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Belle MariĂŠe

1000 Marietta Street NW, Suite 216 | Atlanta, Georgia 30318 404.879.0074 | | atlanta • asheville • nashville • denver Photos coutesy of Gregory Willet Photography.






Urban Lux Magazine iPad edition!




DIVERSITY CORNER How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You


The One Stop ”I DO” Shop


Glamorous LUX Tablescapes



Eco-friendly Serenbe Community




My Hindu Wedding

Our Destination Wedding Picks

34 LUX LUV Love On A Mission - Grace & John

39 LUX PULSE Buff Brides

40 LUX ECONOMY The Ultimate Merger

ON THE COVER 1: GRACE LEE Photographer: Ish Holmes

Location: Serenbe Community Diamond White Pierretta - Ball Gown with Layered Silk Organza Skirt and Fitted Bodice - Winnie Couture -

ON THE COVER 2: OLAY-INKA MIA NOEL Photographer: Brice Esso

Location: The Inn at Serenbe


Belle Mariée ”Beautiful Bride” - Our Couture Bridal Spread

Champagne Ombre Tulle Ball Gown with Pick Up Skirt and Garland Headband in Antique Crystal with Ribbons - Vera Wang for David’s Bridal (Buckhead) -



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he anticipation of colorful blooms and green foliage arrive in tandem with annual engagements and blissful nuptials as the beauty of spring takes center stage. This quarter we embarked on creating our very first bridal issue in total URBAN LUX style. We enlisted the assistance of wedding maven Mary Chatman, owner of the award winning bridal portal Mary discovered the perfect wedding backdrop and styled our Belles Mariées (Beautiful Brides) in exquisite fashion. Couture bridal gowns and elegant tablescapes were all on display as three brave models and an army of LUX professionals delivered an impeccable product in 28-degree weather. The result of their hard work and determination is found throughout these pages. A few of our features this issue include a detailed observation of Hindu wedding traditions, page 14. We also explore diversity in love on page 8 and “Mr. Shut Up And Train” prepares brides-to-be for their special day on page 39. An eclectic LUX view of the bridal season is integrated in this issue for you to explore. Enjoy!

LENTHEUS CHANEY Editor in Chief -

Photo: Ish Holmes

“URBAN is NOT a definition of race. It’s city dwelling. It’s a lifestyle. It’s STYLE, CULTURE and CONSCIENCE . . . It’s URBAN LUX MAGAZINE“ ~ Lentheus Chaney GET 1 YEAR (4 ISSUES) OF URBAN LUX MAGAZINE + OUR ANNUAL LUX HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE + FREE iPAD EDITIONS FOR $29.99!

















LENTHEUS CHANEY Publisher/Editor-in-Chief MONICA COMPTON Travel Editor KENNY J. GRACE Community Features Editor CARLTON POWELL Diversity & Copy Editor JANSSEN ROBINSON Copy Editor IAN SMITH Finance Editor

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URBAN LUX MAGAZINE 6040 Dawson Blvd., Suite F, Norcross, GA 30093 Phone: 678.743.1589 | URBAN LUXURY MEDIA, LLC. ©2013 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


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Tia Aikens


Tia Aikens is a 21st Century Muse,

Ish Holmes

who has always embodied the arts. She has served as a source

Ish Holmes is a fashion and





in Atlanta, GA. His work has been

progression through the arts has led

published in the pages and on the

her to currently release inspiration

covers of several Atlanta based

through writing. Tia’s mission is to

magazines. He has worked with many

always inspire individuals to do

entertainers such as T.I., Future, Cash

their best and live their Truth.

Out, Frank Ski, DJ Scream, Rich Kid,



wisdom, for




and D. Woods just to name a few.

Brice Esso

His visual artwork crosses many disciplines within photography, but Brice Esso, originally from Cote D’Ivoire

tends to have an emphasis on clean,

(Ivory Coast), is currently based in Atlanta.

natural style.

He has been shooting for roughly a year perfecting his art. With portraiture being his strength, Brice doesn’t skimp on the means to express it in areas such as fine art, fashion and advertisement. In the course

Jennifer Smith Williams

of the year, Brice’s work was published in many international and local magazines.

Jennifer is an Atlanta-based

Some of his earliest fine art work has even

writer dabbling in a little bit

been recognized by Vogue Italia. See more

of everything in the freelance

of his work at

world – from fashion to food, a Grady grad, a newlywed and

the best “Romantic Stager” in Atlanta

a lover of all things vintage, be

took the art of romantic decorating

it movies, books or technology.

to a whole new level in 2002. In

This is her first piece for Urban

2010 Mary was asked by blackbride.

Lux Magazine, but her works

com to come on board as their new

appears in print and online in

romance writer and after six months

and around the city with various

the opportunity presented itself for

publications. @jennisawriter

Chatman to acquire the business. made the “Bride Tide” 100 best wedding blog list for 2013. The wedding maven joined forces with Urban Lux Magazine this quarter to find the perfect location to shoot our very first bridal issue, took on the task of styling our models in total LUX couture and sourced our elegrant tablescapes.

