We checked in with past Bridal Bliss sweethearts to find out more about their happily-ever-after. Join us as we celebrate joyous births, new homes, big promotions and more! (For more bridal recaps pick up the June issue of ESSENCE.)
Then and Now
The couples that we've introduced you to over the years in Bridal Bliss have been very busy since saying "I do." We caught up with many of them to find out what it was like sharing their big day with thousands and what happened after the honeymoon. Catch up with your favorite couples and share the love!
"On January 26th, 2013 we welcomed our little girl, Elodie, into the world," Piper shares. "She's almost 16 months now and she's a walking, talking whirlwind of a girl. Her favorite foods are bananas and seaweed. And, she's currently obsessed with throwing tennis balls for our dog, repeating animal sounds and pointing out when it snows."
Photo by margarita corporan
Christina and Tory Then
Christina and Tory tied the knot in beautiful Rancho Palos Verdes California at the Trump National Golf Course in 2011.
"One year after tying the knot we were blessed with a beautiful set of fraternal twins," says Christina. "Avery Victoria Owens (girl) and Jaxon Keith Owens (boy) were born on November 3, 2012. They are now 17 months old."
Amber and A.Dee Then
There’s no place like home, and Amber and A.Dee couldn’t agree more. “We chose to get married at home because we wanted to have a wedding that felt personal and intimate,” says Amber who married her love in the fall of 2011. “Plus, it gave all our out-of-town relatives a chance to see our new home for the first time.”
"We welcomed Ms. Alice Olivia Williams to the family in July 2013," says A.Dee. "She’s named for the very important women in our lives, our late grandmothers. The experience of pregnancy and raising a child has brought us closer together. There is nothing like waking up to her smile in the morning. Nothing. I also received tenure at California State University in Los Angeles. Amber is still working to finish her Ph.D. at the University of California – Los Angeles and she finally got her driver’s license after nearly 30 years. Ha!"
Shalisha and Bencil Then
Shalisha and Bencil fell in love in high school and made their love last through their tough college years. They were overjoyed to make it official on June 18, 2011. "As soon as the article hit, our texts and emails started blowing up with congratulatory messages," says Shalisha. "For a few hours, we felt like Beyonce and Jay!"
"We've had a precious baby boy since we tied the knot," Shalisha shares. "His name is Bencil Quinn Smith II. This vibrant one-year old has added so much more positivity and love to our life and marriage."
Tiffany and Joe Then
Joe first laid eyes on Tiffany at her surprise birthday party, but he never got a chance to spea. When he saw her again at his birthday celebration, he felt it was the best gift ever. They were married on July 14, 2012, in Durham, North Carolina, in a modern, outdoor occasion to be remembered.
"I found out that I was expecting while Joe was away with his job," says Tiffany. "I decided to contact our photographer to help me come up with a plan to capture yet another memorable moment in our lives. I told Joe I had a surprise for him. It was there at the Gaylord Resort at the National Harbor that I revealed we were expecting by tossing confetti that read "It's A Boy" and "It's A Girl." He had no clue that the photographer was hiding in a bush right in front of us to make sure that it was a moment we would never forget."
Tai and Gavin Then
When Gavin saw his bride Tai for the very first time he was overcome with emotion, and so were we. "I love having my best friend around me all the time," he says. "I love that I finally know what love really is." See their "I dos" here.
"Within these past 10 months of marriage Gavin and I have completed several running events together and welcomed our second dog to our home," says Tai. "Our favorite part of being featured has been the positive comments and love we have received from people we have never met. It is a blessing to know that we have been an inspiration to other couples. We saw many posts that celebrated the love we expressed through our photos and that is exactly how we want our day to be remembered, with love."
Staci and Joe Then
Staci and Joseph's cliffside, Sedona wedding portraits were truly spectacular and you loved that she found the love of her life in her 40s when and where she least expected it.
"In addition to my blog, Permed to Natural, my husband and I started a new power washing business where we live in Albuquerque, New Mexico," says Staci. "It's called Clean Rite. We’ve been in business since early March and have already gained clients that include gas stations, supermarkets and home owners. Plus, we adopted Bolo from a breeder in Georgia a few weeks after our wedding when he was just 8-weeks-old. Bolo is extremely smart, funny, playful and fiercely independent, which means, even with training, he is hard-headed. Bolo is very much like our child."
