Torrie LaShaun Williams and Philip H. Duckson Jr. exchanged their wedding vows on June 22 at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in Philadelphia. The Rev. Blane Newberry, associate minister of Enon, officiated at the formal early evening ceremony.
There were sighs and smiles as Torrie, wearing an ivory, satin, fitted and flared gown, was escorted down the aisle by her proud father. Her gown was accented with Swarovski crystals, pearls and rhinestones that twinkled like her eyes, covered by a cathedral-length veil. The bride’s shoes were sparkly peep-toe, slingbacks by Jimmy Choo. Torrie carried an exquisite ivory bouquet of vendela roses, with crystal accents on the petals and a rhinestone ribbon wrapping. All the wedding and reception floral arrangements were created by Long Stems Florist in Ardmore. “My mother told me she wanted her girl shining from top to bottom and front to back, and I did,” Torrie said.
Torrie, 28, is the daughter of Sheila Williams-Brown and Ernest C. Palmer. The bride was also blessed to have her grandmother, Betty Williams of Philadelphia, there to celebrate this special day with her. Torrie grew up in the Mt. Airy neighborhood and graduated from Bishop McDevitt High School in 2001. She went on to attend Howard University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism in 2005. Torrie is currently an associate producer on Fox29 News’ morning show “Good Day.”
Philip “Phil” H. Duckson Jr., 31, is also a native Philadelphian, from the Germantown section of the city. His parents are Roger Lesotho Sr. and Juanita Leysath and Philip H. Duckson Sr. He is a 1999 graduate of Masterman High School. Philip has been a police officer for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Co. (SEPTA) for five years.
How They Met — the Proposal
Torrie and Philip are will forever be grateful to their mothers for introducing them to each other.
Their mothers became friends while campaigning for President Barack Obama at the Northwest Philadelphia for Change office in Mt. Airy. Torrie was also a volunteer in the office and attended various campaign events, as did Philip. The first time she met his mother at the office she said, “You need to meet my son.” Torrie was receptive, but the couple never seemed to attend the same events. Also, as fate would have it, Philip’s mother lost Torrie’s telephone number.
Sometime later Torrie saw Phil’s mother at a service at Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church. She said, “Oh this was a Godsend. I lost your number and my son has been bugging me to get it.” The rest is history. Soon, the couple finally met for the first time on a first blind date.
Torrie celebrates her birthday Nov. 27, but she couldn’t get the day off. Instead, Philip and Torrie decided to celebrate the day before her birthday. The evening began with a lovely dinner at the Union Trust restaurant in Center City. Philip concocted an excuse to quickly get her back to her home after dinner. Torrie just knew he had planned a surprise birthday party for her. The surprise for Torrie was that no one was there and Phil asked her to sit down because they needed to talk.
Torrie recalls, “He said, “I can’t do this boyfriend, girlfriend thing anymore.” I’m thinking, “No, this guy is not dumping me on my birthday!” Before she became too upset, Philip was on bended knee. “I don’t even remember what he said. I just remember saying yes,” Torrie said. Once she gave him her answer, her family and his family members yelled, “Surprise!” They were hiding throughout the house. “It was so awesome. Phil and my best friend had been planning this for months. She had been coming down from New York to help him select the engagement ring,” Torrie said.
The Bridal Party
Torrie’s maids of honor were Porsha Summerville and Melanie Marcus. The bridesmaids were Candace Gibson, Rhonda Brodie, Dena Ellis and Erica Danquah. The bridesmaids wore black, satin Bill Levkoff gowns from L&H Bridal. The bride’s maids of honor wore black, satin Lazaro gowns, also from L&H Bridal, and carried hot pink bouquets. The flower girl, Kendall Taggart, wore an ivory, chiffon dress accessorized with delicate ruffled anklets and a matching headband.
Randall Jackson and Maurice Duckson served as Philip’s best men. Groomsmen were Chauncey McCall, Khalid Taggart, Spencer Hill and Roger Leysath Jr. The handsome ringbearer was Master Zarek Moore. The groom wore an ivory dinner jacket with black tuxedo pants and a butterfly bow tie. The groomsmen, fathers and ringbearer wore black Joseph Abboud tuxedos. All the menswear was selected from Black Tie Formal in Center City Philadelphia.
The couple’s reception was held at Tendenza by Cescaphe Event Group in Northern Liberties. Torrie’s and Philip’s names were beautifully monogrammed on the dance floor. Guests were awed by tiered centerpieces with fresh hydrangeas, calla lilies and assorted flowers in shades of pink and green. The custom lighting selected by Torrie added to the ambiance.
Torrie and Philip danced their first dance as Mr. and Mrs. Philip Duckson Jr. to “Real Love” by Eric Benet. Torrie and her father danced to “Sunshine of My Life” by Stevie Wonder. Philip and his lovely mother danced to “A Mother’s Love” by K.E.M.
Linda Leysath, the groom’s aunt, caught the exquisite bouquet and Thomas Pender, a friend of the groom, was victorious in catching the bride’s garter.
Family and friends traveled from Maryland, New York, Virginia and Washington, D.C., for Torrie’s and Philip’s wedding day. Many of the bride’s fellow members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Omega Omega Chapter were there for the joyous occasion. Many co-workers from Fox29 and SEPTA attended as well.
“The reception was top-notch and over-the-top glamorous, which was exactly what we wanted,” Torrie said.
Their cocktail reception featured the couple’s signature drink — refreshing watermelon martinis. Surf lovers enjoyed a raw bar, sushi and lobster. There were succulent petite lamb chops, filet mignon and dishes to please everyone’s palate. Following dinner, some guests enjoyed a cigar bar complete with cognac.
Torrie points out some of the special highlights of the celebration. “When it was time to party, flip-flops awaited the ladies so they could dance the night away. Our cake was perfect. I designed it with my mom. It was blinged out from top to bottom. There was a yummy dessert bar which included waffles and ice cream, fried Oreos, assorted pastries and lemon water ice.”
“Our wedding day was amazing,” said Torrie. “There were, of course, a few hiccups. However, God really blessed us with a great day. I thought I would be nervous, but I was perfectly calm. My good friend told me that morning to just pause and soak it all in, and I did. It was so great to see all my planning come together. I thank my family and friends for all of their help and support. When the doors opened at the church, I just remember looking at my handsome groom and thanking God for the moment. Our ceremony was really spiritual and beautiful. After we took our vows, we kissed and jumped the broom. The entire day was filled with love! Phil and I are so excited to see what God has in store for us.”
The newlyweds enjoyed a relaxing week-long honeymoon at Sandals Grande Resort in Antigua. The beautiful sand and turquoise-blue water of the tropical island were absolutely breathtaking. Torrie and Philip dined at Sandals’ amazing restaurants and relaxed during the entire stay.
Congratulations, and all the best to Mr. and Mrs. Philip H. Duckson Jr.!