Tianna Faulkner “All things are possible for those who believe.” Tianna Faulkner is a talented and driven writer with lots of stories to tell. Tianna has been writing stories since age five and dreams of being an entertainment reporter as well as the opportunity to write for television and film. A graduate of Clark Atlanta University, she studied Mass Media Arts and has written many celebrity

Clyde Anderson

Mary Chatman

travel to human interest. She is Mary Chatman known to many as

Financial Lifestyle Coach Clyde Anderson is a seasoned TV Personality and Finance Expert who has been lending his advice and valuable expertise for more than 6 years. With over 12 years invested in the personal finance sector, Clyde has guided thousands




coast to coast. He has consulted with




corporations and trained dozens of industry professionals in the fashions of economic empowerment

using his practical approach and ability to encourage and inspire. features. Tianna is the former Ms. Black Clyde is the founder and CEO of Atlanta, Georgia 2005 and has covered politics, sports, and community affairs. | 2013 SPRING




How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You by: Carlton Powell


Juan & Gee Session-Smalls

Karen & Enayat Oliver

Kristy & Adam Black

Jenny Skipton & Cathy Granger

ociety is shifting progressively as we publicly see more bi-racial and same sex couples making lifetime commitments and confessing their love for each another. Data shows this to be evident based upon the most recent United States census tracking of 2010. It reveals a growth of 80.4% same-sex couple households between 2000 and 2010. The US census also reveals there are 48% of interracial or interethnic opposite-sex and same sex couples combined.

With acceptance and inclusion on the rise, have you ever thought secretly to yourself when seeing an interracial, samesex or heterosexual couple, if their love evolves the same? I have and have also wondered if it is intended that the real meaning of love be the same regardless of preference. So I set out to illustrate that the core principles of loving, committed, and nurturing relationships are common across racially mixed, same gender or gender mixed partnerships and that the real meaning of the love in these relationships is parallel. I presented a few married couples in diverse relationships with a list of questions. All of them were asked the same questions individually in which they provided their own independent responses. This was done in an effort to illustrate and identify the commonalities of love that exist in devoted relationships regardless of racial or sexual preference.

“From the day we met, I committed myself� 8

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1. Getting married – what did it add to your life? “…being legally married provided a stronger spiritual connection between us two.” ~ Juan Session-Smalls “…marriage adds another level of closeness and security between us that I did not expect.” ~ Gee Session-Smalls “A true partner and someone I could count on. I had someone that provided me with support and love.” ~ Enayat Oliver “…someone I can rely on and I trust his opinions and advice… someone I can turn to and he helps to keep me grounded.” ~ Karen Oliver

7. How did you know he / she was the person you wanted to exchange vows with and spend the rest of your lives together? “…with her we would be a perfect team and could overcome anything and achieve great success.” ~ Enayat Oliver “…I knew I wanted to be married to Enayat, or could be married to him, right from the beginning…” ~ Karen Oliver “…The immediate connection I felt towards him in the very beginning was unlike anything I had ever experienced before.” ~ Gee Session-Smalls “…From the day we met, I committed myself to Gee.” ~Juan Session~Smalls

THE ONE 2. Why him? Why her? “…after 10 years of marriage, there is no one else I’d rather just spend my time with.” ~ Kristy Black “…I realized that for the 3 years we had been friends she was the only person who could always make me stop, have a wonderful, close conversation, and whose presence I craved.” ~ Adam Black “…She completes me and keeps me in line… With her, I became a better person. I am much more grounded and a productive member of society.” ~ Jenny Skipton “…she believed in me and encouraged me to reach out and grab ahold of my dream and make it happen. She treated me with respect and kindness.” ~ Cathy Granger A PROCESS OF GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT 3. Love, what is it? “…In my opinion, the definition of love is ever changing. As I grow, so does my definition of love.” ~ Juan Session-Smalls “…Love produces change in your life as you become one with another person. As our love has evolved it has proven to be much more complex than a feeling.” ~ Adam Black “…To me, love is something that occurs in stages…then that develops into something more as time goes on.” ~ Karen Oliver COMMUNICATION IS THE KEY

PARTNERSHIP 8. Define your relationship with your spouse. “…Cathy and I share the burden. Although I can’t say that all work is 50/50, it is as even as we need it to be.” ~Jenny Skipton “…Jenn is my partner, spouse, and soul~mate and very best friend.” ~Cathy Granger “…Our challenges have brought us closer together and we have grown as partners.” ~Enayat Oliver “…Our relationship is defined by our partnership…” ~Karen Oliver “…We respect each other and work to find the happy medium in areas where we differ.” ~Adam Black “…We love and respect each other and we work to make the other happy. We are both equally committed to marriage as we are to each other.” ~Kristy Black “…Our relationship is so many things. We are truly life partners.” ~Gee Session-Smalls “…We are best friends, lovers, partners, and confidants.” ~Juan Session-Smalls


relationship can move from two people simply in contact with each other to two people who can’t get enough of each other. Alternatively, two people may be totally oblivious to the relationship that is developing when suddenly they are hit with the realization that they have fallen in love.

