Harlem Renaissance {Philadelphia} Wedding: Maria + Al

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Bride:  Maria Wing
Groom:  Albert Motley
Occupations:  Attorney (bride)/Assistant Director of IT (groom)
Date of Wedding:  11.26.11
Location:  The Ritz Carlton - Philadelphia
Photographed by Amie Shroeder Photography

Ostrich feathers, deep red floral arrangements and black and cream invitations helped add just the right touch of class and sophistication to Maria and Al's Harlem Renaissance-themed wedding.  Captivated by that time period, the couple managed to successfully incorporate elements of the Art Deco style into their wedding...and even their super unique Save the Date.  Check out the amazing save-the-date wedding trailer they sent to their guests.

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The couple describes the wedding theme...

"The Harlem Renaissance has always been a time period that has captivated us. As such, we wanted to find ways to subtly weave this time period, the Art Deco style and other "nods" into our wedding and its decor. Truthfully, it all began with our wedding trailer.  Maria and I formulated the concept for our Save the Date trailer after touring our venue, The Ritz Carlton Philadelphia, and learning about the rich history of the building. Formerly known as the Girard Bank Building, the Ritz's main hall was constructed in 1911 and was utilized as a bank for many years. We like to think " outside the box " and one night, Maria and I decided that we just had to do something different with our Save the Date video. Being a history buff, Maria thought it would be fun to to educate our guests about the history of the venue -- living in Philadelphia, history is all around us and we sometimes tend to overlook that reality. In addition, we also knew that we wanted to pay homage to the films from the 1920s and the 1930s since the building has such a strong Art Deco influence. Walking into The Ritz Carlton, with its palm trees and columns, feel almost transported back to the Harlem Renaissance era , a time that is dear to our hearts a s it represented strong cultural and artistic advances in the African American community. Some of Maria's favorite authors are Harlem Renaissance writers and my fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi, was found in 1911 on the wave of this intellectual and social movement within the African American community (celebration of Kappa's Centennial this year also wasn't 100% lost on me!). Thinking about the building's history and the timing, it made perfect sense to do a spin on Bonnie and Clyde who maybe would have set their sights on Girard Bank during their escapades. So, we laid out the the concept to our photographer, Amie Schroeder, and our videographer, her husband, Jacob Schroeder both with Amie Schroeder Photography, Inc.. Being kind of quirky like us, Jacob and Amie were "all in" the minute we explained the concept. Amie and Jake made the entire three hour shoot seem like the biggest party. They had the best attitudes and were game for anything. The finished photos and video are utterly amazing . Jake's editing really made the concept of a silent film come alive . We both can honestly say that the final product is exactly what we envisioned -- except better. We hope people really enjoy the "movie" we put together in this trailer and that it gives them some insight into just how fun-loving we are as a couple. People always think that, with our busy and demanding careers, we are serious all the time. Maria and I had such a blast making our trailer. Working together, Maria and I quickly proved that grooms can involved in the wedding planning details and have tons of fun doing it! Every time we view the trailer, it serves as a reminder that this process of planning a wedding is supposed to be fun and also reminds us to to look forward to our special day amidst it all. The hard work and focus on the details and minutiae, at the end of the day, it create an amazing, fun time that will be completely worth it!"



Maria reminisces on the first encounter...

"It all began with words that I took for mere bravado -- "I am going to introduce you to your husband." For years, I have been involved with the charity, Operation Understanding. After a long day of interviewing candidates, the panel of judges, comprised of alumni of the program began to talk about work, life and family.  Jeff Moore, one of my fellow judges, was aghast that I hadn't yet found "Mr. Right" and asked me to describe my "perfect" man. Smart, funny and tall were my key criteria. 

A few days later, Jeff set up an email introduction between Al and me. We were both polite, each humoring our friend. At the time neither of us were all that ready for anything serious. I was 2 years out of law school trying to establish my career and Al was making a transition from working for a venture capital firm to the realm of charter school education. We would email every now and then and occasionally talk on the phone, but the thought of anything more just wasn't there. That all changed once summer arrived. Al used to travel to California a good deal. A girlfriend and I were planning a 4th of July trip to LA and Al gave me a few suggestions on where to go. Each time I visited one of his recommended destinations, I realized how well this man knew me and how much I wanted to get to know him better. He actually listened! When I returned, Al asked all about my trip, and my reply was "Well, I will tell you over dinner." (Al typically interjects to note how I was the aggressor. What can I say? The man is irrestible! Although at this point, I had NO IDEA what he looked like!). Our first date was one of those "magical" dates -- the kind that transitions from dinner to drinks to talking all night. I knew that he was someone that was just so kind, intelligent and special. After that date, we were inseparable.."

On incorporating culture...

"For the ceremony, Al and I knew that we just had to jump the broom. As a Roman Catholic, I carefully chose a Church and a celebrant that would honor this African American tradition. 

For the reception, it was all about the food! My mother's family is primarily from Church Point, Louisiana, a small town in Southeastern Louisiana. We have a love of Creole food and culture. In Church Point, food is love and it manifests in the spicy gumboes, etoufees and jambalayas we eat. As I went to law school in New Orleans, I wanted that part of my family and its tradition of Creole food to be present in our wedding. During the cocktail hour, we served mini shrimp and oyster po-boys. We also offered savory beignets. Once it was time for dinner, it was definitely time for Le Bon Temps Rollier! We served as our first course a spicy seafood gumbo. Little Tabasco sauce bottles insured that the right touch of "heat" would be present. When serving our crab cake entrees, a spicy roumaloude accompanied the dish. Finally, our cake was a classic New Orleans red velvet cake."



What Albert loves most about Maria

Albert loves my mind -- the tenacity and intelligence that drives me to do more, be more and push those around me to do the same. However, I also think he loves my heart -- that is, the ability to love above all things.

What Maria loves most about Albert

Albert is the kindest, most patient person I know. He is my rock. When I am in the middle of a hurricane, with the sea squalling around me, he is the calm shore awaiting me. Every time he holds me, I feel safe, calm and secure. Every day he teaches me the true meaning of quiet strength and patient love.


Congrats Maria and Al on your recent marriage, and kudos for planning such a well thought out and unique wedding reception.  We wish you many years of bliss!


Wedding Planner -- Rebecca Richman, Queen of Hearts Consultants 
Band -- 5th Avenue
Florist -- Carl Alan Floral, Ltd. 
Photographer/Videographer -- Amie and Jake Schroeder, Amie Schroeder Photography 
Invitations/Paper Goods -- Argus Printers 
Wedding Cake -- Dana Herbert, Desserts by Dana 
Reception Venue -- The Ritz Carlton Philadelphia
Officiant -- Reverend Stephen Thorne
Transportation -- Philadelphia Trolley Company 

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  1. Doyin (Events by Doyin)

    Beautiful wedding!

  2. Droutcilla Winters

    Great love story, beatiful wedding and super creative save-the-date!

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  4. oluchy

    l love the table setting n color. lovely pics, nice scenes.

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