When Erika and Chino were planning their wedding, Proposition 8, which banned same sex marriage,was still being debated in California and in the Supreme Court. However, this did not hinder this lovely couple from having a simply elegant union. They had 18 months to bring their dream wedding to life, which allowed them to take their time and find the perfect venue, decor and wedding attire. Guests loved their unique black, ivory, silver and apple green color scheme with touches of "bling," which was perfectly executed by their planner Chanda Eddens of A Monique Affair. Since the couple loves to cook, they serve delicious Caribbean and soul food during their reception to reflect their culture and backgrounds. However, the most touching moment for Chino and Erika was when they saw each other for the first time. Chino shares, "It was a beautifully quiet moment. I forgot bout the cameras. It was just the two of us, under a gorgeous sky, holding each other close." Miki Vargas Photography beautiful photographed all of the touching moments in gorgeous wedding.
- Bride: Erika Rawlins- Public School Teacher
- Groom: Chino Gressel- Public School Teacher
- Wedding Date: 07/13/2013
- Ceremony and Reception: Hotel Shattuck Plaza, Berkeley, California
The theme for our wedding ceremony was “simple elegance”. We already had an idea about the colors we wanted, black, ivory, silver and a splash of apple green and “bling." Living in the San Francisco Bay Area we were challenged with finding a location that was affordable and that represented us, and fit our colors. So the hunt was on. We had planned 18 months in advance so there wasn’t a lot of pressure. As we went about our days, shopping or browsing we found items that we felt were perfect touches for the wedding, for example, lanterns we loved, candles, a small antique suitcase that read, “love, laugh, dance” where we thought guests could drop cards for us, and even little bags of crystals for our “bling." We were really looking for a party atmosphere, so we chose cocktail tables, instead of big tables. We wanted people to be able to move around and visit with each other as well. Our flowers were very simple. We wanted to accent the hotel not overpower it. We think we did a pretty good job!
When Flor proposed, I had no idea we would ever get married in the literal sense of the word. I suddenly panicked and realized that I need a wedding dress. I went with my Matron of Honor to go look at dresses, I only took one friend since I had heard about the horror stories of trying on dresses. I was nervous of course because, I was afraid that nothing would fit. After trying on about six dresses, the assistant asked me what I wanted my dress to say. I told her, “ I want people to gasp and then cry.” She said she had the perfect dress. I tried it on walked out the common area and my matron of honor started crying. I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about until I looked in the mirror. And that was it! That was the dress.
I was also blessed to have a dear friend who owned The Jewel Box of Campbell. He dressed me in the wedding day baubles! I felt like I was going to the Oscars. It was a wonderful feeling.
I would say to any plus size bride, give your business to businesses that will treat you with the respect you deserve. Do not go to a wedding salon or boutique that won’t have dresses for you to try on close to your size. Also be willing to try something different from what you want to try on.
I wanted my bridesmaids to have black dresses. I didn't what them to feel like they would have a dress they would never wear again. They were instructed to find the dress that they felt the sexiest in and I provided the jewelery. We felt the same about our groomsbutches, so we requested they wear a black suit with a cream/ivory shirt. We provided the cufflinks, tie and the fabulous green socks!
Flor, knew she wanted a well fitted suit. She was able to find great place that got her fitted for a suit in a short amount of time. We tried to get a custom made suit for her but there were issues with the suit arriving in time. We went to Men's Warehouse, where they were able to fit her in an incredible Joseph Aboud suit. She looked amazing.
Incorporation of Culture
For us food was very important. Since I love to cook, we had to represent both of our cultural backgrounds via food. We had a Caribbean station that had , jerk chicken, a white fish with a mango salsa, plantains, beans and rice. Our other station was southern food, we had friend chicken, bbq ribs, coleslaw and mac and cheese.
We incorporated the jumping of the broom, at the time we planned our ceremony, Prop 8 was still being debated the country was waiting for a ruling from the Supreme Court. We figured out of respect to our culture and our historical background that jumping the broom would be a wonderful tribute to both.
Most Memorable Moment
For me, the most memorable part of the wedding day, was watching Chino’s face when she saw me for the first time in my wedding gown. This was the perfect time for us to have some time together before starting the wedding day. Then there were so many others, watching the emotions on all of our guests and lastly, the speech my brother gave at the reception. With our parents passed away, it was so wonderful that he was able to walk me down the aisle and give me away.
For Flor – The most memorable part of the day was waiting in the courtyard of the Hotel Shattuck for the first “look see”. I was so nervous. I think it was the waiting and wondering how Erika would look. It felt as if I waited for hours with cameras on me waiting for her to walk up behind me. I didn’t know what to expect or how I would react. She tapped me on the shoulder and called my name. When I turned around all I could say was, “wow, you are so beautiful”, over and over again. I loved that it was our only time that day to spend with each between both our rooms being filled with the wedding party and the frenzy that comes along with that and the soon arrival of guests. It was a beautifully quiet moment. I forgot bout the cameras. It was just the two of us, under a gorgeous sky, holding each other close.
You Make Loving You So Easy
From the Chino... I love her unbelievable patience with me, her ability to know me better than I know myself, she is incredibly intuitive. She’s my strength when I feel emotionally weak.
From the Erika...She gives me the freedom to be me and the support to try whatever it is I want to try. She is appreciative of all the little things that I do for the house and for her. I also love how we can just "be" doing anything or nothing at all.
- Wedding Dress Designer: Alfred Angelo Roseville Salon
- Hair : Mia Amour – Mia Robinson
- Make up : Lucia Naboisek
- Shoes: Aldo
- Ceremony and Reception: Hotel Shattuck Plaza, Berkeley, California
- Photography: Miki Vargas
- Videography: 1080 Visual
- Wedding Planner : Chanda Eddens
- Florist: Floralisa Weddings
- Cake: Torino Baking
- Stationary: Michael's
- Jewelry: The Jewel Box Campbell
- Grooms Suit and Shirt: Men's Wearhouse, Downtown Oakland, Caifornia
- Grooms Shoes: Hugo Boss- Nordstrom's
- This wedding has been shared with our partners at Ebony.com.
Chanda Eddens of A Monique Affair is a member of The Coterie, Munaluchi's exclusive wedding collective. Click here to view her portfolio. To learn more about The Coterie, click here.