Featured as the cover story of the Summer 2017 Issue of MunaLuchi Bride Magazine, the love story of Kristen and Shaun began when both were White House Staff members under the Obama administration, she the Chief of Staff for First Lady Michelle Obama, and he a Secret Service Agent for President Barack Obama. Their stunningly beautiful wedding features the talents of MunaLuchi Coterie members Darryl Wilson of D'Concierge Weddings & Events, Pharris Photography, Oda Creative, and the Boutique by B. Belle Events (complete vendor list below).
Read all about Kristen and Shaun's love story, romantic proposal, and wedding experiences below. View the complete selected image gallery here.
In our fast-paced society ten feet can become ten miles. Two people can work within the same company, or in this case, the same house, and remain completely unaware of each other. Around a corner, down the hall, or up the stairs of our daily lives could be the love of our life, our soul’s mate, the one. As Shaun phrased it, “I didn’t know who she was and she didn’t know who i was. Literally, working in the same world and not crossing paths ever.” For Kristen and Shaun that “world” was the official residence of the President and First Family of the United States, and they were much more than simply two people - they would one day be husband and wife.
It would take a mutual friend to bridge the gap between them, setting up a blind date. “I wasn’t really into the whole blind date thing,” says Kristen, “so I was like, thank you but no thank you.” It would be a picture of Shaun that would later change Kristen’s mind, “oh...kinda cute,” she thought, “okay, maybe I will go on this blind date.” The surprise of their working in such close proximity would be made immediately apparent on their first meeting at a local Starbucks, “when I walked in and we both had on the same blue credentials for work,” Kristen remembers, “I was like, aww man, what do you do!”
Seven years from that point they would say “I do” and within that time not only did their feelings for each other grow but from the inspiration of the other they themselves also evolved. Shaun recalls, “when we first met, I was 27 at the time...I was like hey, I’m not ready to be serious. I’m just having fun, you know. But...as the years went on life happens and you grow up, you know, you evolve. But one constant thing...Kristen was a strong, solid rock for me. Very consistent friend and partner. I said, you know this is the one. She...really set a tone for me to sort of reevaluate my life and what’s important and what’s a priority. At that time I was trying to have fun and just do me, but this time when I met her, her being in my life just changed my whole way of thinking...it’s cool to meet a person who can change your mind, change your mind about things, but it’s an incredible blessing to find someone who changes your whole thought process…”
In choosing a ring everyone wants something more than just a symbol of marriage, you want it to be unique, something special that encapsulates who you are and your love for each other. Three years prior to the day of their wedding Shaun asked one of his best female friends to take Kristen ring shopping. During a lunch break with her White House colleagues in tow Kristen found the perfect model ring. Shaun, not knowing anything about rings became very nervous when Kristen sent him some renderings of the ring style of her choice. He wanted to make sure that his final decision was everything she had always wanted in an engagement ring. Upon moving to New York a year later a friend would introduce Shaun to a jeweler in the diamond district who would work with him over the next several months in creating the perfect rendering of Kristen’s dream ring.
When it comes to proposals it can be difficult to completely keep it a secret, but as a former secret service agent to President Barack Obama, Shaun is “pretty good at holding information, classified information,” he laughs. “I only told my very close circle of friends. I didn’t even really tell my family.” The proposal took place the day before Thanksgiving on a “date night,” a special evening out with enough frequency to appear normal on the surface, though Shaun’s more than usual active hand in planning the evening - something more often left up to Kristen - did plant a seed of proposal suspicion. But at the same time there were multiple past moments of false-alarm for Kristen, so she didn’t want to make any assumptions.
The date night began when a chauffeured car picked them up to have drinks at the Plaza Hotel. Following a few relaxing mixes they enjoyed a beautifully scenic and incredibly romantic horse and carriage ride throughout central park. It would be in this moment that Shaun, after years of thought and preparation would offer Kristen the ring of her dreams and ask for her hand in marriage. For Kristen it was a most “magical” moment when “the love of my life asked me to start a new chapter with him.”
