Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #70

Couple: Earletha "Cookie" Kelly and Earvin "Magic" Johnson

Date of Wedding:  September 14, 1991

Place:  Union Missionary Baptist Church (Lansing, MI)

Officiant: Pastor Melvin Jones

Fun facts

The couple began dating in the late 1970s when they were both freshmen at Michigan State University. 

The groom called off the engagement TWICE.

The couple planned a private wedding ceremony but 3,000 fans stood outside of the church cheering.

Wedding guests included basketball stars Isiah Thomas and Mark Aguirre.

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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #60

Couple: Sheryl Lee Ralph and Vincent James Hughes

Date of Wedding:  July 30, 2005

Place: First African Methodist Episcopal Church (Los Angeles, CA)

Officiant: Rev. Kenneth Flowers

Fun facts:

The couple met on a blind date arranged by a mutual friend.

The bride arrived at her wedding one hour late!

The bride wore a Tadashi-designed off-the-shoulder champagne-colored silk charmeuse gown, with a fitted and ruched bodice with Swarovski crystal stamps and a seven-foot mermaid train.  She also wore a $16,000 diamond and pearl tiara.

The bride's father escorted her to her son who then walked his mother the rest of the way down the aisle.

The star-studded wedding party included Jenifer Lewis, Niecy Nash, Victoria Rowell, Patti LaBelle, and Loretta Devine as bridesmaids.

The wedding ceremony lasted a little more than 1 hour.  Afterwards, the 350+ guests headed to the Bunker Hill City Club in downtown Los Angeles for the reception that featured a Jamaican buffet.

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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #59

Couple: Shirley Graham and W.E.B. Du Bois

Date of Wedding:  February 14, 1951*/February 27, 1951

Place: 17319 113th Steeet (St. Albans, Long Island, NY)

Officiant: Rev. Edward D. McGowan

Fun facts

The couple was supposed to marry on February 27 but the groom was indicted on February 9 and the bride wanted to be married before his arraignment.

They married secretly on February 14 with only a minister and two witnesses present.  They had a second wedding later with 150 family members and friends from all over the nation present.

Yolande Du Bois Williams, the groom's daughter, served as matron of honor.

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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #58

Couple: Renee Chenault and Chaka Fattah

Date of Wedding:  April 7, 2001

Place: Mount Carmel Baptist Church (Philadelphia, PA)

Officiant: Rev. Albert Campbell

Fun facts

The wedding party included the groom's daughter as the maid of honor, the groom's son as the best man, and the bride's daughter as the flower girl.

The bride is a television personality in Philadelphia.  She earned a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.

The groom was a United States congressman.

Ebony magazine named them as a power couple in 2007.

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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #57

Couple: Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown

Date of Wedding:  July 18, 1992

Place: The bride's estate in New Jersey

Officiant: Rev. Marvin Winans

Fun facts

The bride wore a custom-made ivory satin, sheer-sleeved dress that  allegedly cost $40,000.  The dress came with a floor-length silk veil and  matching bead and sequin cloche hat.

All 800 wedding guests were asked to wear purple.

The couple had a 6-tiered, 18-layered wedding cake.

The couple honeymooned in the Mediterranean on a 140-foot yacht.

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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #55

Couple: Phylicia Ayers-Allen and Ahmad Rashad

Date of Wedding:  December 14, 1985

Place: Church of the Masters (New York, NY)

Officiant: Rev. Eugene S. Callender

Fun facts

The groom proposed to the bride on Thanksgiving Day 1985 during a broadcast of a New York Jets-Detroit Lions game.

The bride was walked down the aisle by her tv-husband, Bill Cosby.

The bride's sister, Debbie Allen, served as the maid of honor and the groom's friend and former teammate, OJ Simpson, served as best man.

Only 30 guests attended the private ceremony.  No other cast members of the The Cosby Show other than Bill Cosby were present at the wedding.

The couple divorced in 2001.

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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #54

Couple: Jada Pinkett and Will Smith

Date of Wedding: December 31, 1997

Place: Cloisters (medieval-style mansion in Baltimore, MD)

Officiant: Pastor Marvis May

Fun facts

The bride's dress, a long-sleeved, high-necked champagne-colored, velvet gown was designed by Badgley Mischka.  The groom wore a matching tuxedo also by Mischka.

