Darius M. Billings and Ashley M. Baker were married by the Rev. Angela Patton in a beautiful, formal ceremony on Nov. 9. Ashley, given away in marriage by her father, Theodore E. Baker, was stunning in her ivory, shirred mermaid bridal gown. The strapless couture design featured a side train embellished with jewels and delicate beading accenting the gown’s bodice and side. She truly captured the glamorous, 1940s Hollywood era. Darius and his groomsmen wore Calvin Klein gray tuxedos with personalized gray and yellow Chuck Taylors.
Ashley, 35, is the daughter of Wanda C. Chatman and Theodore E Baker. Cecilia Baker is Ashley’s stepmother. Her maternal grandparents, Linwood and Eleanor Jones, have lived in Philadelphia’s Mt. Airy neighborhood for more than 40 years. Ashley is a graduate of Temple University, where she earned a degree in real estate finance. She is an entrepreneur, and a designer of unique jewelry who founded Ash Marie Jewelry in 2009.
Darius, 39, is the son of Judith Smith and the late Frankie Billings. He is from West Virginia and earned a degree in marketing from Howard University. Darius enjoys his career as director of marketing and merchandising for a major athletic retail company.
The Bridal Party
Loren Hamilton was Ashley’s matron of honor; her maid of honor was Tania Keith. Her bridesmaids were Alondeia Williams, Aiesha Hermitt, Sherita Starks, Melanie Williams, Daina Perez, Zoe Baker and Lauren Taylor. Ten-year-old Dabria Bilings, daughter of the groom, was the junior bridesmaid and the couple’s adorable nieces Belle Victoria Baker and Nylah Billings were flower girls.
Gregory Billings, brother of the groom, served as his best man. Four-year-old Reign Baker, the bride’s nephew, was the ringbearer and nine-year-old Noah Billings, the groom’s nephew, was the junior groomsman. Darius’ groomsmen were Marcus Oliver, Franklin Hairston, Gregory Richardson Jr., La Keem Dwight, Calcie Cooper, Channing Baker and John Thompson.
How They Met — The Proposal
While Ashley was studying at Temple University, Darius had graduated and worked for a major Philadelphia-based streetball apparel and footwear company. Surprisingly, Ashley and Darius never met while living and working in Philadelphia for many years, but did meet in Atlanta during the summer of 2010. They discovered that they knew a few of the same people and frequented some of the city’s most popular hot spots, and found it ironic that they never crossed paths.
? They were introduced by a mutual friend, Alondeia Chaney, one of Ashley’s bridesmaids. Alondeia called Ashley and asked if she wanted to go to a pre-season Falcons game with her new friend and neighbor. Ashley agreed and a few days later they met Darius at his apartment, only 10 doors down from Alondeia’s, to go to the game. Everyone had a great time cheering for the Falcons that day. When the game was over they went their separate ways. A few weeks later, Alondeia told Ashley that Darius and his friends were having an annual tailgate party for the Teessee State-Florida A&M Football Classic and she needed to be there. The couple enjoyed a fabulous evening and the beginning of a beautiful whirlwind courtship.
Darius asked Ashley’s father and brothers, Channing Baker and Avant Baker, for her hand in marriage a month before he proposed to her. Ashley’s parents were already planning a Christmas Eve party for a few friends and family members. Ashley had no idea that Darius would propose to her on Christmas Eve. Her brothers and father helped Darius with the surprise by distracting her, and met with complete success. Ashley said, “When I turned my attention to Darius, he was nervously on bended knee and asked, ‘Will you marry me?’” The rest is history.
“Our wedding day exceeded our wildest dreams. Our wedding planner, Sarina Lindsey — who is also a dear friend — took our vision and ran with it. Every detail was pure perfection. The customized and handpainted pillows made by fashion designer and friend Jasmine Elders were breathtaking. From our wonderful caterer (Epicurean Drama) to the amazing DJ Legacy (MTV DJ) & DJ Xzact made all our dreams come true. Our wedding day was gorgeous, the weather was spectacular and the ceremony was magical, funny and full of love,” said Ashley.
A joyous reception was held at the Ambient Plus Studio in downtown Atlanta. As the bridal party was photographed, everyone enjoyed a fantastic cocktail hour featuring a special signature drink and an array of hors d’oeuvres before a delicious sit down dinner.
The couple danced their first dance as husband and wife to “Truly” by Lionel Richie. Ashley and her father danced to two songs that were very meaningful to the bride and her father at an early age. The selections were “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” sung by Nikki Yanofsky, and “The Way We Were” by Barbara Streisand. Darius and his mother danced to “On this Day” by Christian Barnes. The bridal party song was, “Champagne Life” by Neo.
Ashley and Darius moved to Switzerland for seven months a week following their wedding. This exciting opportunity to live abroad was due to Darius being selected to work on a major strategic project for the athletic retail brand he works for. They plan to use this time to travel throughout Europe and enjoy“mini” honeymoons.
Ashley, who is like a daughter to me, shared, “The two words that Darius and I would use to describe our wedding would be ‘absolutely amazing’! If we would have to describe the love we feel for each other it would have to be the anonymous quote: ‘If I had my life to live over again, I would find you sooner so that I could love you longer.”
Congratulations and very best wishes are extended to Mr. and Mrs. Darius Billings!