Couple: Erika & Donald
Wedding Date: October 15, 2012
Wedding Location: (ceremony and reception) The Peabody Hotel; Memphis, Tennessee
Wedding Theme: The Harlem Renaissance
It All Began at Homecoming…“My friends and I arrived to a homecoming event for Black alumni late so I had to sit at a table with Donald and his friends,” recalls Erika of her first encounter with her husband. Both Erika and Donald are graduates of Vanderbilt University but had never met before. While she admits she thought Donald was handsome she certainly wasn’t expecting to meet her soulmate at the affair. She explains, “I had gotten to a point in my life where I was cool with being single and never getting married. Donald shares laughing, “When Erika approached our table all my friends and I looked at each other like, ‘Who is this girl?’…You know how guys do.’” He adds, “I thought she was attractive and I liked her style.” Once Donald’s (very) intoxicated friend stopped talking to Erika long enough, Donald sparked up a conversation and the two have been in each others lives since.
We’ve Got Something in Common The duo quickly learned they had even more in common than their alma mater since they’re both in the medical field. Erika is a MD/PhD student and Donald a practicing OB/GYN. “I liked that Erika was in school and smart. She was different than the type of women I was used to meeting,” admits Donald. He adds,” I kinda knew right away that I really, really liked her. It was about her actions more than her words.” Erika too was smitten. “Donald was very attentive and didn’t really talk a lot about himself. It was a refreshing change from most of the male doctors I knew.”
Distance Makes the Heart Grow Stronger During most of their courtship Erika was in Tennessee at school and Donald in New Jersey working. Erika shares, “We could only see each other about twice a month.” Needless to say the distance took a toll on the couple. “I thought to myself, ‘Can we really do this?’ But the twosome were determined. “We planned ahead a lot because of our schedules,” Erika says adding that she and Donald took advantage of the bustling culture in Memphis by attending a lot of art festivals together. Neither feels it has been easy but both Erika and Donald now see how living in different time zones was a relationship builder. “It was our biggest obstacle. I thought, ‘If we can do this, we can do anything,’” Donald shares.
1920s Glitz & Glam! Donald, who was a divorcee, turned to his beloved high school English teacher to help him plan a touching proposal for Erika. “She’s now deceased but she was a such a strong, smart Black woman. She suggested I put all my feelings on paper in the form of a letter.” Donald took heed to her advice and even had a professional calligrapher copy the letter for him on decorative paper. One day while they were in their pjs watching a movie, he presented it to Erika and asked her to be his wife. Once Erika said “Yes!”, the pair started planning their dream wedding day. Donald’s love of jazz music inspired their theme of The Harlem Renaissance. The entire day reflected the couple’s exquisite taste — from the sleek red and black peacock invitations to the engraved flasks given to guests as favors. The philanthropic pair asked that their 200+ guests donate to Stroke of Hope in honor of Erika’s stepfather in lieu of gifts and money. “My teacher didn’t get to attend our wedding but before she passed she did know that Erika accepted my proposal.” We’re sure she was proudly there in spirit.
Erika’s Tips for Future Brides
Make a List and Check it Twice “We forgot to bring our marriage license to the wedding!” admits Erika with a chuckle. She warns couples to make a list of essential documents needed for their big day before heading down the aisle.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff“Be in the moment with each other so you can always remember that day. Nobody else really notices when something goes wrong,” she advises.
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Venue: The Peabody Hotel, Memphis, TN
Wedding dresses: (ceremony) Pronovias (reception) Jenny Packham
Shoes: (ceremony) Nina
Photographer: Ilene Squires Photography
Reception photos with props: Complete Capture LLC by Rosevelt Noble
Videographer: Andria Lewis Events by Andria Lewis
Officiant: Dr. Stan Wood
Hairstylist: (ceremony) Maxine Lewis, Gould’s, Memphis, TN (reception) Marjorie Cowan, The Studio, Nashville, TN
Makeup artist: Tiffany Ross
Florist: Southern Event Planners by Angela Dacus (also created alter piece)
Bridesmaid dresses: Jim Jhelm
Groom and groomsmen tuxedos: Men’s Warehouse
Invitation suite designer: Yeri Yun Designs
Band: Jeremy Shrader Music (trumpet) and Erminie Cannon (female vocalist and sister of groom)
DJ: DJ Lovely (Maia Rosser)