“I knew that Khambrel was ‘The One’ once we made the decision to be more than friends,” beaming bride Erica tells us. “I realized that he had grown up to be such a gentleman, a hard worker and a man of God. He treated me so well and was always so thoughtful and considerate. All the things that I had learned to appreciate in a companion and the qualities I wanted in a husband. When I realized I had a good man and a true friend in him, I knew he was it for me.”

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Erica and Khambrel became good friends in the 6th grade and kept in touch all the way through their college years. Then one day a “Happy New Year” text sparked an epic phone conversation and the distant friends became lovers. See their Valentine’s Day wedding style!

Charli Penn
Sep, 23, 2015

Bride: Erica Nicole Jackson, 28, Internal Auditor

Groom: Khambrel Rashaad Ward, 28, Director of Intercultural Affairs

Married On: 2/14/15

Ceremony: Augustinian Cloisters at One & Only Ocean Club Nassau, Bahamas

Reception Location: British Colonial Hilton in Nassau, Bahamas

Wedding Style: Island Elegance

Love Of My Life
Unbeknownst to them at the time Erica and Khambrel’s love story began when they were in the sixth grade. They shared several of the same classes and friends and eventually formed a friendship of their own. “I thought he was a smart-mouthed instigator who encouraged his friends to do idiotic things," Erica jokes. "I thought we were genuinely friends,” Khambrel playfully adds. When they got to high school they grew closer. So close, in fact, that even when they no longer attended the same school they still kept in touch with one another. Their friendship lasted through college. “We always managed to stay in touch while I attended Florida A & M University and he was at the University of Florida,” says Erica. “And we saw each other on occasion.” Then one text message changed everything. On New Year’s Day 2013, Khambrel sent Erica a text message that simply read, “Happy New Year.” That’s when sparks began to fly between them and that one little message ignited a six-month long phone conversation that led to a deeply rewarding, romantic relationship that neither of them saw coming. No longer “just friends,” Erica and Khambrel began their journey to happily ever after.

Surprise!
In early 2014, Khambrel and Erica began working together to plan his birthday party. Together they worked hard to make sure that every little detail would be perfect. “What I thought was a birthday party that we planned for him together, turned out to be a set up for a surprise proposal,” Erica recalls. “Little did I know, all the work we were doing was for me!” That night on his birthday he asked Erica to be his wife, and what she didn’t know at the time was that just a few months prior to the occasion, Khambrel bought a beautiful ring and asked her mom, sister and “favorite sister-cousin” for permission to ask for her hand in marriage. “Since I had been a part of the initial planning process, I was shocked when it turned out to be a proposal,” she tells us. “He got me good!”

Photos: Cendino Temé Photography