Shortly after getting engaged, Matthew and Shakirah decided that they would have a destination wedding, and they did so in grand style.
Shakirah shares, “Rather than going the traditional route, we wanted our nuptial experience to feel like a big family trip. We put together a list of 20 of our closest friends and family members and invited them to join us in Chianti for a wedding weekend with all expenses covered.”
Guests arrived to welcome boxes filled with authentic Italian treats including a bottle of Limoncello, biscotti, and a bottle of wine, and got ready for a weekend filled with delicious Italian food, dancing, reminiscing, and sightseeing.
The day of the wedding was misty, romantic, and filled with touching moments. Shakirah recalls, “Our small wedding ceremony (I believe today’s term is micro-wedding) was officiated by Matthew’s father, making the day even more special. Following the ceremony, we hosted a cocktail hour on the terrace followed by a three-course dinner and then dancing in the estate hall.”
It was a beautiful celebration of love and family overlooking the stunning scenery of Tuscany. See all of the details and read more about Matthew and Shakirah’s love story below.
- Couple: Matthew Hill Taylor & Shakirah Hill Taylor
- Occupations: Matthew, Product development lead for a global disclosure product/ Shakirah, Vice President at strategic communication agency
- Wedding date: November 9, 2019
- Wedding location: Tuscany, Italy
- What gifts did you give to your bridesmaids and groomsmen: The groomsmen were gifted leather toiletry bags and antique timepieces. My bridesmaids were gifted with earrings and monogrammed pajama shirts shipped from Australia. We also paid for all of our wedding party and their spouses and significant others travel expenses in Italy (lodging, transportation and food during the wedding weekend).
- Gifts for one another: I gave Matthew 24K gold Star Wars cufflinks; Matthew gifted me with a Gucci bag I’ve been wanting. We also wrote each other deeply person letters to read before the ceremony.
- Ceremony entrance song: For Matthew and the groomsmen “Whenever, Wherever Whatever” by Maxwell. For Shakirah “Angel” by Anita Baker sung by a soloist.
- First dance song: A rendition of Bob Marley’s “Is This Love”
How did you meet?
Matthew and I started as friends by way of mutual friends. We joined a running team together and allowed our friendship to grow into genuine attraction, respect, admiration, and love.
Tell us about the proposal.
Matthew proposed on Sunday, October 21, 2018.
Sunday was usually reserved as our day for spending quality time together after church. About two weeks before his proposal, Matthew suggested we head out of the city for a double date to the pumpkin patch. I wasn’t enthusiastic about the idea of going on a double date. Since we both worked quite a bit, finding time for us to be alone was challenging. I went along with his plan despite my apprehension.
On the day of our double date, we drove to the pumpkin patch in Bowie, Md. Matthew was being incredibly patient — even more patient than he normally is, which is saying a lot.
When we arrived at the pumpkin patch there was a remarkable sunflower field. We walked around searching for a pumpkin. It wasn’t long before we saw all the pumpkins were dead. We had come to the patch too late in the season. Matthew made the most of the situation asking that we walk around and try our best to find a pumpkin. I didn’t know it then but he was buying time for my friends and photographers to arrive.
While we walked around, Matthew kept telling me how much he loved me; how grateful was for our relationship and how beautiful I am. I was affirmed by his love and told him I loved him too. I also suggested that we head home since we weren’t having any luck finding a pumpkin. I kept insisting that we go home, it seemed Matthew had finally grown impatient. He took my hand and guided me toward the exit route of the pumpkin patch. As we began making our way down the hill in the direction of the parking lot, I noticed a man with a camera who kept taking photos of us. I turned toward Matthew asking if he saw the man taking pictures. Matthew didn’t respond. He kept guiding me. As we got closer, I noticed the man behind the camera was a friend. I asked him what he was doing at the pumpkin patch. When I looked around I noticed more friends.
When I spotted my best friends from college come out of hiding, I realized what was happening. Matthew was about to propose. I turned towards him and immediately began crying. Matthew dropped to one knee in front of some of the people who mean the most to me and asked me to be his wife. I always envisioned a private proposal, however, I was grateful he decided to do things his way. I was overjoyed that I could share that moment with my girls.
Following his proposal, we went back to DC where Matthew surprised me with a small cocktail party with more of our friends who had been waiting to celebrate our engagement. His proposal was perfect even with me almost ruining it by wanting to leave the pumpkin patch early.