4. How do you and your spouse handle conflicts? “…Whenever a conflict arises we force each other to talk it People are complex and love develops in different ways. out as early as possible.” ~ Adam Black What I gathered from our couple’s responses is that the “…most times we are able to talk about “whatever” connection, commitment, respect and partnership aspects of a relationship, in addition to the others, were synonymous. immediately.” ~ Cathy Granger “…the only way to successfully handle conflict is: It doesn’t matter if you are in an interracial, same-sex or Communication.” ~ Juan Session-Smalls heterosexual relationship. Love is love whomever you are “…Well after we are done stomping around the house and charged to love and spend the rest of your life with. pouting (LOL), we simply sit down and talk about it.” ~ Gee Session-Smalls | 2013 SPRING




photo: Project Duo Photography



he next generation of wedding planning has arrived – and whether you’ve rolled out the white carpet and put the finishing touches on your own big day, or not, StudioWed’s everything-access is the way to make sure it all goes off without one single hitch. They have the city’s hottest wedding and event pros all under one roof, from the expert planners who bring the latest trends to life, to the top-notch photographers who give you the memories to never forget it, or the sweet treats and fun details that make your guests never forget it, there’s something for every bride to pick and choose from. Here’s how it works – Bring your bling to the studio and sit down for a personal consultation with their Studio Manager. From there, the team takes over and introduces you to the vendors who best match your personality, your style and the vision you’ve got for your big day. Think of them as your


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wedding vendor concierge – connecting you to the people you need to make it all happen. Plus, StudioWed hosts several events throughout the year that provide interactive inspiration stations to help drive brides toward that unique idea that makes their wedding ultra swoon-worthy. Check out this fall’s Inspired Bride event at The W Hotel Midtown. Tickets are limited, but the experience is unmatched. Best part? It’s completely free. It’s like your own luxury version of the wedding industry’s search engine, except without the mystery – StudioWed vendors are all prescreened and interviewed before invited to join the team so you don’t have to spend hours searching user reviews. Bottom line—you’re stepping into the best thing that’s happened to planning a wedding since J. Lo. Enjoy! by: Jennifer Smith Williams

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Pretty In Pink

by: Jennifer Smith Williams


WINTER 2013 |







ith sweet southern weather like warm sunshine and balmy breezes, there’s no shortage of outdoor soirees booked up on social calendars across the state. But what we love most is this city’s creativity that brings those celebrations from the rustic, picnic-style shindigs they used to be, to the glitzy and glam-filled affairs that they are today. Here’s what we mean exactly: Where brick and mortar used to sing sweet tunes alongside vintage bouquets of burlap and lace, we now hear new harmonies from the same raw materials, now paired with sparkling glass and pristine acrylics, feminine hues and creamy soft textures. It’s an Alice and Wonderland dream world come to life—real life.

Our creative team gathered together, on one of those aforementioned glorious Georgia afternoons, to spotlight the potential nestled amongst the downtown Atlanta flora. They created inspiring scapes to complement your partythrowing personality—from luncheon to tea to formal feasts. Table 1 (Pretty in Pink) A decadent floral stitch married into silk linen mimics the essence of the outdoors—elevated with a powerful hint of elegance and a deliberate, yet subtle, beauty. Its tone is amplified in the sparkle of every etched corner of the delicate crystal stemware, and earns extra credit as they wink at their reflection in the jeweled table details. Flowers literally dripping in crystal baubles give an outdoor, barnyard setting the mirage of something found in a Gatsby-drenched evening. It’s unexpected, but executed perfectly, and that spells out a recipe for undoubted exquisiteness. Table 2 (Pretty in Green) Heighten the femininity even more so in an outdoor setting with the introduction of spring’s own hues to your table. Ballet slipper pinks and fresh-lawn greens beautify a table and invite guests into a relaxing ambiance that doesn’t compete with their high heels or bow ties. Centered around a delicate, hand-piped white cake accented with lifelike florals and what could be hand-sewn lace applique (except it’s edible sugar!), is a table set for a queen and her court, or your regular group of notable friends. Gold stemware is a rare sight—especially when you’re throwing a fete outside. But paired up with these pearlized plates and twinkling accents, it makes the outdoor living room take on an entirely new, and entirely chic concept— one that exists well beyond the barn. Tablescape Designed by Auvandran’s Event Decor - Chairs provided by: Sweet Seats Atlanta - Specialty Linen provided by: I Do Linens - Wedding Cake provided by: Perfect Wedding Cake - Centerpiece & Bouquet provided by : Abby’s Floral Designs - China & Silverware provided by: Classic Party Rental Atlanta - Specialty Vase & Chargers provided by: Auvandran’s Event Decor - Location provided by: The Inn at Serenbe - | 2013 SPRING Photography: Brice Esso & Ish Holmes






