Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #46

Couple: Nina Stone and Joel Russell

Date of Wedding:  July 29, 2007

Place: Wagner House (Clayton, NC)

Officiant: Rev. Theodore Breeden

Fun facts

The bride and groom had their first date in 2002.  They saw the movie Panic Room.

Since they have very busy schedules, the couple found a unique way to keep the flame burning in their marriage.  They schedule lunch dates twice a month.

The bride and groom are the proud parents of four adorable children including twin girls.  Their names are Joel Jr., Jael, Jade, and Joi.



Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #41

Couple: Janaka Bowman and Daryl Lewis

Date of Wedding:  June 9, 2007

Place: Duke University Chapel (Durham, NC)

Officiant: Rev. Johnny Hill

Fun facts

The bride and groom met during their first year of college at Duke.

Their wedding featured a "Pretty in Pink" theme with Breast Cancer Awareness favor cards to honor Daryl's late mother and her fight against breast cancer.

The couple's story was featured on Good Morning America that fall.

The couple celebrated their wedding night with friends eating tacos at their favorite Durham restaurant, Cosmic Cantina.

The bride's older sister served as the wedding coordinator, decorated the entire venue, touched up the bride's hair, and was a member of the wedding party.



Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #38

Couple: Kendrea Tannis and Ángel J. Gallardo

Date of Wedding:  October 23, 2010

Place: The Pergola at the Duke Gardens (Durham, NC)

Officiant: Dr. William C. Turner

Fun facts

The bride and groom met in a Divinity School class while the bride was in law school.

The couple honeymooned in Italy where they attended an AC Milan v. Juventus game in Milan.

The couple got engaged and married in the exact same location.

The couple dated for a little over a year and were only engaged for 4 months.



Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #31

Couple: Staria Ray and Brian Kaesi Gilmore

Date of Wedding:  September 19, 2009

Place: The Hall & Gardens at Landmark (Garner, NC)

Officiant: Rev. Theodore Breeden

Fun facts

The couple met Memorial Day Weekend 2005 in Miami, FL, through mutual friends.  The bride had originally declined to go on the trip but one of her best friends talked her into going.

After the wedding, the couple took a ride in the Excalibur pictured below.  They rode to their hotel where their car was parked.  They immediately changed clothes and drove to their house.  When they arrived on their street, it was lined with cars on both sides.  Their house was full of their closest friends and family, so they had a fight party (Mayweather vs. Marquez) while packing for their 6AM flight to their honeymoon destination.

The couple has two sons.  They enjoy traveling and attending music concerts together.



Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #30

Couple: Valerie Richardson and Maynard Jackson, Jr.

Date of Wedding:  October 7, 1977

Place: Home of Dr. and Mrs. Ford T. Johnson (parents of the bride's sister-in-law) on Davis Avenue (Richmond, VA)

Officiant: Rev. Miles Jones (chairmen of the Richmond School Board)

Fun facts

The private wedding ceremony was held three days after the groom won a second term as Mayor of Atlanta, GA.

The couple met at a gathering hosted by singer Roberta Flack at her home.

The bride earned an MBA from UPenn's Wharton School of Finance.

The bride wore a long white brocade wedding gown.

The couple honeymooned for eight days in Toulouse and Paris, France, as guests of the French government.  The groom's parents had honeymooned in Toulouse 44 years earlier.

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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #29

Couple: Coretta Scott and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Date of Wedding:  June 18, 1953

Place: Lawn of the Bride's Parents' home in Marion, AL

Officiant: Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. (groom's father)

Fun facts

The couple met while both were in graduate school in Boston and married one year and four moths after their initial meeting.

The bride's first impression of her groom was not a positive one.  She thought he looked like a boy rather than a man.  Martin normally wore a mustache to look older, but had shaved it off because he was pledging Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity

Martin's father did not initially think that Coretta was the best partner for his son. After mentioning the intelligent women from Atlanta who came from good families, Coretta retorted, "I have something to offer too."

The groom did not meet the bride's parents until days before the wedding.

The bride wore a pastel blue, waltz-length dress.

The bride had the traditional language about obeying her husband deleted from the marriage vows.

The couple spent their honeymoon in a funeral parlor that doubled as the home of a friend (who worked as an undertaker) since there were no nearby hotels open to African Americans because of segregation.  



Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #27

Couple: Ronda Taylor and Kelvin Bullock

Date of Wedding:  October 1, 2005

Place: White Rock Baptist Church (Durham, NC)

Officiant: Rev. Dr. Reginald Van Stephens

Fun facts

The couple met as rising high school seniors at UNC's Project Uplift.