Describe your wedding style.
My wedding dress was absolutely the dress. I tried on at least 30 dresses between dress shopping in DC and North Carolina. I wanted something that was bridal without feeling over the top.
As an “older” bride getting married for the second time, I wanted my dress to be sleek, stylish, and timeless. When looking at inspiration, I was drawn to dresses that were lace and had subtle details. The dress I selected was an Essence of Australia, mermaid gown with a plunging neckline and open back. It was very otherworldly. I knew it was the one when it had all the elements I knew I would feel sexy and empowered wearing: lace, buttons, and an attention-grabbing train.
During drinks and dancing, I changed into a fitted navy sequin cocktail dress with a high slit.
Matthew and his groomsmen used The Black Tux. The groomsmen wore semi-traditional black tuxes (shawl collar) while Matthew opted for a midnight blue shawl jacked and traditional tuxedo pants. All the men had matching wine colored braces to bring it all together.
Did you incorporate any culture into your wedding?
My family is Indo and Afro-Jamaican so we incorporated a lot of reggae and soca in our wedding activities as well as a special acknowledgment to our ancestors.
Before getting married in Italy, Matthew and I had a very private legal ceremony in the state. During that private ceremony, we jumped the broom in honor of Matthew’s Black American heritage.
What is your best memory from your wedding?
One of my favorite moments during the wedding dinner was when Matthew gave an impromptu toast in my honor. He shared, with tenderness and transparency, how he had struggled with depression just up until meeting me and that he finally understood the concept of joy when he found me and that in a way, I helped to save his life. It was completely unexpected and the first time he shared that story with anyone besides me. Not even his parents knew how dark that period of his life had been. His words were not only a gift to me. Matthew sharing his story helped many others find hope again. I will cherish that moment forever. Also, having Matthew’s father officiate our wedding was the best gift we could have been given.
What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples?
The first piece of advice we would give engaged couples is to keep everything in perspective. Weddings are beautiful and worth every expense but they are not the most important thing. The marriage should be the bride and groom-to-be’s focus. Remember to keep the forthcoming marriage top of mind.
The second piece of advice we would give brides and grooms is to trust the expertise of their wedding partners (vendors). As someone who works at an agency in client services, I know how important it is to have the trust of our clients and the freedom to be creative. Your wedding vendors are there to help. You have to give them a bit of creative license to exceed your expectations. If you aren’t happy with a recommendation, share your feedback openly and respectfully. Make your priorities clear. Let them do great work for you. Rely on them as much as possible.
The last piece of advice is for brides-to-be. Find a way to embrace the sexiness that comes with being a new bride. On the morning of our wedding, our photographer was kind enough to do a mini boudoir photoshoot for me. I slipped on some sensual bridal undergarments and a sexy yet elegant lace robe while the photographer set the atmosphere by playing Ari Lennox. After a few glasses of champagne, I was completely relaxed and in my faux-lingerie-model element. My bridesmaids were there to gas me up and remind me I’m the baddest chick. The photos were my “I’m so happy to be your wife” gift to Matthew and the shoot helped me really excited for our wedding night. ;-)
- Wedding Planner: Ben Singleton of ItalyWeddings
- Venue: Borgo Petrognano
- Florist: Marisa Camuso of Le Petit Jardin
- Makeup artist: Bashirah K. Moore IG: @BashirahkMUA
- Bridal Shop: Lana Addison Bridal
- Wedding Transportation: Deluxe Limo Italy
- Wedding gown: Essence of Australia
- Videographer: AG Studio Videography
- Photographer: Kirth Bobb of Kirth Bobb Photography
- Bride’s shoes: Badgley Mischka
- Bride and bridesmaids’ pajama shirts: Le Rose
- Caterer and bar service: Class Ricevimenti
- Wedding stationery: Kansas McGraw of Earth & Nest: IG @EarthandNest
- Tuxedo: Will Smith and team at The Black Tux at Nordstrom located in Fashion Centre at Pentagon City
- Bow tie and braces: The Tie Bar
- Groom’s shoes: Magnanni
- Bride’s heirloom ring box: The Mrs. Box
- Groom’s cufflinks: Neiman Marcus
- Bride’s Veil: Smitha Menon Bridal
- Soloist: Octavia Bell: IG @Charizmuah