College Sweethearts Have Their Dream Wedding in Virginia: Shannon + Otis

Today's featured couple has a  "Love and Basketball" story...with a twist.  Shannon wasn't on the basketball team though. She was a statistician for her high school basketball team and met Otis during a game with a rival school.  Otis wasn't playing on the rival team.  Instead, he was home from school (Morgan State University) and attended the game to watch a friend who was on the rival team.  At the end of the game, the couple was introduced by one of Shannon's friends, and officially began dating in the Fall of 2006.  The lovebirds have been together ever since.

Their wedding was everything Shannon dreamed of thanks to her outstanding planner, Natalie Melton of Event Design Group.  According to Shannon, "Our wedding planner, Natalie Melton with Event Design Group was awesome. She went above and beyond to ensure our vision came to life and that our day was special. She recommended vendors, venues, conceptualized and executed the event design, flower arrangements, colors, and helped guide us through everything so that all of the details were consistent with our theme."   

Shannon and Otis, we wish you years of wedding bliss. Thanks so much for sharing your love story with us!

Relive the wedding day with this amazing wedding video trailer by Chip Dizard Weddings.

Gorgeous Luxury Wedding at the Arlington Capital View Hotel {Shannon + Otis} from Chip Dizard on Vimeo.

Newlyweds: Shannon Riley & Otis Wilson
Wedding date: July 23, 2016
Wedding location: Renaissance Arlington Capitol View

Quick Facts:

Bridesmaids/Groomsmen gifts: Bridesmaids/Robes, Groomsmen/Cologne & Personalized bottles of Cognac
Favorite item on the menu: SUSHI
First dance song: The Point of It All, Anthony Hamilton

The proposal (his version):

We started our day with a little breakfast and then went bike riding at a near by park. Once we got back to the house, we didn’t have much time to get ready before we were supposed to be at what Shannon thought was my friends' anniversary dinner (even though their actual anniversary was two weeks prior). Shannon asked me what time we needed to be there, and I pulled up the fake Evite I had my friend create, and told her 2pm (it is about 11:45 at this time). Shannon starts to get ready and I already knew we were going to be late. I refrain from texting everyone to tell them not to rush because I wanted everyone to be there when we arrived. What I did not know was that the temperature was rising 5 degrees every 20 minutes since we had been in the house from biking. Unfortunately, everyone had to wait for us in the hot sun. Skipping ahead, Shannon is finally ready, and it is now about 2:10pm. She looked gorgeous , as usual. I have no idea why it takes her so long to get ready. It’s not like she has to do much. We are finally headed to the National Harbor! There is one thing that keeps crossing my mind, “I hope she doesn’t ask me a ton of questions about this event, because I am not trying to come up with anything on the fly.” We pull into the Harbor and normally we ride around for street parking but I drove straight to the parking garage. I’m hoping she doesn’t notice. We get out the car and everything is going smoothly, but then, my friend, Dapo, called. I started not to answer, but I wasn’t sure if something was going on in the spot I told him and my brother, Chad, to round everyone up. I answered and told Shannon “They’re waiting for us.” As we head down the elevator I can tell Shannon is starting to put some of the pieces to the puzzle together. She tried to lead us down a side street, but I guided her in another direction. We headed down the street and I see her slow down some so I grabbed her hand. She was probably putting everything together at this point, but all I could see was everyone far ahead; specifically my parents, her sister, and our friends. I started to make out everyone who was there, but they didn't see us for some reason. Everyone was pointing over the balcony and I’m thinking they are trying to blend in with the general public crowd. After the fact, I found out that they thought we were coming from below the balcony and up the steps, not from behind them in the opposite direction. This was it! The time had come! But wait… I didn't see my brother, Chad, and he had the ring. I talked to him earlier that day so he knew he was a part of this master plan. “Where is Chad?” I asked, and everyone pointed behind me. He came out of a crowd of people and handed me the ring. I didn’t have a speech planned because I knew Shannon would be crying and I wanted t o speak from the heart. So as soon as I start talking, I started to look into my future wife’s eyes and she’s crying. I grabbed her hands to try and make her more comfortable as she was shaking. I could feel her about to break down. So I got on one knee, I opened the box and BOOM, I popped the question. “Shannon Monet Riley, will you marry me?” CHEERS… PICTURES… KISSES... HUGS...It was all a blur for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I never heard a “yes”, but I did see her head nod yes

