After meeting at Jackson State University and dating for quite some time, James, an elementary school principal proposed to Ashley, a speech-language pathologist in Negril, Jamaica while celebrating their birthdays. The two had plenty to celebrate on this trip, which led to their absolutely gorgeous winter wedding in Memphis, Tennessee. They jumped the broom in front of their closest family and friends at The Clark Opera before setting off for their biggest adventure yet.
Wedding Date: December 13, 2014
Wedding Location: The Clark Opera Memphis
First Dance Song: Old school/new school collaboration of “A Couple of Forevers” by Chrisette Michele and “Stairway to Heaven” by The O’Jays
Tell us about how you met and all about the proposal!
James and I met while we were undergraduates at Jackson State University; I was a freshman and he was a senior. His fraternity (Phi Beta Sigma) was hosting an event during Freshman Orientation Week. He started teasing me and my friends. A few weeks later, I saw him in the Student Union and he invited me to another event his fraternity was hosting. After the event, we began casually talking and he asked for my phone number. We eventually began dating and our relationship blossomed until my graduation. We separated for a few years and found our way back to each other.
In September of 2013, James and I traveled to Negril, Jamaica to celebrate our birthdays. On the last night of the trip, he surprised me with the proposal at dinner. The resort staff knew about it. We were ushered to our seats at the restaurant and there were native flowers for me. We ordered glasses of wine and began talking about marriage and its sanctity. Then, he revealed the ring box and asked for my hand.
Dress shopping proved more challenging than I anticipated because I am a curvy girl. After several failed shopping trips and a broken spirit, we drove to a bridal boutique in another state. This trip was not going as well as we hoped for and we were running out of time, so my friends started pulling gowns. They brought me one last gown. I was looking in the mirror as the attendant helped me in the gown, and I got this warm fuzzy feeling all of a sudden. She couldn’t zip it fast enough, and I began whispering “This is the one…this is it.” It is true when they say you will know once you have found your dress. I walked out of the fitting room and my friends’ faces lit up. We even FaceTimed my maid of honor to get her approval. As I stood on the pedestal, I cried because it was such a huge relief. Because it was a winter wedding, I also wore an ivory, faux fur stole with a pearl broach.
After we were presented as husband and wife, we “jumped the broom” in honor of our ancestors who were denied their civil rights, including the right to marry.
Perhaps the best memory is our first look ceremony. Initially, James opposed the idea and wanted to wait to see me. Our photographer eventually swayed him with the idea of a first look ceremony and we have no regrets! James was outside waiting on me. Soft music was playing by John Legend, one of our favorite artists. I remember a calming spirit come over me. I no longer cared about the last minute details related to the wedding. I started walking towards him and tears flowed down my face. About five steps from him, I stopped to gather myself and he said, “I can smell her,” because I was wearing my signature perfume. Then he said, “I bet she is crying,” and I started laughing. I tapped him on his shoulder and he turned around. We shared a sweet embrace and complimented each other.
Another favorite memory is right before James and I were about to kiss. He looked around and that’s when I knew he had some type of trick up his sleeve. I suspected his groomsmen would be a part of the act but they weren’t. It was his oldest sister! She approached the stage and handed James some Chapstick. He applied some to his lips, and we shared our first kiss as husband and wife.
At the end of the night, James vanished for a brief moment and reappeared in a Superman shirt and Clark Kent eyeglasses, and our photographer was able to capture some of the last moments of the evening.
Help a bride-to-be out!
Enjoy every moment! The day goes by so quickly. To the type A bride like myself, don’t fret about the minor details. Know that something will go wrong and there is nothing wrong with that.
Wedding Dress Designer: Watters 2
Bridesmaid’s Dress Designer: Adrianna Pappell
Groom and Groomsmen Attire: E. Givens Clothier
Bridal Hair: Alisa Gordon/Constance Bibbs
Makeup: Zaniesha Davis of Makeup by Zii
Airbrush Makeup: DeLisa Hamilton
Ceremony/Reception Location: The Clark Opera Memphis
Photography/Videography: Sky Touch_e_photos
Wedding Planner: Ashley Gordon (Bride)
Event Designer: Olivia Bursey Ward, Studio 1524
Florist: Studio 1524
Catering: Delectables Catering & Co.
Cake: Delectables Catering & Co.
Invitations: Dixon’s Printing & Design
Programs: Ashley Gordon (Bride)
Sounds: Zwan Landfair