Carla and Jamaal's whirlwind love affair has taken them around the world in back. Jamaal is in the military which means that this couple is frequently on the the move. To celebrate their love of travel they decided to have a travel themed wedding. The design elements and decor, which included programs designed as passports and escort cards designed as boarding passes, highlighted the places they have been and where they were heading. In addition to a unique wedding theme, Carla chose a vibrant color scheme of gold, orange and cream which was a bold reflection of the couple's fun loving personality. The genuine sincerity of their love was captured by Studio A Images. You can also view more images in the full gallery here.
- Bride: Carla Murray, Physical Therapist
- Groom: Jamaal Lofton, LT in the US Navy
- Wedding Date: 03/30/2013
- Location: Manhattan Penthouse, NY, NY
How They Met
We started out as neighbors in Newport News, VA, meeting for the first time in the parking lot one day in 2007. I was taking my dog for a walk after work while still wearing my lab jacket. The neighbor I would just say hi and bye to was checking his mail. We crossed each other's path, I said, "Hi," and he switched it up with a question, "Are you a nurse?" I was thrown off by the additional conversation. I quickly replied, "No" and kept it moving. I realized how rude I was (I'm a New Yorker) and on the return trip when we passed each other I apologized and explained I was a PT. The rest was history!
He proposed on Father's Day June 16th, 2012. He had returned from Afghanistan a few months before and we had been traveling and visiting friends and working on reconnecting since he touched down. That weekend was no different. We were on the road, dropped his daughter to summer camp in MD then on to the annual Father's Day picnic and BBQ at my grandfather's house in Washington, DC. It was funny I had just mentioned how beautiful my cousin's wedding band was as it had just caught the light and blinded me. He goes, "Oh you like how that looks?" Uhh, yeah!! We had left the event to head back to VA and I was buckling my seatbelt and running my mouth as usual. As I turned to my left to click the seatbelt in, Jamaal had a box in hand with a gorgeous ring asking, "Well what do you think about this one?" It was perfect, fit perfectly, and the moment was perfect. I, of course answered with a "Yes!"
Description of the Event
As stated, we do a lot of moving and shaking. With Jamaal's military career we had spent the majority of our relationship as a long-distance couple. Our weekends were spent meeting in different cities, visiting our friends and families or traveling back and forth to each other. After the wedding, our next move was to Sicily, IT. It was a no-brainer that we would have a travel-themed wedding with emphasis on the places we've been and where we were heading. We had our invitations designed with a silhouette of an airplane in the background. Our programs were designed as passports. Our seat assignments were boarding passes which could be found pinned to a cork board covered with a map of the world. Each boarding pass directed our guests to tables named for the many cities that Jamaal and I have visited together. Our cocktail hour space was decorated with vintage suitcases and trunks in the spirit of travel. We had a vintage spinning postcard rack with postcard from the states where our guests had traveled from or their hometowns. These served as our guest book. The guests wrote us little notes which we had mailed to us over in Sicily.
The ceremony was held at the Manhattan Penthouse in NYC. It was very intimate with lots of candlelight. We had a wonderful officiant named Kim Kirkley. She wrote our ceremony specific to Us. It was as if she knew us forever. Jamaal and I wrote our own vows, in addition to repeating the standard ones. I walked down the aisle with my father as the pianist played "Halo" by Beyonce. Jamaal and I walked out as husband and wife to the piano version of "Empire State of Mind" by JayZ and Alicia Keys. (The alter was situated facing the Empire State Building). We chose to try something different to include our guests in the ceremony with a passing of the ring ceremony. The rings were placed in a gold sack and passed through the crowd so that each guest may say a quick prayer or make well wishes over it. That was a little confusing to the guests and took awhile for the rings to get back to us at the alter. :-)
Our color scheme was Gold, Orange, and Cream. I wanted Lots of Gold to blend with the gold on Jamaal's Navy uniform. We had various shades of orange which just seemed to pop with the candlelight! It was warm and rich-even regal, yet very modern. We love food and we had lots of it- 7 passed hors d'oeuvres, a formal seated meal and an open bar throughout the evening. For dessert, we offered wedding cake in 3 flavors- Chocolate with Bananas, Red Velvet with Raspberries, and Banana with Nutella. We also served various flavors of Gelato which is a typical dessert in Italy. Our signature drink was called Miele Amore, in Italian meaning Honey Love, made with rum, Absinthe, lemon juice, and honey.
