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The Ultimate Resource for Before and After "I do"

MAGAZINE Vol. 10

10th

anniversary issue

+

A Historical Collaboration


T H E D AY Y O U ’ V E A LW AY S D R E A M E D O F Take the first steps of your new life together at the magnificent Atlanta Marriott Marquis. Whether you’re celebrating with grandeur for hundreds or planning a small gathering for those closest to you, our team has options for all types. Choose from several large ballrooms or select a more intimate space like our

Pulse Loft or Skyline Level, all with customized menus to reflect your distinct tastes. Relax with a pre-wedding massage and beauty treatment at The Spa while our professional teams of planners, caterers and events specialists create a day you’ll never forget.

©2019 Marriott International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. All names, marks and logos are the trademarks of Marriott International, Inc., or its affiliates.

AT L A N TA M A R R I OT T M A RQ U I S 265 Peachtree Center Avenue, Atlanta, GA 3 3 3 4 4.521. | AtlantaMarquis.com @ATLMarriottMarq


TABLE OF CONTENTS

WINTER 2020/2021

Cover Story

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BOLD + BEAUTIFUL

A Historical Cultural Collaboration

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First comes love: A Real Proposal

16

Bime & Ime Longbeach, California

Real Engagements

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Alexx & Patrick

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Breayanna & Wallace

28

Justice & Damian

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Shauntaé & Jamal

Los Angeles, California

Dallas, Texas

Los Angeles, California

Pickering, Ontario

Then comes Marriage: Real Weddings

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112

Nadia & Norman

118

Kelsey & Malik

124

Ashley & Claudy

130

Mikayla & Corey

136

Bianca & Wade

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Quetanya & Robert

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148

Dallas, Texas

Winnetka, California Brooklyn, New York

Waldorf, Maryland

Greensboro, North Carolina

Queens, New York

Joanna & Daniel Houston, Texas B L AC K B R I D E .CO M

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LOOKING BACK

Special Moments from Our Past

179 After “I Do” 836 Tips for Thriving By Deona Frierson | Photographed by Casey Hendrickson Photography

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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, cherKnow Yourself | What has made marriage not seem like a grueling task for ish and take care of their partners. me is my understanding of who I am. Through the ebb and flow of marriage, Whether you memorized your vows, In Every After Aisle have tothe revisit them or need to renew you’ll Issue have challenges, but knowing Planning who you are and who your partner is your vows, you mustLove honor them. will allow you to be honest and vulnerable enough to experience intimacy. 6 Editor’s Letter 13 Intimate Weddings: A 179 Balancing and Life 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.”

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Our Favorite Things

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A Real Proposal

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Real Engagements

111

Real Weddings

116 | BLACKBRIDE.COM

Bridal Suite 193

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Collection of Fine Vendors Resource Guide

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trend, or here to stay?

Love is not canceled

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THE TENNESSEAN

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Looking Back

Special Moments from our Past

154

Styled Shoots

During a Pandemic

188

Launching a Business During a Pandemic

Balancing marriage, a toddler, and a new business

Health & Beauty 9

Winter in a Pandemic Staying Healthy and Fit


ON THE COVER Volume 10

Special DOUBLE COVER Issue!

MARY CHATMAN Editor-in-Chief/Publisher SCOTT CHATMAN Chief Financial Officer CANDICE DAVIE Editor CANDICE L. DAVIS Copy Editor AMBER SPENCE Sales Associate TY DAVENPORT Senior/Digital Marketing Specialist NISHAKA PROCTOR Contributor NATALI GUREEVA Retoucher JESSICA HUGHES Design, Art Direction, & Production

Published by BLACK BRIDETM 320 Town Center Avenue Suite C-11 Suwanee, GA 30024 Copyright © 2021 Black Bride. All rights reserved.

CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Ajike appetiteofamillionaire.com COVER PHOTOGRAPHY: Reem Photography reemphotography.com BTS FOOTAGE: Kendal Lanier instagram.com/champagnenupe MODELS: Natia Mobley instagram.com/natiamobley Timani Reid ursulawiedmannmodels.com DRESSES: Andrea Pitter Pantorabridal.com Winnie Chlomin Lee winniecouture.com

SHOES Betsey Johnson betseyjohnson.com/ ACCESSORIES: appetiteofamillionaire.com/ MAKEUP ARTIST: Tolu Funso instagram.com/goldfacedartistry HAIR STYLIST: Shanna Anise shannaanise.com FURNITURE: Latonya IDecorateAtlanta.com LOCATION: Aaron M. Fletcher/Owner instagram.com/aaronfletchermd FLORAL DESIGN: Tina Everhart Fabulous Fox Designs fabulousfoxdesigns.com

FOR MORE, SUBSCRIBE ONLINE TODAY Everything you need to plan your dream wedding: Inspiration • Real Weddings • Fine Vendors

GET SOCIAL WITH US! /blackbride1998

@blackbride1998

/blackbride

/blackbride

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HELLO BEAUTIFUL! Welcome to the winter issue of Black Bride Magazine. Congratulations on finding love and your upcoming nuptials. If there is one thing that inspires me, it's the power of love! With this publication, we celebrate our 10th issue, which comes to you in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic. We've seen a lot of changes and experienced personal transformation in many ways. During this time, it has been so important to stop, look, and listen. In that spirit, we wanted to look back on how we got started and some of our greatest editorial content over the past ten issues, but also look forward with pride at how we continue to evolve over the years. With uncertainty looming over 2020, we were unsure about proceeding with a cover shoot or a winter issue for that matter. However, it hit me there was no way we could or should cancel. There is so much to celebrate, not only our milestone issue but, most importantly, providing inspiration for brides and grooms. It started earlier this year when we spoke to countless brides who shed tears of disappointment as they watched their weddings seemingly go up in smoke. I say seemingly because they persevered. They did what they had to and did not let COVID-19 stop love! The sheer will, determination, and the way wedding professionals stepped up to help couples navigate through troubled times are simply amazing. A talented creative reached out to me with a cover concept that truly exemplified strong, powerful, resilient, regal Black women, and I knew we had to make the shoot happen. The date of the shoot became even more relevant when all the creatives were available on the same day. The day, November 3, 2020—election day—was so powerful to me. It was an historical, powerful day we will never forget. Be sure to read the cover story for more.

For more inspiration and wedding vendor information, visit our website at www. BlackBride.com, follow us on Instagram @BlackBride1998. Email us at hello@blackbride.com and let us know what you think of the winter issue.

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As you flip through the pages of this issue, on behalf of the team here at Black Bride, we hope you are inspired by what we've curated. Stay strong, safe, and healthy as we move through to what I truly believe is the other side of the pandemic. I hope your life is filled with love, dreams come true, excellent health, and abundance in the new year and beyond. Excitedly yours,

Mary

Mary Chatman Editor-in-Chief

CHECK OUT OUR EDITORS’ TOP PICKS FOR THE SEASON


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Editors' Top Picks

Here are a few of our favorite things for the season

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Powerful, Praying Wife T-Shirt (sweatshirt available also), $25.00 to $59.00; meccamooretartt.com/shop/

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Saint Laurent Medium Tri-Quilted Matelasse Grain De Podre handbag, $2,190; neimanmarcus.com

Aspen candle from Club Loofah, $28; loofah.club

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Zena Foster Beauty Triple Threat Beauty Set, $129.99; zenafoster.com

Elux Collective Box - 3 month $87.00; eluxwash.com

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Beau Tie Cosmetics™ Lip Color: Dorothy Diamond, $28; beautiecosmetics.com


Winter in a Pandemic: Staying Healthy and Fit WRITTEN BY TONEKA ROYAL

F

or many people, COVID-19 has already taken a toll, changing daily routines in ways no one anticipated. Staying fit and healthy may be at the top of your list, but with the winter months approaching, opportunities for outdoor activities become more limited. While you may have found it difficult to muster the motivation to work out during the pandemic, creating balance and structure with a consistent fitness routine and nutritious foods is more important than ever to your overall health. These at-home fitness and lifestyle tips will not only get you healthier as you enjoy eating nutritiously but also help you tone up, allowing those "happy hormones" to flood your system!

EXERCISE REGULARLY You don't need fancy equipment to transform your body. Build muscle and stamina with simple, but effective go-to moves that will slim you down and increase your strength. Give this quick at-home workout a try.

50crunches 50body-weight squats 50push-ups 50jumping jacks 50burpees 50body-weight lunges Start off with one round, completing all six exercises. As you get stronger, increase your rounds or repetitions, or add household items for weight, such as bottles of laundry detergent for bicep curls or bottles of water for side shoulder lifts. If you need more workout ideas, there are endless exercise videos on YouTube. You don't need an in-person instructor to get a world-class workout.

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NEED MOTIVATION? BUDDY UP Working out with your significant other, a friend, or a family member holds you accountable and gives you motivation and encouragement to exercise regularly. Bundle up and take a walk around your neighborhood for some cardio as you spend time together catching up. If you can't meet in person, work out together over Zoom. Sharing positive results is a great reward. GET ADEQUATE REST Having a healthy sleep routine and allowing the body and mind to rest and reset is essential for optimal health. Now is the perfect time to practice good sleep hygiene and try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule.

PRACTICE SELF-CARE Practicing calm and self-care while staying indoors can be challenging in winter months. Download a mediation app, read a book, or just sit in silence and enjoy time with yourself.

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HEALTHY FOOD HABITS Practice self-discipline and avoid emotional eating by preparing your meals in advance as much as possible, ensuring a daily balance of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to sustain a healthy body. You don't need to eliminate whole categories of food from your diet. Instead, select the healthiest options from each category. Try this healthy routine for a daily boost.

The pandemic doesn't mean you're destined for an unhealthy lifestyle. Eat nutritiously, work out as much as you can, and have the mindset that you'll make it through these uncertain times.

1. Start your day with a glass of warm water with fresh-squeezed lemon juice. This helps to gently get the digestive system and metabolism revved up and assists the immune system with a burst of vitamin C. 2. Add greens to every meal. Kale, spinach, chard, and arugula are just a few leafy greens that you can add to each meal to keep you healthy and fit. 3. Eat more fiber like beans, lentils, and whole grains. Foods high in fiber keeps blood sugar levels stable, improve digestive health, and will help you to keep your weight down. 4. Drink lots of water. Half of your body weight or more in ounces is a good rule of thumb.

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 based on behavioral
 change psychology. As a certified personal trainer and specialist in fitness nutrition, Toneka has more than seventeen years of experience in guiding women to optimal wellness while helping them embrace beauty from the inside out through eating whole natural foods. Find out more about Toneka at tonekaroyal.com.

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UNFORGETTABLE WEDDINGS AND PRIVATE EVENTS 4 0 4 9 9 5 75 5 0 | WA L D O R FA S TO R I A AT L A N TA .CO M 3 376 P E AC H T R E E R D N E , AT L A N TA , G A 3 0 3 2 6


"Fortunately, intimate weddings can be as lovely and lavish as larger celebrations".

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t the onset of the pandemic, wedding planners went to work navigating possible solutions for brides and grooms. For many couples, the best option was to postpone their big day. Others felt a strong desire to have an intimate celebration with their family and friends and share their vows on their planned date. The resulting elopements and micro-weddings are not new concepts, but more light is shining on them due to the pandemic creating shutdowns across the country and around the world. Fortunately, intimate weddings can be as lovely and lavish as larger celebrations.

Intimate Weddings: A trend or here to stay? Love is Not Canceled Luxe Wedding Producer Events by Nishaka Procter

During this time, I've been filled with gratitude to still receive inquiries, including one from Linda, an amazing bride and the leader of human rights at Cisco Systems, who was marrying, Ken, a senior advisor to the governor of North Carolina. I immediately began to process how to plan a wedding during a pandemic, create the most meaningful elements on a smaller scale, and still plan and execute a memorable, magical, timeless event. During a consultation, I always ask, "What are the three to five most important elements you want to see and experience on your wedding day?" These details are essential to achieving the end result for my clients' special day. This couple prioritized the experience they wanted to have with their beautiful daughters, the sacred unity of their ceremony, and finding a creative way to incorporate all the guests who would not be able to attend. B L AC K B R I D E .CO M

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I worked to ensure the design of this ceremony would be a fusion of their love, their vows, and their commitment to their family. The ceremony was held at All Saints Chapel, in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the colors were blush and white with an accent of gold and lots of lush greenery—very opulent and dreamy, modern and refined. Beautiful florals reflected the energy of who Linda and Ken are as a couple. Of course, it was important to ensure guest safety, and custom masks with one of the couple's hashtags, #LoveIsNotCanceled, were provided for guests. For the reception, a charcuterie board of appetizers on each table created a fun experience for guests to relax and enjoy while social distancing. Our two-person tables were designed with beautiful, lush florals and candles to mirror the ceremony design. Additional guests' experiences included a mini video, produced by John Warlick Media with a quick turnaround. Two days before the wedding, Love is Not Canceled … The Documentary was sent to more than two hundred guests who were unable to attend due to state guidelines during the pandemic. Are intimate weddings a trend or here to stay? My clients are my muses whether they have an intimate affair or a grand gathering. For now, intimate weddings have re-emerged as an option for brides and grooms to have fewer guests and still have all the memorable elements of a larger celebration. In the future, we will see both intimate and large celebrations. With a degree in business administration from North Carolina A&T State University and more than twenty years of experience, Nishaka Proctor is known as "the Unicorn" of event planning and design. A strategist by nature, she's also a creative free spirit, and these two sides of this event planner blend to create unique experiences for every client of Events by Nishaka. 14

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A Real

Proposal How one man made the woman of his dreams his forever

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY COURTNEY OF ELIZA JANE PHOTOGRAPHY

Before the engagement... The proposal Story! I

t was the summer of 2010 when Bimi and Ime crossed paths as students at the University of California. They briefly dated and then later reconnected as friends in 2015. That fall, Bimi studied abroad in Madrid, and Ime decided to pay her a visit. The two had such an amazing time traveling Europe that they knew they had to give love another try. Bimi and Ime have been together ever since!

ENGAGEMENT STORY Ime arranged for me to get all dolled up for what I thought would be a fun photoshoot. In my line of work, I've been on set of at least two hundred photoshoots and have always been behind the scenes. With my sister looking on, I excitedly posed, having my own little "Diana Ross diva" moment. When Courtney, our photographer, invited me to change into my next look, I followed her into another room. Entering the studio, which I had seen so many times before, I opened the door to a gorgeous oasis filled with white orchids and white rose petals. I was so shocked it took a few seconds for me to realize exactly what

was happening. As I slowly walked through the dream-like path to Ime, I was rendered speechless. The only words I was more than ready to utter, when my face met his, were: "Yes, a million times, yes!"

FOR THE GROOM: WALK US BEHIND THE SCENES OF CREATING THIS SPECIAL DAY Bimi loves colorful flowers and trees, so I had originally planned to propose at the Japanese Garden at the Huntington Botanical Gardens, in Los Angeles, but after giving it some thought, the idea didn't feel unique enough. After brainstorming, I remembered I'd told Bimi I would buy her headshots for her birthday. It was the perfect excuse to have her get her nails and hair done without causing suspicion. Bimi's sister Nimi provided great decorating ideas and helped me find Courtney, the best photographer. Bimi's other sister, Fimi, took on an impromptu proposal-planning role, handling everything from identifying the right rose petals and candles to details like bringing in the airy white curtains, which gave the space an ethereal feel. Everything went way better than expected.

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WHAT MAKES YOUR LOVE SPECIAL?

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO ABOUT YOUR WEDDING?

For both of us, growth as individuals and as a unit is paramount. In everything he does, I am his biggest champion, and in everything I do, he's mine. He enriches my life, and I, his.

The dancing! When we finally have our wedding, the celebration will not just be of our union, but also of our health, life, and joining cultures.

WHAT WAS THE THEME OF YOUR SHOOT?

HAVE YOU STARTED PLANNING YOUR WEDDING?

Bimi owns her own branding agency and spends a lot of her time running from studio to studio. I wanted our marital journey to start in a place uniquely hers. The theme was an oasis of pure love against the backdrop of the bustle of downtown LA.

Not yet. We plan to savor this engagement period for a few more weeks.

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Bride: Bimiloluwa "Bimi" Fafowora, 28, Marketing Strategist Groom: Imeabasi "Ime" Ibok, 31, Corporate Attorney Place of Residence: Long Beach, California Engagement Shoot Location: FD Studios Los Angeles, California Wedding Date: Early 2022


Real

Engagements How real couples knew they were the "one" for each other

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY BRETT LOIE PHOTOGRAPHY

Alexx Patrick

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A

lexx and Patrick have a dating app to thank for bringing them together three years ago. During a short conversation, Alexx immediately felt comfortable and connected with Patrick. When they met in person at a nearby restaurant, they were told there would be a forty-fiveminute wait. In that time, the two had a chance to really get to know each other. The couple have been enjoying their conversations ever since. Check out their gorgeous, scenic engagement session captured by Brett Loie Photography.

ENGAGEMENT STORY Patrick worked with my best friend to concoct an elaborate story three months prior to the proposal. One day, she told me a new guy she was dating had invited her to a cabin-getaway weekend and she wanted Patrick and me to go along to make her feel comfortable. I was hesitant because I didn't want to be stuck in the woods with strangers, but little did I know, it was

a surprise for me. I walked into a cabin filled with thirty of our closest family and friends. Patrick got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. It was surreal!

FOR THE GROOM: WALK US BEHIND THE SCENES OF CREATING THIS SPECIAL DAY To pull off a surprise like this was nerve-racking but having great partners in crime gave me a sense of calm. Since this was supposed to be an event for her friend, I had to seem somewhat nonchalant about the trip in order to not set off any alarm bells. We had a long drive, so I couldn't help coordinate the event. That's where having awesome friends and family came in. Unfortunately, we didn't know there was a snowstorm. Most of our guests' cars got stuck! They handled it well, and we laughed about it after the surprise was a success.

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WHAT MAKES YOUR LOVE SPECIAL?

WERE THERE ANY MEMORABLE MOMENTS DURING THE SHOOT?

Our love is special because it's grounded in a deep friendship. We understand each other, and in many ways, we are each other's matching puzzle piece. Where we differ, we help each other expand beyond our comfort zones, and where we are alike, we enjoy the same pleasures of life.

We were secluded and in the middle of such vast natural beauty. All we could hear was our laughter, birds, and the wind. It felt very intimate and special.

WHAT WAS THE THEME OF YOUR SHOOT? The theme was natural romance. Patrick and I love the outdoors and spend a lot of time camping, RVing, and hiking. The Angeles National Forest, in Los Angeles, was the perfect backdrop for us. We hope to always make time to enjoy the natural beauty of our world and know exploring it will be a big part of our marriage.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO ABOUT YOUR WEDDING? Patrick and I are both big on dancing, music, food, and family. We are looking forward to a night of dancing and grubbing with our loved ones.

HAVE YOU STARTED PLANNING YOUR WEDDING? We planned to have our wedding in November of this year. However, we decided it would be best to postpone the wedding to next year to make sure our guests could enjoy the festivities.

Bride: Alexx Poston, 33, Managing Director of Network Operations Groom: Patrick Taylor, 38, Producer/Editor Place of Residence: Los Angeles, California Engagement Shoot Location: Angeles National Forest Wedding Date: September 25, 2021

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY JCI CREATIVES

Breaynna Wallace

&

F

or a few years, Breaynna and Wallace were each other's secret admirers on Instagram. In October of 2018, they met in person during The Battle of Piney Woods weekend. Though it was their first time meeting, the two spoke and hugged as if they were old friends. When the DJ played, "Before I Let Go," by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Wallace grabbed Breaynna's hand and started dancing. That night turned into two and a half years of dating, and the couple is now prepared to walk down the aisle to forever. Fall in love with their elegant engagement session captured by JCi Creatives.

ENGAGEMENT STORY It was January 11, 2020, and Wallace was visiting me in Houston. He told me we would be going to a restaurant in City Centre. However, when we arrived, he pulled up to the rooftop bar across the street instead because he said our reservation wasn't ready.

When we got to the top of the building, I was so busy looking at the view that I almost missed the group of people around the corner. They all yelled, "Surprise!" Wallace dropped to one knee and told me how much he loved me and wanted to spend his life with me, and I said yes!

FOR THE GROOM: WALK US BEHIND THE SCENES OF CREATING THIS SPECIAL DAY I had it all mapped out for the weekend before Christmas, but the ring wasn't going to be ready in time, so I had to push it back to Friday, January 10th. However, the weather was going to be bad in Dallas, and I didn't want her or her mom to have to drive, so I took the proposal to them. A couple of my frat brothers made some calls to help me find a good location. I let our friends know, and most were able to make it.

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WHAT MAKES YOUR LOVE SPECIAL?

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO ABOUT YOUR WEDDING?

We have a bond that can't be broken. We fell for each other in a short period of time. The way we make each other feel and always cater to each other's needs is unmatched.

I am looking forward to getting together with family and friends. Hopefully, our wedding will start off the year 2021 right!

WHAT WAS THE THEME OF YOUR SHOOT?

HAVE YOU STARTED PLANNING YOUR WEDDING?

Timeless Love.

Yes, we have started most of our wedding planning.

WERE THERE ANY MEMORABLE MOMENTS DURING THE SHOOT? We were all melting during the shoot because the venue was having trouble with the air conditioning. It was so cute when Wallace dabbed my nose to make sure my makeup was okay and held my hair up so my curls wouldn't fall.

Bride: Breaynna Hunt, 26, Speech Language Pathologist Groom: Wallace E. Hood III, 29, Firefighter Place of Residence: Dallas, Texas Engagement Shoot Location: Sans Souci Ballroom, Houston, Texas Wedding Date: February 20, 2021

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY RENE ZADORI PHOTOGRAPHY

Justice Damian

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I

t was love at first sight for Justice and Damian, on October 11, 2016, at California State University. As she waited to get on the elevator, Justice, who wore a bandage from a recent vaccination, heard someone ask, "Hey, what’s that on your arm?" When her eyes locked with Damian's, her jaw dropped. They exchanged numbers in the elevator, and three years after that fateful day, they're preparing to spend the rest of their lives together.

ENGAGEMENT STORY It was December 23, 2019, and I noticed new presents under the Christmas tree. I jokingly told Damian, "Let's open presents!" He agreed and showed me a small, a medium, and a large gift box, but he told me I could only choose two. I chose the small and medium boxes, and when he opened the small box, there was the ring. He got on one knee and made the most beautiful speech ever, and of course, I said, "Yes!"

FOR THE GROOM: WALK US BEHIND THE SCENES OF CREATING THIS SPECIAL DAY I wanted to propose to her in Paris for her birthday, but the jeweler and a close friend of mine advised me not to put the ring away for six months. With the current situation going on in the world, I'm glad I didn't wait. Once I decided to propose on Christmas Day, I began to prepare my speech professing my love to my lady and practicing how to get down on one knee. Although I practiced countless times, when the time came to propose, I was a bit nervous, wondering if she would say yes. I could hardly wait for Christmas, so I decided to propose when she asked to open presents.

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WHAT MAKES YOUR LOVE SPECIAL?

WERE THERE ANY MEMORABLE MOMENTS DURING THE SHOOT?

This may sound cliché, but we really are soulmates. We had only dated for two months when I had a dream about his grandfather, and I was able to describe his physical characteristics without ever seeing or meeting him. When I woke up the next day and told Damian, he was in shock because his grandfather had passed away years earlier. I guess his grandfather wanted to give me early approval. We are spiritual beings having a human experience, and I believe we are all connected in some shape, way, or form.

We were both very nervous getting ready for the shoot. We felt like it was our wedding day, and it felt nice to do something fun outside of planning our wedding.

WHAT WAS THE THEME OF YOUR SHOOT?

Yes, we have. All creative talent has been booked, and we are just waiting on our special day.

We wanted to do something adventurous because we love to travel. We also wanted to incorporate a special place, where we had our first date.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO ABOUT YOUR WEDDING? I’m looking forward to becoming Mrs. Vasquez. I've been dreaming of that day since we met in the elevator.

HAVE YOU STARTED PLANNING YOUR WEDDING?

Bride: Justice Rankins, 25, Asset Management Accountant Groom: Damian Vasquez, 33, Diesel Technician and Real Estate Investor Place of Residence: Los Angeles, California Engagement Shoot Location: Marina del Rey, California Wedding Date: April 25, 2021

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY BLACK TUX PHOTOGRAPHY

&

Shauntaé Jamal S

hauntaé and Jamal's love story began in 2007 on the campus of Centennial College. In the gym one day, the two engaged in a conversation and ended up exchanging numbers. "Something drew me to him. Call it divine intervention or fate, but whatever it was, it beckoned me to go over to him," shares Shauntaé. After over a decade of learning and growing together, the couple celebrated their engagement with a stunning photo session in the Distillery District in Toronto, Canada, captured by Black Tux Photography.

ENGAGEMENT STORY After our niece's birthday party, we planned to have dinner at our favorite restaurant, but I felt sick and asked to go home instead. When we got home, Jamal said, "Hey, that Amazon package I ordered for you arrived. Let's open the box." I still wasn't feeling well, so I suggested we eat first. After dinner, Jamal again asked me to open the box, but I remembered we'd planned to move furniture, and I wanted to get that done first.