The couple first met when the bride auditioned for a role on the groom's sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but they did not start dating until years later.

The bride did not get the role on the groom's sitcom because producers thought her 5' frame was too short for the 6'2 Smith.

The wedding was a secret to everyone including the guests.   No invitations were sent out.  Guest were put up in hotels and then shuttled to the wedding site by a fleet of 35 limos.

The bride and groom did not have bridesmaids or groomsmen.  No one gave the bride away.  She and her groom walked down the aisle together.


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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #53

Couple: Nicole Mitchell and Eddie Murphy

Date of Wedding:  March 18, 1993

Place: Grand Ballroom of the Plaza Hotel (NYC)

Officiant: Rev. Calvin Butts

Fun facts

The bride walked down the aisle to "Don't Give Up on Love," which Murphy had performed on one of his earlier albums.

The wedding including 500 guests and cost $1.5 million.

Despite the large wedding budget, the ceremony only took 16 minutes.

All of the flowers used during the wedding were donated to a local hospital.

For the reception, the bride changed into a sequined white gown.

The couple honeymooned for one week at a private island in the Caribbean.

The couple divorced in 2006.


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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #51

Couple: Lindsey Stewart and Daniel Smith

Date of Wedding:  May 27, 2017

Place: Louis Armstrong Park (New Orleans, LA)

Officiant: Axelle Karera (close friend from graduate school)

Fun facts

The bride is from Louisiana and the groom is British.  They bonded over a shared love of jazz (the bride being from its birthplace and the groom being a jazz musician).

The couple was mindful of the complex history that brought a descendant of enslaved people (the bride) together with a person belonging to a people who participated in the Atlantic Slave Trade.  Thus their wedding took place in Louis Armstrong Park, which encloses "Congo Square," a place where slaves met on Sundays to engage in religious ceremony and celebratory rituals.  It is said that what went on in Congo Square birthed New Orleans jazz.

One of the pictures of the couple below is the two of them under what is called the Grandfather/mother Tree in Congo Square--one of the oldest oaks in the ring.  The umbrella pictured in the photo wasn't actually theirs.  A black woman tour guide saw them, stopped her tour, and started arranging them for the tour.  A complete stranger.  It was a *very* New Orleans moment.

In another photo below, the couple jumped the broom, an old slave ritual for weddings.  The couple wanted to find a rituaionl that allowed them to honor their grandmothers, with whom they have a special relationship.  They found a version of the ritual where the grandmothers swept before laying the broom down for the couple to jump.  In the right side of the photo, the bride and groom's grandmothers are holding hands.

In the third photo, the groom is signaling a brass band to start playing.  In New Orleans style, they couple hired a brass band to second-line after the wedding and for the reception, held in Basin St. Station (a train station that holds much historical significance for the development of jazz).



Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #50

Couple: Michelle Obama and Barack Obama

Date of Wedding:  October 3, 1992

Place: Trinity United Church of Christ (Chicago, IL)

Officiant: Rev. Jeremiah Wright

Fun facts

The couple met in 1989 when the groom interned at the bride's law firm.

Their first date included Baskin-Robbins ice cream and Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing

The bride's brother walked her down the aisle and the groom's brother served as the best man.

The couple's first dance was to "You and I" by Stevie Wonder.



Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #47

Couple: Kenya Harris and Rev. Joseph Pridgen

Date of Wedding:  May 29, 2010

Place: Bethel AME Church (Greensboro, NC)

Officiants: Rev. Dr. Cardes H. Brown, Jr and Rev. Dr. Conrad K. Pridgen (groom's father)

Fun facts

The groom told the bride he wanted to marry her the day they met.  He said, "I am not looking for a girlfriend.  I am looking for a wife and I believe it's you."  The bride responded by telling him that was the worst pick up line she'd ever heard.  She proceeded to stop calling him shortly after that day.  The groom was persistent chasing the bride for 5 years before she agreed to date him seriously.

The couple dated for 3 months and then got engaged.

The couple married on the bride's birthday so they now call the day her "Birthversary."