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My Hindu Wedding MY





by: Tianna Faulkner


culture known for its rituals and rich tradition Hindu weddings celebrate in ways that makes the average wedding look like a short film. With wedding durations of three to five days on average, The South Indian Wedding is a very unique and event filled experience that proves to be memorable and fun for the family. | 2013 SPRING







indu weddings have several pre-wedding and post-wedding ceremonies that involve participation from the bride-to-be, the groom, and participants from both families.

The ceremonies include a vermillion or special necklace that is given to the bride from the groom that can never be taken off, the washing of the grooms feet by the fatherin-law, the painting of henna or Mehendi body art on the hands and feet of the bride and lavish wedding attire and garments worn by both families. The Indian culture still practices arranged marriages to date. The bride and groom are just a few years apart in age today, where 50 plus years ago, couples were matched regardless of their age difference. The bride-to-be’s parents choose the groom based on his background, education, and career. The groom then comes to meet the bride-to-be at her home and the wedding date, if they like each other, is decided. But choosing the wedding date is not just some random choice. Part of it is decided by astrology and the other part by priests. “It is actually based on good and bad timing, the position of the moon and the stars, and the names and birth dates of both the bride-to-be and the groom,” said Satya Rudrukshala, a South Indian native who lives in metro Atlanta.

CULTURE “When speaking of the wedding dresses and attire for the bride and groom, it is known to be very costly and expensive,” said Rudrukshala, explaining the garments are lined with expensive gold thread. “The groom gives money to the bride-to-be’s parents for them to buy the clothes.” In the western culture, the bride’s family pays for everything as tradition would have it. In the Hindu tradition, the wedding ceremony itself takes three to four hours. In this tradition, the bride-to-be is the property of her father until the father washes the feet of the groom in milk and wipes them with silk. The washing of the groom’s feet is the second part of the ceremony. The groom can then have the daughter. “The father is proud to give the daughter away,” said Rudrukshala. During this time, it is now that the father uses chants to offer up his daughter to the groom. The bride-to-be and groom put a cumin seed mixture on each other’s foreheads. This is when the main time of the wedding and when astrology plays a part of the wedding again. The actual wedding takes place in front of a fire, where priests are a part of the ceremony. The ceremony also involves everyone walking or moving the fire seven times. Here is where dancing can be a part of the ceremony.

Then, as mentioned before, if the bride-to-be and the groom like each other and if the parents (from both sides) like each other, an engagement date is decided. The groom’s family pays for the dress and jewelry as a gift to the bride and the couple spends time together before the engagement. This all could vary in time, ranging from one month to a year. Once the engagement is over, the marriage date is set, and the ceremonies begin. The first ceremony is called the Puja ceremony. Three days before the wedding henna or Mehendi is painted on the bride-to-be. It is a mixture of herbs and paste that is painted on the bride-to-be’s hands and feet. The henna normally takes up to four hours to dry and once dry, it’s rinsed off leaving behind the intrigant art and designs that stay on the body for up to two weeks.

After the main wedding ritual, the Mangal Sutra begins. The groom gives the bride a necklace that she has to wear for life. It is usually made up of white and yellow thread. Sometimes gold is used. One piece of the necklace is from the bride-to-be’s parents, one piece from the groom, and one piece is from the in-laws. Three knots are formed in the necklace, which demonstrates its symbolism. Traditionally the wedding takes place at the bride’s home, and the reception at the groom’s home. After the reception, the couple spends three days at the bride’s home, three days at the groom’s home and then they are free to become their own couple. Now a days this may seem like a lot to go through to get married but the Hindu/South Indian wedding traditions and rituals have been taking place for centuries and have remained a sacred part of their culture even through modern times.

