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“After seeing how he treated me, his mom and his family (he calls his grandparents every Tuesday!), and seeing his love for God, most importantly, I knew I had found my match,” says proud bride Amber, 30, of her new husband Drew, 31, whom she met through a family connection. They tied the knot on September 15, 2012 at Chicago’s River East Art Center.
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“Drew is truly the kindest and most thoughtful person that I’ve ever met,” says Amber. “It makes me want to be a better person just being around him.”
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Amber and her lovely bridesmaids pose for fun portraits in their matching bridal robes as they prepare for the big day.
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Amber stepped out in true style with these nude patent leather Christian Loubotin heels on her feet.
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What's cuter than this cut-out? Amber customized every single detail of her wedding day, making it all the more special every step of the way. Her fabulous wedding planner Kelly Cavanaugh of Clementine Custom Events was there to walk her through it and ensure that each detail was executed flawlessly.
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“Amber's classic A-line gown came from popular designer Anne Barge. “This was one of the simplest decisions out of the entire process,” she tells us. “I went to a gorgeous salon in Houston called Ivory Bridal Atelier with just my mom and his mom.”
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With a little help from her sweet bridesmaids, Amber slips into her romantic ballgown.
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“My something old was a piece of lace from my mother’s wedding dress that we wrapped around my wedding bouquet,” Amber recalls. “The something borrowed was my great grandmother Mama Minnie’s broach, given to me on the day of the wedding by my grandmother and also worn on my bouquet. It just so happened that the broach matched the wedding colors perfectly.”
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Amber's bridesmaids wore pretty purple gowns designed by Alfred Sung. "I worked with Bella Bridesmaid in Houston to help select the different styles," she says. "I wanted everyone to wear Italian plum, but in varying styles. I was inspired by the clean lines of Jackie O's wardrobe and the vibrant colors worn by our First Lady, Michelle Obama."
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This portrait warms our hearts. The bride's cousin, Avi Lovette, was her Maid of Honor. In addition, she had six bridesmaids, made up of her cousins and close friends, and an adorable flower girl.
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Drew's dapper groomsman wore these classy, Vera Wang tuxedos from Men's Warehouse. And, the brothers sure do look sharp!
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Beaming bride Amber's makeup was styled by Triphena Johnson and her hair by Chris Curse. "I felt so lucky to have both of them and their teams there with us." The finished product was pure perfection. Amber, you were a vision of beauty on your wedding day.
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After sharing a "first look" around 3pm and a few fabulous photo opps, Amber and Drew prepared to join their bridal party for a trolley tour around Chicago.
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Talk about fun: Amber and Drew treated their bridal party to a Trolley tour of the city's hotspots and then a lift to the River East Art Center, where both the ceremony and reception were held.
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Drew and Amber were all smiles as they cozied up together in the back of a white Rolls Royce Phantom. (This is the groom's favorite wedding portrait.)
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Drew's best friend Jason Higginbotham was the Best Man while his friends, cousins and Amber's brother rounded out the remainder of his side of the bridal party. "We were going for a slimmer fit on the guys," says Amber. "No pleats allowed!"
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Amber worked with Renee Price of Kehoe Designs to come up with décor concepts for the ceremony and reception. “I wanted it to be a little bit glam, a little bit modern and a little bit fall-inspired,” she tells us. “She took all of my ideas and was really able to create a beautiful atmosphere for the ceremony and reception.”
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Amber's cousin's daughter, Jordan Lyle, did an excellent job modeling her sweet, blue ballgown and getting the guests ready for their first glance at the bride.
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“My father, Horace Flournoy III, walked me down the aisle, which was a no-brainer for me,” says Amber. “My parents have been married for 32 years and I know that a large part of the reason that I knew what to look for in a husband was because I saw many of those traits in my dad.”
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“In that moment, I felt confident and that I now understood what it felt like to be the luckiest man in the world,” says Drew. “I was so sure that everything was happening under God’s direction.” Looking into his eyes at the altar was Amber’s favorite wedding moment. “His eyes welled up with emotion and it was so beautiful,” she says. “It felt so calming and peaceful to look into his eyes and repeat our vows.
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“We just felt pure joy,” Amber says. Once their ceremony was complete, the lovebirds made it official with a big, romantic kiss.
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They couldn't call it a wrap without jumping the broom. Hooray for the new Mr. and Mrs. Gardner!
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Now officially husband and wife, Amber and Drew head off for more portraits and a little reception fun.
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“I had a feeling Amber was the one very early on during our many conversations by phone and email,” says Drew. “It was so refreshing to share stories and life experiences with someone who had a such a similar personality and values.”
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Meet Amber and Drew's fun-loving bridal party. Now this is a keepsake for all.
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“I knew that I didn’t want a typical wedding venue,” says Amber. “After being a bridesmaid seven times, I needed to mix it up a bit. Since Chicago is my hometown and Drew’s Detroit hometown isn’t too far away, downtown Chicago was the perfect location. I looked at libraries, museums, parks and art galleries and when I found this venue, I knew it was the one.”
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The newlyweds held each other close and swayed to the sounds of classic hit "If This World Were Mine" by Luther Vandross for their first dance.
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“I made custom signs with quotes, love poem excerpts and Bible verses that sat on each of the 16 cocktail tables,” Amber shares. “This little project meant a lot to me since I’ve collected quotes ever since I was a little girl.”
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Round reception tables were decorated with a lush presentation of romantic arrangements, floating candles and crystal.
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Square tables were decorated with tall, breathtaking vases filled with deep plum arrangements and floating candle arrangements.
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“My wife is a fantastically beautiful, smart, fun-loving woman who indulged in life’s pleasures every day,” says Drew. “She’s so deeply caring and generous. I love how she fits into my world so perfectly and naturally.”
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Seriously, could these reception tables have been any more fabulous? We're just drooling with décor envy over here.
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The couples’ escort cards doubled as sweet favor CDs featuring love songs handpicked by the groom. “Drew is a former DJ and a huge music lover so we wanted to give everyone a little piece of him and an extension of us.”
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“Being a bride was a truly humbling experience,” says Amber. “So many people from so many different parts of your life all come to support you on this day. It was ‘our day’ just as everyone encouraged us to remember it as.”
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"We're so blessed," say the newlweds, who honeymooned in Maui. "The entire wedding was just magical." Leave your congratulatory messages below and tell us which detail you loved best. See more fab photos from Amber and Drew's wedding over at The Bride's Cafe now. Want to see your wedding featured in Brdial Bliss? Email us now!
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