After moving the furniture and washing the dinner dishes, he said, "Okay, let's go upstairs and open the box." Carrying the package, he chased me upstairs and into the bedroom. As soon as I opened the box, Jamal said, "It looks like there's something else in there." When I turned around, he was on one knee. "Shauntaé," he asked, "will you marry me?" I burst into laughter and said, "That's why you wanted me to open this box so bad!" Jamal smiled and asked, "Well, what's your answer?" I exclaimed, "Yes!"

FOR THE GROOM: WALK US BEHIND THE SCENES OF CREATING THIS SPECIAL DAY I wanted to propose to her at our favorite restaurant, but she wasn't feeling well, so I decided to wait until we got home. I secretly opened an Amazon package I'd ordered for her and stuck the ring inside After multiple attempts to make her open the box, she finally did! I took out the ring and asked her to marry me.

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WHAT MAKES YOUR LOVE SPECIAL? Him: We share a goofy sense of humor and a desire to help others. When I look at her, I know everything I want out of life will be fulfilled. Her: When I am with him, I feel peace, calm, comfort, and happiness. When I think about the past thirteen years of our relationship, it feels like we've been together longer.

WHAT WAS THE THEME OF YOUR SHOOT? We both love the industrial, architectural beauty of the Distillery District. We wanted to create two looks: sexy and cool.

WERE THERE ANY MEMORABLE MOMENTS DURING THE SHOOT?

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO ABOUT YOUR WEDDING? This year has taught us that life really is short. We could have pushed the wedding back another year, but we want to start our next chapter and take advantage of every loving moment we have together.

HAVE YOU STARTED PLANNING YOUR WEDDING? Yes, we planned a destination wedding in Jamaica for October 7, 2020. Due to Covid-19, we got married in Toronto, on August 29, 2020, instead. We intentionally sourced local, black-owned businesses in the Toronto area for our wedding. We feel the best way we can support our community is to spread love and support local businesses in these dire times.

Bride: Shauntaé Rose Dongen, 33, Child Care Director Groom: Jamal Ward, 33, Cinematographer Place of Residence: Pickering, Ontario Engagement Shoot Location: Distillery District, Toronto Wedding Date: August 29, 2020

Jamal is a cinematographer and captures weddings, engagements, and other projects for a living, so it was funny to see him on the other side of the camera. Also, the Distillery District is such a beautiful place with so many things to do and see, and we were able to bounce ideas off each other and our amazing photographer, Kofi.

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L THE TENNESSEAN Hotel: The Perfect Place to Tie the Knot and Unwind

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ocated just steps from Knoxville's iconic Market Square, THE TENNESSEAN Hotel is a luxury hotel with picturesque mountain views. The first of its kind in the city, it continues to be a one-of-a-kind destination for highend travelers seeking a leisure escape or an event or business venue. Luxurious accommodations include sixty-nine classic and deluxe rooms, six executive suites, six one-bedroom suites, and THE TENNESSEAN Governor's Suite. Enjoy personalized service from an elite concierge representative always on hand to customize your stay. The hotel's elite staff, with several members trained internationally in concierge and guests services, ensures impeccable customer service.


PERFECT FOR YOUR EVENT In recent months, many couples have needed to rethink their original wedding and honeymoon plans. A growing number of couples are opting to tie the knot in small intimate ceremonies or elope to romantic locations. THE TENNESSEAN's luxurious 1,600-square-foot Governor's Suite is suitable for a wide range of micro events with groups of thirty guests or less, including wedding ceremonies, receptions, family gatherings, baby and bridal showers, and corporate retreats. Along with breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains, the Governor's Suite features a private butler's pantry, a dining room, and a large main area with a fireplace and a baby grand piano. When you host your micro event here, you and your guests are sure to have a memorable and unique experience. To ensure your vision is brought to life, event planners and preferred local vendors are available to customize your event with elegant details, flexible room setup, custom menu options, and two different packages to choose from. ENHANCE YOUR STAY Take your TENNESSEAN Hotel experience up a few notches by treating yourself to one of the enhancement packages. Each package is unique and designed to make your getaway truly unforgettable. Experience royal treatment for your honeymoon, anniversary, or other special celebration. WINE TO YOUR ROOM Unwind from a long day of traveling with a bottle of wine delivered to your room before your arrival. Relax and get into vacation mode the minute you step into your room with our "Wine to Your Room" enhancement. ROMANTIC TURNDOWN SERVICE When you want to create the ultimate romantic setting, this enhancement sets the mood with rose petal turndown for the bed, chocolatecovered strawberries, and a bottle of champagne.

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LATE CHECKOUT Stay in vacation mode a little longer when you upgrade your reservation with the "Late Checkout" feature. Extend your checkout out time to 2:00 p.m. (normal checkout time is noon), and use your additional time to have breakfast, get that morning workout in, or just relax without the pressure of the morning rush. FINE DINING The Drawing Room at THE TENNESSEAN Hotel exudes elegance and elevates service standards. Menus rotate with the seasons, giving guests and locals alike the ability to experience the freshest ingredients East Tennessee has to offer, 365 days a year. Authentic in every sense of the word, The Drawing Room is a true Knoxville restaurant, serving up locally sourced produce and artisanal charcuterie on a daily basis. Guests indulge in fresh-from-the-farm foods within the comforts of a luxury setting. Out and about in Knoxville, the options for great food to suit any palate continue. Some of the best eateries in the state of Tennessee are located right in this city. Notable favorites within walking distance of THE TENNESSEAN Hotel include Stock & Barrel, Ruth’s Chris, J.C. Holdway, Emilia, Knox Mason, and Lonesome Dove. THINGS TO DO Downtown Knoxville Known as the city where contemporary culture and urban wilderness meet, Knoxville has a lot to offer. It's home to the prestigious 1982 World’s Fair Park, located just behind the hotel. For nature lovers, there's much more to explore. The Ijams Nature Center features hiking trails, paddleboards, and kayaking. Navitat Ziplining is also a great outdoor option with tree-based ziplining. The Knoxville Zoo, another Knoxville staple, is a short ten or fifteen-minute drive from the hotel and offers various exhibits for guests to enjoy.

Pigeon Forge Dollywood, located in Pigeon Forge, is just forty to sixty minutes from the hotel. There's fun for all ages and seasons at Dolly Parton's property, where you’ll find both a theme park and water park. The Island at Pigeon Forge is also less than an hour's drive from THE TENNESSEAN. They have several restaurants, including two of our favorites, Margaritaville and Paula Deen's Family Kitchen. Gatlinburg Gatlinburg is also an easy drive from the property, just about an hour away. Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies is a great adventure located in downtown Gatlinburg. The Skybridge, a glass walkway 150 feet in the air, takes you across a 680-foot span with panoramic views of the Smoky Mountains! For more information and booking, visit thetennesseanhotel.com.

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY CHRISTINA

Engagements

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HOW REAL COUPLES KNEW THEY WERE THE “O N E” F O R E A C H O T H E R.

10th Issue

Looking Back

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Shari &

hari and Tyrell met at the University of Texas in 2003, but didn’t officially start dating until 2009. Shari and Tyrell wed with a romantic, modern glam-themed wedding on June 6th, 2015, at The Vista on Seward Hill.

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We have an amazing friendship that has stood the test of time and is a great foundation for our relationship. Six years of dating and we can still talk on the phone for hours! The Proposal

Shari planned a surprise trip to Jamaica for Tyrell’s 30th birthday, but Tyrell was also working on a surprise of his own! They dined at their favorite restaurant in Austin to reveal the surprise trip. Afterward, Tyrell made plans for the two to go to Shari’s parents’ house—a plan that

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ourtney and KeJuan met in 2001 when they were in the same high school history class. For the next fifteen years, they remained friends—until KeJuan learned that Courtney planned to move to Texas. He asked to see her again, and their connection was so strong that Courtney stayed in Atlanta to see where it would take them. Now, they're preparing to become husband and wife. The Proposal {Her Story}

All day, from the moment I woke up, KeJuan surprised me with numbered birthday gifts. One of the gifts was a surprise party filled with all of our closest friends and family. At the party, he had even bigger surprises in store. One of the most memorable gifts was my best friend from high school, who

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ooking back at the hundreds of couples, articles, fashion, planning advise, ads, event recaps and more, that have graced the pages of Black Bride Magazine, we can say without any hesitation that we are proud of the work that we have poured into the magazine. It is truly a labor of love. We are curators of love and life; struck by the great variety and diversity we have showcased. The depth of our cover shoots and the stories behind them, the opportunity is surreal. We have created opportunity for so many people, and that makes us proud. The road hasn’t been easy, but so well worth it. We promise to hold on to our standards and commitment to serve and inspire brides of color for the years to come.

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then comes marriage

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then comes marriage

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Briana & Keeslon

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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. oneka and Robert first met in 2002 through mutual friends at a charity When we walked in and got to the cake, event one weekend in Houston, he got down on one knee and proposed. Texas. Throughout the years, they kept in

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The Wedding {Her Story}

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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.

The Proposal

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Hair and Makeup by La Voila


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Olympic Track Star Sanya Richards-Ross opens up about Love, Marriage and Balancing Life on the Fast Track by Charanna K. Alexander Photography: Will Sterling

Olympian Sanya Richards-Ross is the true definition of a triple threat. Sanya juggles a career as a powerful athlete, a loving wife to her husband NFL cornerback and super bowl winner Aaron Ross, and an entrepreneur with several career moves in the works, she does all of these things while making it look effortless. When the four-time Olympic gold medalist is not running on the track, she is busy trying to take over the world, while looking fabulous of course. But don’t be fooled by her ambition and go-getter qualities, this Jamaican bred superstar understands the importance of balance and always finds time for what she says matters most—family. Sanya credits much of her success to her incredible bond with her family who happens to be

MODEL: SANYA RICHARDS-ROSS JEWELRY & SHOES: NINA www.ninashoes.com GOWN: BIEN SAVVY "ANAIS"/BLACK $3300 LEI BIEN SAVVY www.biensavvy.com

her biggest supporters, as well as her personal staff affectionately known as Team SRR. Many may wonder how the fastest woman in the world finds the time to get it all done. Although Sanya admits that at times slowing down is difficult, she takes her role as a wife very seriously and always makes time for the man of the house. The power couple, who met as students while attending the University of Texas, are still very much in love and haven’t lost that spark that brought them together all those years ago. The two lovebirds are planning a tropical vow renewal ceremony next year in celebration of five years of being happily married. We got a chance to catch up with Sanya in the midst of her training for the 2016 Olympics, and we chatted all things love, marriage, career and finding a healthy balance.


Sanya Talks meeting the man of her dreams and the proposal that caught her off guard on national TV. You met Aaron your freshman year at University of Texas. Tell us what happened when you first met? Sanya: I saw him walking to the cafeteria, I was sitting with my sister in school and I was like, “Ooh, he fine!” and so I called him over, because I always know what I want, you know? I called him over, and introduced myself and then he got my number from a friend, and from there we started dating right away. I heard that your first date was actually at a church. Can you talk to me about how that happened and how your spirituality comes into play with your relationship? Sanya: Well, our first date we went to dinner at Bennigan’s and our second date was church, because we went out on Saturday and went to church on Sunday. Our spirituality has played a huge part in our marriage and our relationship. My husband’s family has always been very religious, and for me that was very important because my faith is the most important thing in my life. So I think that has kept our bond really close, especially over the years we’ve grown together in our marriage and in our faith. We actually do bible study every night and we have been doing that for past four or five months or so, and so yes, I think it’s a crucial part. It’s the gel and the glue that keeps us together. Did you know immediately that Aaron was the man for you or did the

love grow and develop over time? Sanya: I guess I would say I felt like he was the one right away because he was just extremely charming, really funny, really attentive and he was so mature for a college freshman. He kind of never cared about anybody else; he just always showed me love and attention. You know when you’re in college, sometimes the guys are all into the boys and wanting to be cool. He just wasn’t that guy. Now it’s time for the proposal, did he go all out? Did he surprise you and were you expecting a proposal when it came? Sanya: (Laughs) we had been dating for maybe five years at that point, so I was definitely expecting my ring. But I didn’t know when I was going to get it, but he did [surprise me], so it was awesome. I always said I wanted my proposal to be on camera. So I was being interviewed right before the 2008 Olympics and NBC was at my house interviewing me for preOlympic stuff, and he had the ring made but he wasn’t sure when he was going to propose so he thought, man this would be the perfect opportunity. So we’re there and it’s so funny, it was right around Christmas time, and he says to me, “What do you want for Christmas?” And I’m like, “You know what I want for Christmas,” referring to my ring, but I was on camera so I didn’t want to say it. nAnd he was like, “No really, what do you want?” and I was like, “My ring.” And he was like, “This ring?” and I was like “AHHH!” (Screams) and like freaked out. And it was so gorgeous and I was so happy. And the reporter was like, “Is that a yes?” and I’m looking at him

like, “What do you think?” And it was really cool because they showed it that night on TV during the game when Ross had made a really good play. I didn’t have to call anyone, they all saw it and they all knew, and they were all calling me like, “Congrats!” And it was awesome.

From gold medals to platinum weddings First comes love and then comes this big platinum wedding. We saw that you had your wedding on television on the show Platinum Weddings, and you guys went all out. Did you know going into it that you were going to have this big platinum wedding? Sanya: I always do everything big so I knew it was going to be a big platinum wedding from the minute he proposed. I think with anything with the wedding the budget does keep going up and up. You tell the wedding planner, this is what you want, but they can never fit your vision inside that original budget. So after all Ross was like “Okay, okay babe,” like cut (laughs). But it was everything I wanted and some. It was amazing. I guess there are some girls that have a set vision for their wedding; I’m not that girl. So I kind of got into the vibe, like my dress set the tone for what colors I wanted for the girls, and all that kind of stuff. So it was a really great and unique experience for me because as I was going through it, I was envisioning more and more of what I wanted it to be like, and it was really fun. How did your love for fashion play a role in you actually selecting your gown? Sanya: I think wedding dress shopping is fun for every girl, because you get to try on a

MODEL: SANYA RICHARDS-ROSS JEWELRY & SHOES: NINA www.ninashoes.com GOWN: BIEN SAVVY "ISA" $5200 LEI BIEN SAVVY www.biensavvy.com


million dresses and you really do feel like this is the one, when you put that dress on. I remember I was there with my mom and my sister and my cousin and I stepped out in my gown and my mom started bawling. We all had this huge emotional moment and I was like this is definitely my dress. And it was kind of cool for me because it had this kind of gold stone in the middle, which, you know, I’m a gold medalist, and so it kind of just felt right for me to have something like that with that kind of charm in the middle. That’s actually where the whole color scheme for my wedding came from. I always envisioned myself wearing something sexy and fitted, but I ended up wearing this huge gown. I wanted to wear something fitted, so I changed into that for the reception, like a beautiful fitted gown and it was gold again, which was kind of the theme. My wedding was white, gold with a little bit of yellow, and a bronzy color. Also, It was my birthday, my 25th birthday, so we had a birthday party afterwards. So I made them cut the second dress and make that my party dress so I felt like I had 2 wedding dresses and a fitted dress. I didn’t get to ask your mom this, but were you a bridezilla during the planning process? We hear that a lot of brides transform into another creature while planning their wedding.

MODEL: SANYA RICHARDS-ROSS JEWELRY & SHOES: NINA www.ninashoes.com GOWN: JENNY PACKHAM "MARION"/MAGNOLIA $5700 BLUSH BRIDAL LOUNGE www.blushbridallounge.com

Sanya: Absolutely not. Like I said, I’m not the kind of person that has a set vision of it going a certain way. I’m a little more fluid than that, so I don’t think I was a bridezilla. My mom was an um, what were you again mom? Mother-of-the-bride-zilla. A momzilla! (Laughing).

Sanya’s Mom: The only thing that came about was she was spending so much money, even on the last day I’m like stop, no more money, no more! Do you remember your favorite wedding detail, like what you loved the most from that day? Sanya: There were a lot of things that I loved about that day. I loved walking down the aisle and seeing Ross with his all white. He looked so good. But I think one of the fondest memories that I have is when I came around the corner and my dad saw me. Man he just broke down and it was so—I’m about to cry right now just thinking about it—he was so emotional. You know he was so happy for me and he just told me how much he loves Ross and it was really a great moment with my dad that I will always remember.

Sanya Talks being a wife and not being afraid to let her husband lead You recently celebrated your 4-year anniversary, are you thinking of renewing your vows for your fifth year? Sanya: Oh yeah, totally every time, 5 and 10 and 15, and 20 [years]. But I definitely want to do a 5-year renewal. I want to wear my dress again, I spent so much on it, I think I should wear it at least 3 or 4 times. I want to do it [the vow renewal] in Jamaica but I don’t know if my dress is fitting for the beach. You’ve been a wife for four years, so what can you say is the recipe to a happy marriage. And I know that you’re happy because we’ve seen the show and we see how much you love Aaron and how much he loves you, so what do you attribute to that kind of

connection? Sanya: I would say that we communicate with each other so well. I don’t let—neither one of us-- lets anything stew. L:ike if something comes up we talk about it right away and I think that is one of the keys to the success of our marriage is that we don’t harbor anything and we don’t hold a grudge with each other. And then, I told you, our faith, I think is number one because we understand that our marriage is with ourselves, and God’s in the middle of our marriage. I think that keeps us really grounded and keeps us accountable to each other and wanting to be the best spouse that we can be. Then, we make time for each other. Of course our schedules are really hectic with our training and stuff, but we always set aside our time to get together to go on a date to do things that we enjoy together. I think those three things are probably the recipe for the success of our marriage thus far. I read that you said, in reference to who’s the leader of the house, “anything with two heads is a monster.” And you said that Aaron is definitely the head of your household and you allow him to lead. How did you go about deciding that, is that something you saw growing up with your parents? Sanya: Yeah I definitely see that with my parents. I think it started, especially with the culture in Jamaica, because the man really is the head of the household. And I do believe that anything with two heads is a monster, so I think that if you don’t trust your husband to lead you, then he’s not the right person for you. Because I know we are called as women to be


subservient and to support our husbands. So yes, I always felt that way. I trust Ross. I know that he loves me with all of his heart and wouldn’t do anything that isn’t in the best interest of our family. I trust him to lead. The thing I love about my husband is, with all the small stuff, he doesn’t care. He lets me do my thing; and when it comes to big things like our finances or making big decisions, he’s always prepared to make the right choice. How do you feel about the title, submissive? Do you consider yourself submissive to your husband, and do you feel that it has a negative connotation? Sanya: I think that it’s unfortunate that so many women think that being submissive is a negative thing, because I am very independent and very strong. And I’m very vocal in our marriage, but at the end of the day if you don’t allow your husband to take the lead, I feel like that is one of the leading or quickest ways to lose your husband: to emasculate him and not to allow him to feel like the king of your marriage. I think we’re supposed to be submissive, that’s what we’re called to be. I’m confident in saying that I’m happy to be submissive, first to God and then to my husband.

Sanya Talks healthy competition and family support There are two powerful athletes in the house: one Super Bowl winner and one four-time Olympic gold medalist. Is there a power struggle? Is there competition? Sanya: No, not at all. We do not compete when it comes to those types of things. There’s no power struggle. I think my husband is just amazing when it comes to

being confident in who he is, and so he supports me a hundred percent. I never feel that I need to shy away from being all that I can be or that he wants to feel like his super bowl rings are more valuable than my Olympic gold medals. He’s amazing when it comes to that and I’m really fortunate and blessed to be on this journey with him to see him do what he loves to do and vice versa. So, no we joke around sometimes. I said when I was in the Olympics I was going to cover his super bowl rings with my gold medal (laughs) because they are bigger, but you know it’s all in good fun. Who do you look to for guidance for marriage matters? Sanya: I talk to my mom a lot about being a good wife, and what it takes to have a sustainable relationship. She’s been married for thirty years now. My grandfather recently passed but my grandmother was married for sixty years. All of my aunts except for one, are all married and have been in successful relationships, so I just have a wealth of knowledge around me with wonderful women who are great wives. And then our pastor at Greater Mt. Zion, our pastor here, has been in our lives for seven or eight years, and he’s a great resource that we can lean on if we need anything, so I would say my family first and then our pastor. Every marriage has its ups and downs. How do you deal with times of conflict? Sanya: I think that the main thing is that we talk through our conflicts quickly, we don’t let them linger and become bigger and bigger issues. I think one of the things that helps us, is that

first of all my husband laughs at almost everything, which is a good and bad thing (laughs), but we try to keep every situation light. Even in the biggest arguments, you know, I’ll come to him and say, “You’re still my best friend,” and just make the situation really light, not make it turn into anything bigger than it should be. We’ve been doing bible study, so it’s hard to be mad with somebody when you’re reading the word with them and when you’re committed to doing that. It’s never too big to get pass or too late to pray about it. You guys have been a successful show on We T.V. “Sanya’s Glam and Gold.” Everyone says reality TV is the curse to all relationships. Do you feel that way after your first season and how does it feel to watch yourself interact with your husband on TV? Sanya: Well I definitely don’t think reality TV is a curse to a healthy marriage or healthy relationship. I think that you just have to be cautious about what you are willing to do, because of course the show definitely wants drama, and sometimes they do try to plant seeds that are negative. But I think if you go in there knowing what you will and will not do, then I think you can safeguard your marriage and relationships from too much negativity. It was fun to watch the show and see how my husband and I interacted. To be honest I wish we could of done more because I think our relationship is great, and I wish we could have shown more of that. What do you know now about marriage that you wish you knew when you first said “I do”? Sanya: Hmm that’s a good question. What do I know now

MODEL: SANYA RICHARDS-ROSS JEWELRY & SHOES: NINA www.ninashoes.com GOWN: MATTHEW CRISTOPHER "MONROE"/CHAMPAGNE $4200 BLUSH BRIDAL LOUNGE www.blushbridallounge.com


about marriage? I think I went into marriage with my eyes wide open. I don’t think I expected my husband to change or anything like that, and our marriage has been fun you know. I can’t think of anything that’s negative or positive that has changed in our marriage, I just love my husband more than ever, and I’m more committed to him. I don’t think there’s anything that really has changed in our marriage or that I didn’t expect to happen, I just know when he listens everything goes smoothly, I wish he could pick up on that (laughs).

do all that kind of stuff and he makes it easy because he’s just a great laid back fun guy. Who’s more romantic you or Aaron? Sanya: I would say Ross is [more romantic]. I think Ross is because, I’ll do stuff but he plans stuff. Like I’ll do stuff like more spontaneous, but Ross will just plan and he’ll send me roses or he’ll plan a spa day and he goes all out. If he plans something it’s limo pick-up and the whole shebang, so I think that’s probably more romantic than the things that I do.

Sanya Talks keeping it Sanya Talks being sexy after 11 years powerful as an individual After 11 years of seeing the same and as a couple person day in and day out, how do you keep it fresh and exciting and sexy?