We are somewhat goofballs as well, we really like to have a good time. I was a cheerleader in HS, and basketball dancer in college. So we had a dance-off between the bridesmaids and the groomsmen! I broke out the pom-poms for the introduction of the New Mr. and Mrs. Lofton and shimmied and shaked while Jamaal imitated Ray Lewis's famous football dance. Our first dance was to "Amazing" by Luther Vandross which was serenaded to us by one of the groomsmen.
We opted to have a First Look in order to capture some private, quiet moments between Jamaal and I prior to the wedding. All formal pictures with the parents and bridal party were taken before the ceremony as well.
The challenges to the planning were although I was from New York, I lived in VA. So all planing had to be done via emails and phone calls. Also, my fiancée had made to the move to Italy before me (duty calls!) so I really had to make a lot of decisions and do the majority of the planning on my own. It was a very stressful and very emotional time, but hey what bride wouldn't describe wedding planning as such!
We really wanted to achieve a modern yet elegant look throughout the bridal party to reflect the style of the venue and our wedding decor. I wore an off white, mermaid style gown by Dennis Basso, purchased at Kleinfeld Bridal. My wedding jewlery consisted of a custom made statement necklace, earrings, bracelet, and brooch by Rose LaChapelle of The Crystal Rose (found through Etsy). Each piece consisted of Clear and Golden Shadow Swarovski Crystals in a gold setting. In my hair were two headbands also custom made by Lina of FleursdeParis (found through Etsy) also of Clear Swarovski Crystals. Jamaal wore his Dinner Dress Uniform, what is considered a formal tuxedo version of his Navy military uniform. The bridesmaids (6 ladies) wore spice colored dupioni silk dresses by Watters Bridesmaids. Gold satin d'orsay pumps and gold jewelry completed their look. The gro omsmen (6 gentlemen) wore black tuxedos by Calvin Klein provided by Men's Warehouse. Orange ties, gold pocket squares and orange calla lilies bound in gold silk ribbon completed their look. To add some goofy Us to their look we got the boys dress socks of different styles (polka dots, zig-zags, etc) with a highlight of orange tying them all in. The boys loved them!
Incorporation of Culture
As previously stated, we wanted to implement a fairly new idea with a Passing of the Rings Ceremony with the intent of making our families and friends a part of our ceremony and getting as many good vibes and prayers as possible.
We had the entire bridal party get ready for photos at the Akwaaba Mansion, a bed and breakfast in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn where I grew up. The mansion was owned by slave-owners who later turned it over to their slaves. The property is Black-owned and is a prominent fixture in the Bed-Stuy community. It served as a beautiful setting for our pre-wedding photos.
Most Memorable Part of the Day
For Jamaal, the most memorable part was seeing me for the first time during the First Look. For myself, the most memorable part of the wedding was our exchange of vows.
You Make Loving You So EasyFrom the Groom...Besides Carla's short stature which reminds me of my loving grandmothers- I love her eyes which I think are dreamy and I love looking into them. From the Bride...Besides Jamaal's smile which is warm and genuine lights up his whole face, I love his strength and determination.
- Wedding Dress by Dennis Basso
- Wedding Dress Salon: Kleinfeld Bridal, NYC
- Bridal Shoes: "Falcon" by BCBGMAXAZRIA
- Bridesmaids Dresses: "Freesia" by Watters Bridesmaids
- Ceremony and Reception Venue: The Manhattan Penthouse, NY, NY; manhattanpenthouse.com
- Hair and Makeup: Sabrina Gilbert NYC, sabrinagilbertnyc.com
- Wedding Planner: ever swoon LLC, everswoon.com
- Flowers and Decor: The Flower Girls, 212-721-6327, mysite.verizon.net/vze8apfv/
- Photography: Studio A Images, studioaimages.com
- Stationary: Dionisa's Designs, dionisasdesigns.com
- DJ and Sound: DJ Trauma, www.facebook.com/djtraumanyc
- Cake: Sugar Coated Bakery, Brooklyn, NY, sugarcoatedinc.com
- Officiant: Kim Kirkley, ourelegantceremony.com
- Pianist: Alexander Kirton, 631-357-4905