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Bridal Bliss: Justin And Shardae's Gorgeous New York Wedding Was Rich With Tradition

The Cute Cunninghams

David A. Bertram

By Lauren Porter · April 11, 2018

If it wasn’t for a day in 2011, the groom would have never known that the bride was the woman his heart had been longing for. After dating for three years and being engaged for almost a year, the two made their commitment to forever in a gorgeous ceremony. Take a look!

Bride: Shardae Hale, 26, Social Worker
Groom: Justin Cunningham, 34, Educator, Musician and Preacher
The Big Day: 9/1/2017
Location: Zion Cathedral Cogic and Sand Castle
Style/Theme: Traditional

"It felt amazing being a bride! It was absolutely everything I dreamed of and more," said Shardae. "It was my fairytale wedding day. The staff at the Sand Castle waited on us like we were royalty. They made sure that I as the bride had everything I needed and more."

"My father, mother, Justin’s mother and I took the train into Manhattan for a scheduled appointment at Kleinfeld’s," admitted the bride about her gorgeous Pronovias wedding gown. "I was never really into the show but Justin’s mother wanted me to have that experience. I am not picky and I really dislike shopping so the quicker I found the dress the better off I was! I knew it was the one when I walked out and my dad started tearing up. I was determined not to make full eye contact with him because as I stated before, I only have one level of crying at that’s ugly."

"The man I married is full of compassion," said Shardae to describe Justin. "He’s an all-star comedian who can light up a room with his presence. He is a man of God who loves to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. He is the baddest bass player on this side of Heaven. He is loving, caring, respectful and honest."

"I planned a group church trip to Honolulu Hawaii in October of 2016. I negotiated a contract and secured 30 flights. Justin and I had been discussing when we wanted to get married but I felt we needed more time to prepare for the engagement. He agreed. Little did I know he was calling the resort, speaking with the group manager that I was working with and coordinating a surprise celebration engagement dinner. He began to take my brother, father, mother and me around the property.  So as we’re walking and getting closer to the end of the tour he hands me Justin’s IPAD and presses the play button. My heart just sank. How didn’t I know? I’m usually so attentive! He proposed and I said, ‘yes!’”

The bride had her mother by her side to help as she prepared for the biggest day of her life and there is nothing more special!

"When I walked down the aisle and saw Justin, I cried. He was already crying. Justin always says that there was something in the AC that made his eyes water but he was already prepared with tissue in his pocket!"

"My father, Bishop Harrison Hale, walked me down the aisle," said the bride. "He was the one who molded me into the woman I am today. 4 months before my wedding he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. We didn’t know if he would make it or be in the hospital. He had emergency surgery to remove his prostate and walked me down the aisle while still recovering. He also performed the ceremony. He is the reason I am as strong as I am today."

"The church was filled with family, friends, and colleagues that came to support our special day," said Justin. "But when I looked into her eyes at the altar it was as though time stood still and there was no one else that existed in the world except for her, me and God. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says 'A threefold cord is not easily broken.'”

David A. Bertram

"We are both born and raised Pentecostal, my father is a Bishop, and Justin is a Pastor so it was very important to us that we followed the structure of a religious ceremony," said the bride. "We had a prayer. We had the Old and New Testament Scripture read and we also took communion. We wanted to be sure that the ceremony was sacred and spirit filled."

David A. Bertram

"I felt complete, whole and fully satisfied," said Shardae of being at the altar with Justin. "We did both the traditional vows because we believe in what is says and we also wanted to write our own vows to each other. So we did both!"


Video: Brown Sofa Video
Photographer: David A. Beltram Wedding
Planner: Colette Goodman
DJ: MJ Entertainment Exclusive 
Reception Venue: The Sand Castle
Flowers: Terracotta Flowers
MUA/Hair: Tameeka Lee
Bridesmaids dresses/brides jumpsuit designer: D. Auxilly
Grooms Suit: Sebastian Cruz
Groomsmen Suits: Men's Wearhouse
Limo: Richard Raymond
Photo booth: Vanity Photobooths

A happy moment for the bride and groom who are now officially one!

"I knew she was the one when she showed me that she was confident enough to advise me about another woman to go and pursue the other woman," recalled Justin of when he know Shardae was the one for him. "It baffled me because I knew she liked me at that point. How could you tell me to go and pursue another woman? Don’t you want me? But I learned that she knew how valuable she was and believed just as she stated to me that same night, 'If it’s meant to be, it will be.'"

On her big day, the bride had a sister circle that prayed hard for her. There's nothing more beautiful!

David A. Beltram www.qephotovideo.com

"First and most importantly, she is a God-fearing woman," said Justin of Shardae. "She loves God. She has a great sense of humor. She is caring, sweet, intelligent and very creative. She is a woman who goes after what she wants and won’t stop until she gets it. She’s a woman that everyone loves because of her inner and outer beauty."

David A. Beltram www.qephotovideo.com

"What I love most about her is her ability to change my whole mood," said the groom. "If I’m mad or upset, she immediately can change that just by looking into my eyes. Sometimes I find myself telling her don’t look at me. Let me be mad! Lol and then she makes me smile and then I’m not mad anymore."

David A. Beltram www.qephotovideo.com

Aren't the groom and his groomsmen handsome?!

"I was not expecting true love when and with whom I found it," Justin admitted. "Besides the fact that I was just getting out of a relationship, I believe that often times when you are looking too hard for love, you mistake other things or love. We just let love happen and allowed it to do what it does."

"We were both in a relationship but knew we were interested in each other," said the bride. "My relationship went sour for various reasons and his relationship was rocky but he really loved her. One night he and I were talking and he was venting about the issues he was having with his relationship. So I told him, 'If you think she is the one, you need to pursue her and try to make it work.' He responded, 'You do realize that you may be pushing me into the arms of another woman.' I told him 'If it’s meant to be it will be.' I knew he was the one when my relationship with God grew closer, my motivation increased and the sound of his voice put my mind, body, and soul at ease."

David A. Beltram www.qephotovideo.com

"I love his humor," said the bride of her groom. "He makes me laugh. He keeps things fun. Being married and living together is a major adjustment. He’s made the whole process fun."

David A. Beltram www.qephotovideo.com

For their first dance as a bride and groom, the couple shared a moment to “A Thousand Years” by Cristina Perri.

How special was it for the bride to have her dad there on her wedding day. The moment was so special she couldn't help but shed a few tears. 

The groom and his mom had the sweetest moment on the dance floor and our hearts can't help but love how precious this photo is. 

"So we are not cake people," said Shardae. "We literally picked a cake from the venue that we thought looked nice and left it like that! Very simple and to the point. But cake looked amazing!"

That cake looks amazing!

After an outfit change for Shardae, she and her bridesmaids definitely slayed the night!

Here's to a lifetime of wedded bliss for the bride and groom! 

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