Annie and Renje' Then
Now this is the look of love. We gushed over Annie ad Renje's spring wedding in 2012 and their love made us smile and smile. "Renje' thought the coolest thing about being featured in Bridal Bliss was being on the homepage next to a picture of Obama," says Annie. "Other than getting married, that was definitely the highlight of his year. Plus, my professors, distant coworkers, and even security guards at my school all said they saw us online. It was a great Thanksgiving discussion topic. You guys really bring people together."
"I was in nurse practitioner school at NYU, and Renje' was in physician assistant school when we got married," says Annie. "We have both graduated and gotten our first jobs. I am a surgery NP and Renje' is a vascular surgery PA. We have also spent time traveling in the two years since our nuptials, to places including Haiti, San Francisco, Mexico City, Miami Carnival, Puerto Rico and Brazil."
Ashley and Kevin Then
"It was such a great experience being featured in Bridal Bliss," says Ashley. "We really appreciated all of the love and support from the large community of ESSENCE readers! Bridal Bliss is a wonderful segment showcasing the real love of couples like us and seeing so many others celebrating our love along with us was simply astounding."
"Kevin and I have been blessed to share many milestones since our wedding day," Ashley shares. "Firstly, Kevin graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School and is now a radiation oncologist. It really has been amazing to see him become such a wonderful physician who is dedicated to work and his wife. Also, last May, I graduated from the University of Michigan (UM) School of Social Work. Now, we live happily in Canton, Michigan where we have purchased a home. Last but certainly not least, we adopted a sweet poodle puppy named Elle. She has brought us much joy and made us laugh with her silly antics."
Ayanna and Nick Then
Ayann and Nick tied the knot in July 2011 on the California coast. "Unbeknownst to us, our photographer submitted our photos to Bridal Bliss," says Ayanna. "We were overwhelmed by the response from strangers inquiring how we included certain aspects to our day. Many questions from others centered around whether we were fearful of straying from tradition. I think we were able to 'give permission' to others to be true to themselves, and them only, on their special day."
"We’ve been blessed with the opportunity to travel these past three years and remain committed to seeing as much of the world as we can," says Ayanna.
Alexis and Ty Then
Alexis met her dream guy Ty n the last place she expected — a barbershop. The two fell in love almost instantly and four years later made it official on June 4, 2011 in Atlanta, GA. We adored their modern wedding style. "We loved being featured in Bridal Bliss because it gave us an opportunity to share our 'unexpected' love story and special day with readers," she shares. "It was such an honor!"
Since tying the knot, Alexis and Ty welcomed a beautiful baby boy, and they couldn't be happier. "Ty A. Upshaw II was born on May 27, 2013, Memorial Day," she shares. "Just a few days before my due date, but right on time. I had an amazing pregnancy! No sickness or pain, and honestly, I felt more beautiful than I have ever felt in my life. Sometimes I even miss my bump!"
Shanelle and Sean Then
Shannelle and Sean's destination wedding style warmed our hearts. Remember the love? "My favorite part of being featured in Bridal Bliss was the seeing how many sisters over the age of 35 were inspired by our story and able to know that they could get their 'happily ever after' even if they did not meet Mr. Right in high school, college or at the local coffee shop by 30," says the bride. "My husband and I are very blessed!"
Photo by Clifton Henri
Shanelle and Sean Now
"The first year’s anniversary is paper, so two days after ours we gave each other paper by signing the deed to our brand new dream home," says Shanelle. "My husband even got his man cave! Plus, I was so inspired by my wedding and my love of fashion that I opened my own bridal boutique, Haute & Co. Bridal which is located in the trendy River North area of Chicago. It is Chicago’s first and only luxury bridal boutique focusing on curvy and plus-size brides."
Charis and Peter Then
Charis, 31, a high school teacher, and Peter, who works in health administration, were married in a romantic Atlanta ceremony in 2012. "One of our favorite parts of being in Bridal Bliss was having our friends and family from around the world relive our special day," says Charis. "How neat is it to have someone you’ve never met tell your groomsman, in another country, that they saw your wedding in Essence? Amazing!"
"Peter and I are expecting our first baby, a little boy, this month," says Charis. "We are beyond excited and can’t wait to see his beautiful little face. We also bought our first house in Clarksburg, Maryland in March 2014. It’s been quite the adventure!"
Evan Christina and Carnell Then
"Our favorite part of being featured in Bridal Bliss was having the opportunity to relive our wedding day with our family, friends and Essence readers," she tells us.