Dress shopping for Kristen was a “tv fairytale experience” at the world renowned New York bridal boutique, Kleinfeld. “You romanticize about what your wedding shopping day is going to be like and then you’re actually in this store…” On her birthday, and together with her childhood best friends they explored the bridal “toy store” for her perfect dress. It is often said that “third time’s a charm” and for Kristen that proved to be absolutely true, “the third dress i tried on, i just knew it was the one...I just felt like a princess…” The mermaid gown with sweetheart neckline and sequined lace applique would have her sparkling down the ceremony aisle.
When it came to the wedding “the single most important thing we wanted was to have a great party,” Kristen states, “we wanted to bring our closest friends and family, our loved ones together just to celebrate, let loose and just have a blast...it was a true reflection of our personalities.” The entire event was planned and decorated with polished detail. The traditional white, creams, and pale-rose color themes made for an ethereal atmosphere accompanied by eye-catching florals.
As the bride began preparations, her soon-to-be husband sent to her room a dozen roses every forty-five minutes until 12 dozen had been received to represent November 12th, the day of their wedding. During the ceremony all the attendees were asked as a group to bless their union, followed by a rose ceremony, in which the bride & groom’s immediate families one by one placed a white long-stem rose in a single vase to represent the bridging of the two families - all while R&B singer Kenny Lattimore sang the lord’s prayer. For Shaun, the moment in which he stands waiting at the altar as his stunning bride walks towards him down the aisle is his “new happy place.”
During their introduction into the reception, Kristen had a romantic surprise of her own. For Shaun, being a drum major at the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University was a “pivotal period of his life,” says Kristen, “so I secretly reached out to the voice of the marching 100 and asked him to introduce Shaun and I into the room...to see the look on Shaun’s face was just priceless.”
Reception guests were treated to a delicious array of fine dining and the musical talents of Ledisi, Eric Benet, Kenny Lattimore, and Doug E. Fresh as the MC. A favorite menu item was the oyster deviled eggs.
As advice for future bride and grooms-to-be Kristen’s two biggest points are “don’t rush into it. Make sure you take time to enjoy each other, and the commitment that you’re getting ready to make. And the day is about you, make yourself happy. Everyone has an opinion, but at the end of the day, it’s your opinion and your partner’s opinion. You only get to do this once.” Shaun’s advice is to “be as flexible as possible with everything, be prepared to be flexible.”
For Kristen’s bridesmaids they were gifted thin barred necklaces with longitude and latitude coordinates of the location in which they first met as friends, with their nickname engraved on the back. A gift all of her girls still wear to this day. For Shaun’s groomsmen they were gifted handmade bowties, lapel pendants, and two lapel flowers - one black and gold worn for the wedding and one individualized to the personality of each friend.
As for the honeymoon, the newlyweds went to Bora Bora for their perfect getaway, and the rest is “off the record.”
View the complete selected image gallery here.
Wedding Designer/Planner: Darryl Wilson of D'Concierge Weddings & Events
Photography: Pharris Photography
Videography: Nate Emory
Bridal Gown: Kleinfelds
Bridesmaids Dresses: Sorella Vita by Essence of Australia from the Boutique by B. Belle Events
Catering: Chef Clinton Jackson & Chef Javani King
Wedding Cakes - Rebekah Naomi Cake Design
Sweet Treats- Sweet Dreams Mini Donuts
Linens- What's the Occasion Linens
Florist - 19 Eleven & Kelly Green Designs
Hair - Johnny Wright
Make-up - Sephora - Jeffrey English
DJ - DJ BHEN
Venue: Bellevue Conference and Event Center
Entertainment -Recording Artists Ledisi , Eric Benét , Kenny Lattimore
Entertainment - Secret Society Band
MC: Doug E Fresh
Lighting/Sound: AV Creation Group
Staging Decor : Platinum Wedding Decor
Groomsmen Accessories - The Dapper Dude Collection
Photo-booth : Tickled Photo Booth
Midnight Snacks: Chick Fil - A owners Marlon & April Terrell
Bridal Jump Suit: Leah Da Gloria
Jewelry: Haute Bride from The Boutique by B. Belle Events
Fashion Stylist: LA based Stylist Ashley Thomas
Bridal Stylist : Vainglorious Brides
Officiant : Elder Perry L. West ll