A sign on Nicole‘s bulletin board says “Orange is the Happiest Color,” and while I won’t disagree, I’d argue that yellow is one of the happiest colors as well! From the sunny yellow details, to the drum corps at the reception, to the Oreo groom’s cake, Denise and Eli’s wedding day was happy and celebratory from start to finish. They also used one of my favorite Bible readings at their beautiful ceremony under an oak tree. Could there be a more Southern ceremony spot than that? I think not!
Thank you to Laura Yang for sharing Denise and Eli’s wedding with us!
By August of 2011, we had become a long-distance couple. I was about to begin a Master’s program in Occupational Therapy at Adventist University of Health Sciences in Orlando, Florida, while he stayed in New York. He had come to visit me for a few weeks. One evening, he took me to Crane’s Roost, a lovely park in Altamonte Springs, Florida. My best friend “just so happened” to be visiting that weekend and the three of us were walking off the large amount of sushi we had just ingested! As we walked around the park, we came to a small area covered by trees that was decorated with rose petals and rhinestones, leading up to a table with a large bouquet of flowers and our initials on it. Before I could even ask what all that was about, he was on his knee popping the question. After a loud agreement from me, my entire family jumped out from behind trees and bushes cheering. It was the most incredible surprise anyone had ever planned, and it ended with a beautiful diamond on my finger!
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I decided to go dress shopping in New York, where I could take most of my family and my bridesmaids with me. One of my first stops was a small boutique in my hometown of Brooklyn called The White Gown. I tried on several dresses there and eventually found “the dress” with the help of the staff and my friends and family. I chose a lovely lace fit and flare style dress by Enzoani called Fairy.
What readings, if any, did you have at your ceremony? We chose a reading from Ephesians, which read, “Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage. No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become one flesh.”
Our cake was a three-tiered work of art that incorporated our “love birds” theme and our yellow-gray color scheme. Two tiers were red velvet and one tier was my favorite, banana chocolate chip! The design was a mix of chevron patterns, quilting techniques, and edible flowers. It sure was delicious. My bridesmaids and I made my hubby’s groom’s cake out of Oreos!
What is the one detail or vendor that you were so happy to have as a part of your wedding? One detail we were so excited about was having the Ocoee High School drum corps as a part of our grand entrance to the reception. The parents and bridal party entered to Beyonce & Jay-Z’s “Crazy in Love” and directly before we entered, the drummer preceded us, making the moment so majestic and grand! Shout out to them for making our entrance unforgettable.
How did y’all meet? Tell us your love story. We met at a concert in NYC back in June 2007. We had each planned to go so we could meet up with my brother-in-law, who was playing drums. Once there, Eli was sitting next to his sister, who I thought was his girlfriend, so I kept my distance. As the night went on, a mutual friend noticed our attraction and created an opportunity for us to talk. After the concert, a group of us went to a late night diner and hung out until 2 A.M. By the end of the night, he had my phone number and AOL screen name (so dated!). In the days following, we texted and IM’ed till my fingers hurt. We went on our first date the following week. That evening, we went to the movies then he took me to the beach, where he told me all about himself. It was then that I knew I could really fall for this guy.
When did y’all get married? April 28, 2013
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 75
Did you decide to do a “first look”? Why or why not? We chose to do a first look at our wedding because we wanted to be able to enjoy as much of our cocktail hour and reception as we could, rather than being stuck outside taking portraits during that time. It really gave us the freedom to greet our guests and chat for a bit, as opposed to the rushed “hi and bye” feeling we would have gotten otherwise.
Did you write your own vows? If so, what was your favorite phrase, verse or line? Eli was a fan of the traditional vows, so we kept it simple.
Describe your wedding flowers. My bouquet was a mix of calla lilies, hydrangeas, button mums, craspedia, and football mums. It was wrapped in lace, to match my gown, and the florist added yellow beads for detail.
Our favorite detail of the wedding was: Our unity ceremony, with the cord of three strands. It is a braiding ceremony signifying that a marriage isn’t made up only of husband and wife, but also with God in the center. During the braiding, we played Israel Houghton’s “Jesus at the Center,” which was incredibly fitting.
What Southern details or traditions did you include in your celebration? What was Southern about your wedding? The most Southern thing about our wedding was the venue, Highland Manor. Nestled on secluded grounds in Apopka, Highland Manor is surrounded by ancient oaks and steeped in 109 years of history. This stately home stands on 11 acres of rolling pastures complete with roaming peacocks. This authentic Old Florida home, once owned by a prominent area physician, was a beautiful setting for our special day.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome while planning your wedding? Making decisions as a long-distance couple was the toughest thing in the world to do. At times, it felt like I just had to make decisions and hope that Eli would like what I chose! Thank God, he trusts my judgment, because he had no complaints.
If you are comfortable responding, what range did your wedding budget fall into? $10,000-$25,000
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? For our grand entrance to the reception, we had the drum corps from Ocoee High School accompany us for that touch of over-the-top! Eli has been playing drums since he was a kid, so I felt it was a great way for him to enter our reception as a married man.
What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Did you just get engaged? Start tomorrow! Since we got engaged over a year before our wedding date, I procrastinated a tiny bit in the very beginning, and by the time the date came around, I felt sort of frantic getting things in line that could have been taken care of months before. I cut myself some slack because I was planning a wedding thousands of miles away from my fiancé (and my mom!), while keeping a 4.0 GPA in my graduate program,but if I had to do it over again, I would.
What’s next for you as a couple? What are you most looking forward to about married life? We are definitely both looking forward to my graduation! The past few years apart have been tough, and once I am completely done with school and clinicals, we can really start our married life together!
Photographer: Laura Yang / Videographer: Michael Dalton / Ceremony and Reception Venue: Highland Manor / Florist: Shelly with Country Club Flowers / Wedding Cake: Bliss Pastry / Caterer: Dubsdread Catering / Ceiling Draping, Bridal Wall and Lighting: W Drapings / DJ: Kristin with Our DJ Rocks / Photobooth: Photobooth Rocks / Bride’s Gown: Enzoani Fairy / Bride’s Earrings: Simplychic93 Etsy Shop / Veil and Hair Pin: The White Gown / Hair Stylist and Makeup Artist: Jacquin Figueroa Morton / Bride’s Shoes: London Rebel / Bridesmaids’ Dresses: “Style G5586” Amsale / Maid of Honor Dress: “Style 115” Bill Levkoff / Men’s Attire: Men’s Wearhouse