Photo by Harwell Photography
Evan Christina and Carnell Now
"After 7 years of playing in the NFL, Carnell retired and we moved to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to focus on our independent insurance agency, Pro Player Insurance Group," says Evan Christina. "We also welcomed to the world our beautiful son Cole, who is also our first-born child. We have been so blessed during our marriage and we look forward to celebrating many more milestones."
Photo by Tori Lassiter
Dawn and Reginald Then
"Being featured in Bridal Bliss was an amazing experience," says Dawn, who married her love Reginald last summer. "I loved the positive comments I received from women in my age group that found hope for love through our story. It was exciting to be recognized by strangers for being featured on Essence.com, and it was such an honor to have my dress acknowledged in the best of 2013 edition."
"Since our wedding my husband has started his own professional services firm… and this has been a dream of his for years," says Dawn. "To see it finally come to fruition is wonderful."
Deborah and Samuel Then
We adored lovebirds Deborah and Sam's fall wedding style. "It was great viewing the pictures and reading our story in Bridal Bliss," she tells us. "It was as though we were re-living the day. Being featured was also a great conduit to reconnections with old friends we hadn't connected with in a long time. Sam's 6th grade teacher even reached out to him after seeing our wedding day featured!"
"Since getting married we purchased a home together in Silver Spring Maryland," says Deborah. "It's been quite an adventure getting parts of our new home remodeled and furnished- but it's like a new fresh start on our journey together. It's exciting!"
India and Jerej Then
India and Jerej's fall destination wedding was so dreamy. "My favorite part is being able to relive that amazing day at any point," says India. "I was so excited when our Bridal Bliss went live and the excitement of our friends, parents and siblings was priceless. It was on everyone's Facebook page. It's also a great way to share your day and your love story with people who couldn't make it. How often do you sit down and actually write out your memories. It'll be something we'll look back on years from now."
"We are currently expecting our newest milestone, a baby girl this summer," says Tinique. "We have a three-year old, Sydni, and she is anxiously awaiting her sister's arrival."
Jasmine and Reginald Then
After falling for each other over the phone on the Fourth of July 2009, Jasmine and Reginald met face-to-face for the first time. They tied the knot in the spring of 2011. "The excitement receiving messages from others even before we saw the feature will forever be a lifelong memory," she says.
The happy couple of celebrated lots of great milestones since saying "I do." "Reginald launched R. Hameth Photography and graduated from New Memphis Institute's (formerly Leadership Academy) Fellows Program," she says. "Our son, Austin, was inducted into National Jr. Honor Society and was chosen as outstanding leader for his high school football and basketball teams while our daughter, Haley, made the high school cheering squad."
Kaelie and Andre Then
Kaelie and Andre tied the knot in the spring of 2011 in Barbados. "We were overwhelmed by the kindness of people's comments on the feature," says Kaelie. "Complete strangers in many cases were encouraging us for the future. As recent as two weeks ago people often still run into us and comment how lovely they thought our wedding day was because they saw the feature in ESSENCE!"
Photo by Magical Moment Photography
Kaelie and Andre Now
"We haven't started our family yet but have really enjoyed each other and crossing lots of 'to go places' off our bucket list in the past three years, including: New Zealand, Malaysia, Bali, The Great Barrier Reef, Melbourne, Sydney, Margaret River, Australia, China, Singapore, South Africa, and lots more," says Kaelie. "Plus, we enjoyed Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago and the Crop Over Festival in Barbados, which we love. Later this year we will be gearing up for a relocation from Perth due to Kaelie's work and it will likely be within South East Asia."
Kahran and Regis Then
"Who wouldn't want to be featured on Essence.com?" asks photographer Kahran, who married her love Regis in the fall of 2011. "It's always a girl's dream to be included with all of the wonderful weddings featured in Bridal Bliss. It allowed us to relive our day all over again. Our family and friends loved seeing our wedding featured as well."
Kahran and Regis Now
"No kids (yet) although Reg is still trying to negotiate a dog, cat or any other pet he can get his hands on," says Kahran. "Since the wedding, I switched my day job and we've had more time to continue building our photography business together. We are in the progress of launching a new commercial children's division of our company."
Marquita and Chris Then
Southern belle Marquita met her dream guy Christopher at her Fourth of July party. When he proposed the couple set out to plan a one-of-a-kind rustic and elegant affair that paid tribute to Marquita’s southern roots and we loved it! "My favorite part of Bridal Bliss was actually seeing how our story in words and pictures impacted others," says Marquita. "I enjoyed reading the comments of others who found some significance and meaning from our situation. I will never forget a comment from one of the readers who found comfort in the fact that it was never too late to find true love. Being in our forties, we did not fit the traditional bride and groom story, but I found great joy in the fact that others could relate to us and find hope for themselves."
