Bridal Bliss: Anaya and Darren

College sweethearts Anaya and Darren got married young and in a hurry. Convinced that his wife deserved the wedding of her dreams, Darren proposed again on their fifth anniversary, and this time, they tied the knot in a romantic ceremony in Antigua.

Charli Penn Jun, 12, 2013

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“The moment we laughed together I knew he was the one,” admits Anaya. “I don’t laugh and he made me laugh. He just had an easy way about him that oozed confidence and peace. There was almost an instant comfort with him, almost as if I had known him forever.”

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“Because I didn’t love the gown from my first wedding, I searched high and low for ‘the dress’ this time,” Anaya recalls. “I visited a total of 27 dress salons in Atlanta but still wasn’t satisfied. On a whim, I went into a shop and found it – a gown by Sophia Tolli.”

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Anaya wore these pretty Allure heels for the big day. Her birdcage veil was made by her dress alterer and she tracked down her jewelry at a local boutique.

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Celebrity hair stylist Derek J. (of Real Housewives of Atlanta fame) was on hand to help the bride look her most beautiful on her wedding day.

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“I just knew that I loved him and I wanted him to be with me for the rest of my life,” says Anaya. “He was so beautifully different from me and I almost couldn’t even comprehend that he actually wanted a woman like me.”

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"I didn't decide on my hairstyle," says Anaya. "Derek has been doing my hair for a year and I trusted Derek to do what Derek does best. I just knew it would be fabulous, and it was."

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With these rings, Anaya and Darren renewed their commitment to each other and celebrated their marital success so far.

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“Darren and I chose Antigua because we wanted something different,” says Anaya. “We had done the church venue the first time. We wanted something so spectacular and memorable that we could always remember our day as a truly unique moment in our lives.”

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"We just loved the resort's gallery images online," says Anaya. "I wanted to make sure that the photographer would have plenty of inspiration to work with."

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Handsome groom Darren, who took Anaya's breath away from the start, chose the perfect suit for a tropical affair, keeping both the colors and the fabric light and airy.

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Anaya had a little fun with her traditional bridal requirements. "My something old was my husband, my something new was my dress, my something borrowed was an embroidered handkerchief and my something blue was my garter," she explains.

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“I knew she was the one when I first laid eyes on her,” says Darren. “She wasn’t stuck up, too fancy or overdone. She was just herself and that’s what attracted me so much. I had never seen anyone so beautiful without any makeup on.”

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“For our first wedding, we just tried to have a ceremony that permitted everyone to participate and share in our love while sticking to budget, and we had 400 guests,” says Anaya who was determined to change things this time around. “I learned that doing it that way was not necessarily the best thing because we didn’t get to see everyone. So, this time, we chose a destination wedding to enmesh our guests and ourselves with all the special details that showcase who we truly are now.”

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"I love her consideration," admits Darren. "There has never been a time when she hasn't included me. Anaya is truly about us."

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“The ceremony symbolized not only a renewal of our love, but a chance to do all the things we couldn’t the first time,” says Anaya, who teamed up with Virginia-based wedding planner and florist Tanya Wilbon of The Event Group International. “Hire a planner! They are trained to deal with all of the craziness.”

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Beaming bride Anaya came down the aisle alone to the sound of Musiq Soulchild's "So Beautiful." "No one walked me down the aisle this time," she tells us. "For me, it symbolized him taking just me and all that that entails."

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"To be in Antigua with the one woman of my dreams, to celebrate our love, made me feel like the most honorable man on earth," Darren says. "It was more than I could ever dream of."

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“Writing our own vows was major for us this time,” says Anaya. “It made us accountable to what we would continue to do for the rest of our lives. It’s not just saying what the preacher tells you to say; it’s committing your mind to commit your heart to someone.”

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Anaya and Darren used color-coded sand to represent each other for their unity ceremony.

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"Our officiant was absolutely wonderful," says Anaya, who recieved a little help from her planner in selecting him. "It was as if he knew us."

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"I knew that I would be married someday," says Darren. "But, I never thought I'd meet the woman of my dreams when I did. I was not the most mature at the time, and I wasn't ready for marriage. Even though I don't think I was prepared, God knew exactly what I needed and sent an angel, Anaya, my way."

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"I felt so treasured and cared for," says Anaya. "My sweetie did everything in his power to move the earth for me and make my dreams come true."

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The newlyweds and their guests dined at an estate table beneath pretty, paper lanterns. The table was decorated with lush arrangements of roses, peonies, berries, hydrangeas and ranunculus.

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After their romantic oceanfront ceremony, Anaya and Darren's guests traveled with them to another lovely section of the resort property for an intimate reception dinner beneath the stars.

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During dinner, guests enjoyed the sounds of an acoustic guitar and steel drum band. (Darren's favorite!)

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When the live performances ended, Anaya and Darren were spotted sneaking in sweet kisses and sharing romantic stares as they sat in the center of paradise listening to smooth jazz classics. Can you feel the love, ya'll? We sure can!

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The loving couple and their cherished guests were grinning all night long. For anyone who knows them well, the magic and significance of the moment was cyrstal clear. Let's hear it one more time for Mr. and Mrs. Bryson!

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They chose a beach-themed cupcake cake made with their favorite flavors. "We had a traditional cake the first time and we wanted to do something fun and easy to manage this time around."

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"We didn't do a first dance this time around," says Anaya. "We wanted to spend time with family and friends during our small reception." But, when the night was over, Mr. and Mrs. Bryson were closer than close.

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Anaya and Darren recieved a warm and spectacular send off from their friends and famiy. Frameworhty? We sure say so!

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On the morning after their heartfelt vow renewals, Anaya and Darren explored the majestic property for a post-wedding love shoot. (Brilliant idea, by the way.)

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Anaya and Darren's tropical vow renewal was one to be remembered. Tell us your favorite details below and leave the happy couple a little comment love. Want to see your wedding featured on Bridal Bliss? Email us now.


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