Bridal Bliss: Essence and Jaime

Actress Essence Atkins and financial executive Jaime Mendez made their love official in a star-studded outdoor ceremony on Saturday, September 30, 2009. The duo first connected through match.com on Valentine's Day 2008 and are now happily husband and wife.
ESSENCE.COM Sep, 29, 2009

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3 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

Actress Essence Atkins and financial executive Jaime Mendez made their love official in a star-studded outdoor ceremony on Saturday, September 26, 2009. The duo first connected through Match.com on Valentine’s Day 2008 and are now happily husband and wife.

By: Bridgette Bartlett

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

4 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

“I met most of the people I had been in relationships with through other people. When you do that you tend to meet people who are connected to your field. I wanted to go outside of that social circle. Being in relationships with other artists can be strangely competitive,” explains the bride.

She adds, “I wanted to try something different. Match.com was ideal because I could kinda remain anonymous. They also have a very extensive pool, they’re one of the more reputable sites so I knew my relationship would be private.”

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

5 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

Essence is picture perfect in a strapless and classy Steven Yearick gown with a showstopping veil.

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

6 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

“I was most looking forward to seeing her walk down the aisle and take my breath away. That’s the moment I have been waiting for all my adult life,” Jaime says of his bride.

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

7 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

Essence opted for a pair of sexy stilettos from Jimmy Choo. The rhinestone straps add an extra dose of bling.

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

8 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

Essence is stunning in her shimmering gown. The blissful bride carries a lush bouquet of ivory, green and violet roses which complement her look perfectly.

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

9 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

The bride holds a delicate blue handkerchief in one hand and wears a gorgeous bracelet as her “something borrowed”, on the other wrist.

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

10 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

Essence and Jaime tied the knot at the regal Ambassador Mansion and Gardens in Pasadena, California. Both the ceremony and reception were held in the beautiful space.

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

11 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

Throwing tradition to the wind, Essence decided to walk herself down the aisle. She also decided against a formal bridal party.

“On my wedding day, I didn’t want to worry about anyone else’s hair, dress or shoes. Plus, I have a plethora of amazing girlfriends and family members—too many to narrow down to five. I just wanted the day to be about Jaime and me,” says Essence.

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

12 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

“We wanted to get married outdoors and be surrounded by nature,” explains Essence of the couple’s venue of choice.

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

13 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

The purple-and-green-accented ceremony program also doubled as fans for guests to use as a keepsake. Single guests also left the affair with six months free membership from Match.com!

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

14 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

Jaime reveals his innermost feelings about his wife.

“Essence is the woman I have been waiting for my whole life. I am a better man because of her and I aspire to continue to grow with her. I’m extremely excited to see where God will take us as a couple. She completes the circle.”

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

15 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

“My parents always encouraged me to be happy. Coming from New York where it is very multicultural, they always encouraged me to find happiness wherever I could. I happen to be marrying someone who is Puerto Rican. He is very aware of the rich history of his island—the African, Spanish, the Native American history. I’m just grateful that I happen to fall in love with somebody brown,” says Essence with a laugh.

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

16 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

“We courted each other the way I think it should be done. We did not rush anything. I didn’t even know who she was initially because I didn’t watch much television back then, so I wasn’t influenced by her celebrity. That made her character even that much more impressive to me,” Jaime, a former NFL player, explains about his early relationship with Essence.

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

17 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

“The more we know about each other, the more we laugh, the more inside jokes we have. I’m more at ease when I’m with him,” Essence says of her husband, Jaime.

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

18 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

Tony nominee Valarie Pettiford performed during the wedding reception. Hollywood homies Gabrielle Union and Sanaa Lathan were also in attendance, along with NBA star Dwayne Wade and music exec Steve Rifkind.

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

19 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

The newlyweds share a quiet moment during their reception over fruity cocktails. The couple changed shortly after the ceremony. Essence opted for another ivory dress designed by Jaime’s cousin Angel Rivera. The feminine design fit her marvelously, which is quite impressive considering she never had a fitting!

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

20 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

Wedding guests were overwhelmed by the loving devotion Essence and Jaime displayed during their big day.

“Sanaa [Lathan] told me afterward that she could not stop crying during the ceremony!”

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

21 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

The newlyweds decided to honeymoon in the Mayan Rivera region of Mexico.

“I wouldn’t change a thing!” beams Essence about her big day.

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

22 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

The bride surprised her husband with a salsa band to celebrate his Puerto Rican heritage. The couple and their guests also danced the night away to the tunes of a DJ.

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

23 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

“Essence is the antithesis of what you hear about in Hollywood. She’s extremely grounded and humble. I am a very lucky man to be with her,” shares Jaime about his new wife.

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

24 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

A signature cocktail menu is displayed at the bar during the fun-filled reception. In between sips of mojitos and rum punch, guests were treated to a delicious meal prepared by top-notch chef G. Garvin. Garvin blended traditional Puerto Rican and soul food dishes, which included macaroni and cheese, roasted pork and plantains.

“G. Garvin put his foot in that food!” shares Essence about the tasty cuisine.

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

25 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

Essence shares her decision to forgo the traditional route when it came to the creative reception culinary selections.

“Neither of us eat cake. Instead we had peach cobbler, red velvet cupcakes and a Puerto Rican dessert called arroz con dulce,” explains the actress.

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

26 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

“In our initial courtship, Jaime was such a gentleman. I thought he was hot but I said, ‘Uh, it’s not going to work because he’s too stuffy.’ I was concerned because I sorta have a pouty mouth. But as we got to spend more and more time together, I said ‘Wow, he’s much more complicated than I thought.’ He has much more depth than I imagined. He’s one of the least judgmental people I know. That was part of me learning that you can’t judge a book by its cover,” reveals Essence.

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

27 of 33 Danny Spitzer & Hoa Trinh of NT Photo Studio

“My pastor always talks about dating someone throughout the seasons. Not just the four seasons of winter, spring, summer and fall but throughout the seasons of life. Being connected to them through tragedy and through triumph, dealing with the highs and lows of life. Even for the most successful and the affluent, there is never going to be a great experience every day. In the months and years to come, I’m going to show myself not to be so great on some days and I think there’s power in the fact that my partner will love me anyway,” confesses Essence.

Essence and Jaime’s love story

Check out these wedding albums:

Tonie Mai and Jimmy

Andre and Latoya

Alysha and Dwayne

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