Food, food, food. “There is also lots of food at the South


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Photography: Nadia D. Photography Chandana and Siva wedding | 2013 SPRING


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CONSCIENCE by: Jordan Harris

Sovereign community offers new couples a new way of living.


s wedding season approaches, newlyweds are anxious to begin a new life together. What better way to smoothly transition than to join a living community that thrives from expansion and change as well? Located in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga., Serenbe Community offers couples-and anyone else longing for a better quality of life, for that matter, an unconventional way of living outside of the hustle and bustle of Atlanta. Primarily recognized as a sustainable living community, Serenbe is truly a communal space. From energy efficient housing to organically grown crops raised on the community’s 1,000 acres of land, Serenbe promotes connectedness with nature, selfsufficiency and positive relationships amongst its residents. Communications Director, Kathryn Lott says, “We value people who value relationships with other people and [consider] our relationship with the outdoors as creating a sense of place where people can interact with each other.” One of the most valued elements of the community is the appreciation for its natural resources. The reuse of rainwater for crop irrigation and solar panels atop the homes build the sustainability of the environment. In addition, Serenbe also houses a variety of residents from young families and singles to retirees. “It’s a great mixture,” Lott says of the community’s demographic. Purposefully constructed of restaurants, shopping boutiques and businesses, residents have no reason to leave this one-stop shop kind of community. But, just in case they desire to venture out, residents have easy access to the city. Serenbe is located just 32 miles south of Atlanta. With the perks of great real estate prices, residents can still have a little bit of Atlanta within Serenbe. These eco-friendly homes start within the mid 200 thousands. “It’s like living in Atlanta, minus the pollution and the traffic,” Lott says. She also suggests that it is the real estate especially that makes Serenbe a great start for young couples and newlyweds. “All of the homes have front porches which encourage socializing and a sense of community,”Lott says. “It’s an Atlanta away from Atlanta. Here is a great foundation to start a family and young families are trying to do just that.” - | 2013 SPRING


Belle MariĂŠe Photography: Ish Holmes & Brice Esso Models: Olay-Inka Mia Noel, Grace Lee & John Romano Creative Director & Wardrobe Stylist: Mary Chatman Hair & Make up (Olay): Brittany Allen & Zara Green for Salon Aamono Makeup (Grace & John): Nat for The Green Room Agency Hair (Grace & John): Tye Atkinson Videography: Taylor Farrow & Eric Snyder for One Entertainment Productions Location: The Inn at Serenbe & Serenbe Community Horse: Diana | Owner: Ashley Thomas


Photo: Ish Holmes

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Photo: Ish Holmes

Champagne Ombre Tulle Ball Gown with Pick Up Skirt and Garland Headband in Antique Crystal with Ribbons - Vera Wang for (Buckhead) | 2013 SPRING

Photo: Ish Holmes


Diamond White Pierretta - Ball Gown with Layered Silk Organza Skirt and Fitted Bodice -

Zara - Ivory Silk Shantung Bustier Gown with Trumpet Hemline, Chapel Length Train Extension, Gold Lace and Cowrie Shells - Therez Fleetwood for Cowrie shell earrings -

Photo: Ish Holmes | 2013 SPRING



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Photo: Brice Esso

Della - White Lace, Tulle and Net Bustier Gown with trumpet hemline - Therez Fleetwood for | Jeweled Lace Headpiece - by H&O

The Black Collection - Vera Wang for

Photo: Brice Esso | 2013 SPRING



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Photo: Ish Holmes

Angelina – Silk Satin, Lace and Tulle Ballgown. Deep “v” Neck and Empire Waist - Therez Fleetwood for | 2013 SPRING

Photo: Ish Holmes


White Strapless Tulle Ball Gown with Beaded Belt - Oleg Cassini | Crystal and Pearl Necklace - (Buckhead)


SPRING 2013 |

Photo: Ish Holmes

The Black Collection - Vera Wang for | 2013 SPRING

Photo: Ish Holmes


Diamond White Kazane - Mermaid Gown with Silk Ruched Bodice and Bustled Skirt, Swarovski Crystals Neckline and Flower Cluster Train -



Your Wedding

by: Monica Compton

. One of the most highly anticipated and most remembered days of your life. And when you decide the locale for this grand affair will be away from home, the options for choosing a destination are limitless. If you are a lux bride who is looking for an exclusive setting with the ocean serving as your wedding’s natural backdrop, these resorts will provide the ultimate in opulence.