GROOM’S SUIT BY ALEXANDER NASH www.alexandernash.com

Sanya: Well I think the best part to our marriage is that we are apart for a significant amount of time. I think that keeps a marriage spicy because we miss each other so much, and so it’s not like we have to try to find that magic. If I’m gone for a month it’s there (laughs), he misses me so much. And then of course like I said, we make time for each other. This past weekend I was competing in Jamaica but we stayed for 3 or 4 extra days because it’s important for us to spend time together. It’s not always just work, work around work. We went to a resort and we had a wonderful time, we had like a rose petal bubble bath and we just do nice things like that to keep our relationship spicy and fresh. So yeah, you know, I send little pictures to him every now and then and then every now and then I put on my freak’um dress so he remembers why he married me (laughs). So yeah, I

This is the “Power of Love” Issue. How do you feel about being called a power couple and what does that mean to you? Sanya: I love it. I love being called a power couple. I think it is empowering because it shows two individuals that are very hard working, but make it work. I think a lot of the time we see examples of people who are doing well in whatever their respected field is, but can’t make it work together. I’m just excited that we are showing people that it can work and you can support each other and you can be the best that you can be and still have a successful marriage. You are the fastest woman in the world! How does that feel, and what does that accomplishment mean to you? Sanya: It means the world to me. I’ve been running since I was seven [years old] and when I was nine I told my teacher I’d be an Olympic champion. You know it wasn’t easy, took a lot

of hard work and tremendous support from my family and friends, and so to be able to have accomplished it is the most rewarding thing in the world because it did take a lot of effort and sacrifice. So yeah, it means the world to me. What would you say is the hardest part about being you? Sanya: I would say the hardest part is just kind of dealing with the stress of it all. I suffered from mouth ulcers and skin lesions, and whenever I get really stressed out, which is most of the time, because my job is high stress and I travel a lot and I balance a lot of that stuff, I get really bad mouth ulcers and skin lesions. I would say that would be the hardest part for me is dealing with my health sometimes around everything else because I love what I do, I love to compete, so for me that’s not really a burden or stressful. It’s enjoyable. I love being Ross’s wife so that part is amazing. I would just say it’s been a struggle sometimes balancing my health because everything I do is you know, go go go, high stress and it sometimes takes a toll on my body. You’re training now and you’ll be training after this, does that mean you’ll be competing in the 2016 Olympics? Sanya: Yeah that’s my goal I would love to do one more Olympics and hopefully defend my title. Not too many people make it to four Olympics so that would be a feat in itself, you know? I want to do one more. I think that I still got a lot of running in my legs, so hopefully I can pull it off and then start having some babies. Recently you and your husband


both suffered injuries, at the same time, that kind of took you out of the sports that you guys both love, how did you help each other through that? Sanya: Yeah it’s been tough but it’s kind of funny. Ross and I always are kind of going through the same things at the same times, whether it’s injuries, or having tremendous success, or contract changes. It just seem that it always coincides for us. We really push each other. When you’re injured I think the most important part in your recovery is rest and your rehab and also staying mentally tough, and that’s what I think we provide for each other, that support and stability in saying you know we’re going to get back out there. We’re going to be better than we ever were and so that’s what we’ve been doing for each other. We’ve been training with each other a lot over the last couple of months, which I’ve enjoyed because he’s been home and of course you know I’ve been here too; so it’s been just a great time for both of us. Not just for our sports, but for our marriage to have time like this.

something I think people would be surprised to know about me, or maybe not. So yes, I’m just really laid back and funny, I’m always the center of attention, telling all the stories making everyone laugh, so that’s kind of me at home. When you’re not running around and taking on everything, how do you unwind ? Sanya: I think that doing the things I enjoy are relaxing, and my mom and Ross are always telling me it’s okay to just sit around and watch TV. But if I’m forced to (laughs) I love watching movies with Ross, that’s like one of our favorite things to do. I love shopping. I could shop all day. I love soaking in baths, that’s where I read and kind of meditate and pray a lot, so I can sit in a bath for a while and kind of unwind. But to be honest, I love planning events and I’m always thinking of the next thing to do for our business plans and stuff like that. So those things are relaxing for me too. In a previous interview I read that you said that you want to be a woman that has it all. What does

Sanya at home

that look like for you? Having it all?

What would people be surprised to hear about you that they don’t know? Let’s talk a little bit about the Sanya that we don’t know.

Sanya: Having it all for me would be just living my life to my full potential. I feel like I’ve expressed that on the track and I want to just kind of finish that off. I want to be the best wife that I could be. I want to be a great mother someday. I’m an entrepreneur now, but I want to have more businesses. I want to act (laughs). I want to host because I do feel like I have a lot of skills and talents and I just want to live them. For me having it all is just being my best self and expressing myself in many

Sanya: The Sanya at home (laughs). So when I’m at home I’m very, very laidback and carefree. I’m really pretty goofy, most people see me on the track and I’m really very serious, but I definitely have a very goofy side. My parents and my family always say that they think I was a nudist in my past life because I just flaunt around with no clothes on all the time (laughs). So that’s

different ways and just growing from those experiences.

Sanya Talks on being a family and the boss We know you have a very close relationship but we also know your entire team is made up of family members, how did that come to be? Sanya: We’ve always been a very, very, very close knit family. When I started running my dad became immersed in track and field and he did so much research and started to basically know everything. It just made sense that he would manage my career. And then my mom also a kind of jack of all trades, had a clothing business, owned a gym at one point, and then was also a travel agent so it made sense that she would be my agent because the most important part of being an agent is setting up travel and negotiating. My sister does hair so it just kind of worked out perfectly that my family had all the skill sets. My cousin got a degree in PR and marketing, so they had all the skill sets I needed to help me to advance my career. And of course knowing that they love me the most, and they would never do anything but what’s in my best interest it just made sense. It has just been a great team and I feel like they’re a huge part of the reason I experience as much success as I have. How do you manage being a family member and the boss at the same time? Sanya: It’s not always easy, especially when you’re the boss of your parents (laughs) because every now and then you know she [Sanya’s mom] reminds me that she’s mom, and I have to

MODEL: SANYA RICHARDS-ROSS JEWELRY & SHOES: NINA www.ninashoes.com GOWN: BIEN SAVVY "ISIS"/RED $3400 LEI BIEN SAVVY www.biensavvy.com


remind her that this is work so I’m the boss. But it’s fun and my parents and I have definitely all grown together, and I feel that we know how to work together. I try not to push my mom’s buttons and vice versa, and we know each other’s strengths and limitations. I support her and she supports me in the best ways that she can, and the same with my dad and my cousin and sister. I think we just know each other so well so it works. We love each other so even when we do have our arguments or misunderstandings we quickly get over it and we’re able to move on. What’s your relationship like with Ross’s family? We saw on the show that things were a little rough with his mom. How’s that been since the show and do you have any advice for other women who maybe going through that same thing?

MODEL: SANYA RICHARDS-ROSS JEWELRY & SHOES: NINA www.ninashoes.com GOWN: BIEN SAVVY "REGINA" $5950 LEI BIEN SAVVY www.biensavvy.com

GROOM’S SUIT BY ALEXANDER NASH www.alexandernash.com

Sanya: It has always been kind of up and down with Ross’s mom, but we’re in a great place right now. I don’t know how to describe it because I don’t have a son (laughs), but I find a lot that mothers and their sons have this connection, and I think sometimes they feel like you’re taking their place as opposed to now they have a daughter. So I think that’s been one of our struggles. At times, I think Ross’s mom feels like I’m taking her place and I never want to do that. I know I have my shortcomings too. I’m really bossy and I want things to go my way and sometimes she doesn’t always feel like she fits in that. For the most part it works and I think that my advice to brides or to daughter-in-laws is that as much as we can, the burden kind of falls on our shoulders to make the

relationship work and to be our best, to be good daughter-inlaws to our mother-in-laws. Love and support them and just make them understand that we’re not trying to take their place. I also do things so that burden falls on the mother-in-law, too, to be accepting and to love us as daughters, too. But it’s a trying relationship; sometimes I think that’s more of the norm for most women.

Sanya Talks babies in the near future This is the Power of love Issue and we’re talking about the power of love, how is your love with Aaron and even for your family, powerful love? Sanya: Love is the most powerful thing, and it does sustain us through our good times and our bad times. My love with my husband and my family has carried me through so many lows in my career. Like I said, I struggled with health and injuries and you know I told you I get really bad lesions on my skin at times because of my health. And my husband has always made me feel beautiful and loved and I think that just allowed me to become confident in myself. So I rely on his love and the love of my family to be able to step on the track and be powerful Sanya, because otherwise I’m not sure if I could do it on my own. I think love is probably the most powerful thing, we love each other and we support each other. You know, we can move mountains and you can propel somebody to be great. We talked about the future and you mentioned babies. Will you be expanding your family after the 2016 Olympics? Sanya: That is the plan. You

know it’s bad when your dad is like, “Well I can’t wait for my grandkids.” I’m like, that’s strange (laughs). So everyone’s waiting and so am I. I’m looking forward to starting that chapter of my life after the next Olympics, and it’s going to be awesome. So yes, definitely babies in the near future. What do you want people to know about you, Sanya the individual, and you and Ross together as a couple? Sanya: For people to know about me; I just love life. I love people. I love being able to touch people, whether it’s by being on the track or hopefully inspiring people to be their best. Or if it’s in my workspace, I just enjoy loving on people. I have an amazing relationship with a wonderful man, who is very supportive, but you know, we both work hard on loving each other. You know people say love is a choice, it’s not a feeling and I think in our society people want to feel this amazing thing— and it’s not always a feeling, it’s a choice to wake up and love somebody and to show them that they mean the world to you. And that’s what Ross and I do every day, and I think that’s why we have an amazing relationship.



planning

Wedding Day

Love Letter Writing 101 Your wedding day has arrived and you’re bursting with emotions. You’ve spent the last 24 hours separated from your betrothed, and you just can’t wait to finally say “i do.” before you walk down the aisle, consider penning your emotions and letting the love of your life know how excited you are to finally be united as one. The wedding day love letter is a great way to communicate with your future husband or wife before you meet at the altar. Not only does this allow for a special moment between the two of you before the wedding ceremony, it’s also a great opportunity for your photographer to capture a special moment that you can look back on and remember forever. c.k. alexander, wedding vow and love letter writing coach and owner of love ink, shares five simple steps to writing the perfect wedding day love letter that your future mr. or mrs. will love!

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Step 1: Designate a special time and place to write Your wedding day can be pretty hectic, with lots of friends and family around, so it’s important to find time to have a moment to yourself before you walk down the aisle, especially when writing a love letter. Slip away from your entourage and find a quiet place where you can clear your mind and think only about your relationship and the person you plan to spend the rest of your life with. Be sure to set the mood by turning on your favorite love song, go ahead and take a sip of your mimosa or hot tea, and light a candle to make sure the ambiance is just right. Once you feel completely relaxed and at ease you can begin the writing process.

Step 2: Start with a loving greeting Be sure to start your letter with a sentimental salutation like: “To my one and only love”, or, “To the love of my life”, or, even something fun like, “Dear Almost Husband or Wife.” Starting with a term of endearment will automatically bring a smile to your partner’s face. Remember, no one else will read this love letter so you can use personal pet names or anything that will help your partner to recall the beautiful moments that you have shared together.

Step 3: Write in the moment The wedding day love letter is the perfect way to express exactly how you are feeling in that moment. Your wedding day is a significant day in your life, and although you can’t

physically be with your love before you say “I do,” this is the time to share your feelings of excitement with them. Let him or her know you are looking forward to seeing how amazing they will look at the altar. Also share with your partner that you woke up feeling at ease and ready to become his or hers forever. Most of all, let your partner know that this day is about the two of you and the love that you share.

About LOVE INK

Love Ink is a full service special occasions writing service that offers one-on-one custom consultation to assist you with all of your writing needs. Services include custom written wedding vows, love letters, love stories, poems, and more. Visit myloveink.com for more information.

Step 4: Go down memory lane After you have shared all of your present feelings in the beginning of your letter, take a quick trip down memory lane. This is a great time to talk about some of the major moments in your relationship that brought you to this point. Talk about the first date, the first time you said I love you, and even the day you knew this love would last forever. Reminiscing about some of the happy moments you have shared with your soulmate will put you both in a romantic mood and ready to say, “I do!”

Step 5: Presentation Last but not least, presentation is key! Remember this letter will be a keepsake that you will cherish for the rest of your life. Be sure to package it accordingly with beautiful stationery or a blank note card. Have a second sheet handy just in case you have made any major errors. For a personal touch, seal your letter with a kiss, and add your favorite perfume or cologne to the letter so that your love is graced by your scent as soon as he or she opens it.

Photography by Barry Williams Photography Writing a wedding day love letter is great way to share an intimate moment with your partner before you say “I do.”

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then comes marriage

Elaina & Daron Photographed by Regina Fleming Photography

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then comes marriage

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laina and Daron met many years ago through a mutual friend, but it took a little divine intervention to bring them back into each other’s lives. Elaina and Daron had lost contact for a number of years, but eventually, the two reconnected in December of 2008 at a church conference. Elaina and Daron started dating in September of 2009 and have been together ever since. The two celebrated their union with a classic black and white themed wedding at the Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, in Elaina’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky.

The Perfect Puzzle

Daron and I are like two puzzle pieces that, once put together, are a match made in heaven. We compliment each other in areas where we lack individually and that is hard to find. We are honestly best friends and our love grew out of mutual respect for our differences. The Proposal

The day I got engaged started off as a very difficult day. That Saturday, I had a dentist appointment in the morning, which took longer than I thought and, of course, when I left my mouth was sore and swollen. After my dentist appointment, Daron had asked me to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (my fave place in NYC) and I said agreed. On my way to meet him at Grand Central Station, I dropped my iPhone. The screen shattered into a million pieces, and I thought to myself, this is not a good day! Upon meeting Daron, he saw I had also gotten pooped on by a bird. I learned then it was good luck, but I was not in the mood, as I was wearing my fave fur vest. We went to the museum

and walked around for a few hours when I told Daron I was ready to go. I was so hungry since the numbness in my mouth had finally worn off. I even told Daron I would buy him a slice of pizza if we could leave. Daron was like, “Let’s stay for just a minute,” and walked me into a quiet room of royal gems. He then got down on his knee and asked me to marry him—the moment all girls dream of. I was in utter shock so I asked him, “Are you serious? Is this really happening right now?” He said, “Yes, it is.” Of course I said yes. I am so extremely happy to spend the rest of my life with the one person who was made especially for me. From the Bride

My wedding day was a dream come true, even though I was super nervous! Even after planning my whole wedding myself, I was still surprised by how everything came together and I had the best day of my life. And I was so happy for people to see what I had been planning for the last 11 months. It was simply the best day a girl could dream of! From the Groom

The day was a blur, but I knew that in the end I was going to marry the woman that God made especially for me. Even after standing out in the garden in 75 degree sun, it was all worth it to see Elaina for the first time. She was absolutely beautiful and I wished the day was longer. Memorable Moments

The most memorable moment for me as the bride would be listening to Nicole, our soloist, sing “I Will Always Love You” right before the doors of the church were opened. And as they opened, my eyes were fixed on Daron, standing at the end of the aisle.

Bride: Elaina Vaune (Shumake) Moore, 27, fashion PR and wardrobe consultant Groom: William Daron Moore, 29, trading assistant Place of Residence: Riverdale (Bronx), New York Wedding Date: 10/25/14 Wedding Location: Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky Wedding Theme: Classic elegance in black and white Honeymoon Location: Maui, Hawaii

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then comes marriage

Photographer: Regina Fleming Weddings reginaflemingweddings.com Ceremony Location: Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, The Chapel lpts.edu Reception Location: Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, Garden Court Estate lpts.edu Bridal Gown: Justin Alexander, Sher’s Bridal shersbridalandformalwear.com Bridal Party Attire: Jenny Yoo Collection, Jenny Yoo 212.645.0823 Groom’s Tux: J.Crew jcrew.com Cake: Sweet Surrender Bakery sweetsurrenderdessertcafe.com Caterer: Upper Crust, Garden Court Estate lpts.edu Wedding Planner: Day of Planner Pink Peony, State and Arrow stateandarrow.com Music: Albert Shumake, DJ Always facebook.com/ynggftdandblk String Quartet: Highland Chamber Players highlandplayers.com Bride’s Hair & Makeup: Natural Alternatives Salon 502.473.8882

My Dad was ready to walk down the aisle and I needed an extra moment to collect myself and my Dad asked me, “Are you ready?” And I said, “No.” He looked at me like, what do you mean no? I said, “I just need a second.” I was so nervous as I had all eyes on me, that I just needed an extra moment before I took that long walk. Wedding Song

John Legend, “All of Me Loves All of You.” As we were driving in the car one Saturday, the song came on and I began to get teary eyed and I looked at Daron and said, “This is it.” We are opposites in terms of personality, and the song really describes us, and as much as we are different, we love each other all the same! Go DJ! That’s My DJ!

My fave detail would be the cake and then our DJ, who is my older cousin. He is so amazing, and as his wedding gift to us, he was the DJ for our reception. It was so great to have my family members involved in the planning. It was a true family affair. Looking Ahead

Growing old together and being cute, little, wrinkled elderly people that still have to hold hands. Also we are looking forward to having someone there to have our backs no matter what life will throw our way. Advice for Future Brides and Grooms

Don’t sweat the small stuff because if you forgot it or it isn’t done, it won’t get done on the day of the wedding. Also always remember that your wedding day is about you as a couple marrying your best friend, and don’t let other people distract you from the reason you are there.

Flowers: Carol, Kroger Florist 502.456.6522 Stationery: Mason Printing 662.563.3709

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then comes marriage

PHOTOGRAPHED BY DUKE PHOTOGRAPHY

J

Jennyfer & Mathieu

ennyfer and Mathieu have been in each other’s lives for as long as they both can remember. The two officialy met when they were 9. They both attended the same primary school together, and they even lived in the same building growing up. As Jennyfer and Mathieu grew older, they grew apart. However, it would be their mutual love for dance that would bring them back into each other’s lives. Jennyfer and Mathieu ended up in the same dance class. The two have been together ever since. Jennyfer and Mathieu, live in Paris, France, but celebrated their union with a destination wedding in sunny California on July 31, 2015.

calm, and complete. We love each other so genuinely, deeply, and simply, and that is what makes our love so pure.

A Passionate Love

From the Bride

We have the same passion for dance, biking, and traveling. We have done a lot of traveling together and now our life together is quiet,

The Proposal

He asked me to marry him during a parachute jump. He took me skydiving for the first time and had it professionally filmed. He waited below, so I jumped by myself with my instructor. It was so exhilarating and exciting. When I landed, he was waiting in the exact spot of my touchdown and had a sign asking me to marry him. I took the parachute off and immediately said, “Yes.” We had it all on film and showed the film to our guests at the wedding reception. I was so excited, and I wanted this day to last forever and to be in Los Angeles, the city of our dreams. We brought all our family BLACKBRIDE.COM


then comes marriage and our friends from France. We wanted to share that dream with them and through our wedding planner we succeeded. I felt like a queen and people’s eyes were shining because they were able to share this whole experience with us in another country. From the Groom

It was a beautiful day for everyone to go thousands of kilometers away, family and friends experiencing the sun. But inside, I felt a mix of excitement, anxiety, and impatience along with so much happiness that I had trouble containing. I could not help but have tears in my eyes from all of the different emotions that built up to this perfect day. A Memorable Entrance

When I entered the chapel and people, especially my fiancé, saw me in my dress for the first time. No one had seen me before that moment, not even the bridesmaids. They all looked at me like I was an angel and my fiancé cried. Seeing him so excited and emotional made me cry, too. It was a moment that I only had ever dreamed of, and it felt like a dream come true. From Paris to Cali

It is rare to see a wedding of this magnitude in France. For all of our guests this was their first time in the United States. None of them spoke English. To this day, they thank us for letting them live that dream. Wedding Song

I entered the chapel to Beyoncé’s “After All is Said and Done,” because I’m a fan and the words speak to me. The first dance was “Real Love” by Eric Benet. This song reflected what our love is today and what we want it to be in another 30 years. Favorite Wedding Detail

The Trump National Golf Club and Wayfarers Chapel at Palos Verdes are magical. The reception room gave us a panoramic view of the golf course and the ocean. Looking Ahead

We now have the feeling of being united to form a family and to be stronger and thus inseparable. Wedding Day Advice for a Bride and Groom

You must enjoy every moment and take your time because everything happens so fast. Take time to appreciate your wedding day.

Bride: Jennyfer Seremes Longfort, 28 Pediatric Nurse Groom: Mathieu Seremes, 29, Accountant Place of Residence: Paris, France Wedding Date: 07/31/15 Wedding Location: Wayfarers Chapel, Rancho Palos Verdes, California; Trump National Golf Club, Rancho Palos Verdes, California Wedding Theme: Black and White Diamonds Honeymoon Location: Bora Bora, Tahiti, French Polynesia BLACKBRIDE.COM


then comes marriage

Photographer: Duke Photography dukeimages.com Ceremony Location: Wayfarers Chapel wayfarerschapel.org Reception Location: Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles trumpnationallosangeles.com Bridal Gown: Pronovias, Mon Amie Bridal Salon monamie.com Bridal Party Attire: Bridesmaids: Custom made in France Groomsmen: Attitude Class facebook.com/attitudeclass Groom’s Tux: Attitude Class facebook.com/attitudeclass Caterer: Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles trumpnationallosangeles.com Cake: Tomgirl Baking Company tomgirlbaking.com Wedding Planners: Uyen Nguyen Sassy Girl Weddings & Events sassygirlweddings.com Music: DJ Halan undjchezvous.com DJ Jam Bride’s Hair & Makeup: Kelly Zhang kellyzhang.com Flowers: Commerce Flowers commerceflowers.com

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then comes marriage

PHOTOGRAPHED BY JEAN PIERRE UYS

S

Rosette & Lunga

ometimes love finds you when you least expect it. For Rosette and Lunga, a simple lunch with mutual friends would change the course of their lives forever. Rosette had been invited for lunch and by the time she got there, Lunga was leaving so they only had a brief introduction and then he was gone. Although brief, Lunga left a lasting impression on Rosette and she was interested in seeing more of him. The interest turned out to be mutual and their friends arranged their first date. Rosette and Lunga who have been together for four years, celebrated their union with a chic and stylish wedding on March 1, 2015, at the Boschendal Wine Estate in South Africa. The Proposal

Lunga and I traveled to the Seychelles on vacation, and I thought, this is it. Romantic

island and just the two of us? He’s going to propose! I remember Skyping my best friend, Nobuntu, in London to tell her what I thought was going to happen and we were both so excited. On our last night in the Seychelles I spoke to Nobuntu again and we both crossed our fingers in the hopes that he would pop the question, but nothing happened. I’m not going to lie, I was disappointed. A month later we traveled to London and I was sure this would be it. I was waiting for that moment every day in London, but again, nothing! It was only when we were back in our Johannesburg home, a month later on May 4, 2014, with our daughter present, and me in my sloppy PJs that he casually said, “Baby, you can wear your ring now.’” He had that cute smile on his face that warms my heart every time. BLACKBRIDE.COM


then comes marriage Bride: Rosette Mogomotsi, Model Groom: Lunga Ncwana, Business Owner Place of Residence: Cape Town, South Africa Wedding Date: 03/21/15 Wedding Location: Boschendal Wine Estate Wedding Theme: Golden Pastels

I was genuinely surprised and, all in all, I feel his proposal is a true testament of our laid back and no-fuss relationship. I was so excited and was able to finally call Nobuntu to share the news. From the Bride

I felt very nervous and completely overwhelmed initially, but the team from Wedding Concepts always gave me reassurance and professional advice and support. The big day was absolutely beautiful. It was sophisticated and luxurious, all while keeping an air of relaxation and fun for the guests. My love of pastel colors and gold was reflected throughout the day in all the décor elements. We had a specially designed logo which was made up of our initials and it was used in all the detailing, even on the dance floor. Most Memorable Moment

Saying I do to the one person I truly love and adore. Wedding Details

Our favorite wedding detail was definitely the cake and the stunning floral décor. We had

a really fun floral photo wall on the lawns at cocktail hour, which was also transformed into a stylish open lounge area with tons of custom made furniture! The best part of the reception for me was of course the beautiful tables and all the flowers, but the unbelievable double-sided entertainment stage looked incredible! Lunga got exactly what he wanted at the reception, which was a really sophisticated cigar and whisky lounge for him to relax in with all his boys! We had tons of entertainment by local artists such as Chris Forrest and opera tenor Sandile, and then hip-hop artists Pantsula and Mafikizolo performed later and had all our guests partying all night! An Unforgettable Speech

The most touching speech of the day— and it is one I will never forget—was from my mother. Before she said anything, she sang one of my favorite songs growing up, “Mercy.” She knows that song got me through life’s obstacles and made my faith in God stronger. BLACKBRIDE.COM


then comes marriage

Wedding Design & Coordination: Wedding Concepts weddingconcepts.co.za Photographer: Jean Pierre Uys jeanpierrecreates.com Videographer: Hand Stitched Films handstitchedfilms.com Bridal Gown: F Wilson f-wilson.com Groom’s Tux: Tiger of Sweden tigerofsweden.com Caterer: Boschendal Wine Estate boschendal.com Cake: Wade’s Cake cakesbywade.co.za Music & Entertainment: Breakfast Included (Jazz Band) breakfastincluded.co.za Chris Forrest (Comedian) chrisforrest.co.za HHP (Hip Hop Artist) facebook.com/HHP Mafikizola (Afro Pop Group) mafikizolo.co.za DJ Naves & DJ Sphectaluca facebook.com/sphectaculadj facebook.com/pages/djnaves Sandile Kamle (Opera Singer) Lighting: Something-Different something-different.co.za Sound & Staging: AV Direct avdirect.co.za Bride’s Hair & Makeup: Faith Seoue facebook.com/faithseuoe Flowers: Okasie okasie.co.za Wedding Stationery: Lara’s Designs larasdesigns.co.za

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first comes love

P hoto g raph e d by S O A D i g ita l I ma g i n g

A

Ashlee & Jared

shlee and Jared met over five years ago at a birthday party in Dallas. She immediately knew he was special, and sent him a Facebook friend request. They planned a date in Dallas, instantly hit it off, and began a long-distance relationship. Realizing they wanted to be closer to one another, Jared took a job in Houston, and the rest is history. Their wedding is this summer.

“Ashlee, will you marry me?” She turned to find him on his knee, with ring in hand. The Proposal {His Story}

Few people knew I was proposing, and even fewer knew when. The location, idea, and plan were easy. My father made the sign and did reconnaissance for the best view from the 500-foot tower. I can overlook the hiccup of my parents running late because, in the end, she said, “Yes.”