Her version

Ok, where do I begin? The day of the proposal started out like a normal Saturday. I knew that we had plans later that afternoon to attend what I thought was an early dinner for two of OJ’s friends. As the morning past, I began to get myself dressed and ready to leave out. OK, so I know that I take a while to get dressed and that I am normally always running late. Needless to say, this time was no different. Howe ver, what WAS different was OJ’s demeanor. He hates when I’m late, especially for events that are for his family and friends, but this particular time, he was being extremely chill and calm. I just thought it was because he wasn't as eager to get to the dinner on time like he normally would be, especially considering that the friends who the dinner was supposedly for never start any of their events on time anyway LOL. I just continue getting dressed and don't really think much of it. The moment when it just really hit me that, “wait a minute, maybe this isn’t a dinner for his friends,” was when I was doing my hair. I made a comment to him that I couldn't get my hair to “do right” as I was figuring out how I wanted to style it. So he replies by saying, “So what are you going to do? Put it in a bun?” And for some reason, it just hit me. It was the way he said it, like in such a worried tone of voice. I immediately th ought back to a previous surprise brunch that he threw for me to celebrate my graduation from Graduate School. I was so happy that he put the surprise event together, but I felt like I could have had on a cuter outfit and my hair could have been done, but it was IN A BUN! So the fact that he cared enough to make a comment about my hair and how I was going to style it really had me nervous. He NEVER says anything about my outfit or hair styling choices when we go out. As far as he is concerned, I could just throw on some sweatpants and a T-shirt if that means I will be ready to go faster. But again, this particular time his demeanor was way different. He made sure I was in a cute outfit and even made sure I had gotten my nails done earlier that week. By this time, I was really nervous! My hands were shaking so much that it was becoming hard to finish my makeup and put my eyeliner on. Nonetheless, I tried to keep as calm as I could without him noticing anything. We finally leave the h ouse and make our way to dinner. We were going to the National Harbor, one of our favorite places to go for date nights. We arrive on the scene and park in the garage. As we get out the car, he conveniently calls someone on the phone and makes statements such as “yea, we just parked,” and “Ok, we are walking up there now.” When he gets off the phone, he turns to me and says with a smile, “They’re waiting on us.” Now I know something is about to happen because, again, this group of “friends” would not be waiting on us; if anything, we would be waiting on them! As we are holding hands and making our way down towards the restaurant, we begin to take a slight detour away from it. We walk up towards the lawn-overlook area of the harbor and a large crowd of people is standing there with their backs to us. I started to notice that some of the body physics looked familiar to me, and then a woman turned her face around to look in our dire ction and I could tell it was my sister, Bev LOL. I guess you can say, by this point, I knew what the deal was. HE REALLY WAS ABOUT TO PROPOSE! We walk towards the crowd and eventually everyone turns around and starts to cheer and scream their “oohs and aahhs”. It was all of our family and friends. Everyone came out to be apart of the surprise. OJ’s brother, Chad, comes from out of nowhere and hands him a small box. OJ then takes my hand and proceeds to make a speech with everyone gathered around me. Before he even finish his speech and ask the question, tears were coming down my face. Of course, I said “YES”.

From the Bride

The wedding planning process was actually really fun and stress-free. Our wedding planner, Natalie Melton with Event Design Group was awesome. She went above and beyond to ensure our vision came to life and that our day was special. She recommended vendors, venues, conceptualized and executed the event design, flower arrangements, colors, and helped guide us through everything so that all of the details were consistent with our theme. The main thing was that she helped us stay within our budget. My bridesmaids were another huge help. They were so great and helped me with anything I needed. I enjoyed sharing in this process with them. They were with me when I said "yes to the dress" and we had long nights of assembling invitations. Those were some of the times I enjoyed the most throughout the planning.The biggest challenge during the entire process was determining the guest list. We planned for 250 people since both Otis and I have huge families and many friends. Our parents also have several friends that they wanted to invite. At one point the list got up to 265 people, but by the time we sent out the invitations and received the RSVPs, our list ended up being 246 guests. If there is one thing that I've learned from this experience, it would be that the guest list sets the foundation for your wedding. In other words, the number of people on your guest list drives how many people you will need to feed, the number of tables, chairs, tablecloths, centerpieces, napkins, chargers, and favors you will need, and plays a huge factor in the venue.

The wedding day was absolutely beautiful! It was truly a day that I will never forget. I wish that we could do the day all over again because I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it. From the time I woke up, everything went so smoothly. I was able to relax and eat even in the midst of getting hair and makeup done. My bridesmaids were amazing. They made sure everything was going according to the timeline. Everyone had so much fun. Also, our photographer and videographer took such good care of us throughout the entire day. They exceeded our expectations and made sure to capture the moments and memories that we will cherish forever. One of my favorite memories was the "first touch" shot that Otis and I took. I cried my eyes out the moment I held his hand around the wall that was separating us. I had been holding back my tears but I just couldn't hold them any longer. I was so happy that I was about to marry my best friend. Luckily, I wa s able to get all of the tears out during that moment because during the ceremony as I was walking down the aisle, I was just so happy to see him and didn't cry at all. The entire wedding was just way more than I had expected. Everything came together so perfectly and I just loved how all the colors looked together. The decor was everything! The "bling and crystal" theme that I wanted looked so nice and added special touches to the details. All the guests enjoyed themselves and loved the food. And the music was great!

By the end of the night, we were definitely tired BUT WE DIDN'T WANT IT TO END! We literally had so much fun that we were sad that it was over. Otis and I were the last ones on the dance floor and the last ones to leave the reception room. I am not kidding when I say I truly wish we could do this day all over again. When we got back up to our suite, the room had been cleaned up and there was a path of rose petals leading from the front door to our bedroom and up to our bed. Rose petals were spread out on the bottom of the bed and there was a bottle of champagne and two glasses waiting for us on the table. A day or so later we learned that my bridesmaids and our planner had done all of that for us so that we could have a nice clean room to come back to. The entire day was definitely pleasantly overwhelming. We received so much love and many blessings and well wishes. We cannot thank our family and friends enough for sharing i n this day with us. Everything turned out perfect! Our vendors were amazing, our day went smoothly with no issues, and we genuinely had so much fun. We are beyond blessed and so thankful to God for making this day so special!

What advice would you give to future brides?

If funds allow, get a wedding planner! Everything will be much easier. The number of people on your guest list sets the foundation for your wedding and plays a significant factor in your wedding budget. Which was just one of the helpful things our wedding planner told us from the start. ;)



Videography - Chip Diźard Weddings
Event Planning & Design - Event Design Group
Photography - Shoot Happens Photography
Cake - Couture Cakes by Sabrina
Florals - DaVinci Floral
DJ - DJ Reece
Venue - Renaissance Arlington Capital View
Invitations - All That Glitters
Dress - Pnina Tornai from Kleinfeld's New York
Photobooth - Cap City Photo Booths
Makeup - Nadia Mercado
Hair - Cosmo Crush

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