1. Mandarin Oriental Elbow Beach, Bermuda We start on the Atlantic Ocean with the Mandarin Oriental Elbow Beach, Bermuda; a luxurious resort overlooking a pink sand beach exclusive to its guests. With just 98 elegant rooms and suites, Elbow Beach is the epitome of intimate. Guestrooms are nestled in 50 acres of meticulously landscaped gardens, making you feel secluded from the outside world. Yet, if you want to leave your private retreat, the island’s charming capital of Hamilton is only seven minutes away. Prior to the wedding, a trip to Elbow Beach’s spa is a must. Upon arrival, you are escorted to your personal spa suite where you can relax before your treatment. As part of the spa experience, every treatment begins with a soothing foot ritual symbolizing the act of stepping away from the outside world. Couples who wed at Elbow Beach receive: a complimentary honeymoon night; a complimentary room upgrade; full breakfast for two daily; VIP status; early and late check-out; a complimentary welcome drink upon arrival; and a $100 spa voucher. - 2. The Sanctuary, Kiawah Island, SC If you desire the privacy of an island, but want to stay stateside, The Sanctuary is your five-star choice. Named “No. 1 Resort Hotel in the United States” by Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report, The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island features 255 guestrooms and suites. The king rooms are among the most spacious on the East Coast with the smallest measuring 520 square feet. Just 30 minutes from downtown Charleston, The Sanctuary is a seaside mansion that breathes Southern hospitality at its finest. Ranked as one of the Best Hotel Spas in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure, The Sanctuary Spa’s treatments are inspired by Kiawah’s vast coastline and lush greenery. Botanical extracts, nourishing seaweed, mineral-rich mud and natural


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enzymes are the ingredients for rejuvenation, reflecting the purist philosophy of the resort. Wedding ceremonies can be conducted on oceanfront lawns, on the beach or in elegant ballrooms that can accommodate up to 350 guests for a seated dinner. The Sanctuary offers reduced guestroom rates for friends and family and airport transportation for all your wedding guests. - 3. Esperanza, an Auberge Resort Cabo San Lucas, Mexico If you want the lure of Mexico, but prefer to jet set to the West Coast, Esperanza is an award-winning choice. Overlooking the Sea of Cortez in the corridor connecting Cabo San Lucas and San Jose Del Cabo, Esperanza offers the utmost in privacy with only 57 casitas and suites supplemented by private villas. Every room offers an ocean view and a large private terrace for indoor/outdoor living. Starting your celebratory stay refreshed and rejuvenated is easy with a visit to Esperanza’s spa, named No. 1 in Latin America by Travel + Leisure. The resort’s ocean-view space can accommodate everything from an intimate ceremony for just the two of you to a lavish Cabo affair of up to 100 people. Esperanza’s “Intimate Wedding” package accommodates up to 12 guests and includes a photographer, classical guitarist and a treat for your hands and toes – a manicure and pedicure at Esperanza Spa. The “A Night to Remember” package is a bride-andgroom only affair featuring private beach dining under the stars and a personalized three-course menu created just for you. The night is capped off with a champagne toast and a private bon fire. The resort also offers a honeymoon package in an ocean view, one-bedroom Terrace Spa Suite. The package includes roundtrip airport transfers, daily breakfast for you and your husband, and daily yoga classes. -


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Love on a Mission

by: Tia Aikens


ove yearns to express itself authentically. When you surrender to the power of love, you will experience its playful nature. Grace Lee and John Romano are exploring the playfulness of love. This iconic couple is protecting the sacred elements of love; they are preserving the core values of relationships. This power couple is creating and maintaining a healthy, balanced relationship. They serve as an example that you can have an active career, travel and nourish a growing blossoming union. Grace is the owner of Cruzado restaurant and she is a foodie. She is also a competitive eater with an extensive knowledge in real estate business. John is a Brand Manager for Heineken and is currently working on his MBA. Even though this couple have an active lifestyle, they make it a priority to spend quality time with one another and fully support each other’s dreams. They are Love on a Mission. continued on page 36

Photo: Ish Holmes | 2013 SPRING




Blush Strapless Ball Gown with Satin Corset Bodice & Rhinestone Loop Tiara Headpiece - Vera Wang for David’s Bridal (Buckhead)

Tia: With such an active lifestyle how do you create balance in your relationship? Grace: Honestly John balances me. We both believe that our relationship and our family is the number one priority. Our commitment to our family supersedes money and our careers. We have a common ground and it is commitment. We go home every night together and we wake up together. We ensure that we spend quality time with one another. In addition, we have created routines, habits, and rituals, which create a closer bond. John: We’re both good at balancing out each other. We capitalize off each other’s strengths and we nourish each other’s weaknesses. My parents taught me that your inner life, including your home is what you project externally to the world. Therefore, it is important that Grace and I establish discipline at home. When there is structure in your inner life, you will have structure in your external world. Tia: What is an attribute that is necessary for a healthy relationship? John: Divorce is not an option regardless of the problem or situation. Grace: The necessary attribute for me is respect, I must respect the man that I am with, and John is the only man that I have truly respected. The respect that I had for him initially remains the same today. We are not perfect, and yes we may argue and fight sometimes but that is far and few between. John is solution oriented so I know that we can always resolve any problem. My respect for John has grown to adoring him. It is necessary to have mutual respect. Photo: Brice Esso