The Proposal {Her Story}

On December 18, 2015, they were scheduled to have dinner with his parents at The Reunion Tower in Dallas, known for its downtown view. His parents were late, so Jared suggested they go to the observatory deck. He told her he’d found something through the telescope. When she looked, she saw his parents holding a large sign:

Opposites Attract

We are complete opposites. He is reserved, I am sociable. He is strategic, I am spontaneous. He is jazz, I am hip hop. But we fit together like puzzle pieces, never trying to change each other, and not letting our differences be detrimental to our relationship. We encourage our individuality, and grow and learn from each other.

blackbride.com


first comes love What was the theme of your shoot?

I wanted it to be romantic, fun, and whimsical. There’s a scene in “The Witches of Eastwick” where the cast plays in a roomful of balloons. Jared worried about recreating it, but we pulled it off and kept balloons as a recurring theme. Memorable Moments

Jared had to sit cross-legged on the floor. He’d played professional soccer and has had several knee surgeries. We laughed while he maneuvered himself into position, which he could not hold for long. The Big Day

We never realized wedding planning is such a big task. We want our day to be fun and memorable, and have a wonderful wedding planner (Samantha with Soiréebliss!). I know it will be beautiful. We are so excited.

Bride: Ashlee Kegler, 33, Private Wealth Associate, Merrill Lynch Groom: Jared Lee, 29, Planner, National Oilwell Varco Place of Residence: Houston, Texas Engagement Shoot Location: The Houston Rental Studio, Houston, Texas Wedding Date: 08/27/2016

blackbride.com


exclusive

p p ily a H

Wedded • bliss •

Ashley Joi Sadler and Jason “PooBear” Boyd’s Dream Wedding Day

by C . K . A l e x a n d e r P h o t o g r ap h e d b y St u d i o P u r dy

Newlywed Ashley Joi Sadler, R&B singer and music publisher, gave us an exclusive look inside her glamorous Hollywood wedding, and shared why her husband Jason “PooBear” Boyd, Grammy-award-winning music producer and songwriter, is her best friend and soulmate.

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exclusive

O

n April 10, 2016, Ashley Joi Sadler and Jason “PooBear” Boyd exchanged vows at the beautiful London West Hollywood in Beverly Hills, California. Their ceremony took place in Hampton Court, the hotel’s English-style rose garden, followed by a rocking rooftop reception overlooking the city. Hundreds of white roses and orchids, and elegant black, white, and gold décor, set a romantic, regal tone. They shared their love of music and each other with wedding favors of an EP they recorded together, entitled “Beats 2 Duet 2.” Their music, reflecting their love story, played throughout the ceremony and reception. Ashley first met PooBear, best known as one of Justin Bieber’s main collaborators, almost ten years ago in Miami when a mutual friend brought her to PooBear’s studio. Three years ago Ashley found herself in PooBear’s studio again, this time to discuss a girl group project. She became lead singer of Edamami, the group PooBear started in Atlanta. Finding true love through music was no coincidence for Ashley and PooBear. The R&B singer mostly known for her previous work with Ja Rule and Murder, Inc., was introduced to the entertainment industry at an early age, as the daughter of R&B singer Donna D of the singing group Brandye. Her mother’s achievements inspired her, but her father’s guidance as Brandye’s group manager shaped her ambitions. After high school, she attended Florida A&M University then transferred to Howard University, where she majored in marketing before leaving to actively pursue her first love—music. We caught up with Ashley, currently a music publisher, for an exclusive inside look at her dreamy wedding day.

How did your relationship grow?

We were best friends first. It’s very rare to find someone with a heart of gold. He is a great person, super nice, which was unexpected, especially in the entertainment industry. He’s a genuine, special guy. Describe your relationship.

It’s just fun. We balance each other and have great chemistry. We like to travel and see new places, and enjoy new experiences with each other.

were best “ We friends first. It’s very rare to find someone with a heart of gold.”

Were you surprised by the proposal? What was your first impression of PooBear?

I first met him in the studio, and that’s where he comes to life. Most people don’t know he’s a vocal producer. He is really brilliant. It was just great to see how he works.

Until the proposal, he had never planned anything. He’s so spontaneous. I was dying to get to Dubai. We stayed at the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, which is this gorgeous luxury hotel, one of the tallest in the world and one of the few seven-star hotels in the blackbride.com


exclusive

Photographer: Studio Purdy studiopurdy.com Videographer: Jeremiah Davis thatoneblondkid.com Ceremony Location: The London West Hollywood thelondonwesthollywood.com Reception Location: The London West Hollywood thelondonwesthollywood.com Bridal Gown: Michal Medina Panache Bridal Beverly Hills michalmedina.com Bride’s Hair: Sway’d Salon Bride’s Makeup: Tania Maria taniamariamua.com Juan Tamez @boomkackmua Jewelry Design: Donna D Designs, donnad.com Wedding Coordinator: Touch of Gold Events touchofgoldevents.com

world. One night we went for a ride on a huge boat. I should have known something was up because it was only us on this big boat. I turned around and he was on his knee. I was 100% shocked. As soon as we got home, I started planning. What role does music play in your lives and in your love story?

Music is the soundtrack of our lives. Justin Bieber’s manager Scott “Scooter” Braun was our officiant. If we go through a hard time or if we celebrate something special, it’s always in PooBear’s music. Here’s one of my favorite quotes: “If a songwriter falls in love with you, you never die.” Everything we have ever been through or shared is immortalized in our music. What makes your love special?

He has the utmost respect for me and I have that same respect for him. We always want the best for each other.

What did you like best about planning the wedding?

What’s your recipe for a happy marriage?

We found the best vendors and just made it happen. My friends and family were super supportive. I wanted everyone to have an amazing, stress free, chill time. Everyone we love was there to celebrate with us. It was the best day ever.

Put your spouse’s feelings first. The transition is from “I” to “we.” Sometimes it’s not easy to consider another person’s feelings and time, but it’s necessary for a strong, healthy relationship. That’s what we both do for each other. We put each other first.

What was your favorite wedding detail?

How do you balance your career and your marriage?

That would be the food! It was catered by Nobu, our favorite restaurant. They did a nine-course menu, which isn’t easy for two hundred people. Instead of a traditional wedding cake, everyone got a personal cake, Mastro’s Signature Warm Butter Cake from Mastro’s Steakhouse Beverly Hills. What was your best wedding day moment?

Our first look was a time for just the two of us to be in the moment, before the hoopla.

Everyone needs time to meditate, and to just be quiet with yourself and your thoughts, which helps you be the best “you” for yourself, and for whomever you are with. Where do you see your career and marriage five years from now?

I am looking forward to starting a family in the next couple of years. I also hope to take my music publishing company to the next level.

Caterer: Nobu Los Angeles noburestaurants.com Cake: Mastro’s of Beverly Hills mastrosrestaurants.com Music: DJ Franzen Rossi Music, String Quartet rossimusic.biz Flowers: Butterfly Floral & Event Design buttterflyfloraldesign.com Décor: Sky Events & Production skyeventsandproduction.com Stationery: B Weddings bweddinginvitations.com Photo Booth: The Happen Booth thehappenbooth.com

blackbride.com


first comes love

P hoto g raph e d by S O A D i g ita l I ma g i n g

A

Ashlee & Jared

shlee and Jared met over five years ago at a birthday party in Dallas. She immediately knew he was special, and sent him a Facebook friend request. They planned a date in Dallas, instantly hit it off, and began a long-distance relationship. Realizing they wanted to be closer to one another, Jared took a job in Houston, and the rest is history. Their wedding is this summer.

“Ashlee, will you marry me?” She turned to find him on his knee, with ring in hand. The Proposal {His Story}

Few people knew I was proposing, and even fewer knew when. The location, idea, and plan were easy. My father made the sign and did reconnaissance for the best view from the 500-foot tower. I can overlook the hiccup of my parents running late because, in the end, she said, “Yes.”

The Proposal {Her Story}

On December 18, 2015, they were scheduled to have dinner with his parents at The Reunion Tower in Dallas, known for its downtown view. His parents were late, so Jared suggested they go to the observatory deck. He told her he’d found something through the telescope. When she looked, she saw his parents holding a large sign:

Opposites Attract

We are complete opposites. He is reserved, I am sociable. He is strategic, I am spontaneous. He is jazz, I am hip hop. But we fit together like puzzle pieces, never trying to change each other, and not letting our differences be detrimental to our relationship. We encourage our individuality, and grow and learn from each other.

blackbride.com


first comes love What was the theme of your shoot?

I wanted it to be romantic, fun, and whimsical. There’s a scene in “The Witches of Eastwick” where the cast plays in a roomful of balloons. Jared worried about recreating it, but we pulled it off and kept balloons as a recurring theme. Memorable Moments

Jared had to sit cross-legged on the floor. He’d played professional soccer and has had several knee surgeries. We laughed while he maneuvered himself into position, which he could not hold for long. The Big Day

We never realized wedding planning is such a big task. We want our day to be fun and memorable, and have a wonderful wedding planner (Samantha with Soiréebliss!). I know it will be beautiful. We are so excited.

Bride: Ashlee Kegler, 33, Private Wealth Associate, Merrill Lynch Groom: Jared Lee, 29, Planner, National Oilwell Varco Place of Residence: Houston, Texas Engagement Shoot Location: The Houston Rental Studio, Houston, Texas Wedding Date: 08/27/2016

blackbride.com


FASHION

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

CALL HER CLASSIC:

LAGOS BRIDAL FASHION WEEK By Moyosola Jolaolu

The First Celebration of Nigeria’s Billion-Dollar Wedding Industry Nigerian weddings ought to become an offering of the cultural tourism sector in Nigeria. Even Hollywood stars like Lupita Nyongo and Danai Gurira would agree. The pair, who recently took a visit to Africa’s most populous country, insisted on attending a Nigerian wedding before they left. It stands to reason that Lagos announces its first ever Bridal Fashion Week installment. We’re not missing it!

Photography courtesy of Emmanuel Oyeleke

The three-day show, organized by the Call Her Classic fashion agency, took place from May 4–6, 2018 at the Federal Palace hotel on Victoria Island. It offered a truly holistic experience true to the world of Nigerian weddings. Besides the runway show, which featured several Pan-African fashion designers, there were other features. The Bridal Boutique featured curated vendors retailing bridal dresses, fabrics, accessories and shoes. The Bridal Dressing Room gave brides the opportunity to try on dresses and consult with stylists for free. The consultations offered brides-to-be the opportunity to meet with designers from outside of Nigeria to speak about bespoke wedding dresses for their big day. One of the most distinctive attributes of the runway shows was the seamless marrying of elements from both African and Western cultures. It wasn’t a rare sight to find the use of indigenous fabrics such as Aso Oke, a hand-loomed cloth woven by the Yoruba people of western Nigeria. Every bridal personality, from the demure to the bold, was well represented. Designers played around with silk, ornaments, lace, and Swarovski stones to create unexpected effects and edge. See some of the trends we loved.

DAVID TLALE davidtlale.com

BRIDES BY NONA bridesbynona.com

BRIDES BY NONA bridesbynona.com

KOSIBAH kosibah.co.uk

VIRGOS LOUNGE virgoslounge.com

VALERIE DAVIDS facebook.com/valerie-davids BLACKBRIDE.COM


fashion

SILK SILHOUETTES The contrast between silk and masculine frames does an amazing job of concealing the typical hardness most often portrayed in male fashion. David Tlale did an amazing job of offering an alternative to the regular ‘suit and tie’ by giving a refreshing take on other options for the fashion-forward groom.

DAVID TLALE davidtlale.com

EXAGGERATED HEAD TIES From indigenous fabrics to fascinators, exaggerated headgear was a popular pick on the runway.

IMAD EDUSO imad-eduso.com

IMAD EDUSO imad-eduso.com

DAVID TLALE davidtlale.com

SHADIAT ALAASOKE

POOSH BESPOKE DAY instagram.com/pooshbespoke

ARCHITECTURAL AGBADAS The Agbada is a popular name for a flowing wide sleeved robe worn by men in West Africa. This was a popular favorite on the runway as the men were made to look distinguished, staying true to the cultural implication of this signature outfit.

ASYMMETRICAL SHOULDERS Collarbones really are the new cleavage. Asymmetrical outfits with an edgy twist ruled the day. A lifted leg hem, a mismatched sleeve, and a one-shoulder strap were all thrown into the mix to create some magic.

TOJU FOYEH instagram.com/tojufoyeh

MAZELLE STUDIO instagram.com/mazelle.studio

IMAD EDUSO imad-eduso.com

IMAD EDUSO imad-eduso.com

BLACKBRIDE.COM


T R AVEL M A R K T H E O C C A S I O N W I T H A G R E AT T R I P

The Seychelles Islands: The Ultimate Romantic Escape Fall in love all over again on this small slice of paradise in the Indian Ocean where all of your honeymoon dreams can become a reality. By C.K. Alexander Jean IF YOU’VE NEVER HEARD OF THE SEYCHELLES ISLANDS, THAT’S NO COINCIDENCE. This string of islands is hard to place on a map, but it’s far from unforgettable. The Seychelles islands are made up of 115 islands located off the coast of East Africa in the Indian Ocean, and has everything you’d ever want in a honeymoon. From crystal clear beaches to luxurious resorts and hotels, this secret gem has it all. Seychelles is known for being home to some of the best beaches in the world and many of nature’s wonders, which have been preserved in this mini utopia for many years. No need to worry about the weather, either. Seychelles enjoys a pleasant tropical climate all year long. The moment you step foot on the main island of Mahé, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported into another world. If you’re looking for romance, adventure, culture, nature, and fun in the sun, we invite you to embark on a honeymoon journey that you will never forget.

Photograph courtesy of Footprint Fotos

A Seychelles honeymoons is the perfect destination to enjoy your first days of marriage. Stay at The Four Seasons Resort and Spa in Seychelles.

Where to Beach: The Main Islands & Fabulous Beaches

With so many beautiful islands to explore, we recommend organizing day trips and overnight stays at various islands during your stay in Seychelles. If you are looking to travel from Mahé to Praslin, the Cat Cocos ferry, a highspeed catamaran, will get you there in about one hour. Once on Praslin, you can also organize a day trip or an extended stay on La Digue Island. The Cat Rose Ferry takes you from Praslin Island to La Digue Island in about 15 to 20 minutes. Mahé is the largest island of Seychelles and home to the majority of the population. Mahé features 65 beaches, the Beau Vallon beach being one of the most popular. If you’re looking for a tropical version of city life, Mahé is where you’ll begin.

Praslin

The second largest island known for its unique flora, fauna and wildlife. It’s also known for its beautiful beaches including the world famous beach, Anse Lazio. It’s also home to the infamous Coco de Mer, the native fruit of the country. In Praslin, you’ll escape to a slower pace with lots of nature to enjoy. La Digue

The fourth largest island known for its raw natural beauty and tranquil island vibes. On this island, you will find more bicycles than cars and the ox-drawn carriage is still widely used by locals to travel from one point of the island to the next. Take a buggy to one of the most pristine beaches in Seychelles — the legendary ‘Anse Source d' Argent’, which is among the most photographed beaches on earth. There is also the beautiful Grand Anse beach,

with a secret beach, which requires a bit of hiking to get to.

Where to Stay: South Mahé: The Four Seasons Resort and Spa, Seychelles

Your honeymoon should be a trip of a lifetime. And the Four Seasons Resort and Spa in Mahé is the perfect place to celebrate your union. This resort feels like you’ve been transported to a private, luxury oasis where anything is possible. This all-villa resort carved within the mountains features unforgettable views and breathtaking treetop villas with private infinity pools, complete with everything you will need for your romantic getaway. The staff at the Four Seasons offers exceptional service and can create an unforgettable experience for your celebration, including a romantic priBLACKBRIDE.COM


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vate dinner on Petite Anse, one of the island’s most beautiful beaches. If you’re not planning on leaving your villa, you can also order in-villa dining, or unwind with spa treatments with a stunning view. This resort was made for mindfulness, with daily yoga classes and a mountain hike followed by guided meditation. No need to walk at all during your stay at this resort. They offer 24-hour buggy service, which will arrive at your villa within 5 to 10 minutes and take you anywhere you want to go on the resort. The Four Seasons has is all! Stay at the Le Domaine de la réserve in Praslin.

North Mahé: H Resort

With an incredible setting for romance, adventure and relaxation, Seychelles offers one of the world's most romantic and secluded escapes. Stay at the H Resort in North Mahé.

The H Resort is a breathtaking boutique hotel property located right along the Beau Vallon Bay on Mahé Island. It offers a tranquil escape in the middle of a tropical, bustling Mahé. This hotel features both suites and beach villas, perfect for a romantic getaway. The H Resort is also a foodie’s paradise, with five restaurants and two bars on the property, each offering unique cuisine options from Mediterranean to seafood to Japanese, all of which offer live entertainment. No need to look far for a relaxing escape. Visit the Sesel Spa on the property,

where you can organize beach-side massages and other body treatments. Praslin: Le Domaine de la réserve

If you’re looking for a slower pace and tranquil vibes, you’ll find it at Le Domaine de la reserve on the island of Praslin. This intimate resort is familyowned and has that cozy, tropical vibe. This intimate hotel, with only 40 rooms, is perfect for the couple who wants to feel like they are on an island all their own. The beach-themed rooms, with easy access to the gor-

geous Anse Petit Cour bay, offers stunning views off your own private terrace that provides the perfect atmosphere for connection. The property features a collection of large tortoises and a secret beach that provides the perfect location for a seashore picnic for two. The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable and can coordinate excursions to other nearby islands. The Jetty restaurant serves breakfast and dinner, and offers a wide variety of global dishes, including local Creole delicacies. BLACKBRIDE.COM


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The beauty of Seychelles is due to its naturally distributed flora and fauna in a sanctuary which was untouched for many centuries.

Experience Culture: The best part of Seychelles is the people who make up these beautiful islands. Seychelles has multi-ethnic roots, which has created a unique mix of European and African customs and traditions. The local language of Seychelles is Creole, which is a mix of French and African dialects. The majority of the island speaks English, French, and several other languages.

Where to Dine: A Taste of Creole Cuisine

Creole cuisine is a representation of all the cultures and races that created its existence. The cuisine blends African, Chinese, French, and Indian influences. Many of the dishes are made with curry, fresh garlic, herbs, and coconut milk. Dishes feature fresh seafood plucked from the ocean and tropical fruits and vegetables that make for tasty culinary experiences. Mahé: Jardin du Roi, Traditional Seychellois Cuisine

If you are looking for a dining experience with a view, then Jardin du Roi is the restaurant for you. This restaurant and spice garden is located on the hills above Anse Royale beach on Mahé island, where fresh herbs and spices are picked and used in the creation of each authentic Creole dish. We recom-

mend the mango salad, the grilled fish, and the fruit salad with homemade ice cream for dessert. Praslin: Bonbon Plume Restaurant, Island-Style Dining on the Beach

After you’ve taken in the beauty of Anse Lazio beach, you can enjoy traditional Seychellois cuisine just a stone’s throw from the beach. This open-air restaurant is perfect for a tropical lunch right after swimming. We recommend the chicken curry and the smoked fish salad, with a fresh fruit cocktail drink to wash it all down. La Digue: Lanbousir Restaurant, Culture and Tradition

Lanbousir Restaurant is located at the entrance of the breathtaking Grand Anse beach. It’s inside L’Union Estate, a traditional copra mill and kiln, where you can stroll around the majestic Plantation House framed by giant granite boulders in landscaped gardens. This traditional Seychellois restaurant offers a variety of dishes that you can only find in Seychelles. We recommend the fried breadfruit, the coconut chicken, and the caramelized bananas for dessert. They also make a fantastic rum punch.

Where to Shop: Eden Island is a man-made island in the Center of Mahé Island that houses elegant shops, a mall, a marina, open-

air restaurants and tons of nightlife possibilities. If you are looking for luxury brands and unique offerings, you can head over to Eden Island. Victoria Market

If you are looking for a more local flavor, we suggest heading to Victoria, the capital of Seychelles. There, you’ll find the lively local marketplace and lots of fresh vegetables, herbs, spices, seafood, and artisan shops with local hand-made trinkets.

Only in Seychelles: Seychelles has been a sanctuary for many of the rarest creatures and plant life in the world. If you are looking to experience some of nature’s wonders in their element, then Seychelles is the place for you. The Vallée de Mai

Seychelles’ second UNESCO World Heritage Site is the legendary Valléede-Mai, administered by the Seychelles Islands Foundation. So remarkable that it was once believed to be the original site of the Garden of Eden. This is where the legendary Coco-deMer, the world's heaviest nut, grows high on ancient palms in a primeval forest. The Vallée boasts six endemic palm species as well as many other indigenous trees. It’s also the last habitat of the endangered Black Parrot.

Fish Market and Beach Photograph courtesy of Seychelles Tourism Board | Traditional Seychelles foods consist of fresh grilled fish, Salted fish, Coconut Curry, Lentils and Sausage Rougay and Smoked Fish Salad. BLACKBRIDE.COM


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Enjoy hearty Caribbean meals along with a few Creole favorites at La Croisette, a seaside restaurant on the eastern tip of Grand-Terre. While you’re there, you can watch the hauntingly gorgeous waves kiss the Petite Anse’s shore. If you go early in the day, you can even watch surfers traverse these tricky waters for a thrilling brunchtime show.

The Caribbean is known for its rum for a reason, and Guadeloupe is no different. Two standouts on the island include the Bolgne Distillery in Basse-Terre and the Bellvue Distillery in Marie Galante. Why are these distilleries different from the rest? Well the Bologne is serves up rich history aside from sweet rum. Dating back to the 17th century, this distillery was acquired by Amé-Noël, the first free black man that owned a major plantation. Whereas the Bellvue Distillery is located in the heart of the island’s largest sugar plantation, which has ultimately shaped the venue’s commitment to environmental protection and award winning, fruity flavored rums such as Domaine De Bellevue.

Where to Dine:

Where to Entertain:

La Pointe des Chateaux in Saint François

Tropical Gelato

Plage Feuillere

Live like a local in Pointe-à-Pitre’s Tropical Gelato and experience Guadeloupe’s very own delicacy known as a “bokit.” Two fried and fluffy pieces of naan-like bread filled with your choice of meat, vegetable or seafood – once you’ve had a bite, we promise you won’t ever want to leave the island. And of course, you get to treat yourself to dessert with unique gelato flavors that you can only find in the Caribbean like kiwi, rum raisin and sweet potato. An Chodyè La – La Kaz A Soup

Catch a ferry to Guadeloupe’s smaller island, Marie-Galante. At the southeastern tip lies Plage Feuillere, a wonderful beach that spoils visitors with golden sand, a turquoise sea, coconut trees, and spacious lounging areas. When hunger calls your name, you can rest easy since Plage Feuillere is home to 53 local restaurants. If you’re more of the adventurous thrill-seeking type, opt for water sports like snorkeling, wind surfing and kayaking. With water this blue, it’s almost a crime to not enjoy its full potential.

Depending on the time of year you visit, you can carry on the spirit of carnival at An Chodyè La (also known

Rum Tastings at Bologne & Bellvue Distilleries

leon’s General Antoine Richepanse to prevent the return of slavery in the French Caribbean. Over 200 years later, this fort where he made his last stand now bears his name. ACTe Memorial

Say “I Do” in Guadeloupe |

The Caribbean’s Hidden Gem

By Cortney Moore GUADELOUPE is a magnificent, 629-square mile archipelago south of the British Virgin Islands. If this butterfly-shaped retreat doesn’t ring a bell, that’s fine. The French Caribbean has gained its newfound popularity thanks to Norwegian Air, the only airline providing direct flights from the U.S. to Guadeloupe at affordable prices. For as low as $59 one-way, golden beaches and clear turquoise seas are just a credit card swipe away. The island’s soaring cliffs and beautiful forests make Guadeloupe an unforgettable Caribbean destination. With countless activities available, there are only a few questions left to ask: where should I stay? And what should I do? Black Bride found the answer to that question in March, and without a doubt, there is something for everyone in the jewel that is Guadeloupe. We absolutely recommend this remarkable destination for all your wedding and honeymoon needs.

Where to Stay: Langley Resort Fort Royal

Nestled between the breathtaking Pointe du Grand Bas-Vent mountains and the Anse de la Perle beach, the Langley Resort Fort Royal treats guests to cozy island stays with hotel room, suite and bungalow options. With gorgeous yellow sand and crystal blue waters only a short walk away, Fort Royal is sure to be your paradise

away from home. When you’re not busy exploring the resort and the rest of Basse-Terre, enjoy delicious Creole buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner. La Creole Beach Hotel & Spa

Standing at a secluded stretch just south of Pointe-à-Pitre hails the La Creole Beach Hotel & Spa, a contemporary accommodation that laid-back couples will love. Choose from any of the resort’s 211 rooms and irresistible spa treatments to tailor your stay with much needed pampering. From Monday to Saturday, guests can enjoy complimentary water sports and activities. However, flyboarding is the show stealer that everyone needs to try at least once. When you’re done soaking up the sea and sun, stop by one of La Creole’s three restaurants: Le Zawag, La Route des Epices, and La Case Beach Pizza.

