizenberg and Jeffreys Bay, two popular surfing areas, to avoid the tourist traps.

Where to Unwind: Romance at Sea

Let the One&Only Cape Town plan your day with their exclusive honeymoon package. Take to the sea for a night under the stars on a private yacht. Watch the sunset while choreographed floating lanterns and music indulge your senses. Then head back to paradise for a meal prepared just for two! The Spa at La Residence

While you stay at La Residence; you and your other half can take advantage of the two in-house massage therapists. Delight in an aromatherapy

massage, a Desert Glow Journey body scrub or even the revitalizing Kalahari Cocoon Treatment.

Only in South Africa: Robben Island

A trip to Robben Island bears the cultural significance of the entire city and is a must-do on any itinerary. The excursions usually last 3.5 to 4 hours with ferries leaving from the V&A Waterfront. Robben Island serves as a reminder of the country’s past with South Africa’s first democratically elected president – Nelson Mandela. Binta is a Luxury Travel Concierge and owner of Elise Travel. She is passionate about traveling and is on a mission to provide memorable experiences for her clients. Find out more at BLACKBRIDE.COM | 133


Destination Love: What to Pack For Your Honeymoon

Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun or snuggle up in a snowy wonderland, we’ve got 10 must-have items to make your honeymoon an unforgettable one.

TISSUE PRINT WOOL & CASHMERE WRAP SCARF; $99; Stay toasty with this luscious wool and cashmere scarf that features an artistic print.

By Cortney Moore

MISSHA WATERPROOF SUN MILK SPF 50+/ PA+++; $22; Protect your beautiful melanin without ghostly white cast.

FLORA BY FLORA NIKROOZ TESSA CHEMISE; $54; Feel feminine and chic with this flirty babydoll chemise.

TILE STYLE LUGGAGE TRACKER; $70; Keep track of your luggage and small elusive possessions at all times with a discreet GPS tracker.

LOVE BEAUTY AND PLANET MURUMURU BUTTER & ROSE DELICIOUS GLOW BODY BUTTER; $11.99; Indulge your skin with a romantic body butter made from ethically sourced rose oil. 134 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

MERBLISS WEDDING DRESS RUBY ULTRA VITALIZING MICRO FIBER MASK; $23.99; Keep your post-wedding glow alive with these brightening sheet masks that are infused with ruby powder and red ginseng.

WYNDHAM EGYPTIAN COTTON MR. & MRS. TERRY SPA ROBE SET; $105.49; Lounging around is always better in pairs, so that’s why we recommend these luxurious spa robes for two.

CANON POWERSHOT G9 X MARK II; $429.99; Capture every moment, everywhere you go with this lightweight and stylish camera from Canon.

LUNA BRALETTE & TANGO BOTTOM FROM BEACH BUNNY SWIMWEAR; $190; Get in touch with your inner beach bunny with this spaghetti strap bikini top and Brazilian-inspired swimwear bottom.

ELEGANTPARK WIFEY JUMBO TOTE; $29.99; If you’re married and you know it and you really want to show it, get this bag!


Bridal Suite

collective of fine vendors

find a vendor in your area

If you would like to apply to be a member of The Bridal Suite (vendor), please visit Andre Brown Photography Seeking timeless, modern, stylish photographs and heartwarming cinematic wedding videos, or maybe a portrait session, contact us today. Location: Atlanta Category: Photography Email: Website:

Artfully MAde Designs

Designs for all of life’s special moments including weddings, anniversaries, showers and more. Location: New York/New Jersey Category: Graphic Design Email: Phone: 646.820.5138 Website:

Body Werk Jewels

We provide beautifully designed custom bespoke bouquets, headpieces, gifts, jewelry and more. Location: National Category: Accessories Email: Website:

Dream Day Bridal Boutique Your dream wedding gown is here! Our services are designed specifically to provide clients seeking luxury and finesse, tailored executions to capture their vision for their one special day. Location: California • Category: Fashion Email: Phone: 949.873.0983 Website:

Elise Travel

Elise Travel helps busy professionals who desperately need to escape from their fast-paced routine. Location: Hagerstown, Maryland Category: Travel Email: Phone: 240.772.9722 Website: BLACKBRIDE.COM | 135

bridal suite

Eliza Jane Photography

Eliza Jane Photography is an international destination wedding photography studio based in Los Angeles. Location: California Category: Photography Email: Phone: 424.571.3897 Website:

