Unknowingly living parallel lives, April and Stefan’s souls met long before they did. They’d grown up with the same examples of unwavering love from their HBCU educated parents. It was the sort of love fairytales aimed to tell and the two would later share. Both attending Hampton University as communications majors, they marched to the beat of the same drums as affiliates of The HU Marching Force. “We have always believed that things happen according to His plan, and it would take hundreds of charter band bus miles, nearly 25 years of friendship, and a birthday dinner date before it came time for Stefan to propose in November 2013,” April shares. Stefan’s proposal was lucid in its simplicity. He’d shown up to April’s home unannounced, something out of character for the groom. Surprised by his spontaneity, April didn’t fathom a proposal was on its way. “As I went about straightening up, Stefan was going on about a conversation we had the night before. Ironically, it was about an episode of "Say Yes to the Dress," but it didn't occur to me that I was about to have an opportunity to respond with a "yes" of my own. While I wasn't looking, Stefan managed to get down on one knee, and when I turned around, he asked me to spend the rest of my life with him.”
The couple consummated their love with an elegantly ethereal wedding at the Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel in Raleigh, North Carolina. The seed of abiding love that was planted by each of their parents became an unforgettable homage that sweet day. “Long ago, Stefan and I decided that it was important for us to find a way to honor our parents who had instilled in us so much love and faith and provided us with a solid foundation. In doing so, they were preparing us for one another,” April shares. The couple exhibited portraits of both their parents on their wedding days many years ago. Additionally, April released her mother’s wedding gown from the box it had been in since 1958 and draped it over a mannequin that was placed next to the exhibition of portraits. The touching tribute served as a compelling conversation piece for guests and kept the spirit of true love alive on that faithful day.Take a look at their stunning wedding in North Carolina with photography by Coterie member Keith Cephus. This wedding was also featured in our Fall/Winter 2015 issue on select newsstands now. You can grab your copy here.
Favorite item on the wedding menu: two signature drinks - the collective, named after our closest circle of friends, and the cakewalk, which, according to the hotel, was the most popular signature drink the renaissance has ever served.
Bridesmaids/groomsmen gifts: bridesmaids - shoes for the ceremony and reception, jewelry, kate spade clutches, robes, and platinum nail polish - all in a reusable jute tote / groomsmen - leather overnight bags with custom debossed leather luggage tags, handkerchiefs, and coordinating socks for their tuxedos.
First dance song: "Stay With You" by John Legend -- sung by soloist india reynolds and accompanied by string quartet
Advice to future brides
Give yourself time to plan and execute your vision, hire an experienced, professional wedding planner, and allow him or her to do what they do best. Allow yourself the opportunity to enjoy your wedding and all that surrounds it. There is so much buildup to the actual event, so on your special day – and even a few days ahead if possible – let those who you hired do their jobs and live in the moment of the happiest day of your life. It will go very quickly once it begins, so set yourself up to fully enjoy every moment.
Bride's Dress: Attire Is Mz2 by Mark Zunino
Bridal Salon: Kleinfeld Bridal
Bride's Shoes: Badgley Mischka
Bridesmaids Dresses: Dessy Collection
Cakes/desserts: Dreme Cake Artistry
Catering: Renaissance Raleigh North
Ceremony: Renaissance Raleigh North
Event Decor: Event Productions by Fresh Affairs
Lighting and Event Staging by Total Production Services
Event Rentals by Ce Rentals
Event Planner: Elana Walker, Elana Walker Events
Entertainment: Soloists - India Reynolds & Gillian Fields
String Quartet and Guitar - Blue Sands Music
Dj - Randal Calloway Aka Dj 360
Flowers: Fresh Affairs
Groom's Attire: Indochino Custom
Groomsmen Attire: Calvin Klein Formal
Bride’s Hair: Dyanna Hough of Salon Gradient
Bridesmaids Hair: Natasha Bryant
Groom & Groomsmen Hair: Dexter Carpenter, Infinite Cuts
Makeup: S. Davis Make Up Artistry
Photography: Keith Cephus Photography
Reception Venue: Renaissance - Raleigh, North Carolina
Stationery: Cute Buttons Gift and Paper Boutique
Videography: K2 Productions and Shoreline Productions