Where to Wed: Langley Resort Fort Royal

If a rustic, outdoor wedding is what you desire, Langley Resort Fort Royal is the perfect tropical destination to fit your needs. Offering affordable packages that include catering and honeymoon services, it’s hard to not be excited about getting hitched at such a memorable location. Better yet, the

Langley Resort Fort Royal allows you to customize your special day with a beachside ceremony and a reception at either the resort’s pool or seaside restaurant; along with a private cocktail hour and brunch. La Creole Beach Hotel & Spa

Brides and grooms that have dreamed of a modern and chic Caribbean wedding will fall in love with the La Creole Beach Hotel & Spa’s contemporary amenities. Featuring a centrally located and refined French Creole atmosphere at the tip of Grande-Terre, the La Creole Beach Hotel is a prime location that offers live jazz, amazing restaurants and a full-service bar. When you’re ready to say, “I do,” just call up La Creole’s on-site wedding coordinators and plan a wonderful outdoor ceremony at the resort’s beach or garden, as well as a pool or seaside restaurant reception. We also can’t forget La Creole’s amazing catering, honeymoon, and spa and wellness packages.

Called “the most phenomenal museum of its kind in the whole world” by Reverend Jesse Jackson, the ACTe Memorial in Pointe-à-Pitre gives visitors a crash course in the history of Guadeloupe’s complex history, as well as the harsh legacy slavery left behind in the Caribbean and Americas. As a global initiative to promote rapprochement, this audio-guided, interactive tour is an emotional journey that educates all who are willing to listen.

as La Kaz A Soup), a restaurant that features rustic Creole décor and authentic Guadeloupean soups. For the true gourmets out there, you’ll love the shrimp and pumpkin soup, as well as their delectable cocktails. Just practice your French a little so you can decipher the menu. Bon appétit! La Croisette

Visit one of Guadeloupe’s top attractions in Saint François known as La Pointe des Châteaux, an awe-inspiring peninsula that extends into the Atlantic Ocean from the eastern coast of Grand-Terre. It’s only a 15-minute hike to reach the top of this stunning cliff, which houses a huge cross that served parishes in the twentieth century. When you make your descent, make sure to dip your toes in the water at one of the three nearby beaches, including La Coulée, Anse Champagne, and La Douche. Visit guadeloupe-islands.com for more information.

Where to Learn: Fort Delgres

For the militarily savvy history buffs out there, check out Guadeloupe’s Fort Delgres in Basse-Terre. At this site in 1802, Louis Delgrès, a free man of color led a rebellion against Napo-

Photography courtesy of Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board, Langley Resort Fort Royal and La Creole Beach Hotel & Spa | Guadeloupe offers many wedding venue options for your destination wedding in the Carribean. BLACKBRIDE.COM


fashion INS PIR ATI ON BO A R D

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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, artepapery.com; 2. Essie, Blush Nude Pink, essie.com; 3. Wedding Decor Styled by Chloe and Mint, chloeandmint.com; 4. Kendra Scott Elisa Rose Gold Pendant Necklace in Iridescent Drusy, kendrascott.com; 5. Valentino Garavani Patent Rockstud 100MM in Poudre, valentino.com; 6. Apple Cider Old Fashioned by Josh Johnson, thekentuckygent.com; 7. Cake Designed by A White Cake by Lauren Bohl White, awhitecake.com; 8. Bouquet Designed by Plants n’ Petals, plantsnpetals.net; 9. Vera Wang Tatiana Gown, Spring 2019 Collection, verawang.com


AFTER THE AISLE W E H AV E S A I D “ I D O . ” N O W W H AT ?

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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.

4

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.

5 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.”

1

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.

2

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.

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.

6

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.

7

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.

8

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.

BLACKBRIDE.COM


first comes love

P H O T O G R A P H E D B Y C H A M PA G N E L O V E S T O R I E S

Courtney & KeJuan

C

ourtney and KeJuan met in 2001 when they were in the same high school history class. For the next fifteen years, they remained friends—until KeJuan learned that Courtney planned to move to Texas. He asked to see her again, and their connection was so strong that Courtney stayed in Atlanta to see where it would take them. Now, they're preparing to become husband and wife. The Proposal {Her Story}

All day, from the moment I woke up, KeJuan surprised me with numbered birthday gifts. One of the gifts was a surprise party filled with all of our closest friends and family. At the party, he had even bigger surprises in store. One of the most memorable gifts was my best friend from high school, who

KeJuan flew in from Seattle just to be a part of that day. I hadn't seen her in ten years, so it was an unforgettable surprise. After that, he read a poem derived from Proverbs 31, "The Virtuous Woman." Then, he got down on one knee and proposed. The Proposal {His Story}

One year after we started dating, I knew Courtney was going to be my wife. While planning the proposal, we found out we were expecting twins, and I put the plans on hold. Watching what she endured during pregnancy and delivery only confirmed that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. She'd never had the chance to attend a prom, so for Courtney's birthday, I planned a prom-themed surprise party. Shortly after the king-and-queen dance, BLACKBRIDE.COM


first comes love I presented her with her thirty-first gift of the day, her engagement ring. The party was stressful because she's a detective by nature and I didn't want anyone to ruin the surprise. Although she figured out there was a surprise party, the look on her face when she saw the ring and her best friend made all the stress worth it! What makes your love special?

Our love is special because it's based on more than fifteen years of friendship. We've gained so much respect for each other as we've watched each other mature. What was the theme of your shoot?

A throwback to where it all began, Stephenson High School.

Were there any memorable moments during the shoot?

It was our first time back at Stephenson since we attended, and it brought back so many memories. Have you started planning your wedding?

Yes, our wedding planner, Brighter Affairs, is doing all the planning. What are you most looking forward to about your wedding?

We're ready to have a good time and share our love with our friends and family.

Bride: Courtney Strickland, 32, Commercial Real Estate Property Manager Groom: KeJuan McGee, 32, General Manager, Jared the Galleria of Jewelry Place of Residence: Ellenwood, Georgia Engagement Shoot Location: Stephenson High School and Stone Mountain Park, Stone Mountain, Georgia Wedding Date: 10/04/2020

BLACKBRIDE.COM


cover story

THE

REAWAKENING OF

Malinda Williams A SOULFUL KIND OF LOVE BY C.K. ALEXANDER JEAN PHOTOGRAPHY BY A NTONI O " TONY" M I NI FI ELD

GOWN: Peter Langner EARRINGS: Ranjana Khan BLACKBRIDE.COM


cover story

I

"

am in a

REAWAKENING moment in my life. It's one of those places where you know you are about to take a leap forward." –

Malinda Williams

GOWN: Ines di Santo at Elite Pour La Vie EARRINGS: Appetite of a Millionaire BLACKBRIDE.COM


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T

he actor, producer and entrepreneur, shares how her new marriage has "brought her color back" and given her a new outlook on love and life. We fell in love with her as Bird, the youngest Joseph sister in the acclaimed series Soul Food, and as young Alicia in the romantic comedy The Wood. Over her 35 years in the entertainment industry, Malinda Williams has been our Hollywood girlfriend, captivating us with the realness and down-to-earth persona she brilliantly portrays on screen. Much like those characters, Malinda is no stranger to the highs and lows of love. Although she admits she never gave up on love or finding the one (she was previously married to actor Mekhi Phifer, with whom she shares a son, and later married DJ D-Nice), she had released the idea of a happily-ever-after marriage. "I had just

decided, well, maybe there is a one, but maybe you don't have to necessarily be married to the one," said Malinda. However, fate intervened, and she stumbled upon a new romance and a relationship she refers to as "a soul-level connection." On March 20, 2019, the 49-year-old star shocked us all when she announced on Instagram that she was engaged to be married to journalist and digital media executive Tariq M. Walker, 48. The couple, who have been together five years, tied the knot six months after their engagement with three private ceremonies in Los Angeles. We chatted with the newly married Malinda and Tariq and discussed love on a deeper level, redefining marriage on their own terms and their new business venture, ThisIsLeaving.com, a travel and lifestyle brand with a focus on wellness.

COVER SHOOT TEAM CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Mary Chatman LOCATION: Waldorf Astoria Atlanta Buckhead and Park Studios STYLING TEAM: Tiffany Ricks and Tiffany Lewars MAKEUP ARTIST: Alexandra Butler HAIR STYLIST: Fairren Thompson

FLORAL DESIGN: Eilena Mericer-Ehmann LIGHTING: Rando Lawrence BTS FOOTAGE: Sade Kay Creates and Love in Motion Wedding Films SET ASSISTANCE: Candice Davie STYLING ASSISTANCE: Amber Spence

GROOM: Miguel Wilson Collection PAGE 76 DRESS: Naeem Khan at Elite Pour La Vie EARRINGS: Appetite of a Millionaire SHOES: Vera Wang BLACKBRIDE.COM


cover story CK: We know you as this amazing actor with a long and fulfilling career, but who is Malinda Williams now? MALINDA: Right now, I am in a reawakening moment of my life. I've been here before, and it's one of those places where you know you're about to take a leap forward. What that means to me is trying something new, trying something different. Everything I do is an extension of some part of myself, some part of my personality or some longing to express, ultimately, the gifts I have within. CK: Within the last year or so, you've gotten engaged and married. Tell me about your new love. MALINDA: My new relationship is another leap forward. We were ready for this type of relationship. We had both been married. We had learned so much about ourselves and about relationships. We each wanted something different and specific in our lives as it relates to relationships, and we found we'd walked common paths, separately and parallel. Then it was just like, I see you. CK: Tariq, tell me about your first time meeting Malinda. TARIQ: We met through a mutual friend. My background was is in content development and creative branded content, editorial and video. Our friend thought there might be an opportunity for us to work together. MALINDA: I never cross the line between business and personal. That's one of my boundaries, but one day we were set to have a meeting I'd already rescheduled a few times. I wanted to reschedule it again, but I didn't want him to think I was flaky. I showed up, but I said, "I don't really have the capacity right now to talk business. I'm exhausted, and I really just need to have a drink and chill." He said, "Okay. Cool." TARIQ: That was when we got to know each other on a personal level. Over the course of lunch, we had a three-hour conversation, and I became intrigued about who she was outside of business. That was the start of me considering, wait, there may be something more here. MALINDA: The first personal question I asked him was: "Where are you from?" I had no idea who he was or where he was from, if he was single or married. I knew nothing because that

GOWN: Naama & Anat,"Spirit" ACCESSORIES: Appetite of a Millionaire HAIR COMBS: Lelet NY GROOM: Miguel Wilson Collection BLACKBRIDE.COM


cover story wasn't my business. But he told me he was from Philly, and I said, "Oh, I'm from Jersey." We discovered we'd been in the same circles, in the same rooms, basically, almost since adolescence—in some of the same parties and doing business with some of the same people. It was like one degree of separation. We realized we had so much in common, and we started a friendship. Out of the friendship, grew our relationship.

MALINDA: I found Tariq to be very intelligent, very kind and compassionate. He had a connection to spirit and to humanity. He treated everyone with kindness and respect. How someone treats anyone is how they'll treat everyone. I really appreciated his demonstration of kindness and compassion. He was also unafraid to express himself and his feelings. Who he was and how he felt always seemed to be very honest.

CK: How did you come to understand this relationship was different and you'd both found something special?

CK: What is the biggest lesson you've learned from your past that has served you in your new marriage?

MALINDA: First, I had to understand what I needed from him in a relationship and what kind of person I was willing to be. I had gone through that period of self-examination to get clear about what I wanted and didn't want.

MALINDA: You really have to be patient with people and with yourself. It's a process of learning and growing. Every day, you're making a choice. You have to communicate with that person. Because someone feels a certain way on Tuesday, doesn't mean they'll feel that way on Thursday. Check back on Thursday and ask, "Are you still with me? If not, what's going on and why?" I highly recommend and would put therapy at the top of my list. We advocate for couple's counseling. We started seeing a couple's therapist while we were still dating. We had zero problems, but we recognized we'd been in other relationships and things lying dormant could rear their ugly heads when it wasn't quite as convenient.

CK: It sounds like you did a lot of self-work. What role did self-love play in assessing what you wanted out of this relationship? MALINDA: Self-love is everything. Tariq honors me the way I honor myself. He loves me the way I've been loving myself, and, quite frankly, the way I'd loved others. I recognized, in the way Tariq showed up and loved me, the way I'd been putting love out, and I was so thankful. I was so grateful. He was sent into my life to return to me all the love I was putting out in different places, seeking it from those same places. TARIQ: As I got to know Malinda, she continued to check the boxes of the sort of person I wanted in my life, someone I felt I could be good for too. That understanding came because I'd done the work to know who I wanted to be and who I wanted. At every turn, Malinda consistently proved to be the sort of person I wanted in my life. CK: What are some of the things that forged your deep connection with each other?

GOWN: Ines di Santo at Elite Pour La Vie EARRINGS: Appetite of a Millionaire GROOM: Miguel Wilson Collection

TARIQ: I appreciate intelligence. I need you to know Malinda is a very intelligent woman, one of the smartest people I've met. I wanted someone I could learn from and teach so we can learn and grow together. There's also spirituality and having a spiritual connection to humanity and the universe that's not bound by a specific approach to religion. We have very similar outlooks in that regard. We're also from the same region and of the same era. In many cases, we just got each other.

CK: Did counseling prepare you for the marriage you have now and to deal with conflict resolution and anything else that comes up? MALINDA: A thousand percent. Our therapist has given us tools and strategies to resolve and avert conflicts. We communicate in ways we probably wouldn't have prior to therapy. Tariq and I recognized and said early on: you're getting the best me. You are getting the best version of me based on all the information I've brought into this relationship. Counseling also gave us strategies to discuss things we like and enjoy. Because a lot of times people don't tell each other what we like or love about one another. CK: What finally led to talks about marriage? TARIQ: We'd both been in relationships, and I think—not that we swore off marriage because that wasn't the situation—but we both decided we didn't need to get married again. We met there at that place, but we were still open to long-term relationships, and certainly you know when you enjoy being with someone.

BLACKBRIDE.COM


cover story CK: How did you pop the question? TARIQ: Over the years we've been together, I began to feel like I wanted to marry her. Not that I wanted to be married again, but I wanted to share and express the commitment I felt toward her in the most significant way possible. I had known that for a good year before actually proposing. In fact, I would tell Malinda, "I want you to be my wife," my way of telling her how I felt about her. When I proposed, I didn't want to go into another year without expressing how deep my commitment was to her. I designed a ring with a friend, and then on a regular Tuesday, I proposed. I wanted it to be special but not over the top, so I proposed at home. We'd just finished eating breakfast, and I pulled out the ring and gave her a card. MALINDA: The proposal was a complete surprise. There wasn't any pomp and circumstance. It was the purest moment. You can find pomp and circumstance, all of that production, anywhere. What you cannot find anywhere is a soul-level connection. CK: So what happened after the proposal? Did you start planning your wedding? TARIQ: Once Malinda said yes, for all intents and purposes for me, we were married right then and there. As for the ceremony, we said we'd get married in six months. MALINDA: You know in your heart when you're married. I don't need the piece of paper or the person on the outside to sanction it. You know in your heart when it's done, so that was part of it. I wanted to be open, and we didn't want a big wedding. We wanted something very small and intimate and private. I didn't know where we'd be because we travel a lot, but I knew we'd get married in six months. We were open to a different kind of experience. We had a conversation on Friday, and then on Monday, we woke up and said, "Let's do it today." It was very spontaneous. I didn't know what he was doing when he was getting dressed, and he didn't know what I was doing in my closet, but when we met in the middle, we matched. We were in alignment. CK: Tell me about your three wedding ceremonies? How did you decide to make it official?

GOWN: Ann Barge,"Emory" Steel Blue HEADPIECE: Elite Pour La Vie ACCESSORIES: Appetite of a Millionaire GROOM: Miguel Wilson Collection BLACKBRIDE.COM


cover story

MALINDA: We don't call our "vows" vows. We call them promises. They weren't to one another as much as they were to ourselves. When I'm writing a promise, I'm not writing the promise to Tariq. I'm writing the promise to Malinda because I know myself, and I'm promising this will be my behavior. This is how I'll show up in this relationship. I'm less likely to break a promise to myself, and that's honoring myself. We did a ceremony by the ocean and one in a botanical garden. The flower garden represented light and color and growth and regeneration and budding and flowering. The ocean is life giving and replenishing, regenerating and vast. Then, we went to the justice of the peace to make it legal. CK: What inspired you to celebrate your union in this way? TARIQ: What's important isn't the wedding. It's the marriage, the union. And that bond is only between Malinda and me, so it was important for us to start our marriage in the way we wanted it to continue, a meeting of the minds between us, about us. We decided there was no outside influence on when, how, where or what our wedding was going to be.

GOWN: Peter Langner EARRINGS: Appetite of a Millionaire

awaken things in you that staying in your comfort zone doesn't. Travel accelerated our relationship and enhanced our communication and our living experience. We came home and tried new recipes. We went to different restaurants. Our desire to share it with the world grew. We thought, "This could be helpful to others in their relationships as well. So let's share the value of travel with people. Let's inspire people to travel more." If you travel outside of your city, you're going to learn things. Then you travel outside of your state and, ultimately, outside of the country and to other continents. You learn so much about the world, and in doing so, it's reflected back to you. You learn a lot about yourself. That's how This Is Leaving began to grow. Then, we naturally added extensions of travel, which are fashion, wellness and beauty, that you can't help but share because traveling isn't just about a destination. It's about what you learn in the destination. CK: What do you want your legacy to be as husband and wife?

CK: Tell me a little bit about collaborating on This Is Leaving.

TARIQ: If we can inspire other folks with how we handle ourselves, how we communicate, how we love one another, for me, that's a wonderful legacy to have.

MALINDA: Our careers have us traveling a lot, and we wanted a foundation that was fortifying, not just for us as individuals, but for us as a couple. We weren't trying to exchange our careers for This Is Leaving, but if one of us traveled for work, we built a little vacation around it and wrote a story about it. It was important for us, our family members and even our community to know the importance of travel and how it can

MALINDA: We want to make sure the people understand that love is really, truly the most important thing and that love is in need of love, to never give up on love because love never gave up on you. That's how we got here. Love expands you. We don't even understand our capacity to love until we understand how to give that love unconditionally. It grows your heart in a way I never fully understood until now. BLACKBRIDE.COM


cover story

GOWN: Ines di Santo at Elite Pour La Vie HEADPEICE: Lelet NY EARRINGS: Appetite of a Millionaire GROOM: Miguel Wilson Collection


cover story

Love & Style

REIMAGINED BY CANDICE DAVIE PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANÉE ATELIER

JACKET: Ines Di Santo HEADPIECE: Maria Elena Headpieces

In a time of great uncertainty, we are reminded that the only constants in life are change and how we choose to respond to it. COVID-19 quarantine restrictions have caused many couples to completely rethink the weddings they had envisioned. Some have decided to move forward with their plans, opting for small, intimate events. Others have postponed their weddings. While it may not look like your original plan, you can still create a celebratory experience that will yield long-lasting memories. The uncomfortable and unknown can spark unmatched creativity, innovation, and resiliency. Amidst changing times, we at Black Bride stand with everyone facing difficult and emotional decisions. What we know for sure is that unity, love, and commitment to each other will conquer all. Journey in grace and trust the new route. BLACKBRIDE.COM


cover story

The

realization that some moments only come around once in a lifetime is more present now than ever before, and this bridal fashion shoot in Long Island City, New York, is proof. Full of color, non-traditional elements, and style, it's sure to inspire the modern bride. Sheena Meekins and Gina Esposito, Owners and Principal Photographers of NYC photography boutique, Anée Atelier, created this unique shoot with the theme "Pervenche and Pastel" in mind. The best-friend photography duo was inspired by smoky blues meeting pale peach in a chic interpretation of dramatic fashion, set in a garden that captured the alluring glow of pre-twilight skies. Following this theme, the shoot explored a variety of colorful and non-traditional gowns from the latest 2020 couture collections by top designers, including Ines Di Santo, Romona Keveza, and Hayley Paige. To bring the entire vision to life, the set design featured a mix of live and dry florals, including an unusual mix of exotic blooms, berries, vines, and oversized stems. Elaborate floral installations paired seven-foot uva stems with painted florals sprinkled in hues of pervenche and peach on a mossy green foundation. Here's what the pair had to say about their favorite details from this shoot: "White wedding gowns are traditionally the norm, so we loved having the opportunity to play with hues that extended our color concept, not only to the decor, but to the gowns and accessories as well. It was especially a privilege to share how these gowns took on such a striking impact when paired with rich brown skin. There was something truly captivating about the rosy Ines Di Santo styles, set against the warmth of Taylor's complexion. Likewise, Ovo brought such an incredibly majestic feel to the stunning Romona Keveza caped gown. We also loved that the Hayley Paige gown included notes of both periwinkle and the peachy-nudes that inspired us from the very beginning." Reflective of the times, this shoot provides tons of inspiration for the fashion-forward bride who dares to be different and wants to set the tone for her ideal look.

MODEL LEFT DRESS: Hayley Paige EARRINGS: Maria Elena Headpieces

DRESS: Romona Keveza

DRESS: Ines Di Santo EARRINGS: Maria Elena Headpieces

BLACKBRIDE.COM


cover story

Vendors

Photography: Anée Atelier aneeatelier.com

Designer: Pejy Kash Events pejykashevents.com Location: 7 Line Studio Long Island City, New York 7linestudio.com Models: Taylor Ellis instagram.com/lorealellis Ovo Drenth instagram.com/itsovodrenth Amanda Lougee instagram.com/alougee Concept/Creative Direction: Anée Atelier Producer: Faith Warren instagram.com/ iamfaithwarren Dresses: Hayley Paige jlmcouture.com Ines Di Santo inesdisanto.com Romona Keveza romonakeveza.com Zuhair Murad, Kleinfeld Bridal zuhairmurad.com Accessories: Maria Elena Headpieces mariaelenaheadpieces.com Models' Hair: Nikki Avanzino nikkiavanzino.com Models' Makeup: Fede Insieme fedeinsieme.com Flowers: Ivie Joy Flowers iviejoyflowers.com Videography: AJ Ingoglia Films ajingogliafilms.com

DRESS: Zuhair Murad EARRINGS: Maria Elena Headpieces


bride story

PHOTOGRAPHED BY KENDAL LANIER

ABOUT THE COUPLE

Bride: Nakia Daniels Means, 26, Senior IT Systems Analyst Groom: Andrew Morgan Means, 27, Marketing Manager Place of Residence: Atlanta, Georgia Wedding Date: 04/26/2020 Original Wedding Location: The Biltmore Ballrooms, Atlanta, Georgia Wedding Location: Couple's Home Wedding Theme: Modern Classic Original Honeymoon Destination: Fiji

A

Nakia & Andrew

ndrew and Nakia met in 2011 while they were both students at Kennesaw State University. A tight-knit friendship evolved during their college years, and as the saying goes: when you love someone, being their friend is just not enough. In 2016, they took their friendship to the next level and have been together ever since. With a wedding date scheduled for April 26, 2020, Andrew and Nakia had to rethink their original plans and decided to tie the knot in a small, intimate ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Engagement Story

Andrew planned a surprise road trip to the beach for Nakia's twenty-sixth birthday. When they walked out on a pier, Andrew handed her a scrapbook filled with memories from their past few years together. When she reached the last page of the book, it said: "Nakia Shante' Daniels, will you be my wife?"

What makes your love special?

Our authentic friendship. It's a beautiful thing to have the freedom to be your true self— good, bad, and ugly. After four years of college, Andrew knew the real Nakia. Knowing that he already knew my flaws and was still attracted to me was the most freeing feeling. From the Bride

I completely forgot about the COVID-19 pandemic on my wedding day; it was just that intimate. I experienced a peace beyond understanding. I started my morning with a devotional led by my mom, walked down the aisle holding a bouquet made by my dad, and saw my groom standing at the end of the aisle smiling from ear to ear. It was priceless! From the Groom

Like my bride, I was shocked to learn that our wedding plans had to change in a short period of time. However, knowing she was fully BLACKBRIDE.COM


bride story committed to still getting married had me all in. I had chills as I watched her walk down the aisle. Although we condensed many elements of the day, it was still everything I could have hoped for. Your best/most memorable moment

The most vivid memory from our wedding day happened just before we were pronounced husband and wife. The pastor said, "By the power vested in me, by the state of Georgia ... "I remember thinking, "Oh my gosh! This is legit! I’m about to be Andrew’s wife!" Wedding song, explain choice for song:

The first time I heard "Psalm 45" by Shane and Shane, I knew it would be our song. It is a beautiful Psalm written in adoration for the sacrifice of love that Jesus made for His bride, the church, on the cross. It captures the kind of love that Andrew and I will work to understand and live out in our marriage for the rest of our lives! Favorite wedding detail:

It's so hard to choose just one detail. I think our getaway car was our favorite. The best part was getting to keep the Porsche overnight and drive around downtown Atlanta the next day. What are you most looking forward to as a married couple?

