With 120 guests cheering them on, this bride and groom exchanged vows in a traditional celebration in Virginia.
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Kenisha Peters and Wendall Jefferson first met at Temple University in 2006— she was a rising senior and he was a junior transfer from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Since the duo hailed from Baltimore and Washington, D.C., respectively, they quickly learned they had several mutual friends. They dated on and off, but got serious again in 2012.
By 2016, Wendall was ready to propose, and decided his birthday—May 27—would be the perfect date to surprise her with an engagement ring. But since the couple already lived together, he was having a hard time hiding his plans. That's when he decided to take his proposal on the road. He lovingly nagged Kenisha into planning a birthday trip to New Orleans, where the groom's brother and his girlfriend would be able to assist with the details. After a special birthday dinner, Wendall's brother handed him what looked like an ordinary gift bag which secretly housed the ring, and he got to down on one knee to pop the question. But the surprises didn't end there: After they left the restaurant, a carriage was waiting outside to take the newly-engaged pair on a ride around the French Quarter.
The couple quickly started planning their wedding, and set the date for September 17, 2017. Morais Vineyards and Winery in Bealeton, Virginia, quickly won them over. "It represented us as a couple," Kenisha says. "It checked all of our boxes and we knew our guests would love it." That last part was hugely important for the couple, who knew family and friends would be traveling for the celebration and wanted the day to be as enjoyable for those in attendance as it was for the bride and groom. With help from Natalie Melton at Event Design Group, LLC., the couple's vision of a classic, elegant celebration came to life.
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Kenisha visited her very first bridal salon with her mom, bridesmaids, and close family in tow, but despite trying on ten dresses, nothing wowed her. The next time she made the shopping trip decidedly smaller: With just her mother by her side, Kenisha visited another salon and found her strapless Justin Alexander wedding dress. "I loved the train, all the detailed beading, and the buttons," she remembers. "Honestly, I loved everything about my dress."
On the big day, the bride's mother helped her into the dress they chose together.
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Before the ceremony began, the couple's two young flower girls, wearing matching white lace dresses, poked their heads out of the bridal suite to get a look at the guests gathering outside.
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The three ring bearers walked down the aisle holding a sign that read, "Here comes the bride." At the ends of each white ribbon were the couple's two ring boxes.
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The bride's two younger brothers walked her down the aisle to Kanye West's "All of the Lights." Her father was supposed to have the job, but he was stuck in Florida after Hurricane Irma hit the area. For Kenisha, this was one of the most special moments of the entire day. "Seeing Wendall's face light up when I was escorted down the aisle is a moment I'll never forget," she says. "He was so happy."
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The ceremony took place beneath the venue's pergola, overlooking the nearby pond. "I remember praying that it wouldn't rain since our ceremony was outside," the bride says. "Thankfully it didn't!"
Before exchanging vows, the couple took part in a sand ceremony, in which each poured a different color sand into a jar as a sign of their union. After, the newlyweds were all smiles as they made their exit.
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Honoring Loved Ones
After the ceremony ended, guests enjoyed cocktail hour on an outdoor patio before moving inside for the reception. Inside the main entry, the couple set up a table with photos of loved ones who were no longer with them, a meaningful way for the couple to keep their relatives near and for guests to learn more about their families.
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Round tables filled the reception space, and were decorated with low centerpieces of roses, hydrangea, lisianthus, and eucalyptus.
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Some tables were topped with tall gold centerpieces filled with the same flowers, bringing a little height to the reception space. The newlyweds sat at a glittering sweetheart table that was elevated so they had a clear view of all their loved ones. "For us, seeing all of our friends and family who traveled from so far to celebrate our love was completely enamoring," the bride says. Wendall agrees, adding that seeing the smiling faces of all his closest family and friends in one room during the reception was one of his favorite parts of the day.
For dinner, everyone dug into a family style meal of lobster and shrimp macaroni and cheese, roasted squash, chicken with tomato jam, and grilled vegetables made by Caroline Street Catering.
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The couple couldn't decide on just one cake flavor, so they chose three! Their confection, baked by Sweet Creations Cake, included a tier of marble cake with chocolate Bavarian filling, caramel cake with cream cheese filling, and almond cake with raspberry jam and cream cheese filling. The gilded sugar flowers mimicked the metallic hue used throughout the rest of the party.
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It was important to Kenisha and Wendall that their guests had a great time, and DJ Fonzarelly made sure that happened. The dance floor was packed all night long.
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Photography, Terri Baskin Photography
Venue, Morais Vineyards
Event Planning, Event Group Design, LLC
Catering, Caroline Street Catering
Stationery, Elegant Wedding Invites
Officiant, Bishop James Boddie
Cake, Sweet Creations Cake
Music, DJ Fonzarelly of One Global Experience
Rentals, Be Seated, LLC
Bride's gown, Justin Alexander
Hair, India McCleod
Makeup, Makeup by Kayla
Groom's and groomsmen's attire, Lapel
Groom's accessories, Gucci (shoes and cufflinks)
Bridesmaids' dresses, Vow to Be Chic
Flower girls' dresses, Light in the Box
Ring bearers' attire, H&M Kids
Transportation, Chariots for Hire
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