Tia: Can you describe how you transitioned from dating to now being engaged? John: After one month of knowing Grace I knew that I loved her and I expressed my love to her. I communicated to Grace several times that I loved her however; she thought it was not sincere. Grace: John and I are two young professionals, and yes he told me several times that he loved me, but I did not know if I could take him seriously. However, when I realized that he was serious I allowed him to take the lead. There came a time in our relationship where I did not want to be the independent woman. I wanted to be the pampered girl. John initiated the dialog on the topic of us living together while traveling to Manila to meet his family. We really did not have a courtship, everything evolved naturally. The progression of our relationship is old fashion with core values being the foundation of our relationship. Tia: Grace, how does being an independent woman affect your relationship with John? Grace: I met John in a time in my life where I wanted something different in relationships. John teaches me how to be more of a woman; he teaches me how to be soft. He subtly and naturally teaches me how to be open and vulnerable. He allows me to be who I am, but he has established the core values of our relationships and I support them 100%.


SPRING 2013 |

Tia: What are the intangible elements that fuel your relationship? Grace: We genuinely enjoy each other, we have fun together. When we strip away titles, jobs, degrees, money, and religion, we are able to have fun with each other. Playfulness exists between us. John and I are extremely silly and this creates a unique bond for us. We practice celebrating our moments together. Our jobs are so serious that it is beautiful to experience playfulness. John: Growing up I observed parents who were passionately affectionate and I inherited this element as well. I am very affectionate towards Grace, and in the beginning, I knew she was uncomfortable with the amount of affection I gave her. As I continued to extend affection, she began to soften and open. Being goofy is important in a relationship because you let go of all your inhibitions. Tia: What is your contribution to the community individually and collectively? John: Being active in the community is about all of your daily contributions. Being available when needed is the biggest contribution anyone could give to the community. Grace and I both love philanthropy and we know we will work with the community on a global level. Grace: John and I both have an appreciation for global culture and diversity. We have a common viewpoint about humanity because of our exposure to the world. We are the new face of Urban, and we will do what we can to support global diversity.



Tia: How important is traveling together in a relationship? John: Travel is important, as it will test your relationship. It exposes new revelations about the person you are with and often times create a closer bond, which helps the relationship blossom. Grace: When you travel to different countries it is only you and the other person against the country that you are visiting. When you are on unfamiliar ground, you will either grow closer or further apart. Tia: What inspires you to share your lives with one another? John: Grace’s driven character inspires me. We are both highly driven individuals, but I have never met anyone as driven as Grace. Her ambition fuels me and we educate each other. We are always attentive to each other. I listen attentively to Grace and she is a wonderful sounding board. Grace is also my friend and I know I am truly blessed. Grace: John just makes me a better woman, friend, daughter, and businessperson. Receiving positive nourishment from him makes me stronger. He inspires and provokes me to please him and make him proud. He knows and accepts me in my raw authentic state when I am the most broken and the most accomplished. He is a witness to who I am at my core. He inspires me daily, he is my friend. Tia: What relationship advice would you like to share? Grace: One must remove co-dependency from their relationship. John and I have little co-dependency and when you take this variable away, the relationship is able to thrive. We came together in a time in our lives where we both were solid and we are able to share with each other. This is what makes our union unique. Trust is so important in a relationship and at the same time, trust is delicate. To trust someone you have to respect him or her. John allows me to work through whatever I need to at any given moment. We always remain focused on the end goal. John: The more you listen to your partner the more you learn. It is important to always take a step back and listen.

Photo: Ish Holmes

Tia: How do you manage your emotions in your relationship? Grace: Managing emotions and removing distractions are necessary for your relationship to grow. I have discovered that nurturing all the positive emotions is important. It really is mind over matter. All negative emotions must be filtered and then funneled out. When you remove negative emotions, you have a clear mind and you can focus on what is important. When you are emotional, you cannot discover the solution. Tia: How do you guard your relationship from external influences? John: We focus on the simple things such as eating breakfast together, keeping Sunday as our sacred day turning off all cell phones and making sure that we keep our relationship our priority. We are responsible for building our empire. Grace: I love people so much and I love to share because I am a people person. However, I agreed to protect the privacy of my relationship. We do not share our problems with friends or family. We are learning how to fix our problems together. We are a united front, even the good things we keep sacred. We are protective of what we share with others. You cannot be eager to share everything that transpires in your relationship; you have to keep your relationship private. John: It is very simple: Focus on the kisses, wishes, and the blissful descriptive. This phrase comes from a song that I wrote and all people can relate to this truth. Tia: Paint a Pictorial of Love. John: Love is Pure; it is everything you cannot control. The best part is the uncontrollable. Grace: Love is pure happiness, the happiness that you experience as a child. This happiness is untouched, and untainted. I am excited to spend time with John. I love sharing every aspect of myself with him. You cannot buy pure happiness. Our love has not faded since we have been together it is stronger.

