Ellen and Darnell’s love story began on the dance floor of a college party. They danced right into each other’s hearts that evening. Continuing their conversation over the phone all night and into the next day. Their connection was so immediate and powerful that they were officially in a relationship a week later on Ellen’s birthday. Dating over the next six years their lives became one, no matter the distance between them, always loving, supporting and understanding of each other. For a time their lives took them in different directions, but ultimate fate would bring them back together, to complete their journey forever together as husband and wife…
Read all about Ellen & Darnell’s love story, proposal, and experiences in their historic church wedding in Norfolk – captured by MunaLuchi Coterie member Keith Cephus Photography, and with planning by MunaLuchi Coterie member Memorable Events by Apryl.
Bride & Groom: Ellen & Darnell
Wedding Date: July 14, 2018
Wedding Location: Hilton Main Hotel in Norfolk, VA
How did you meet? One night back in 2003 while at a college party, I remember being on the dance floor going off. You know when the crowd surrounds you and starts clapping?! I looked over and noticed this tall, dark and handsome guy in front of the stage. He pointed at me, gesturing for me to come over to him. Yep, sure did – I went right over to him. The rest was magic. We talked through the party and then on the phone throughout the night, not stopping until he had to leave the next morning to do community service. He even called me while he was at his community service the next day. One week later, on my birthday we became boyfriend and girlfriend on a moonlit stroll around Hampton University.
We dated the next 6 years. All of my friends were his and vice versa and all of our family became each-others. We went through two college graduations, basic training and military service in the Middle East and Asia, graduate school at Georgetown University, beach vacations, Disney World and new careers.
After 6 years, I knew I was ready to marry this man and didn’t like the distance. I made a decision…to only remain as friends.
The next few years of my life had some major ups and downs. My career and academic life soared, but something was missing.
In 2016 my mom was hit by a car which devastated me. While lying in her hospital bed, she asked me to call Darnell and tell him she was in the hospital. I never asked why, I just obliged. I know now it was the Lord.
Darnell and I had a brief, but pleasant conversation and didn’t talk again for several months. I’m not sure when got back together, it seemed as though we never parted. We got engaged and bought a new house. Thanks to God! We upgraded our trips from local beaches to romantic trips to Puerto Rico, New Orleans, Atlanta, NYC, Martha’s Vineyard and the Outer Banks. I am living proof that God’s plan and timing is always perfect. My joy is restored and I am overflowing with love having gained a new “son-in-love.” I finally let go and let God. Now, I get to marry my soulmate and best friend 15 years after we first met.
Tell us all about the proposal. It was Saturday August 19. We were vacationing at my family’s home in Martha’s Vineyard. My entire family was supposed to be in town, Darnell planned to propose that weekend. As things happened my family wasn’t able to make it to the Vineyard. We went just the two of us. Saturday we went bike riding and went to the East Chop Light House. Later that day at my Uncle’s house he staged a photo shoot of me. For 30 minutes he took pics of me on his tripod stating that he said he had to get the “perfect shot” with the water behind me. Finally jumped in the shot and got on one knee. He proposed while his camera was shooting on the tripod.
Describe your wedding attire. I wanted to support a women-owned or minority owned small business shop. One of my bridesmaids referred me to Soliloquy Bridal in Herndon, VA founded by Miriam. I booked an appointment and the rest was easy. I told Miriam that I wanted something editorial, slightly couture, lace, flatters my shape and is “not the norm.” Miriam pulled out a dress that was perfect!
How was the wedding planning process? My fiancé is the creative type – he’s an engineer, photographer, designer, he makes furniture etc., he had a vision; I’m the executor – I plan and get it done. I loved how we came together to executive the vision. I love all the togetherness things: cake tasting, flower prototyping, reception tasting at Hilton Norfolk the Main and tasting for our rehearsal dinner at Saint Germaine. I’ll never forget Darnell coming home with a blown up poster board of our seating chart. We cut up post-it notes and physically arranged names on the chart. So much fun!
What is your best memory from your wedding? 3 things: Seeing Christian, my son in love (step son), when i walked into the church before I went down the aisle. He said, “I was waiting for you, you look beautiful, I love you, let’s get married.” Also when I first saw Darnell before I walked down the aisle, he had a tear in his eye. We locked eyes and I could feel us both saying I love you. I also loved the special dance presentation from the Hampton University Terpsichorean Dance company. I was member of this company. I had them perform and had a college student named Daizha play me in the dance and one of Darnell’s younger frat brothers play him. They did an entire dance presentation and it captured our story perfectly! Oh and of course jumping the broom!
Planner: Apryl Roberts of Memorable Events
Photographer: Keith Cephus
Hair: Fawnee at Salon Noa in Va Beach
Makeup: Makeup by Candice
Flowers: Leslie Hartig Floral Design
Church: Freemason Street Baptist Church
Reception: Hilton Norfolk the Main
Dress shop: Soliloquy Bridal