One of the best parts of our job at The Philadelphia Tribune is to celebrate love and marriage through our “A Wedding Story” series. These are the couples we were able to highlight in 2020 — pandemic and all.

Chiantii Sherrills and Eric Freeman

The former Chiantii Sherrills and Eric Freeman were married at the Falls Manor Catering & Special Events in Bristol, Pennsylvania. Pastor of Nothing But The Word Deliverance Church, which is Chiantii’s church, Apostle Patricia Phillips was the officiant. The wedding colors were Tiffany blue with the maids of Hhnor wearing Malibu blue and the groomsmen wearing gray. The flowers, which were white roses with a hint of Tiffany blue in them, were done by Flowers By Elizabeth in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. The wedding was co-coordinated by Kim Warren and Dana Russell.

The couple said: “Overall, our entire wedding was amazing from start to finish. Falls Manor did an amazing job. The level of service and attention to detail was impeccable. We were happy to share such an amazing day full of love with family. If we had to choose a quote to best describe our marriage, it would be ‘The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart’.”

Vanessa Tyler and Reginald Cleveland

The former Vanessa Tyler and Reginald Cleveland were married at St. Marks Baptist Church in Browns Mills, New Jersey. The wedding colors were rose quartz and gray. The bride’s mother did the floral arrangements. Vanessa channeled her inner princess with all of her dresses. The first gown was white, traditional ballroom-styled gown with a pretty sweetheart neckline and lots of shimmer. It reminded the bride of Cinderella’s gown which made her feel like royalty when she put it on. The second dress was an off-white ivory color, very form-fitting, small train attached to the back, lots of lace and beaded details on the front. The reception dress was more relaxed, easier to move around in and perfect for dancing.

The groom said: “A strong friendship is the glue that bound us together. The bride: The greatest thing you will ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return.”

Mackenzie Mercedes Muscat and Mario M. Benoit

Mackenzie Mercedes Muscat and Mario M. Benoit were married at the Falls Manor Catering and Special Events in Bristol, Pennsylvania. Rev. Williams Fishman and Rev. Philip Sciscione were the officiants. Red was the wedding color. The flowers, which were white and red, were done by Ricardo Melys Florist. Mackenzie said she fell in love with the first dress she tried on. It was love at first sight for her Allure Bridal gown from Bijou Boutique in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. The ivory gown was covered with small white and ivory pearls. For her reception, the bride donned a custom-made gown.

“The venue, Falls Manor, was breathtaking. We were very happy with the choice that we made. We were so glad we chose the venue that we did. We can’t imagine living our life without each other. We are very fortunate to love each other the way we do.”

Shanika and Shateama Wright

Shanika Wright and the former Shateama Hagans were married at Falls Manor Catering and Special Events in Bristol, Pennsylvania. The wedding colors were gray, rose gold, blush and champagne. Shanika found a white trumpet fit gown with the perfect amount of gold-beaded leaves at David’s Bridal. The bride felt beautiful in the off-the-shoulder gown that was completed with a matching bustle.

Anisha and Jordan Johnson

The former Anisha Panday and Jordan Johnson were married at Glen Foerd On the Delaware in Philadelphia, overlooking the Delaware River near the mouth of Poquessing Creek.

The couple also had an Indian ceremony the week before their wedding. Anisha and Jordan got married on the lawn under a wooden arch built by the groom’s mother.

The wedding’s vibe can best be described as a mix of a whimsical garden with a bit of old Hollywood glamour accented with lavender.

Anisha had an open-back blush gown with intricate beading that she purchased from Viero Bridal boutique in New York City. Anisha envied brides who were able to find “the dress” immediately. She went to 12 different dress stores in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia before finally saying yes to her dress.

Stephanie and Patrick Sandlin

Stephanie Lynn Dowling and Patrick Matthew Sandlin cut their guest list of 220 down to about 50 guests and got everything ready in two weeks despite a few challenges. —Michael Mack III photo

The former Stephanie Lynn Dowling and Patrick Matthew Sandlin were at 5100 Banquet Hall on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia after having to switch to a smaller venue because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The couple cut their guest list of 220 down to about 50 guests and got everything ready in two weeks despite a few challenges.