It sounds simple, but I'm excited about living my life with Andrew. We are also looking forward to experiencing our delayed "firsts as a married couple" together, our first vacation, first date outside of the house, and witnessing many other weddings together. Advice for a bride/groom with a 2020 wedding date (during COVID-19 pandemic)

Every situation is different. This is very important for every couple, wedding planner, and vendor to keep in mind. What worked for the couples we're seeing on Instagram and even in this magazine may not work for you, and that’s okay. Make a list of top priorities individually, and then agree on a consolidated list together. From there, you can keep what is most important for you as a couple. Please feel free to include any other interesting anecdotes from your big day!

The morning of our wedding, my bridesmaids and matron of honor called to encourage me and pray with me. I was taking pictures in the back yard when my mom told me there was a surprise waiting for me out front. I dropped everything and ran when I saw our matron of honor, best man, and bridesmaids driving by with balloons and champagne!

Vendors

Photographer: Kendal Lanier, Instagram @champagnenupe Videographer: Daka David, aleweddings.com Ceremony & Reception Location: Couple's Home Bridal Gown: Winnie Couture (Atlanta), winniecouture.com Groom's Tux: Savvi Formalwear Wedding Planners: Lugener's Affair, lugenersaffair.com Caterer: Gotta Have It Catering, ghifood.com Cake: Cake in the Cupboard, etsy.com Music/DJ: Couple's Brother Flowers: Bride's Father Stationery: Paperlust, paperlust.co


P H O T O G R A P H E D B Y J O S H U A D WA I N P H O T O G R A P H Y

La Toya & Michael

M

ichael and LaToya met through the dating app SoulSwipe in 2015. Their first impressions of each other's profiles were enough to make them both swipe right. (Michael says LaToya was mesmerized by his broad shoulders and toned arms!) Shortly after that, they went on their first date in October 2015, and there was an undeniable, instant connection. The two have been together ever since, and after three years of dating, the couple became engaged.

Engagement Story:

Michael went for an intimate proposal by making dinner plans for the two of them at their favorite steakhouse in Harlem, Ricardo's. He describes the most memorable moment of the night as seeing how shocked

and happy LaToya was when he proposed. "It's hard to keep secrets from her because nothing gets past her," he says. Later that summer, they had an engagement party on a rooftop in NYC to celebrate with their family and close friends. From the Groom:

All of my good friends knew I was planning to propose, and they were incredibly supportive throughout the planning process. I didn't know anything about diamonds, but my friend, who was already engaged, helped me out tremendously. I made reservations a couple of days before I decided to propose, and I let the staff know my plans for that night. They played "Let's Get Married," by Jagged Edge, after I proposed and brought out a celebratory drink and dessert.

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bride story

What was the theme of your engagement shoot?

We didn't have a theme; we just wanted the shoot to be fun and a representation of our personalities and lifestyle. We ended up at the High Line, an elevated linear park, greenway, and rail trail created on a former New York Central Railroad spur on the west side of Manhattan. We also shot on the streets of the Meatpacking District. Were there any memorable moments during the shoot?

ABOUT THE COUPLE

Bride: LaToya Joy Westbrooks, 33, Senior UX Researcher at Facebook & Founder of Wealthly Groom: Michael R. Keeling, 33, E-Commerce Manager at The Foundation & Founder of The Amazon Blueprint Place of Residence: New York, New York Wedding Date: 04/26/2021 (previously 06/13/2020) Engagement Shoot Location: The Meatpacking District, New York, New York

Even though it was about ninety-eight degrees that day, we still had a great time. Our photographer and his wife kept things light and working with them was great. It was also nice to see tourists and local people take pictures of us and congratulate us. Despite our reputation, New Yorkers are supportive in certain situations.

except for a few minor details. Fortunately, it wasn't too difficult to reschedule the wedding with our vendors because of Covid-19. We thought about an October 2020 date but decided people wouldn't be comfortable flying that soon after a pandemic. Therefore, April 24, 2021 is our new date!

What are you most looking forward to about your wedding?

Advice for a bride/groom with a 2020 wedding date (during COVID-19 pandemic):

We look forward to having the time of our lives by dancing the night away and cannot wait to celebrate with family and friends! Unfortunately, we had to push the wedding back due to Covid-19, but that just means we're going to celebrate even harder next spring!

If it's important that both of your families attend the wedding, it's probably best to push the date back to 2021. Who knows how long this pandemic will last? You want to make sure your family is safe while attending your wedding, especially those with underlying medical conditions. We also recommend investing in a wedding planner who can help you reschedule with vendors.

Have you started planning your wedding?

Yes, the wedding planning is basically finished

Vendors

Photographer: Joshua Dwain Photography, joshuadwain.com Makeup Artist: Renee, Instagram @ reneemadeulook

BLACKBRIDE.COM


bride story

ABOUT THE COUPLE

P H O T O G R A P H E D B Y E M I LY W H I T E O F W H AT E M S E E S P H O T O G R A P H Y

Bride: Danielle Moore, 25, Public Relations & Communications Professional Groom: Peter Calhoun, 26, Finance Professional Place of Residence: Washington, District of Columbia Wedding Date: 03/21/2020 Original Wedding Location: Accelerator Space, Baltimore, Maryland Wedding Location: Henderson's Wharf Marina, Baltimore, Maryland Wedding Theme: Bohemian and edgy romantic Original Honeymoon Destination: Turks and Caicos

D

Danielle & Peter

anielle and Peter met when they both attended a driving school class in the summer of 2010. They later learned that they went to the same high school and shared a circle of friends. That chance meeting turned into a long-lasting love connection, and a decade later, not even a pandemic could stop them from becoming husband and wife. Share in the joy of their small, romantic ceremony, captured by What Em Sees Photography.

ready to celebrate. As reality set in that we were going to have to make changes, I was disappointed at first but came to the realization that the health and safety of our family and friends was most important. On our wedding day, I felt very calm and satisfied with the fact that I'd finally get to marry my best friend, despite the circumstances. I also felt so much love from our family and friends who texted, called, and watched on Zoom. From the Groom:

In 2018, while on a summer trip to Aruba, Peter popped the question. After a beautiful day of touring the island, Danielle could not have asked for a better birthday present!

Changing our wedding plans the way we did was a major shift, but my first priority was always to formalize our commitment to each other. I felt proud of the way we adapted and pleased that we would finally be married.

From the Bride:

What makes your love special?

Getting married during a pandemic and completely changing our plans was not at all what I pictured. We had a lengthy engagement, so as our big day got closer, we were

Since we began dating as high schoolers, we've truly grown up together and have a marriage built on a strong friendship.

Engagement Story:

BLACKBRIDE.COM


bride story

Your best/most memorable moment:

The most memorable moment for both of us was seeing each other at the altar. We smiled excitedly at each other as my dad walked me down the wharf to meet Peter. Favorite wedding detail:

My favorite wedding detail was my bouquet. It was a quick DIY that I put together the day before, and now I think of it as a symbol of the "make it work and make it beautiful" mentality we had to have. What are you most looking forward to as a married couple?

We are looking forward to embarking on fun new adventures as husband and wife. We are especially excited to eventually go on our honeymoon and take more trips together. Advice for a bride/groom with a 2020 wedding date (during COVID-19 pandemic)

As it became clear that we would have to change our wedding plans, we felt pressure to change our date completely (by the news media, vendors, etc.). However, we felt strongly about our date, so we made the necessary changes to ensure that it still happened for us. We want to encourage any brides and grooms who feel it's important to them to keep their date to make the necessary changes to do so. There are certainly safe and creative ways to still get married during this time. If anything, the coronavirus pandemic reminded us to hone in on the most important thing about getting married—our union. Please feel free to include any other interesting anecdotes from your big day!

We are especially thankful to our pastor, Pastor James A. Marshall Jr., our photographer, Emily White of What Em Sees Photography, and my makeup artist, Leryn Breanna of Bougie Beats Artistry, who were all still willing to be involved in our special day to make it as memorable and as beautiful as possible.

Vendors

Photographer: Emily White of What Em Sees Photography, whatemsees.com Ceremony Location: Henderson's Wharf Marina, hendersonswharfmarina.com Bridal Gown: Lovers Society Freja Gown, Lovely Bride DC Bride's Makeup: Bougie Beats Artistry, Leryn Breanna, bougiebeatsartistry.com Groom's Tux: The Black Tux Flowers: Designed by Bride Stationery: Minted, minted.com Pastor: Pastor James A. Marshall Jr. Instagram @jamarshalljr


LOOKING FORWARD...

BOLD + Beautiful

r, t

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by Mary Chatman

PHOTOGRAPHY BY REEM PHOTOGRAPHY

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Jewelry: Appetite Of A Millionaire Dress: Winnie Couture

COV E R S TO RY

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Headpiece & Jewelry: Appetite Of A Millionaire Dress: Pantora Bridal Furniture: I Decorate Atlanta

Headpiece & Jewelry: Appetite Of A Millionaire Dress: Pantora Bridal Furniture: I Decorate Atlanta

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ne of the most inspiring undertakings in publishing a wedding magazine is sharing the love stories of how couples met and got engaged and how their wedding day turned out. This year, we find the power of love and how it always wins more inspiring than ever. Another enjoyable part of publishing is the creative aspect. The cover inspiration for this, our 10th issue, started with a phenomenal nontraditional natural hairstyle and was the center of our world for a day. Emboldened by the dramatic hairstyles, the shoot explored couture gowns with designs from the latest 2021 collections by Pantora Bridal and Winnie Couture with glam accessories by Appetite of a Millionaire. The cover shoot took place on Election Day, November 3, 2020, in an election year filled with change, tragedy, and history. We came together with a group of amazing creatives and brought an incredibly striking concept to life inside a swanky city studio and outdoors with an historic Martin Luther King Jr. sign as the backdrop. This shoot provides a ton of inspiration for the modern, regal, natural-hair bride who craves high-fashion style. Given the historic elements of the shoot and the strength of our collaboration, we wanted to share what the creative team had to say about the day.

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Headpiece & Jewelry: Appetite Of A Millionaire Dress: Pantora Bridal Furniture: I Decorate Atlanta


The Most High never ceases to amaze me with so many wondrous things made from his creation. The Black woman is strikingly breathtaking, as is her counterpart, the regal Black man! It's no surprise to me that the Most High gave me a dynamic concept that embodies every sentiment of the Black woman. Her royal posture, faceted demeanor, and rare spirit have set a tone the world has always noticed. The entire creative team was completely committed and adamantly wanted to amplify through imagery her legacy, romance, and culture. I thank the Most High for their passion and commitment as well. What is more befitting and honorable than to highlight the Black woman as a Black bride?

part of something historical that my daughter can look back on and cherish. It was big mood. The energy of Black excellence is unmatched. ~Natia, Model God is so masterful with His plans. I am thankful to be a part of this great creative journey and assist in showing a wide range of unique hairstyles beautiful black brides can try during their bridal experience. I love what I do! I appreciate Mary and Ajike trusting me with their vision, allowing me to use my out-of-the-box creative edge and incorporating it with their overall theme for this break out 10-year anniversary issue. Everyone aboard brought good, positive vibes and energy to showcase each individual talent. ~Shanna Anise, Hair Artist

Headpiece & Jewelry: Appetite Of A Millionaire Dress: Pantora Bridal Furniture: I Decorate Atlanta

Mary Chatman, congratulations on your 10th Anniversary Issue! It was an honor creating for and with you! ~Ajike Harrison CEO, Creative Director & Fashion Specialist, Appetite of a Millionaire To collaborate on such a special project with all black vendors was utterly amazing. From celebrating the 10th edition of Black Bride Magazine to working this project on Election Day and utilizing the Martin Luther King Jr. monument, it was an historic moment for all of us to be able to bring this vision to life. It was an honor to be a part of it. ~Kareem Virgo, CEO & Lead Photographer, Reem Photography First, thank you to the entire production for casting me as part of this remarkable moment. This team not only empowered me, but they have also made history within our black bridal community. I’ve been given the opportunity to create magic from my hair to my toes, and I hope you all enjoy the incredible work this team has produced. ~Timani Reid, Cover Girl Model Shooting with Black Bride Magazine was an experience. Coming on board at the last minute, I could not be prouder to be added to the atmosphere of such amazing creatives. Rich in melanin and spirit, this team laid the foundation from beginning to end. I left feeling like

Jewelry: Appetite Of A Millionaire Dress: Pantora Bridal

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Jewelry: Appetite Of A Millionaire Dress: Winnie Couture

Headpiece & Jewelry: Appetite Of A Millionaire Dress: Pantora Bridal Furniture: I Decorate Atlanta

I was called to work with an outstanding team of creatives for Black Bride Magazine, and my experience will stay with me for a lifetime. Each creative was deeply passionate about their work, and that was our binding force. From fashion styling, to hair, to photography—we were all in tune with the vision. I quickly learned the power of working in alignment. We are all creatives passionate about changing the narrative. This powerful cover is the embodiment and continuation of Black women reclaiming our time to be fearless, pushing the limits to shine boldly. Our identity as royalty is captured in fresh new ways, while honoring the regal timeless women who paved the way for the lifestyles we can enjoy today. I am deeply honored to be a part of this beautiful and talented team. ~Tolu Funso, Makeup Artist & Beauty Educator I really enjoyed working with Black Bride Magazine as their behind-the-scenes videographer for the winter cover shoot held on Election Day. This chance would

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Jewelry: Appetite Of A Millionaire Dress: Winnie Couture


Headpiece & Jewelry: Appetite Of A Millionaire Dress: Winnie Couture

Jewelry: Appetite Of A Millionaire Dress: Winnie Couture

be the pinnacle for any photographer or videographer in the wedding industry. This was my first cover shoot, and it truly felt like a milestone achievement, to say the least, especially since it was held on a very historical day for the United States of America. The day started early with breakfast and chill afrobeats, and everyone was fun and easy to work with. The models were beyond beautiful and had great energy throughout the entire shoot. The creative directors, Mary Chatman and Ajike, allowed me to work my craft, which made working with everyone seamless. I felt like I had been working with them for a while even though this was my first time. I cannot wait to work with Black Bride again. Also, a huge shoutout to Photos by Reem! He and his wife are an amazing team! ~Kendal Westbrooks, Founder & Photographer, Champagne Love Stories

Jewelry: Appetite Of A Millionaire Dress: Winnie Couture Bouquet: Fabulous Fox Designs B L AC K B R I D E .CO M

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Headpiece & Jewelry: Appetite Of A Millionaire Dresses: Winnie Couture Bouquet: Fabulous Fox Designs

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Cover Shoot Credits

CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Ajike appetiteofamillionaire.com COVER PHOTOGRAPHY: Reem Photography reemphotography.com BTS FOOTAGE: Kendal Lanier instagram.com/champagnenupe MODELS: Natia Mobley instagram.com/natiamobley Timani Reid ursulawiedmannmodels.com DRESSES: Andrea Pitter Pantorabridal.com Winnie Chlomin Lee winniecouture.com SHOES Betsey Johnson betseyjohnson.com/ ACCESSORIES: appetiteofamillionaire.com/ MAKEUP ARTIST Tolu Funso instagram.com/goldfacedartistry HAIR STYLIST: Shanna Anise shannaanise.com FURNITURE: Latonya IDecorateAtlanta.com LOCATION: Aaron M. Fletcher/Owner instagram.com/aaronfletchermd FLORAL DESIGN: Tina Everhart Fabulous Fox Designs fabulousfoxdesigns.com Headpiece & Jewelry: Appetite Of A Millionaire Dresses: Winnie Couture Bouquet: Fabulous Fox Designs

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Real

Weddings See how other brides made their "Big Day" truly the day of their dreams.

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY JULIA SHARAPOVA

Nadia Norman

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adia and Norman's love story began in 2018 when Norman's highly respected fraternity brother insisted on introducing the two of them after seeing Nadia at his workplace. He had a strong feeling she was the perfect woman for Norman and repeatedly encouraged him to stop by. One day, Norman agreed to meet Nadia just to see what would happen. He now owes his fraternity brother all the thanks because Norman ended up finding his wife! Check out Nadia and Norman's stunning wedding day captured by Julia Sharapova.

WHAT MAKES YOUR LOVE SPECIAL? It is simply ours. All the ups and the downs, we deal with them our way and we grow closer every single day. The Lord blessed us, and we are doing our best to glorify Him within our marriage.

ENGAGEMENT STORY: Norman met with my parents the day before the proposal, and after receiving their blessing, he planned a Christmas-themed proposal. The Dallas Arboretum had just opened the Twelve Days of Christmas exhibit, and we couldn't pass up the opportunity to enjoy the fun. We were making our way through the exhibit when

Norman asked a bystander to take a picture of us. Then, Norman took off his hat and dropped to one knee. I was completely surprised and overjoyed to say yes! It was an incredible moment, but the best part was seeing my family right after we turned the corner.

FROM THE BRIDE: Surprisingly, I was calm while getting ready, but as we got closer to the ceremony, my heart felt like it was going to jump out of my chest. I was beyond excited to see Norman at the altar, waiting for me. We locked eyes, and all my anxiety went away. After saying "I do," I tried not to tear up with joy. Norman was the husband I had prayed for.

FROM THE GROOM: I literally could not wait to say "I do." I interjected well before our officiant was ready, and everyone enjoyed a good laugh. It felt great to see all our family and friends from all over come to celebrate our union. It was the best day of my life!

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YOUR BEST/MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT: Our first dance to John Legend's "So High."

FAVORITE WEDDING DETAIL: Our violinist played "All My Life" as Nadia walked down the aisle. We also loved the flowers. Our floral designer really made our vision come to life!

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO AS A MARRIED COUPLE? We look forward to shared spiritual growth and raising brilliant children.

ADVICE FOR A BRIDE/GROOM ON THEIR WEDDING DAY: Really get to know your photographer before the wedding day. The day flies by, so try to get pictures with the people you're closest to first.

Bride: Nadia Hayes, 28 Senior Marketing Analyst Groom: Norman Hayes, 27 Professional Services Manager Place of Residence: Dallas, Texas Wedding Date: August 30, 2020 Wedding Location: The Olana, Hickory Creek, Texas Wedding theme/motif/inspiration: Romantic Modern Chic Honeymoon Location: Honolulu, Hawaii

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Wedding Planner/Designer: Southern Affairs southern-affairs.com Photography: Julia Sharapova Photography jsharapova.com Videographer: Shawn Yang shawnyang.com Ceremony & Reception Location: The Olana theolana.com Bridal Gown: Essense of Australia, Bridal Boutique bridalboutiquelewisville.com Bridal Party Attire: Vera Wang, David's Bridal davidsbridal.com Grooms Suit: Jacob Clayton IG @_JCScott Cake: Irene's Bakery irenesbakery.net Favors: Beau-coup beau-coup.com Music: DJ Hutch at All Things Elegant Entertainment Violinist: Clover the Violinist IG @clovertheviolinist Makeup: Roc Castillo IG @roccastillo Hair: All Things Glam by Jee IG @allthingsglam_byjee allthingsglambyjee.com Flowers: en Fleur enfleurdallas.com Stationery: Minted, minted.com and GreenVelope, greenvelope.com Fitness Trainer: IG @grindwithao

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY MAYA DARASAW OF M.A.D. WORKS PHOTOGRAPHY

Kelsey Malik

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elsey and Malik met in August of 2019 at the opening-night reception for the play Frankenstein. As Malik navigated the crowd, Kelsey stood in his way. As Malik tells it: "I had two options. I could say excuse me. Or I could say hello." He chose hello. Their first date was in September, and Malik popped the question that December.

WHAT MAKES YOUR LOVE SPECIAL? It's been organic since "hello." Trusting our connection, marrying in the midst of the pandemic, and being together nearly 24-7 for months, have cemented our relationship and rewarded our leap of faith.

ENGAGEMENT STORY: They went to Kelsey's childhood home, just after Christmas, so Malik could meet her family. He asked for her father's blessing and planned to propose on New Year's Eve, but two days prior, Kelsey's casual comment about marriage led to a spur-of-the-moment proposal. Malik got down on one knee and presented the ring.

FROM THE BRIDE: I felt embraced. Our village created a journey that surpassed our expectations, including multiple Zoom bridal showers, and Malik's sister donned

a mask and handled the duties of streaming the ceremony. The support allowed me to breathe deeply and focus on what was most important.

FROM THE GROOM: Prior to the ceremony, I met virtually with my groomsmen—my brother, my uncle, and four of my closest friends—who grounded and strengthened me. When Kelsey made her entrance, I felt alive, filled with excitement, and yet, completely certain.

YOUR BEST/MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT: Kelsey: I'd kept all the bridal details a secret, and I so wanted Malik to look up and see everything he's ever wanted. When he saw me, his smile sang to me. Malik: In our exchange of vows, our hearts and spirits spoke directly to one another. And they knew exactly what to say.

FAVORITE WEDDING DETAIL: Two huge floral arrangements transformed our living room into a wedding venue. We loved them so much we took them on our honeymoon. Also, Malik baked our wedding cake, a three-layer carrot cake.

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WEDDING SONG, EXPLAIN YOUR CHOICE: Our first dance was to Luther's "Wait for Love." It's all in the title!

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO AS A MARRIED COUPLE? Getting married lets the rest of the world catch up to where we are in recognizing our love for and commitment to one another. We had amazing journeys before meeting, and marriage provides a unique lens through which to experience what comes next.

ADVICE FOR A BRIDE/GROOM ON THEIR WEDDING DAY: For the bride: Breathe, deeply and often. Focus on the why, instead of the what. Think of any mishaps as content for your blooper reel, and ditch the high heels before your feet ache. Dance! For the groom: Take care of your lady and make space for yourself. My priority was to make sure Kelsey felt happy and stress-free. And Kelsey was wonderful about assuring we incorporated elements important to me. The wedding is your day too.

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO INCLUDE ANY OTHER INTERESTING ANECDOTES FROM YOUR BIG DAY: We'd planned a rooftop ceremony in Beverly Hills and decided not to let the pandemic stop us from moving forward in a new way. A laptop, three cell phones, and one iPad later, we shared our nuptials with an intimate guest list, including Kelsey's father officiating from his living room in Virginia. Bride: Kelsey Scott Actress and Screenwriter Groom: Malik B. El-Amin Artistic Director and Senior Category Manager Place of Residence: Winnetka, California Wedding Date: June 27, 2020 Wedding Location: Winnetka, California Honeymoon Destination: St. George, Utah

TELL US ABOUT YOUR ROLE ON THE HIT COMEDY-DRAMA SERIES INSECURE. AND WHAT'S NEXT FOR BOTH OF YOU? Kelsey: I play Felicia, one of Molly's two law-firm tight girls, on Insecure. We've gotten a peek into Felicia's home life as a wife and mother and her challenges in balancing it all, and I hope to explore how this balance affects her relationship with Molly. The industry slowdown has allowed me time to hone in on the original projects I'm shepherding, including an hourlong series, a feature, and a talk show helmed by a fashionista physician! Malik: Like all theatres in Los Angeles, Griot Theatre is navigating what it means to exist and operate in this time of COVID-19 and beyond. We're exploring how theatre will continue to change as a result. In the new year, we'll collaborate with another theatre to develop a play I've written.

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Wedding Planner(s): Bride & Groom Photography: Maya Darasaw M.A.D. Works Photography IG @madworksphoto madworksphotography.com Ceremony Location: Couple's Living Room Reception Location: Los Angeles, California Bridal Gown: Winnie Couture IG @winniecouture winniecouture.com Groom's Suit: Suit Supply IG @suitsupply suitsupply.com Groom's Bowtie/Handkerchief: D'IYANU IG @diyanu diyanu.com Cake: Baked by Malik Frosted by Kelsey Music: Malik's groomsman, Antonio Hair: Leatha Morgan IG @lecreations Makeup: Raquel Campbell IG @raquelchaylanbeauty Flowers: Abbey's Flower Garden IG @Abbeys_flower_garden Abbeysflowers.com

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY COURTNEY OF AMY ANAIZ PHOTOGRAPHY

Ashley Claudy

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shley attended Howard University School of Law's Admitted Students' Day in March 2014, and giving her a tour of the campus was the tour guide, Claudy. Once Ashley began law school that fall, the two became friends, and they went on their first date in March 2015, exactly one year to the day from the day they met. The pair laughed, exchanged stories until the sun came up, and quickly realized there was much more to their friendship. Ashley and Claudy tied the knot in their Brooklyn home in an elegant, small ceremony captured by Amy Anaiz Photography.

marry me?" on the dessert plate. I looked at him with a mixture of disbelief and confusion and said yes before he even asked the question. Then, Claudy actually proposed, and I said yes again! I was glad I didn't stay at the office, and Claudy pulled off his best surprise yet.

WHAT MAKES YOUR LOVE SPECIAL?

I didn't know whether we would get married at our planned venue, at City Hall, or elsewhere, but I never doubted we would get married on July 11th and it would be special. Getting married at home was a little hectic, but I am so happy we did!

Our ability to be ourselves, no matter what, makes our love special. We also share core values, which provide a great foundation for our relationship.

ENGAGEMENT STORY: In December 2018, Claudy asked me about my dinner plans, and I told him I had to stay at the office due to work commitments. He said he wanted to have a fancy dinner before his dental surgery, scheduled for the following day. At the end of the meal, I noticed the words "Will you

FROM THE BRIDE: Our simple ceremony ended up being exactly what we needed! Our wedding planner, Victoria of Victorious Events NYC, executed our vision wonderfully and exceeded our expectations.

