If you’ve ever been to Essence Festival, you know its an insanely busy weekend where anything can happen…even a surprise wedding!
Sunette Thompson and her then fiancée, Lisa Wyatt, had been planning to head down to the 2018 Essence Festival for over a year. Little did Lisa know, there was so much more on the agenda, as Sunette had gathered more than one hundred of their closest family and friends for a wedding she had planned to surprise her with.
The act of surprise has been a recurring theme in their relationship. Lisa had turned her own birthday party into the sweetest proposal. “Hours into the party, I was given a microphone, informed Sunette that it was always an engagement party, bent the knee, and the rest is history! ” Lisa says. In return, Sunette felt as though it was only right to return the loving gesture. “Lisa surprised me with an amazing proposal, so I decided to surprise her with an epic wedding!” she told ESSENCE.
The entire French Quarter got to join in on Lisa and Sunette’s wedding celebration. There was a lively second line procession, good food and all-around good vibes on the last day Essence Fest as these two joined in holy matrimony. Long live love!
Scroll through the gallery and see the most beautiful photos from Lisa and Sunette’s wedding.
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During a birthday celebration she had thrown for Lisa, Sunette says she soon realized their guests had come out for another very special reason. "Lisa asked me to have a seat on her lap as we watched this amazing video of our 8-year love journey together. I alternated between huge bursts of laughter and ugly cries. As the movie came to an end, our dear friend Todd began singing, 'Bless the Broken Road.' Lisa got down on one knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with her. Without hesitation, I said 'YES!'”
Sunette's simple yet elegant bridal look didn't break the bank. "I actually lucked up on my dress during a visit to a pop-up shop hosted by a boutique in Atlanta," she tells ESSENCE.
We Are Gathered Here Today...
Sunette invited over one hundred of the couples' friends and family to be apart of their surprise wedding under the guise of it being solely being a group trip to Essence Festival. Everyone knew about our pending nuptials for a year...except Lisa!
Sunette's Not-So-Little Secret
Sunette began the surprise wedding day, which also fell on their 10th anniversary, by serving Lisa breakfast in bed. Her wedding attire was hanging in the closet. After Lisa got dressed, she was blindfolded and taken down to Hotel Mazarin’s breathtaking courtyard.
Tears Of Joy
"When my blindfold was removed, I looked out and saw over one hundred of our family and friends standing before me," Lisa told ESSENCE of the big surprise. "Needless to say, I was completely overwhelmed! As I surveyed the audience, I cried profusely…THE UGLY CRY!"
From "Me" To "We"
"It is literally in the blink of an eye that you become one," said Sunette. "It was and still is one of the most perfect moments of my life."
Always With Us
The ceremony included an ancestral dedication led by Sunette's sister, Imani, that paid homage to their parents who are now in the spirit world.
I Want To Thank You
Sunette credits her loyal tribute, especially her friend Keith, for helping her pull off such an epic event. "It was truly a collaborative effort," she says. "The surprise wouldn’t have been possible without my amazing family and friends. "
Stepping Into Their Future Like...
Sunette and Lisa made it official by jumping the broom.
You Can't Rain On Our Parade
"After the ceremony, we commenced to lead the second line, our guests, and the many who joined down Bourbon Street in a parade," said Lisa. "It was phenomenal! My wife pulled off the most Epic surprise wedding ever, and during Essence Fest weekend!"
We're With The Band
The couple's second line procession went from the ceremony all the way to the reception.
The Heart Of New Orleans
Sunette says Hotel Mazarin, the venue for their ceremony, was the perfect choice for their wedding day. "Not only was the price in my budget, but the location of the hotel was in the heart of the French Quarter and the hotel captured the spirit of what I envisioned for our wedding day."
A DIY Touch
Though the food and cake were coordinated by the hotel, the couple actually saved money by decorating the reception space themselves.
What About Your Tribe?
"My friends and family made so many personal sacrifices in making the BEST DAY OF OUR LIVES MAGICAL," Lisa said. "We love them with all of our being!"
Believe It and Receive It
Sunette says, "I want everyone reading this to know that whatever, and I mean whatever, it is that you want in your life...if you can see it, truly believe it, and give thanks for it as if it's already done, then all you have to do is sit back and wait for it to happen."
Their Advice To Brides
"If your significant other tells you to be prepared for spontaneity, make sure that you look cute!"