The bride and groom were best friends throughout college and decided to start dating at the end of the fall semester of their senior year

The couple taught together at Hillside High School in Durham.

The couple had their wedding reception at a Durham historic sit, NC Mutual Life

The man and woman who caught the bouquet and garter at their wedding married each other in 2017.


Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #19

Couple: Brandon Erby and Grejika Abram

Date of Wedding: July 18, 2015

Place: Cheniere Lake Park (West Monroe, Louisiana)

Officiant: Rev. Greg L. Oliver, Sr.

Fun facts

The couple met during freshman orientation week at Tougaloo College in 2008.

The bride and groom are fall 2009 initiates of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

The groom proposed on Valentine’s Day in 2014 by imitating the music video for the song “Come Close” by Common.

The wedding theme was vintage and country chic. There were over 30 individuals in the bridal party.

The bride’s dress was a fit and flare gown with a sweetheart neckline and dropped waist fully adorned with lace. It was embellished with rhinestones, pearls, and a buttoned-back that extended down her chapel train.

The bride declined a traditional veil in lieu of a rhinestone comb garnished with a string of pearls. The bride’s bouquet was handmade by her mother and bridesmaids.

The couple lived separately during their first year of marriage as they both attended different universities for graduate school. 


Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #18

Couple: Josephine Willson and Blanche Bruce

Date of Wedding:  June 24, 1878

Place: 228 Perry Street, Cleveland, OH (Home of the Bride's Parents)

Officiant: Rev. N.S. Rulison

Fun facts

Sixty guests attended the private ceremony.

The groom's family was not invited to the wedding because of their enslaved past.

The bride's parents closed the heavy velvet draperies throughout the house to prevent the crowd gathered outside from being able to peek at the ceremony.

The bride wore a white silk gown trimmed in satin.

After the ceremony, guests enjoyed a catered supper while a local orchestra provided music.

The couple sailed to Europe on June 27 for a four-month honeymoon but returned stateside in time for the next session of Congress.

The groom was the second African American to serve in the  United States Senate and the first African American to be elected to a full term.  He represented the state of Mississippi.


Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #16

Couple: Velvaline Shepherd and Nathaniel L. Sanders, Jr.

Date of Wedding:  June 4, 1975

Place: Johnston County Courthouse (Smithfield, NC)

Officiant: J.T. Smith

Fun facts

The couple did not give their families much advance notice of the wedding.

The couple met in high school at a political meeting.  Their romance continued while in college.

The couple attended two high school proms together years before marrying.

The bride graduated from North Carolina Central University.  The groom attended Winston-Salem State University and graduated from NC Wesleyan College.


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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #14

Couple: Nicholl Lewis and Dr. Michael Young

Date of Wedding: September 22, 2012

Place: The Biltmore Ballrooms (Atlanta)

Officiant:  Elder Mary W. Young (the groom's step-grandmother)

Fun facts:

The bride and groom worked at the same place at the same time and never crossed paths (Emory Healthcare in Atlanta).

The first time the groom's mother met the bride, she said “She’s a keeper!” That may have sealed the deal. 

The bottom of the bride's dress caught on fire during the ceremony and she didn’t know about it until later. The mother of the bride and a friend put it out. The bride finds it funny now, but she would have been mortified, had she known what was going on at the time.


Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #8

Couple: Ferdinand Barnett and Ida B. Wells

Date of Wedding:  June 27, 1895

Place: Bethel AME Church, Chicago, IL

Fun facts

The couple's wedding announcement appeared on page 1 of the New York Times.

The bride canceled the wedding three times because of her antilynching speaking schedule.

The bride wore a white satin trained gown trimmed with orange blossoms.

So many family members, friends, and fans flocked to the church for the wedding that the bridal party had trouble reaching the church door.

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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #7

Couple: Medgar Evers and Myrlie Beasley

Date of Wedding:  December 24, 1951

Place: Mount Heroden Baptist Church, Vicksburg, MS

Fun facts

The couple met at Alcorn A&M College where they were both students.

The couple had a major argument the night before their wedding.

The Evers' honeymoon consisted of one night in a segregated hotel in Jackson, Mississippi, and then visits with both sets of in-laws.

*A white supremacist murdered Medgar Evers in 1963.


Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #5

Couple: Courtney B. Vance and Angela Bassett

Date of Wedding: October 12, 1997

Place: private residence in Los Angeles, California

Fun facts

The couple met while both pursued graduate study at the Yale School of Drama in the 1980s, but they did not start dating until years later.

The bride wore a silk fitted gown with a 4-foot French lace train by Escada.

There were 3 bridesmaids and 3 groomsmen.

The couple delayed their honeymoon because they were both filming movies at the time of the wedding.