Events by Lady J

A full service wedding and event planning company located in Maryland. Location: Owings Mills, Maryland Category: Planning Email: Phone: 443.878.6633 Website:

Kesha Lambert Photography International wedding and lifestyle portrait photographers based in New York. Location: New Rochelle, New York Category: Photography Email: Phone: 914.400.0377 Website:

LaJoy Photography

We have one of the best weddings, engagements, portrait photography and corporate photography teams around. Location: Atlanta • Category: Photography Email: Phone: 404.509.2125 Website:

Lily V Events

LilyVevents is a full-service design and planning atelier for custom event décor, floral styling, event rentals, event planning and coordination. Location: National Category: Planning & Design Email: Phone: 267.736.4442 Website:

Love In Motion

Atlanta’s best Wedding Cinematography! Location: Atlanta, Georgia Category: Videography Email: Phone: 404.988.9586 Website: 136 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

Love Ink

A full service special occasions writing service that offers one-on-one custom coaching to assist you with all of your writing needs, including: wedding vows, speeches, love stories, and more. Location: New York Category: Wedding Vow Coaching and Writing Email: Website:

Press Play Productions

DJ Ever’s Press Play Productions is Georgia’s premium DJ & lighting company bringing the party to you. Location: Georgia Category: Music & DJ Email: Phone: 678.237.2180 Website:

Social Shots Photography Our goal is to provide high-end quality photography services to capture your love story, which is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Location: Atlanta • Category: Photography Email: Phone: 770-815-0623 Website:

Still Shots Photography

Our goal is to make every photo shoot and wedding photography experience enjoyable and stress-free. Location: Greensboro, North Carolina Category: Photography Email: Phone: 336.987.9394 Website:

Weddings and Events by T.Michelle

We plan and create luxurious weddings and events. Location: North Carolina Category: Planning and Design Email: Phone: 336.706.8200 Website:

YNOT iMages

YNOT iMages covers fashion, maternity, architectural, and wedding photography. Location: Alabama Category: Photography Email: Phone: 205.253.2779 Website: BLACKBRIDE.COM | 137


Six Couples Enjoy PopBliss™ 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia A Week-Long Luxe Pop-Up Wedding Celebration By Racquel Kristi |

Photography by Kesha Lambert Photography & Andre Brown Photography

THE COUPLES: The Terrys | The Newtons |The Palmese-Newells | The Bartons | The Gilmers | The Plummer-Marcanos Imagine trading in the stress of wedding planning for a celebrity-style dream wedding without much sacrifice. PopBliss gives you that and more. “The allure of PopBliss is the secrecy of how the three-day extravaganza unfolds. Everything is kept secret from the couples until the last moment,” said Racquel Kristi, visionary and Founder of PopBliss. The 2018 PopBliss week-long Luxe Pop-Up Wedding celebration hosted in Atlanta, Georgia, was a triumphant success thanks to the enthusiastic participation of the six newlywed couples, celebrity and high-profile vendors, and venues. This annual celebration, which visits a different city each year, allows for modern day engaged and married couples to participate in a unique and memorable celebrity-style dream wedding that aligns with their belief system and adventurous spirit. All six couples were totally unaware of the finer details apart from the city and date. Participating in the celebration represented diverse partnerships,

lifestyles, cultures, ethnicities, and religions. Building true, human connections by breaking down lifestyle barriers, the PopBliss motto says it all: ‘There is one thing the world has in common, we all have a reason to celebrate.’ “PopBliss chose amazing couples,” said participating duo, the PlummerMarcanos. “It wasn’t a competition, we cheered each other on! They were all our couples, too,” the Newtons added. When the sites, itineraries, surprises and wedding locations were finally revealed, everyone was thrilled. “It was a movie,” said Team Terry, 2018 Blissers. “The details, the dream catchers, the aquarium. I could go on for days.” The events included a Couples’ Meet and Greet, Wedding Toast Soiree, Bliss Brunch, a Glam & Dapper suite, a dress reveal, and finally a luxe pop-up wedding – all of which cost under the national wedding average. Friends and family were invited to the joint wedding ceremony, which was streamed live, and followed by all 200+ of their guests partying together at the blowout reception. For more information on the event visit, and