One of the couple's favorite movies  is Disney's Phineas & Ferb and they've seen every episode twice!

The couple dates each other every day, but they don't spend money on every date.  They sometimes simply put their phones down and spend time together doing something that brings them joy.



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 #44

Couple: Leslie Smith and Frank Seaton Turner

Date of Wedding:  November 28, 1970

Place: Grace Protestant Episcopal Church (Norfolk, VA)

Officiant: Joseph N. Green

Fun facts

The church was decorated with baskets of white and yellow chrysanthemum, palms, and royal blue lighted tapers.

The bride wore a wedding gown of ivory Skinner satin styled with an empire-waist appliqued in Alencon lace. The English net train was trimmed in lace and pearls.

The couple joined guests in a wedding reception held in the Parish Hall of the church immediately after the ceremony.

The bride graduated from Fisk and Columbia Universities.  The groom graduate from North Carolina Central University and was in law school there at the time of the wedding.

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Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #43

Couple: Mae Walker Robinson and Dr. Henry Gordon Jackson

Date of Wedding:  November 24, 1923

Place: St. Philip's Protestan Episcopal Church (New York, NY)

Officiant: Father Hutchins Bishop

Fun facts

The bride was the granddaughter of Madame C.J. Walker.

9,000 guests were invited to the wedding that was described as the largest African American wedding ever held in the United States.

The couple held their wedding reception at "Villa Lewaro," Madame C.J. Walker's mansion on the Hudson.

The bride and her family ensured that all of her clothes purchased for wedding events were made by and purchased from African Americans.

Events leading up to the wedding took place over a period of eight days and cost $20,000.

The bride's wedding gown was made of sheer chiffon beaded with sea pearls.  Her dress and tulle veil were designed by Pearl Crawford Craft of Philadelphia.

As a wedding gift, the groom gave his bride a diamond brooch.

The couple divorced in 1926.



Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #42

Couple: Natalie Joy Vinson and Cornelius Jeremiah Mills

Date of Wedding:  April 3, 2010

Place: Johnston Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church

Officiant: Rev. Theodore Breeden

Fun facts

The bride and her groom often play sports together and are very competitive with each other.

The couple enjoy family time relaxing and traveling out of town.

Both the bride and groom are jokesters; they keep each other laughing.

They are the proud parents of two girls, Celecia Amber Mills and Joyden Kaye Mills.



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 #40

Couple: Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian

Date of Wedding:  

Place: Contemporary Arts Center (New Orleans, LA)

Officiant: Mackie Shilstone

Fun facts

The wedding officiant was the bride's "tactical trainer" and had to be certified to conduct the marriage ceremony.

The bride wore a strapless Sarah Burton for Alexanders McQueen gown complete with a cape.

After the ceremony, the bride changed into a custom-made feathered gown. by Versace. 

The couple's first dance was to the Beauty and the Beast theme song, "Tale as Old as Time."


Celebrating Black Brides: Profile #39

Couple: Holly Robinson and Rodney Peete

Date of Wedding:  June 10, 1995

Place: home of Leslie Moonves, chairman and chief executive of CBS, in West Los Angeles, CA

Officiant: Rev. Jesse Jackson

Fun facts

The couple started dating after actress Lela Rochon, a mutual friend, invited the bride to a picnic hosted by the groom.

After dating for a year, the groom proposed to his bride on the set of the 1990s sitcom, "Hangin' With Mr. Cooper," which she was starring in at the time.

300 guests attended the wedding ceremony.



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 #37

Couple: Tilola L. Mitchell and Ryan Isaac Robinson

Date of Wedding:  July 21, 2012

Place: Johnston Piney Grove Missionary Baptist Church (Clayton, NC)

Officiants: Rev. Theodore Breeden, Sr., Apostle Addie M. Rawls, and Dr. Joseph E. Perkins

Fun facts

The couple met at the Clayton Branch of the National Association of University Women's (NAUW) Green and White Ball.

On December 18, 2011, the groom asked the bride to marry him while wearing a big red bow.  Surrounded by family, she said yes.

Both the bride and groom are educators with the Wake County Public School System and they love doing what they do to shape the lives of youth through music and mathematics.

Ryan and Tilola truly make a Perfect Pitch!