Photo: Ish Holmes

The Love that I observed between Grace and John is raw and authentic. Their love is patient, pure, respectful, attentive, affectionate, joyful, playful, determined, open, vulnerable, inspiring, and sacred. This couple possesses an inner and outer strength that serves as the foundation of their union. John Romano and Grace Lee are Love on a Mission. | 2013 SPRING


REAL MEN COOK for charity



24th Annual Celebration RE A L




Atlanta Dr. Alduan Tartt Valerie Jackson

Lentheus Chaney

Rev. Marvin Moss Judge Glenda Hatchett

Sunday, June 16, 2013 Father’s Day 3-6pm Georgia World Congress Center 265 Andrew Young International Blvd NW Georgia Ballroom, Building C Tickets online at

Charity Partners Real Men Charities, Maynard Jackson Youth Foundation, Apex Museum and Cooking Matters



BUFF BRIDES B by: Chaundra Grant

Grayson offers the following advice: Start at least 3 months before the wedding date. The typical bride spends at least one year planning all the other details of her wedding; so make sure to include a plan to get the body you want. Alternate the types of exercise you do each day. Begin on Day 1 with an intense cardio workout. A steady 45 minutes on a treadmill or elliptical, or in an aerobics class like Zumba, kickboxing or spin will suffice. On Day 2, switch to total-body circuit training which maximizes the time while burning calories. For example, do 3 sets of 20 reps each of pushups, burpees, bicycle crunches, jump squats, core twists and dips. Flip between cardio and circuit training for at least 5 days a week, then rest for 1 to 2 days to recuperate and plan for the upcoming week. A couple that trains together, stays together. Exercising with your fiancé creates a unique bonding experience while also improving your health. Additionally, it is a great stress reliever.

eing in the best shape possible for your wedding day should be atop the priority list and Atlanta-based trainer Rahman “Ray” Grayson of AEIM fitness knows what it takes to meet your goal. Over the last eight years, he has helped at least 50 brides tighten things up in time to say, “I do!” “I’ve gone to so many weddings, I’ve lost count,” says Grayson. “I’ve become somewhat of a bride whisperer.” Typically, when his customized Bridal BootCamp is requested, it is for three key reasons: general weight loss, toned arms and sexy backs. “I knew I wanted to look my absolute best on my wedding day. I was already working out on my own, but I knew in order to get the ultimate results and motivation to push myself even further I needed to do something different,” says Johanna Torres of Atlanta. Her wedding is on April 5, but she’s been preparing since the proposal back in June of 2012. “I was already thin, but I wanted to be more lean and healthy. I also wanted to get great muscle definition throughout my body and being part of the Bridal BootCamp got me those results,” says Torres. “And I can’t wait to show them off in my wedding dress!”

Eat. This is not the time for crash dieting. You have to eat to make it through the rigorous workouts, just eat clean. Eat lean proteins like chicken and fish to help support your muscles and complex carbohydrates like whole grains to get the energy you need. Don’t forget your water aka your “life juice” and green leafy vegetables to keep everything flowing in the body. Team Work Makes the Dream Work Get the bridal party involved to create a fun experience with your friends. Having your bridesmaids train with you will also add accountability. As a bonus, they will walk away with more than just a dress, but a better body and keys to a healthier lifestyle! | 2013 SPRING




The Ultimate Merger


hen two individuals come together to create a union, it is similar to two companies merging for the greater good of the bottom line. Couples should be merging because you love each other, right? Well, whatever the reason you must understand that there is more to marriage than love. Sure, that’s a crucial and fundamental component, but at some point you must put on your financial manager hat.

The question you must ask yourself is what is a deal breaker? Are there any financial issues that you will not tolerate or subject your flawless financial record to being exposed? Just as a company that merges with another, it acquires all the assets that their newfound partner has, but they also acquire the debt and financial issues that may exist as well. It’s better to get everything out into the open early. You should know exactly what you’re saying, “I do” to.

Once you realize you are in love and the feeling is mutual, you should set aside time for you and your partner to discover your financial compatibility. I recommend the two of you going on a “financial life date.” On this date, you will discuss each other’s views of money, money habits and current financial position. It is also a good idea to stop by to grab a copy of your credit report to share and eliminate any surprises in the future.

In the end, you remember that effective communication is the key to long successful partnerships. It’s best to address these things early so neither party is blindsided by excessive debt, a mound of collections, outstanding tax issues, past due child support or evidence of a financial mindset that clashes with your own. Remember when you hear the words “for better or worse” this includes your new spouse’s personal finances as well. by: Clyde Anderson

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With the anticipation of colorful blooms and green foliage, arrives in tandem annual engagements and blissful nuptials as spring takes cente...


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