FROM THE GROOM:

YOUR BEST/MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT: Ashley: Personalized vows are always my favorite part of any wedding, and our wedding was no exception. I loved that Claudy's vows stayed true to who he is–sincere, hilarious, and thoughtful. B L AC K B R I D E .CO M

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Claudy: Ashley's dad pulled me aside and told me he has always considered me to be his son, and this day simply made it official. It meant so much to me, and I was glad we were able to share the moment as family.

WEDDING SONG, EXPLAIN YOUR CHOICE: Our wedding song was "Best Part," by Daniel Caesar, because the lyrics capture the beauty of the simple aspects of love. We danced to this song after our guests went home.

FAVORITE WEDDING DETAIL: All our vendors were absolutely amazing! Our favorite is a tie between the flowers, which transformed our home into a beautiful wedding space, and the food, which was the perfect nod to our Caribbean heritages.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO AS A MARRIED COUPLE? We are looking forward to new adventures as a family and all the firsts we will experience together!

ADVICE FOR A BRIDE/GROOM ON THEIR WEDDING DAY: The photos, decor, and other details certainly matter, but take the time to bask in the love and laughter during your wedding day. That's what really matters. Bride: Ashley Beard, 33, Attorney Groom: Claudy Bince, 34, Attorney Place of Residence: Brooklyn, New York Wedding Date: July 11, 2020 Wedding Location: Our home in Brooklyn, New York Honeymoon Location: We planned to tour Italy for our honeymoon, but we will have to delay any potential travel. B L AC K B R I D E .CO M

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Wedding Planner/Designer: Victorious Events victoriouseventsnyc.com Photography: Amy Anaiz Photography amyanaiz.com Videographer: LJR Films ljrfilms.com Ceremony & Reception Location: Our home, Brooklyn, New York Officiant: Married by Rev. Roxy marriedbyrevroxy.com Bridal Gown: Alexia Maria alexiamaria.com Grooms Suit: Calvin Klein calvinklein.us Caterer: Omar's Kitchen omarskitchennyc.com Cake: Paris Baguette parisbaguette.com Makeup: Tanaya J tanayajmakeup.glossgenius.com Hair: Hair by Sadiku tinikasadiku.com Flowers: Diva Blooms divablooms.com Rentals: Evolution Event Rentals evolutioneventrentals.com Stationery: Minted minted.com

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY TERRI BASKIN PHOTOGRAPHY

Mikayla Corey

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ikayla and Corey secretly admired each other from afar until they finally met in 2015 through mutual friends. From that day, their connection grew and their love story blossomed. After dating for two years, they made their love official with an elegant, intimate ceremony in Washington, DC. Check out their joyous affair captured by Terri Baskin Photography.

WHAT MAKES YOUR LOVE SPECIAL? From the start of our relationship we have been best friends. We try to remain close no matter what and keep God at the center of our relationship. Communication is also key for us.

ENGAGEMENT STORY: The morning of March 22, 2020, my mom asked my sister and me to pick up cupcakes for her coworker. As I was taking the cupcakes downstairs to the basement, I heard Corey's and my favorite song, "Hold Me Down," by Daniel Caesar, playing. There was Corey, standing in the center of a heart made of candles and balloons. Family and friends were also in the room and on Facetime. It was the most beautiful proposal!

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FROM THE BRIDE:

I woke up with a migraine and my nerves through the roof on our wedding day. However, I was super excited because I was marrying my best friend. We had an intimate ceremony with ten of our family members and friends. It was truly a fairy tale!

FROM THE GROOM: The day of the wedding, I felt nervous because I was finally marrying my best friend. Overall, I was excited and just wanted everything to go smoothly.

YOUR BEST/MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT: The most memorable moment was being surrounded by family and friends and feeling the support from thousands of miles away. Of course, walking down the aisle and saying "I do" will forever be a memorable moment.

WEDDING SONG, EXPLAIN YOUR CHOICE: Corey walked down the aisle to "Hold Me Down." Since the beginning of our relationship, that has been our song. As fans of Daniel Caesar, it was only right that I walked down to "Best Part," which was sung live! B L AC K B R I D E .CO M

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FAVORITE WEDDING DETAIL: We wanted ivory and elements of gold, and our planner gave us that and more. The perfect touch was having someone sing as I walked down the aisle, and we loved having our family and friends virtually watching our ceremony.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO AS A MARRIED COUPLE? Creating our own story together. We also look forward to starting a family and having fun going through life as a team.

ADVICE FOR A BRIDE/GROOM ON THEIR WEDDING DAY: Do not let anything stop what you want. This wasn't what we had planned for our big day at all. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us you have to keep going. Your big day is essentially about the two of you, and the best choice we made was to have an intimate wedding. The day goes by quickly, so it's important to take in every moment.

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO INCLUDE ANY OTHER INTERESTING ANECDOTES FROM YOUR BIG DAY! We had a small reception in Mikayla's parents' basement.

Bride: Mikayla Clarke, 22, Teacher Groom: Corey Clarke, 25, Technician Place of Residence: Waldorf, Maryland Wedding Date: June 19, 2020 Wedding Location: Larz Anderson House, Washington, DC Wedding theme/motif/inspiration: Elegant and Romantic Honeymoon Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia

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Wedding Planner/Designer: Melissa Williams BAstonishedEvents.com Photography: Terri Baskin terribaskin.com Videographer: Blair Williams BWilliamsProductions bwilliamsproductions.com Ceremony & Reception Location: Larz Anderson House societyofthecincinnati.org Bridal Gown: David's Bridal davidsbridal.com Grooms Suit: ASOS Wedding asos.com Cake: Jenny Baked It facebook.com/JennyBakedIt Hair & Makeup: Marquia James glamqui.squarespace.com Flowers: Pretty Petals Florals prettypetalsfloraldesigns.com Music: Tamara Jade

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Bianca Wade

&

B

ianca and Wade met in August of 2005, during their junior year of high school, when they shared the same homeroom class. They quickly became friends, but it wasn't until the beginning of their senior year that Wade began his pursuit and the two went on their first date. From that day on, they've been by each other's side! The pair attended North Carolina A&T State University, and after fifteen years of growing together mentally, spiritually, and physically, the two became one on August 8, 2020.

WHAT MAKES YOUR LOVE SPECIAL? We're not afraid to be our most vulnerable selves with each other, and we confront our issues right away.

ENGAGEMENT STORY: We went to Charlotte to celebrate Wade's sister's fortieth birthday. The next day, at a family brunch, her siblings and husband presented speeches to the birthday girl. When it was Wade's turn, he asked me to join him. As I was walking up to meet him, I was surprised to see my family and friends approaching from behind him, and I started to wonder what was going on. I looked down and Wade was on one knee, holding the ring! Of course, I said yes!

FROM THE BRIDE:

I expected to be a ball of nerves, but I wasn't. I listened to music, danced, laughed, and had champagne toasts with some of my closest girls! It wasn't until I was walking up the stairs to meet my groom for our "first look" photos that the nerves hit me. After we took the pictures, I was floating on a blissful cloud for the remainder of the day!

FROM THE GROOM: Our wedding day was even more special than I imagined! The love shown by our family and friends was overwhelming. As we took our "first look" pictures, I couldn't hold back the tears of joy!

YOUR BEST/MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT: The "first look" was it for me! The way Wade melted when he turned around and saw me confirmed I am the most beautiful woman in his eyes and he is deeply in love with me, unconditionally.

FAVORITE WEDDING DETAIL: Our favors were miniature photo albums that detailed our love story. Our cake was traditional on one side and an ode to our alma mater on the other. DJ Sway rocked the party from the ceremony to the reception. B L AC K B R I D E .CO M

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WEDDING SONG, EXPLAIN YOUR CHOICE: We've known for a long time that we wanted to incorporate "We Both Deserve Each Other's Love," by LTD, because we're old souls and love the lyrics to this classic, and "Yo," by Chris Brown, took us back to high school, when we first started dating.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO AS A MARRIED COUPLE? We are looking forward to starting a family of our own and growing old together!

ADVICE FOR A BRIDE/GROOM ON THEIR WEDDING DAY: Live in the moment so you will have everlasting memories of an unforgettable day!

Bride: Bianca Turner Watkins, 31 Educator Groom: Wade Watkins, 31 Educator Place of Residence: Greensboro, North Carolina Wedding Date: August 8, 2020 Wedding Location: The Biltmore Ballrooms Atlanta, Georgia Wedding theme/motif/inspiration: Classic Glam Meets Edgy Couture Honeymoon Location: Mykonos, Greece (postponed)

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Ceremony Location: The Imperial Ballroom at The Biltmore Ballrooms novareevents.com/biltmore-ballrooms Reception Location: The Georgian Ballroom at the Biltmore Ballrooms novareevents.com/biltmore-ballrooms Bridal Gowns: Ceremony: Formally Yours formallyyoursga.com Reception: Designs by Liam Lí linktr.ee/DesignsbyLiamLi Bridal Party Attire: David's Bridal davidsbridal.com Grooms Suit: The Black Tux theblacktux.com Cake: Sweet Tiffany's sweettiffanys.net Caterer: Spice of Life Catering spiceoflifecatering.org Favors: Still Shots Photography linktr.ee/stillshotsphotography.com Music: DJ Sway IG @_djsway_ Hair: AmydoHair IG @byamydohair Wedding Planner(s)/Designer(s): Bride's mother (Marie Turner) Bride's aunt (Patrice Beamon) Day of Coordinator: Events by Eryc elphillips1777@yahoo.com Photography: Still Shots Photography linktr.ee/stillshotsphotography.com Videographer: Shawn Yang shawnyang.com

Makeup: Kenya Haynie Makeup Artistry kenyahaynie.com Flowers: Floral By Victoria floralbyvictoria@gmail.com Stationery: Zola zola.com Masks: Dora Sasu dorasasu.com

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY LINDA MCQUEEN PHOTOGRAPHY

Quetanya Robert

&

Q

uetanya and Robert met on Tinder in 2014 and have been together ever since. After four years of dating, the lovely couple got engaged but never expected the wedding they envisioned would have to drastically change due to a global pandemic. Faced with the unexpected challenge, they chose to believe love would thrive no matter what, and they exchanged vows in a modern fairytale wedding captured by Linda McQueen Photography.

WHAT MAKES YOUR LOVE SPECIAL? We've always been able to be ourselves around each other.

ENGAGEMENT STORY: R.J. had planned to take me to a nice dinner and then to a nearby park in NYC to propose. However, after the most stressful day, I was completely exhausted and dangerously close to not going out at all. Knowing there was about a one percent chance that I would agree to go on a leisurely stroll with him after dinner, R.J. proposed right at the table. Once I realized what was happening, I joyfully said yes!

FROM THE BRIDE: Due to COVID-19, our wedding planning took many twists and turns. We decided to have a small, intimate wedding rather than postpone for an entire year. We had waited long enough, and it was time to embark on our new journey together as husband and wife. Our wedding day was magical, as all we had prayed and hoped for came true in the most beautiful way.

YOUR BEST/MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT: Walking down the aisle felt like being a part of a fairy tale. Once it set in that we were done with all the work of planning a wedding during a global pandemic, we found ourselves with a bottle of champagne in each hand!

FAVORITE WEDDING DETAIL: Even though it was not the traditional wedding we hoped for, we didn't miss out on any wedding traditions. We had three in-person speeches and one via Zoom. We laughed, cried, and enjoyed Jamaican food galore!

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WEDDING SONG, EXPLAIN YOUR CHOICE: "Giving Myself," by Jennifer Hudson, seemed as perfect as our love and held so much meaning and truth.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO AS A MARRIED COUPLE? We look forward to traveling the world together. With travel restrictions, we decided to postpone our honeymoon until the world normalizes. The goal is to visit Europe, specifically Santorini and Italy, in 2021.

ADVICE FOR A BRIDE/GROOM ON THEIR WEDDING DAY: Our advice would be to hire a wedding planner!

Bride: Quetanya Brown, 26 Sales Professional Groom: Robert Ciborowski, 29 Accountant Place of Residence: Queens, New York Wedding Date: July 27, 2020 Wedding Location: 620 Loft & Garden, New York, New York Wedding theme/motif/inspiration: Modern Fairy Tale Honeymoon Destination: Santorini and Italy

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Ceremony Location: 620 Loft and Garden rockefellercenter.com Bridal Gown: Tony Ward, Kleinfeld kleinfeldbridal.com Bridal Robe: Veronica TABi vtabi.com Bridal Accessories: Bridal Styles Boutique bridalstylesboutique.com Bridal Stylist: Stacy Houlker staciehoulker.com Grooms Suit: D Leak Designs dleakleatherbowties.com Cake: Lovely Layers mylovelylayers.com Music: Pulse Sounds info@pulsesounds.com Hair: Ana Hella Bridal Anahellabridal@gmail.com Makeup: Rese's Makeup Artistry princessrese.com Flowers: NYC Flower Project Nycflowerproject@gmail.com

Wedding Planner(s): HerKreations herkreations.com Associate Planner: Simply Ellie Weddings and Events e.simpson@simplyellieweddingsandevents.com Photography: Linda McQueen Photography lindamcqueenphotography.com Videographer: Luxor Wedding Films luxorweddingfilms.com

Aisle Wrap: Go To Shout gotoshout.com Stationery: Marlie Renee Designs marlie.renee.designs@gmail.com Officiant: Married by Rev Roxy marriedbyrevroxy.com Rentals: Glam Party Rentals glampartyrentals.com

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY TOSHA OF STORY AND RHYTHM PHOTOGRAPHY

JoAnna Daniel

&

I

t was June of 2017 when Daniel and JoAnna first met at a Starbucks in Houston. Daniel struck up a conversation about which school had the better team, The University of Florida (JoAnna's alma mater) or Louisiana State, located in the state Daniel calls home. The two felt an instant connection and later went on their official first date at Kitchen 713, a Cajunstyle eatery. Over the next couple of months, they went on several dates during Houston's Restaurant Weeks. Food is an important part of Houston culture, and they bonded over their shared love of great food. After dating for three years, JoAnna and Daniel tied the knot in a stunning Southern ceremony in JoAnna's home state, South Carolina, captured by Story and Rhythm Photography.

WHAT MAKES YOUR LOVE SPECIAL? Our love has always been naturally effortless. We clicked from the start, and we knew we had something special when we wanted to be around each other more and more.

ENGAGEMENT STORY: JoAnna hoped to have a low-key birthday celebration, dinner at Nobu. After the meal, they agreed to go downtown to enjoy the Houston Astros playoff baseball game. Daniel suggested

they stop at home first so JoAnna could change into a more comfortable pair of shoes to walk around downtown. As she entered the house, JoAnna noticed candles lining the stairs and soft music playing. Turning the corner into the living room, she was met with a camera flash and letters spelling "Marry Me." Daniel took her by the hand and walked her to the middle of a heart made of roses. On one knee, he asked JoAnna to marry him. She responded with a resounding yes!

FROM THE BRIDE: The day of the wedding I was incredibly relaxed, which I did not expect. I wanted to have a chill yet upbeat environment that morning, so we decided to get ready at my sister's home. It worked out perfectly because my sister was also my matron of honor and because her house was only five minutes away from the wedding venue. While Daniel and I wanted our wedding to be timeless and classic, we also broke tradition in some areas. We opted not to have a full bridal party and only had a best man and matron of honor. Before I knew it, the time had come to head down the aisle. I'll never forget that feeling! The ceremony was very emotional, especially when we each read our personalized vows to one another. B L AC K B R I D E .CO M

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FROM THE GROOM: Our day was absolutely amazing! After the nerves and stress went away, it felt like a dream. We planned a wedding during the toughest year of our lives, and it was incredible. At the end of the ceremony, I had a moment to reflect and felt a huge sense of gratitude.

ANOTHER HIGHLIGHT: JoAnna's sorority sisters have a tradition of serenading the bride with their traditional hymn, and it was beautiful and sentimental.

Bride: JoAnna Duncan, 33 Education Consultant Groom: Daniel Cleaves, 32 Founder of The GridBiz Marketing Agency Place of Residence: Houston, Texas Wedding Date: October 16, 2020 Wedding Location: Edinburgh West, Greenville, South Carolina Wedding theme/motif/inspiration: Black Excellence with inspiration from Louisiana and Carolina cultures Honeymoon Destination: Mauritius

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Wedding Planner: Bride Day-of Wedding Coordinator: Kennedy Kapanzhi eventsatedinburghwest@gmail.com Photography: Story and Rhythm storyandrhythm.com Ceremony & Reception Location: Edinburgh West edinburghwest.com Bridal Gown: by Martina Liana The White Magnolia whitemagnoliabridal.com/greenville Bridal Party Attire: Matron of Honor: David's Bridal Best Man: Jos. A Bank Grooms Suit: Jos. A Bank Cake: Kathy and Company kathyandcompany.com Music: DJ Juelz Hair: Charmayne Bradley charmthestylist.com Akelliah Clark styleseat.com/m/v/keekeeclark Makeup: Deidra Mills facebook.com/TheDeidraMills Flowers: Edinburgh West edinburghwest.com Save the Dates: Shutterfly Shutterfly.com Invitations: Zola Zola.com Favors: masks and hand sanitizer Caterer: Edinburgh West edinburghwest.com

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Styled

Shoots INSPIRATION FOR YOUR PHOTO SESSION

No rules — it's all about your love, and your style!

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY SHERONDA SEAWRIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY

Black

luxe

M

odern design elements, a luxe color palette, and elegant touches come together effortlessly in this bold, romantic styled shoot. With the historic Notary Hotel in Philadelphia as its backdrop, the timeless sophistication is hard to miss. Elevated florals, designed by Eilena Mercier-Ehmann of Event Loft, appear to be floating, and this unique element instantly becomes the main focal point of the room. We cannot say enough about the gorgeous bride's four stunning bridal gowns by talented designers, JeanRalph Thurin, Wona Concept, Eva Lendel, and Luminous Bruna. The aim of this styled shoot was to create a modern feeling with a luxurious vibe in a room with elements of mirrored tabletops and lush, tall centerpieces.

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LINENS Black faille

CENTEPIECE DESCRIPTION Estate table florals with blush and white spray roses, and lush white hydrangea are elevated with acrylic stands. The round tables feature tall centerpieces on top of elegant vases with blush and white spray roses, blush spray roses, lush white hydrangea, and a ring of florals surrounding the vases.

PLACE SETTINGS Gold-rimmed glass chargers with black faille napkins are finished off with black-and-white menu.

STATIONERY Black menus with white lettering create a modern and luxurious feel.

Shoot Location: The Notary Hotel, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Color Combinations: Black, white, blush, and gold Favorite Detail: The main estate table with the mirrored top and lots of candles Please share unique details from your photoshoot: The initial planning was smooth until COVID-19 hit. In the days leading up to the shoot, schools started to close and events were cancelled, but we managed to finish the shoot by 5:00 p.m., when the city shut down due to the pandemic.


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Photography: Sheronda Seawright Photography IG@sherondaphoto sherondaseawrightphotography.com Venue: The Notary Hotel IG @thenotaryhotel thenotaryhotel.com Bridal Gowns: 1.Jean-Ralph Thurin IG @jeanralphthurin jeanralphthurin.com 2.Wona Concept IG @wona.nyc wonanyc.com 3.Eva Lendel IG @evalendel evalendel.com 4. Luminous Bruna / Love Stories Collection IG @wona.nyc wonanyc.com Cake: Desserts by Dana IG @dessertsbydana dessertsbydana.com Concept/Designer/Floral: Event Loft IG @eventloftpa eventloftpa.com Makeup: Sheena Marie Makeup Artistry IG @sheenamarie.mua sheenamariemua.com Stationery: April Lynn Designs IG @aprillynndesign aprillynndesigns.com Jewelry & Accessories: Janice Wackens etsy.com/people/LadyJay9278 Linens: BBJ Linens IG @bbjlinen bbjlinen.com Furniture: Vision Furniture IG @visionfurniturephl visionfurniture.com

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY IAMLATREUO PHOTO

Modern

milk bath N

othing says classic sophistication quite like modern natural nudes and vintage hues. Beautiful neutral tones bring the artful "milk bath'" theme of this shoot to life. From the oval milk bath cookies as guest favors to the hand-painted buttercream flowers on the three-layer cake that perfectly match the sleeves on the bride's wedding gown, the attention to detail is spot on. The florals, by Blooming Forward, bring soft pops of natural contrast to the nude palette and high ceilings of the modern indoor venue space.

of Ivy Wedding and Events, each detail softly illustrates the blending of modern and vintage worlds.

Shoot Location: Julep Hall, San Diego, California

LINENS

Shoot Theme/Motif/Inspiration: Minimal Modern Milk Bath Inspired Elopement

Both Maggie Sottero gowns offer classic long sleeves and dreamy, textured tulle, which moves gracefully with each stride. A velvet vintage coat from Friar Tux defines the groom's ceremony look. Using the keen eye of fine art film photographer Ashley Kekuva of iamlatreuo photo and the creative direction of planner Tahnie Nollenberger

Hand-crafted, milk-bath-themed sugar cookies from The Cookie Bug. A handpainted, square and round, three-tiered cake from The Buttercream Parlor.

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Honey dupioni and shantung napkins and runner

PLACE SETTINGS Gold-beaded chargers and Wexford clear goblets, from Palladium Vintage Rentals, with white "Rose Marie" salad and canapé plates and Neiman matte gold cutlery from Prim and Preux.

FAVORS

STATIONERY Floral vellum dinner menus and lined envelopes with gold foil-pressed invitations, by Modern Paper.

Color Combinations: Nude tones of beige, cream, milky white, tan, taupe, gold. Favorite Detail: The floating ceremony arch, milk bath cookies and flat lay. Please share unique details from your photoshoot: The Michele chairs, Prescott wood table, and Ashley settee, by To Be Designed, went perfectly with our nude tones. The "Bella" pearshaped, sunburst raw diamond ring by Olivia Mar fit delicately into our overall theme.


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His and Hers Cocktails: Snakeoil Cocktail Co. IG @snakeoilcocktail snakeoilcocktail.com Favors: Milk bath Cookies: The Cookie Bug IG @the.cookiebug thecookiebug.net Wedding Planner/Designer: Ivy Weddings and Events IG @Ivy_weddingsandevents ivyweddingsandevents.com Hair: Regas Haston IG @hairology1121 solasalonstudios.com/salon-professional/ regas-haston Makeup: Raquel with R Professional Makeup Artist IG rpromakeupartist rpromakeupartist.wixsite.com/ website

Photography: iamlatreuo Photo IG @iamlatreuo_photo iamlatreuophoto.com Venue: Julep Hall IG @julepvenue, julepvenue.com Bridal Gown: Bridal Showcase Bridal Salon IG @bridal_showcase bridalshowcasebridalsalon.com Bridal Gown Designer: Maggie Sottero Designs: Joanne (reception, Rebecca Ingram Collection) and Iris (ceremony, Rebecca Ingram Collection) IG @maggiesotterodesigns maggiesottero.com Groom's Tux: Tan Notch Lapel Suit (reception) and Gold Velvet Shawl Lapel Tuxedo (ceremony) Friar Tux IG @friartux friartux.com Cake: The Buttercream Parlor IG @thebuttercreamparlor thebuttercreamparlor.com 162

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Flowers: Blooming Forward IG @blooming.forward themindfulmagnolia.com Stationery: Model Paper IG @_modelpaper modelpaperdesign.com Tables, Chairs, Settee, Cake Table Rentals: To Be Designed IG @tbdsandiego tbdsandiego.com Linen Rentals: Concepts Event Design IG conceptseventdesign conceptseventdesign.com Tabletop Rentals: Palladium Vintage Rentals IG @palladium.vintage pd46rentals.com Prim and Preux IG @primandpreux primandpreux.com Rings: Luxe by Olivia Mar IG @luxebyoliviamar luxebyoliviamar.com Video: Dear Lovers Film IG @dearloversfilms


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PHOTOGRAPHED BY PLAYFUL SOUL PHOTOGRAPHY

Iridescent

pastel dreams B

eautiful pastels evoke happy romance and create stunning bridal inspiration in this elegantly styled shoot captured by Playful Soul Photography. Hues of blush, mauve, and lilac bring dreamy iridescent vibes to the desert of Joshua Tree, California. "We wanted to create a dreamy oasis," says wedding planner and designer Dee Lee of Dee Lee Designs. The soft color palette continues throughout the tablescape with a lovely combination of floral centerpieces, designed by Shawna Yamamoto, and Casa de Perrin gold and pink place settings. Flirty and feminine, the bride's pink Martina Liana wedding dress with rose gold beading is a dream come true for the modern princess bride! The groom's rose-pink Notch Lapel suit from Friar Tux provides the perfect complement.

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CENTERPIECES Our centerpieces were a mix of fresh pastel floral (roses, peonies, etc.) and dried boho floral. We spray painted some of the dry floral and monstera palm leaves to add more pastel colors to our palette.

