Elisa and Justin met in the Superintendent’s office in 1992. They may not have gotten off on the right foot as kids but over the years, the two grew close. It wasn’t until the end of college that the two seriously tried dating. Six years later, you’ll never guess where Justin proposed to Elisa.
Wedding Date: August 9, 2014
Wedding Location: Hawkesdene House in Andrews, North Carolina
First Dance Song: We chose to start off with Bob Marley’s “Is This Love” and we finished with Beyonce’s “Love on Top.”
Tell us about how you met and all about the proposal!
Back in 1992, my mother had to attend a meeting at the Superintendent’s office. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the Superintendent. He showed my mother where I could go during the meeting. We walked into his office and there was a little boy tinkering around. As kids do, we started to interact and I quickly realized that I did not like this boy. He was arrogant, had a smart mouth and little to no manners.
Two years later, I’m sitting in one of my classes in middle school and in walks a cute boy. He looked so familiar and it took me a few days to place him. It was my nemesis from two years ago! How was I going to avoid him when we had several classes together? I learned his name was Justin Ramey and not only was he my nemesis, but he was also the son of our Principal!
We struggled to get along for the first year, and as annoying as he was, there was something about him that made me want to keep him in my circle. 8th grade arrived, he was maturing and becoming less annoying. I was less hormonal and angry…and maybe he wasn’t so bad after all. We transitioned to high school and became friends. We hung out in band class, joked with each other, enjoyed each other’s company. On band trips we would always sit beside each other. I would tell him about my crushes and he would tell me about his girlfriend. We were really close and I loved him like I loved all my close friends.
Justin went off to NC A&T and I went off to Hampton University. Our freshman year we tried to date. That was short-lived due to distance and for me, just the overall weirdness of dating my best friend. Over the course of our college matriculation, we remained close and would visit each other.
Near the end of college, he visited me and that weekend, we decided we were going to really try to be more than besties. A few months later, I quit the job I loathed, packed my things and moved to Charlotte. Justin had just moved there. We both tried to downplay the intensity of our feelings. We weren’t exclusive, even though we hoped to get there and often acted like we were. In August 2007, two months after I moved to Charlotte, Noah, Justin’s son was born. Our lives were never the same. It was extremely difficult in the beginning. Justin was a new father trying to juggle being active in his son’s life and nurture our relationship. Sometimes, neither of us got it right. But I fell in love with Justin while watching him care for Noah. I loved when Noah would come to visit, he was such a sweet baby, very playful & loving. It was fun teaching Justin all the parenting techniques I’d picked up over the years as during college, I was a live-in nanny for seven kids. We made a great team and were always on the same page when it came to Noah’s development. We were a family and it was nice.
We dated for about six years. He proposed at the same Superintendent’s office we’d met in 20 years before. He got a friend to convince me to travel back to our hometown for her birthday. Once we arrived, after riding for three hours, she said she needed to stop by the superintendent’s office to pick up a book from my mom who was having a meeting there. I went into the building to say hello to my mother and then I saw Justin dressed in a tux, both his and my parents and the entire superintendent staff. I honestly don’t remember much about the proposal, he said something about finding a stone in a river and quoted a scripture. It’s all a blur because I was so happy that he was finally proposing.
There wasn’t really a theme, I just wanted some natural elements with a slightly vintage feel. The colors were mint, blue and silver.
I wanted a gown that looked good with my skin tone but was not too traditional as well as form-fitting yet not inappropriate. I was thumbing through a wedding magazine and saw the taupe-colored Alfred Angelo and I knew that was it! I went to a local bridal shop and had them order it for me. I picked out the fabric for my veil from a local fabric store and had my favorite alterations company make it for me. Regarding my shoes, I knew I wanted to be comfortable so I needed both a heel and a flat to wear. When I was browsing on Zara.com, I saw these flats that were gorgeous and they even had an inscription that I thought was perfect for our day!
I had always envisioned myself having an emerald-cut solitaire diamond. One day, Justin and I were ring shopping and we saw a rose gold princess-cut and I fell in love. It was vintage and unique, right up my alley. Justin said he couldn’t believe I liked it. He went with a yellow gold band because according to him, “White gold is passé” ha ha.
We wanted to ensure we incorporated Noah into the ceremony so the three of us jumped the broom! together.
A few days before the wedding we found out that it was supposed to rain the entire weekend! Two days before the wedding, I ended up having to rent a tent for the reception, a large added expense I was not expecting! Luckily, it rained all weekend except for Saturday, the day of the wedding. How amazing is that?!
Also, my brother sang John Legend’s “Ordinary People,” my processional song was “ I Love the Lord” by Whitney Houston and the recessional song was “Brand New Day” from The Wiz.
Help a bride-to-be out!
- Have three non-negotiables that will make you go Bridezilla. Let the rest go! It’s not worth the headache and at the end of the day, your guests won’t notice, I promise.
- Let the groom have his input, it makes for a more pleasant planning experience and the day is for the both of you!
- Expect for at least one member of your original wedding party not to participate. Have a backup plan and be flexible.
- Keep your guests in mind at all times. Ultimately, you’re throwing a big party to celebrate your union so make sure they have a good time!
- Use your family and friends, they are willing to help. And most of them will not take offense if you don’t like an idea. Use everyone’s best talents to make your day special and memorable.
Photography: Inspiration & Design Photography
Venue + Catering: Hawkesdene House
Gown: Alfred Angelo
Veil/Headpiece: Designed by Bride, Made by Anna’s Alterations
Hair: Leslie Nicole Hair
Makeup: Jami Svay
Wedding Rings: Reeds Jewelers
Earrings: J. Crew
Bracelet: Borrowed from Groom’s Mother
Bridesmaids Dresses: Cynthia Steffe, BCBG
Groom and Groomsmen’s Formalwear: JOS. A. Banks
Programs + Menu Cards: Can You See It Events and Design
Flowers: Clarity Flowers
Officiant: Groom’s Father
Cake: Alisha Silver
Favors: “Pie in a Jar” DIY with Bride’s Father’s Sweet Potato Pie Filling
Music: DJ Mike Williams