My latest Afrobella bride is Lauren, who works as an architectural lighting designer. What’s that, Lauren? “I design lighting for architecture like schools, civic buildings, homes, retail, restaurants, parks, offices, theme parks, libraries, etc.” SO cool!! And Lauren’s wedding was equally cool. Lauren has locs, and during her wedding, as she says “my locs were still fresh and young. They are quite a bit stronger and longer now!”
We decided to go half and half with wedding traditions. Andre has both his parents and grandparents, but I only have my mom and my grandmother. So, it was very important to me to make sure that my mom or grandmother never felt our of place or an extra burden by being there without men. So, my mom walked me down the aisle and she wore all black, the same way a tuxedo would look from afar. For the father daughter dance, I asked Andre’s dad to dance with me and Andre danced with my mom. No dry eyes in the house.
We did stick with using a broom and jumping it. Its a tradition that I have mixed feelings about, but ultimately it made me feel in that instant like I was carring on a happy tradition that was started in the worst of circumstances. Andre’s mother made a beautiful violent and green flowered broom for us that we used at the very end of the ceremony.
I bought a cream colored sample dress by Matthew Christopher and negotiated the alterations, dry-cleaning and perserving up front with the payment of my dress.
We attempted to take the photos before the wedding but time was our enemy and it didn’t quite work out. We did however, see each other before the wedding. I wanted to commemorate the life of my grandfather who would have loved everything, by have a special seat for him next to my grandmother with a small arrangement. It was important to me to acknowledge him and that even though it made me sad he wasn’t physically there, it would have made me inconsolable to know that people left our ceremony without knowing how much he loved me and would have wanted to be there.
No garter retrival for me. I had my past employers and new bosses at the reception and was not about to let my husband stick hand nor head up my dress, thank you.
The reception included classic arcade games like Pac man, space invaders and Centipede. (Afrobella sidenote: OMG LOVE THIS IDEA!!!)
We cut a cake that we were too excited about. It tasted great, but looked a hot mess. No cake smashing and the venue saved the top tier for us. But later that week, I ate most of it through a small hole in the fondant that developed when we went back to the hotel.
Food was super important to us, so I called my cousin who had just graduated from Culinary School and she designed a menu for us. She wrote out all the recipes and the head chef at the venue prepared a tasting meal for us about a month in advance so we could iron out our choices and the total cost.
We got married in LA, which is where we live. My family had to come from Maryland and his family had to come from Ohio. Our college friends mostly came from Chicago (Go Northwestern) and whatever other place they landed after school. So techincally we had a destination wedding, because everyone was flying to LA for the wedding. We booked a mid level cost and a more expensive set of rooms at different hotels that were within 20 mins from the site. We got married at Mountain Gate Country Club in the Santa Monica Mountains. I wish I knew a better story than to say the truth, which is that we found everything online, not a single referral for all of our vendors. We called made a appointments, negotiated our butts off, and then made another appointment, and then gave as small of a deposit as possible.
We planned the wedding ourselves, because we are crazy and no one should have to put up with us unless absolutely necessary. We wanted a clean and modern wedding without a lot of frills and excess. We were hoping to have the wedding outside but practiced both indoor and outdoor versions, just in case. Our colors were violet and lime green which also took some convincing for the family, but eventually they came around and stopped calling it the “joker’s wedding”. We had an afternoon wedding so there was plenty of time for hair and make up in the morning. The woman who styles my hair is Kimberly Swan of Natural Intentions (she also makes products) we agreed to a flat fee that included a hair trial, wedding day hair for me and all of my bridesmaids. During the trial, we tried some fancier swept up do’s and variations of down styles, but ultimately the low bun worked the best, for the veil, for the dress, and for my personality.
The greatest trick that Andre and I used for the wedding was a combined email address that we could both access easily and that we would use to send information to everyone for the wedding. Not only was it valuable for family and friends it was super duper helpful for vendors. We had one email address so it didn’t matter if it was somethign that I was handling or that Andre was handling, we both saw invoices, or requests for information as they came in. My friend has already used that advice for her wedding this November.
The second greatest trick we used was google docs. We kept our budget, expenses, contact lists, and to do lists all in google so we could work on wedding stuff from anywhere.
Third: we created a website for the wedding, particularly full of travel details, restaurants we love, directions, attractions, the discounted hotels, the discounted car rentals, the discounted shuttle services, photos, and anything else.
The best advice I can offer is to plan ahead. We did a make up trial just like I did for my hair. Our make up artist actually doesn’t do make up for events anymore, but she was great. She decided to use air brush techniques for foundation for both Andre and I. it was important that we did the make up trial, because it took her a while to get the right mix for Andre’s complexion. But it was so great once she was finished. The make up was light and didn’t even feel like it was on. I especially needed to practice not touching my face, which I already knew would be a problem. So the make up test for her, was also a make up test for me.
Planning ahead for photographers means one thing: engagement photos. These were the best thing we did to make sure that our wedding day photos came out the way we wanted. I am extremely camera shy, but knew that I was gonna have to get over it for the wedding. But a photographer’s camera, not the dinky digital camera I have, is huge! I mean its almost scary, but I had to get over it, and that is what is great about the engagement session, you get to work out all the kinks. Its when I realized that I sometimes smile too hard- like entire teeth and gums showing and eyes squinted… it was not a good look. The engagement session was also a chance for the photographer to get used to shooting with both of us close and in various kinds of light. When we interview the photographer I specifically asked it he had photographed darked skinned people and he showed a few weddings he had done for black couples that were stunning, both the people and the photos. I was sold. Plus I think he really liked us, when Andre first saw me and started tearing up, John (photographer) got a little emotional too. (Click here to visit her photographer’s website”, and more wedding photos)! I truly cannot say enough about John and his wife Amy. They were gracious, thoughtful, on-time, respectful, everything that you want in a vendor.
Lauren and Andre’s big day was absolutely beautiful. And now that she’s been married for a little bit now, I had to ask — what advice does she have for brides to be to survive the big day?
“Be COMFORTABLE!!!! That was what was important to me. I tried to make sure that everything was in as good a order as it could be before and once the day comes, all you can do is roll with it. And that is certainly not to say that things didn’t go wrong, but I could either fix them, or not worry about them. Period. I was not going to have a complete bridezilla melt down. Yes, there were a few mini crises but we got over them and the day was successful as a whole.
Also, we really, REALLY, liked having the wedding and the reception all in one place. It was easy because everything was all in one spot and we didn’t have to worry about anyone getting lost or just not going to the reception.”
I asked Lauren her best marriage advice so far, and she directed me to a blog post that she wrote for her second wedding aniversary this year. She says “Marriage is a privilege and I feel blessed that I have someone who wants to share that privilege with me.” So beautiful.
Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful day with us, Lauren!! All of these beautiful photos are by John Li.
Bellas, if you’d like to be featured as an Afrobella Bride, please send an e mail to bella at afrobella dot com including links to your photos, and telling me more about yourself — use the subject line Afrobella Bride, please!