PLACE SETTINGS Natural rattan petal charger, Heath Ceramics dinner plates in mist Heath Ceramics salad and dessert plates in wildflower, brushed gold and pink flatware, and Bella gold-rimmed, agave and blush water goblets, from Casa de Perrin

FAVORS Rose Gold Calligraphy Name Plate

STATIONERY Iridescent Invitation Suite

Shoot Location: Joshua Tree, California Shoot Theme/Motif/Inspiration: Inspiration from a porch party by floral designer Shawna Yamamoto called California Dreaming and from the fun, retro 2019 LV Summer Collection's Prism bags. Color Combinations: Iridescent Pastels Favorite Detail: The tabletop decor and florals Please share unique details from your photoshoot: We brought life and color to the desert with a hint of glam. The tables had gold accents and finishes. Our custom-made arch was asymmetrical and filled with iridescent circles.


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Photography: Playful Soul Photography Lauren Dinh Email: lauren@playfulsoulphotography.com IG @playfulsoulphotography playfulsoulphotography.com Videography: Kianna Columna Ching Email: storytimemotions@gmail.com IG @storytimemotions storytimemotions.com Venue: Airbnb Bridal Gown: Bellasposa Bridal/Martina Liana Email: info@bellasposawedding.com IG bellasposawedding bellasposawedding.com Groom's Tux: Friar Tux Email: eacuna@friartux.com IG @friartux friartux.com Cake Artist: Tamara Brown Email: MwokajiCakery@gmail.com IG @Mwokaji MwokajiCakery.com Favors: Creative Amme IG @creativeamme Wedding Planner/Designer: Dee Lee Designs Email: hello@designsdeelee.com IG @deeleedesigns designsdeelee.com

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Hair & Makeup: COLE SAAD Email: info@colesaad.com IG @colesaadmakeupartist colesaad.com Flowers: Shawna Yamamoto (Floral Designer Vendor) Email: shawna@shawnayamamoto.com, rikki@shawnayamamoto.com IG @shawnayamamoto shawnayamamoto.com Stationery: LORIE LAU (Invitation Suite) Email: Lorie@hllovelycreations.com IG @hllovely hllovelycreations.com Calligrapher for Menus and Signage: Jackie Chen Email: hello@jackiechendesign.com IG @jackiechendesign jackiechendesign.com Ceremony Arch Rental Vendor: Lisa Prather Email: ALTARNATIVEevents@gmail.com IG @the_altarnative TheALTARnative.com Bridal Accessories: Sandra Buczek Email: sandra@sandranicole.com IG @sandranicoledesign sandranicole.com Live Streaming: Anne Salas Email: hello@socalvirtualweddings.com IG socalvirtualweddings socalvirtualweddings.com


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PHOTOGRAPHED BY NATA SALVATORI WITH NS PHOTOBOOK

Romantic

boho beach P

erfectly elegant and romantic in their simplicity, the natural elements of the beach always provide an unforgettable atmosphere. Surrounded by the beauty of the sand and the vast ocean, this real-life couple brought all the magic to this beachside styled shoot. The soft color palette of the white sand, lush floral arrangements, and seagreen water created a picture-perfect backdrop! The ultimate vision of the designer and co-planner Sarath McClennon of Allure Events and Weddings, and the photographer, Nata Salvatori of NS Photobook, was to create a romantic, boho-chic vibe. This shoot was extremely personal and heart-warming because the husband left immediately after for a two-year deployment. The couple finished the day with photos they could cherish during their time apart. Get inspired by the gorgeous details from this styled shoot!

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LINENS White chiffon runner

CENTERPIECE DESCRIPTION Vintage brass candlestick, accompanied by a low, lush floral arrangement, served as the highlight of the table.

PLACE SETTINGS Colorful glassware shines alongside pottery plates. Shell-rimmed placemats add a nautical flair.

STATIONERY Iridescent Invitation Suite

Shoot Location: Big Talbot Island State Park, Boneyard Beach, Jacksonville, Florida Shoot Theme/Motif/Inspiration: Romantic Boho Beach Color Combinations: Sage, cream, and light pink Favorite Detail: The natural driftwood that lingered around the beach created a beautiful backdrop for the couple.


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Photography: Nata Salvatori with NS Photobook IG @nsphotobookweddings nsphotobook.com Venue: Big Talbot Island State Park, Boneyard Beach Model(s): Husband- Paul Maurice Sherman IG @paul_maurice Wife- Dr. Jacqueline H. Sherman IG @drjacqhay Concept: Romantic Boho Beach Bridal Gown: Bellasposa Bridal/Martina Liana Email: info@bellasposawedding.com IG bellasposawedding bellasposawedding.com Designer/Co-planner: Designer/Co-Planner: Sarath McClennon with Allure Events and Weddings IG @allureeventsandweddingsllc allureeventsandweddings.com Hair: Jennifer Rae Haywood with Raediantly Hair IG @raediantlyhair Hair Styled by Bethany Detzler with Barbies Beauty Room IG @barbiesbeautyroom barbiesbeautyroom.com Makeup: Bethany Detzler with Barbies Beauty Room IG @barbiesbeautyroom barbiesbeautyroom.com Flowers: Sarath McClennon with The Petal Pushers Jax IG @thepetalpushersjax Bridal Accessories: Jennifer Foster with Blushing Gold Brides IG @blushinggoldbrides blushinggoldbrides.com Rentals: Gathered Rentals & Events, Marlene Brubaker and Megan Brubaker IG @gathered.rentals.events

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY MERRICK COUSLEY

Cliffside

destination micro wedding T

his exquisite micro-wedding styled shoot, featuring a real-life couple, showcases the Borghinvilla Wedding Venue in St. Ann, Jamaica, as an ideal Caribbean wedding destination. With breathtaking views and gorgeous backdrops that make for stunning wedding photos, this tropical paradise set the stage for a naturally beautiful shoot. Adorned with fresh white hydrangeas, Phalaenopsis orchids, magenta dendrobium orchids, and red and lavender roses, the striking beauty and elegance of the decor fit the setting perfectly. Wedding planner, Jennifer Borgh of Jennifer Borgh Events, photographer Merrick Cousley, and a team of talented vendors came together to bring their vision of a beautiful micro wedding to life. If you desire an effortlessly romantic wedding in the Caribbean, check out this distinctive shoot.

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LINENS Aubergine crushed linen with aubergine sequined table runner

CENTEPIECE DESCRIPTION Overhead gold stands display white Phalaenopsis orchids, white hydrangeas, and red and lavender roses.

PLACE SETTINGS

Shoot Location: Borghinvilla Wedding Venue, St. Ann, Jamaica Color Combinations: red and purple Favorite Detail: oversized bouquets

Gold charger plates, gold cutlery, aubergine napkins

Shoot theme/motif/inspiration: Micro Destination Wedding

FAVORS

Other Details: Guitarist and singer Moses serenaded the couple by the seaside.

Customized Jamaican rum bottles

STATIONERY Purple floral design by PaperTales Custom Wedding Stationery + Design

Mini cakes offer individual servings in a luxurious presentation.


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Photography: Merrick Cousley Venue: Borghinvilla Wedding Venue Concept: Micro Destination Wedding Wedding Planner: Jennifer Borgh of Jennifer Borgh Events Stationery: PaperTales Custom Wedding Stationery + Design 174

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PHOTOGRAPHED BY TELL YOUR STORY PHOTOGRAPHY + FILM

Timeless

& trendy T

his micro-wedding styled shoot for the classic yet contemporary bride took place on the thirty-fourth floor of the tallest building in the United Kingdom. Shangri-La Hotel, at The Shard, London provides breathtaking views from the heart of the city and gives one a magical feeling, as though you are viewing the world from the clouds. The airy boutique event space at Shangri-La is perfect for micro and intimate weddings. The vision for this shoot was to inspire the modern couple with ideas to help them achieve a timelessly designed intimate wedding with trendy elements. Linda Insaidoo, planner of Linda Insaidoo Florals & Events, collaborated with a talented team of vendors to bring her vision to life. "I wanted a clean, soft, and neutral color palette with metallic gold to achieve an elegant and romantic, yet stylish look. The stationery, florals, and tablescape added lush details to the overall design and the backdrop of an awe-inspiring panoramic view of London. The bride wore a Zac Posen 176

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ball gown and jewelry featuring pearls, designed by Anabela Chan in London, to add a traditional element with a modern twist. I absolutely loved the white Sophia Webster bridal shoes, inscribed with 'Wifey for Lifey' on the soles. I kept the groom's look classic with a suit and bow tie from Aristocracy London."

LINENS Nude linens by Just 4 Linen

CENTERPIECE DESCRIPTION High-quality silk flowers with white blooms, orchids, and trailing preserved Amaranthus

PLACE SETTINGS Gold-and-white modern tableware and flatware

STATIONERY Stationery by Calligraphy Payal includes hand calligraphy on nude place cards and envelopes for a personalized experience. Vellum paper with gold foil adds a trendy and stylish element.

Shoot Location: London, United Kingdom Color Combinations: neutrals, white, and gold Favorite Detail: Sophia Webster bridal shoes with "Wifey for Lifey" written on the soles Shoot theme/motif/inspiration: Timeless and Trendy Other Details: On the cake, large ruffles lend a modern touch to small lace details and accents of gold.


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Groom's Suit: Aristocracy London IG @aristocracylondon aristocracy.london Cake: The Cake Consortium IG @thecakeconsortium thecakeconsortium.com Concept & Planner: Linda Insaidoo Florals & Events IG @lindainsaidooevents lindainsaidoo.co.uk Model Bride's Skincare: Wild Seed Botanicals IG @wildseedbotanicals wildseedbotanicals.com Makeup: Yeyes Brides IG @yeyesbrides yeyesbrides.com Furniture & Tableware: Great Hire IG @optionsgreathire greathire.com/uk Stationery: Calligraphy Payal IG @calligraphypayal calligraphypayal.com Videography: The Wedding Filmmakers IG @thewedding_filmmakers theweddingfilmmakers.co.uk Floral Design & Decor: Linda Insaidoo Florals & Events IG @lindainsaidooevents lindainsaidoo.co.uk Photography: Tell Your Story Photography + Film IG @tellyourstory.photography tellyourstory.co.uk Bridal Gown: Mirror Mirror London IG @mirrormirrorbridalcouture mirrormirror.uk.com Bride's Shoes: Sophia Webster IG @sophiawebster sophiawebster.com Earrings: Anabela Chan Joaillerie IG @anabelachan anabelachan.com 178

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Venue: Shangri-La Hotel IG @shangrilalondon shangri-la.com/en/london/shangrila Linen: Just 4 Linen IG @just_4_linen just4linen.co.uk Balloons: The Balloon Fairy Ltd IG @theballoonfairyltd Wardrobe Mistress: Darnelle Holder IG @darnelleholder Model(s): Laila-Jean Washington IG @neffyfrofro Dicaps IG @officialdicaps


AFTER THE AISLE - We've said "I do." Now what?

Balancing Love and Life During a Pandemic R

aising children and cultivating a healthy, happy marriage comes with its own set of challenges. Add in 2020, and life gets even more complex. While this year did not look the way any of us envisioned, there have been valuable lessons in how to slow down, have compassion for others, and be resilient in the face of adversity. With the sacrifices and long hours of hard work that go into balancing everyday life along with staying emotionally, physically, and financially well, some days can feel like a tightrope walk. We see you, sis! You are not alone. We asked some of our favorite wives on social media to tell us how they balance marriage, motherhood, and building their brands during these changing times.

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r. Brittney Fusilier is the blessed wife of John Dwight Fusilier and mom of two beautiful daughters, Madison Kate and Olivia Grace, and their Goldendoodle pup, Murphy Maximillion. Through her blog, Everything Fusilier, she shares tips about motherhood, home decor, and fashion. Brittney and John Dwight are both pharmapreneurs (pharmacists-entrepreneurs), working diligently to build an empire for their family! Follow Brittney for more on IG @brittfusilier.

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My family is everything to me, always has been and always will be. As a wife, mom, pharmacist, and mommylifestyle content creator, there's never really a dull moment, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. I'm frequently asked, "How do you balance love and life during a pandemic?" My answer to that is lots of prayer and great time management. In truth, this pandemic has forced us to slow down and live in the moment. It has allowed us to live in abundance with the things that are most important—family and quality time. It has given me the time I prayed for to master being the best wife, mom, and digital content creator possible. Our marriage is thriving because we make it a point to not get stuck going through the motions but rather to be intentional in growing together as one. Our family is thriving because we make it a point to pray together, break bread together, and enjoy our family time together. I'm able to balance love and life because they are essentially one and the same. My family is my life, and love is the one constant that we can depend on for sanity in this crazy world. God is so good and He provides blessings in every season, even during a pandemic.

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Photo Credit: Ashley Nicole, ashley@ashleynicolephotos.com

Lakia Derek L

&

akia Brandenburg, also known as the wife coach, is an author and the creator of the only masterclass changing married women into happy wives. Her programs equip women with the tools needed to become empowered and better communicators in their marriages. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, Derek, and their two daughters. For more about her life-changing classes, go to lakiabrandenburg.com and Instagram: @thewifecoach.

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How do I balance it all? When it comes to life and love, it has been a constant juggle-struggle. This has been an unimaginable season of loss, grief, and pain, and balance has been more about extending grace and finding peace in the midst of tragedy. I was first hit with being quarantined in March and then with losing my mother to COVID-19 on May 1st. This devastating and untimely loss placed a tremendous amount of stress on my family, and required full attention to the scary, real-life events that we couldn't escape. After my mother's Celebration of Life service, hubby and I knew that we had to "get back to life" and love on each other through this healing season of our marriage. Before the pandemic, hubby and I would have our weekly "Pillow Talk" (business meetings) to stay connected with each other, and this became even more important to continue, especially after losing Mommy. Sunday mornings, we roll over in the bed and pull out The Marriage Success Planner (available for purchase at www.lakiabrandenburg.com/masterclass) to take notes as we have a heart-toheart convo about what's going on with our girls, our businesses, and of course, our marriage, and what we need to do to make sure each area is taken care of. This weekly check-in has reconnected us and sparked the desire to date again, adding some spontaneity back in our marriage, which is something we have always enjoyed.

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Photo Credit: Visuals by Lena- @lenamariedmc

Leslie Joe

&

L

eslie and Joe Lewis and their five beautiful children make up the Lewis Show and have quickly gained popularity for their fashionable looks on Instagram. Leslie used her vision of becoming a professional stylist and channeled it into putting together coordinated outfit choices for her own family. The Lewis family strives to be a positive representation of all things love and unity. Leslie Lewis is a wife, mom, stylist, and blogger. She and her husband, Joe, describe their parenting journey with five children as a beautiful chaos—wild, crazy, and coordinated!

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Before the pandemic, I always talked about how rare balance was. I felt as if I was constantly struggling to find it. When the pandemic began, our life, like everyone else's, was thrown into a tailspin. To add to the chaos, I was also pregnant! Now that we were all at home every single day, I was overcome with fear. I wondered how I was going to meet the demanding needs of myself, my family, and that husband of mine (the things that matter most to me). I have our four-month-old, Zho, to thank for giving me my power back. After he was born, I really learned how to set the necessary boundaries. I became unapologetic about self-care and prioritizing my relationship with my husband. We have used this extra time together to reconnect emotionally and physically. We have learned how to communicate effectively and how to meet one another's needs even better. Our sex life went from scheduled to spontaneous. I really believe that because we have invested in our marriage, the kids have felt that shift in the energy and are even happier than before. This has been both the most stressful time and a time of awakening.

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Photo Credit: LaToya Sparks, @creativesparks_image, creativesparksimage.com

Courtney Bryan

&

C

ourtney N. Williams is a wife, mother, bonus mom, working mom, blogger, and entrepreneur. Although she has been in the marketing industry almost nine years now, her true passion is helping other women walk in their God-given purpose. Through her lifestyle blog, courtneynwilliams.com, she has shared her journey from single motherhood to now being in a blended family with women all over the world.

You can connect with her on Instagram @courtneynwilliams and check out her blog: www.courtneynwilliams.com.

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What is balance? LOL. Juggling being a wife, mommy, and entrepreneur during the pandemic has been quite hard to be honest. It took a while for me to get in a rhythm where I didn't feel like I was drowning in responsibilities every single day. I realized I would have to make some adjustments. Prioritizing, time management, and sacrifice were the only ways I could make it through this time without losing my sanity. Unfortunately, people around the world just do not have time for things they used to enjoy in pre-pandemic life. Therefore, we are having to choose what comes first. For me it's my husband, children, job, and myself. Working from home now has made it much more difficult to disconnect from work. I realized that I have to be intentional about closing the computer and spending quality time with family, making sure I give my kids and my husband the attention they require and deserve.. With my husband, we've had to be intentional as well with making sure our love tanks are filled up and we are giving our marriage the time and attention it requires and deserves. One thing that we've incorporated is weekly Friday date nights at the house. We get takeout, put the kids to bed, and watch Dateline together every Friday. We look forward to it and it's our kid-free time. This time has forced us to take things back to the basics and put family first. In hindsight I can't say I'm mad about it!

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E Launching a Business During a Pandemic Balancing marriage, a toddler, and a new business

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nduring love is at the heart of contentment in marriage, but there's no denying 2020 shook things up. We're all facing a new reality in love, life, family, work, and entrepreneurship. "Pivot" became the buzzword of the year in business, but who knew it would mean so much in a relatively new marriage? We selected Rhandi and Jon Altidor's stunning wedding photos for the 2018 Atlanta bridal show display. We love staying in touch with our couples, and when we discovered the Altidors had launched a business in the middle of a pandemic, we wanted to know their inspiration, how they got started, and how they're balancing marriage, a toddler, and entrepreneurship during this unprecedented crisis.


Black Bride: How did you two meet? Jon: When Rhandi followed me on IG, I thought I'd seen her before at my previous place of employment, so I reached out to her. She confirmed she used to come to my job, but only after I no longer worked there. After some small talk, we made a connection. We've been talking to each other every day for six years. Black Bride: How did you know you'd found the one? Jon: Everything flowed and felt right. I knew what I wanted in a partner and didn't need to waste years finding out if I wanted to marry Rhandi. If you know, you know.

Black Bride: How are you managing love and life together during the pandemic? Rhandi & Jon: We're managing very well! We've fallen in love with creating a fun space within our home. Jon recently celebrated his thirtieth birthday, and we traveled to Greece in our living room, which was so much fun! I hung a backdrop of a scene from Greece, created a candlelight dinner, and had Greek food served.

"Set clear boundaries."

Rhandi: When we spent time together, I didn't want the day to end. He was also authentically Jon. He didn't try to impress me or be cool. I was impressed by that! Black Bride: What values are most important to you as a couple? Rhandi & Jon: God, communication, and trust all go hand in hand. Without God, nothing is possible. Without communication, the relationship cannot function properly. Without trust, communication fails, and if you have no trust in God, a strong relationship is impossible. Black Bride: Jon, what do you love most about Rhandi? Jon: I love her unconditional love for me and our family. She always makes sure our son, Jonathan Jr., and I are safe. Black Bride: Rhandi, what do you love most about Jon? Rhandi: I love Jon's willingness to serve our family. He makes sure Baby J and I are emotionally, physically, and financially supported and goes the extra mile to make sure our family is secure. I'm forever grateful for him. Black Bride: What's your ideal date night? Rhandi & Jon: Our ideal date night is ordering takeout and watching a good movie. We enjoy the little things. If we have each other's company, all is well.

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Black Bride: Tell us about The Better Buggy? What made you decide to go into business together? Rhandi & Jon: The Better Buggy is a grocery shopping and delivery service for Black-owned stores and farms throughout Atlanta. We didn't feel safe leaving home in June, but still wanted to support local, Black-owned stores and farms. There wasn't one Black-owned store available on the existing grocery delivery apps. We launched in June and haven't looked back! We're "the better buggy" because we provide access to 100% organic, farm-direct produce and we're empowering Black store owners and farmers. Thankfully, we've created jobs for the community and continue to uplift Black businesses.

“Thankfully, we've created jobs for the community and continue to uplift Black businesses.”

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"We had to switch things up to keep the fire burning."

Black Bride: What advice do you have for couples who may want to start a business together? Rhandi: Set clear boundaries. When we started, we didn't have a specific "clock out" time, and I sometimes worked until three in the morning. We argued because I couldn't put business away. If you start a business with your spouse, it's okay to put the laptop down and cuddle up. The business will be there tomorrow!

Black Bride: What do you want our readers to take from this interview to help them when it comes to marriage? Rhandi & Jon: Marriage is as beautiful as you allow it to be, and it's your duty to cater to your marriage. After we had our son, our marriage felt routine. The flame grew dim, and we had to switch things up to keep the fire burning. Continue to explore ways to maintain a beautiful marriage.

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THE BRIDAL SUITE

WINTER 2020

ONIEE’S ENGAGEMENTS

COLLECTIVE OF FINE VENDORS

EVENT LOFT is a premier, full service floral and event styling studio serving Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and beyond.

PRESTIGE EVENT DESIGN provides event decor to perfectly complement your taste and delight your guests. Our services center on creating beautiful, sophisticated, luxurious events. We provide an extraordinary service you should expect.

A. MERISIER EVENTS is a full-service wedding and event planning company based in New York. We curate luxury weddings and events for respective clientele who are looking for an unforgettable exceptional service.

Category: Floral Design Email: info@eventloftpa.com Phone: (267) 536-2935 Web: www.eventloftpa.com

Category: Wedding Planning Email: weddings@prestigeeventdesign.com Phone: (267) 678 8652 Web: www.Prestigeeventdesign.com

Category: Wedding Planning Email: info@amerisierevents.com Phone: 631-327-3307 Web: www.amerisierevents.com

{pronounced oh-nays}, is a full service event design company that specializes in the production of elegant, glamorous, modern weddings and events with luxe floral elements.

EVENTS BY LADY J Full Service Wedding and Event Planning Company located in Maryland. We specialize in Day of Coordination, Partial Planning, Full Planning, Design and Décor Services.

EVENTS BY NISHAKA Curator of all things sophisticated, timeless, whimsical, and opulent.

REEM PHOTOGRAPHY Everything about capturing the essence of love is what continuously drives us to ensure that our clients Relive Each and Every Moment.

Category: Floral Design Email: info@onieesengagements.com Phone: 336-707-5787 Web: www.onieesengagements.com

Category: Wedding Planning Email: info@eventsbyladyj.com Phone: 443-878-6633 Web: www.eventsbyladyj.com

Category: Floral Design Email: nishaka@eventsbynishaka.com Phone: 336-451-1603 Web: www.EventsByNishaka.com

Category: Photography Email: info@reemphotography.com Phone: 561-352-1584 Web: www.reemphotography.com

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YNOT IMAGES YNOT iMages covers fashion, maternity, architectural, and wedding photography. Above all, his passion for photography shows in his work ethic and artistic eye.

EVENTS BY LADY J Full Service Wedding and Event Planning Company located in Maryland. We specialize in Day of Coordination, Partial Planning, Full Planning, Design and Décor Services.

Category: Photography Email: ynotimagesllc@gmail.com Phone: 205-253-2779 Web: ww.ynotimages.com

Category: Wedding Planning Email: info@eventsbyladyj.com Phone: 443-878-6633 Web: www.eventsbyladyj.com

D’CREE BY CHRISTOPHER DAY Custom men’s accessories and style consult.

Category: Groom Attire & Accessories Email: dcreeclothing@gmail.com Phone: 478-960-0183 Web: www.dcreeclothing.com

SHERONDA SEAWRIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY Sheronda Seawright Photography is a husband and wife team focusing on elegantly capturing engagement portraiture & wedding day memories via beautiful details, elegant portraits and precious candid moments.

Category: Wedding Photography Email: sheronda@seawrightphoto.com Phone: (610)-476-5630 Web: www. sherondaseawrightphotography.com

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BODYWERKS JEWELS We provide beautifully designed custom bespoke bouquets, headpieces, gifts, jewelry and more! Let us help bring the sparkle to your special day.

Category: Wedding Accessories Email: bodywerkjewels@gmail.com Web: bodywerkjewels.bigcartel.com

STILL SHOTS PHOTOGRAPHY BY ASHLEIGH G. CRAWLEY My wedding photography style has been described as editorial and high fashion. I am in LOVE with LOVE, and this endearment translates into portraiture that you will cherish for a lifetime!

Category: Photography Email: info@stillshotsphotography.com Phone: 336-987-9394 Web: www.stillshotsphotography.com

KT TRAVEL & MORE, LLC

Category: Travel Email: kttravelandmore@gmail.com Phone: 469-364-9224 Web: www.kttravelandmore.com

is a romance travel agency that specializes in destination bachelorette/bachelor parties, destination weddings, honeymoons, anniversary travel and destination vow renewals.

If you would like to apply to be a member of The Bridal Suite (as a vendor), please visit BlackBride.com.


The Ultimate Resource for Before and After "I do"

MAGAZINE

10th

Vol. 10

anniversary issue A Look Back Over the Years

plus Wedding InspirationGalore