Michelle Taylor, the wedding coordinator, made the decorations and arranged the flowers. The couple’s color scheme included various degrees of purple featuring plum, lilac and lavender with each of her seven bridesmaids wearing a different shade.

After months of searching at bridal boutiques for the perfect dress, Stephanie decided to go with a custom gown. She looked beautiful in her princess ball gown adorned with over 3,000 crystals made by Kashian Alfred.

The couple said, “Planning a wedding can be very stressful but planning a wedding during a global pandemic is enough to make someone lose their mind. We were constantly wondering whether or not our wedding was even going to happen and in the end, the wedding we originally planned didn’t happen but we wouldn’t allow it to stop us. With the love and support of our family and friends, we stood before our loved ones on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, and said ‘I do!’”

Jennifer Biancia Lewis and Richard Eddie Leon Norris

Jennifer Biancia Lewis and Richard Eddie Leon Norris were married at a socially-distanced outdoor ceremony in Camden County, New Jersey.

The small black-tie formal wedding took place in the garden at the couple’s home complete with beautiful plants, flower gardens and a large gazebo decorated with hanging silk flowers.

The couple loves to garden and is known to spend hours planting flowers so naturally, they decided to have a “garden-themed” wedding.

The wedding’s aesthetic was black-tie formal with shades of gray. Then men of the “Bridal Circle” wore black tuxedos and the ladies were in shades of the grey. The bride was stunning in her sweetheart neckline ball gown featuring light shades of blush complimented by beading and shimmer.

The bride said: “The title of the first book I wrote is “Life’s A Journey – Not A Sprint.” On our new journey as husband and wife, I’m so looking forward to experiencing it TOGETHER.”

The groom said: “Reunited with the love of my life. I’m blessed. It was simply a magical, breathtaking day. You could feel the love in the air.”

Lisa Joanne Stewart and Harold David New

In order to get a marriage license, the former Lisa Joanne Stewart and Harold David New had to get creative.

Philadelphia’s City Hall was closed but the bride did some research and discovered that the Bucks County Register of Wills had developed a pilot program to virtually award marriage licenses. Luckily for the couple, the licenses were valid anywhere within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They logged onto a Zoom call with the Register of Wills, got their marriage license then headed to the digital chapel of love.

The couple was married at The Historic African Episcopal Church of Saint Thomas in Philadelphia by the Very Rev. Canon Martini Shaw with assistance from the Rev. Dr. Vincent E. Stokes Sr., pastor of Harold’s church, Holy Cross Baptist Church. The couple’s wedding date was what would have been the bride’s mother’s 84th birthday. Katrina Harris Marshall was the day-of event coordinator. She designed and made the boutonnieres for the groom and escorts. Katrina also made corsages for the hostesses, the harpist, cellist and the ladies who read the Scriptures during the Mass. The wedding colors were lavender and ivory.

In a conscious effort to keep their guests safe, Lisa and Harold had a virtual wedding via Zoom. They were the first virtual wedding for Saint Thomas. Caroline Creidenberg of Wedfuly ran the entire Zoom call from Denver, Colorado. Caroline is a wedding coordinator that offered her services to couples whose wedding plans had been impacted by the pandemic. Caroline greeted guests virtually and helped them solve any technical issues. Guests were able to view a slide show which included photos of the bride and groom, as harpist Candace Lark and cellist Ezgi Yargici played a suite of classical repertoire. Over 200 guests logged in to celebrate the happy couple.

Out of concern for the health and well-being of each other, they quarantined from each other during the earlier phases of the pandemic as we prayerfully continued to plan our wedding. It was certainly a small sacrifice to be separated for a period of time in order to reserve the right to love each other for many years to come. This time apart certainly presented us with an even deeper appreciation for the gift of each day and truly made us realize that life is short, and that love shouldn’t wait. They are so grateful to God for blessing us with each other and for helping us to understand the true meaning of love and commitment. Despite the challenging and unprecedented times that we were navigating through, we continued to trust in His plan for our lives together. Not even a global pandemic was able to stand in His way.

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