PHOTOGRAPHY: Kesha Lambert Photography, Andre Brown Photography; EVENT PRODUCTION: PopBliss™; EVENT PRODUCER & FOUNDER: Racquel Kristi of RKristi Modern Hospitality; SECRET VENUES: The Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta Marriott Marquis, Piedmont Park; VIDEO & LIVE STEAM: Orange Films, Monumental Media; EVENT DESIGN: RKristi Modern Hospitality, MxK Events, D’Concierge Wedding & Events; FLORALS: Carlton Lee Studios; ENTERTAINMENT & MC: Lakia Brandenburg, One Sound Entertainment, Perfect Entertainment, Mike Yung, Brooke Alford the Artist of the Violin; CAKES & DESSERTS: Cakes by Cynthia, Basket Treats, Just for Sweets; WOODEN & ACRYLIC ACCENT DÉCOR: Ten 23 Designs, Ink & Elegance; Balloon Décor: Bougie Balloons; RENTALS & LIGHTING: Luxury Lounge & Lighting, Active Production & Design; GLAM TEAM: The VaVoom Factory, 4 UR Pleasure Beauty, Asili Hair Care Center, FierceLuks, Regal Beauty Club, Properline Consulting; OFFICIANTS: Married by Rev. Roxy , Heart Star Ceremonies; CATERING: Wolfgang Puck Catering, Love Dynasty, JOlivia’s Caribbean Kitchen; WEDDING CONCIERGE: Perfectly Posh Events & Décor, Ronda Armstrong; GIFTS & EXPERIENCES: Stationery for Lovers, Real Black Love Dating App, Empowerment Toolbox Coaching Solutions, Atlanta Wedding & Event Professionals, Mess in a Bottle; TRANSPORTATION: Metropolitan Shuttle. 138 | BLACKBRIDE.COM



Memories from the NYC Tresses & Dresses Event Littlstar Showroom | New York, New York | October 27, 2018

On a rainy Sunday afternoon in New York, an exclusive group of guests embarked into the Littlstar Showroom for an afternoon of natural hair and wedding gown inspiration. Upon entrance, brides and their guests were greeted by eye-catching vendors, delicious small bites, giveaways, swag bags, music and more. This exclusive bridal event, which was co-produced with our partner, TresseNoire, was fun, informative, interactive, and featured some of the best wedding professionals in the industry. This year we invited Celebrity Hairstylist Felicia Leatherwood! Felicia’s styles have been featured on Issa Rae of HBO’s hit comedy “Insecure,” Oscar Award nominee Ava Duvernay (“Wrinkle in Time” director), and actress, Teyonah Parris. There wasn’t an empty seat in the house. The brides-to-be had a fun-filled afternoon with an all-access pass to our guest of honor. Felicia was able to provide her best expert tips and tricks on how to style natural tresses on the big day! We closed the event with an amazing fashion segment with dresses provided by the late couture bridal fashion designer, Amsale Aberra, while accessories used were by Nina Shoes. Photography by Trene’ Forbes Photography

Thank you, to our amazing sponsors, partners, vendors, models, brides, grooms and guest, for being instrumental in the success of our first Tresses & Dresses NYC event! VENUE: Littlstar Showroom; EVENT PLANNING: Kei Reeves; PHOTOGRAPHY: Trene’ Forbes Photography; FLORAL: Events By Nikki Diaz; ACCESSORIES: Nina Shoes; HAIR: TresseNoire; MAKEUP ARTISTS: TresseNoire; HAIR STYLIST: Kinkistry; GRAPHIC DESIGNER: Hannah Aryee of Lucia Creates; CATERING: Feed Me More NY; WINE: Wilson Creek Winery; BRIDAL FASHION: Amsale Aberra, Pantora Bridal; ACCESSORIES: Nina Shoes; FLOWER WALL: Blossoms by Leana; ACCOMMODATIONS: Tuscany Hotel; PRIZES & GIFTS: Curls, JD Bath CO, Dove, Mizani; MEDIA PARTNERS: Hello Beautiful. 140 | BLACKBRIDE.COM



@The Tuscany - A St Giles Signature Hotel One of NYC’s most stunning event spaces, 17 floors above the heart of Manhattan with breathtaking 360 o views. Ideal for your pre & post wedding celebrations, including...

Bachelorette/Bachelor Party


Bridal Shower

For more information please contact Adolfo Ramirez at (212) 592 8832






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