Marquita and Chris Now
"After many years as an executive in the corporate world, I made a major life decision to devote my talents and energies to truly helping others on a profound level," says Marquita. "I applied and was accepted into a Masters Program in counseling psychology am now completing my second semester. My goal is to become a counseling psychologist and to help others find their way home. My husband, while still working in IT at a major international corporation, is also taking classes and pursuing critical certifications to take his career to the next level in the field of advanced technology. He is more motivated than ever to have an impact in his field. It’s never too late to take control of your life and make major life changes that better suit who you are and what makes you happy."
Meet Mary and Akin's new baby, a daughter named Lily, 10 months.
Reiko and Sean Then
Reiko and Sean's surprise wedding on a budget proved to everyone that fabulousity doesn't have to cost a fortune. "We loved sharing how you could still have a fun and intimate wedding without going into debt!" says Reiko.
Photo by Nathan Russell Photography
Reiko and Sean Now
Reiko and Sean are now proud parents to daughter Zara Kye.
Tanya and Ron Then
After exchanging vows with her new husband, Ron, at the Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort in St. Lucia, Tanya rode off into the sunset on a horse led by her knight in shining armor. We love that Ron gave the love of his life the fairytale ending she deserved. "My favorite part of being featured in Essence was sharing the collaborative effort provided by all of my family and guests in celebrating our love in a non-traditional destination wedding," she shares.
Tanya and Ron are expecting a little one this fall. Congrats, you two!
Kelli and Jerrod Then
Kelli and Jerrod made it official last March in Puerto Rico. We were nuts about their destination wedding style and fabulous photography. "The best part of being featured in Bridal Bliss was the continued exposure for our photographer Cendino Temé and our wedding planner Chezelle Rodriguez," says Kelli. "They are both super talented and we're happy that our wedding was able to help showcase their talents."
"We're in the process of saving to buy or build a home within the next 18 months and planning for a family," says Kelli. "We're excited and trying to save like crazy."
Aisha and JB Then
Plastic surgeon Aisha and retired football player JB first noticed each other at the bar in a jazz club. On October 6, 2012, after seven years together, they were married in a beautiful destination wedding at the Rockhouse Hotel & Spa in Negril, Jamaica. "Our favorite part of being in Bridal Bliss was that we could share one of the greatest days of our lives with Essence and it's viewers," says Aisha. "I loved that we were able to share more than just photos, but also our love story, with our family and friends by just sending a link. We also won the Bridal Bliss award for Sweetest Love Story, which was really cool!"
"After the wedding I finished my residency program that following July and moved back home to Atlanta to join a private practice," says Aisha. "I practice aesthetic and reconstructive surgery in the Metro Atlanta area and have been building my practice over the past eight months. We thought we were going to wait until this summer to try to start expanding our family, but God had other plans. I'm currently pregnant with a little girl who is due in July. We are very blessed, excited, and to be honest, a little nervous!"
Chanelle and Renaldo Then
Chanelle and Renaldo's DC metro wedding was just dripping with style and sophistication. "Our favorite part about being featured in Bridal Bliss was to definitely have something to reflect back upon many years from now," she says. "It gave us the opportunity to share our love and our story with the world. Bridal Bliss is a great platform to display couples that are in love and believe in marriage, and it shows that love and happiness in relationships is achievable and happening everyday all around us!"
"I now have my own travel agency, JetSet Chic Travel, and we are super excited about it and have been receiving great business and great clients," says Chanelle.
Cassandra and Marlon Then
Cassandra and Marlon's elegant Atlanta "I dos" were unforgettable. "Being featured in a well known magazine that features so many beautiful stories about Life, Love and courage it was a honor," she shares. "After we were featured in the actual magazine, many of our friends and family ran out to purchase a copy and some even asked us to autograph it, which we thought was so funny."
“Now that we have settled into our home in the northern suburbs of Atlanta we have just been loving, listening and learning one other,” says Cassandra. “Marlon has changed careers by joining the State Farm Family. We have sent our last kid, Deione, off to Georgia Southern University. We have now been able to enjoy one another with no kids being in the house.” They spent their first anniversary in Cabo.