Bridal Bliss: Melissa and Ryan

Bridal Bliss: Melissa and Ryan
ESSENCE.COM Jul, 23, 2012

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Melissa and Ryan met as fifth grade pen pals attending rival middle schools. They lost touch, but during their senior year of high school a mutual friend set them up. When Melissa found an old letter from Ryan, she knew they were always destined to be together. They were married on May 29, 2011 at the Vibiana in Los Angeles. Share their love!

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Melissa chose wine colored Badgley Mischka shoes for her big walk down the aisle — so unexpected and so beautiful.

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“My dress was Allure Couture,” says Melissa. “My mom found it actually. We went to the shop and pulled out several different styles.”

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“I knew the dress was the one when I stepped out of the dressing room and everyone was shocked and then started ooing and aahing,” says Melissa. “It had an old, elegant, classic feel to it, which matched the venue and the overall look I was going for.”

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“I love different shades of pinks and purples,” says Melissa, who carried this stunning bouquet of peonies and roses.

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His and hers wedding rings framed by hearts really speak to the sentiment of the day.

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We just love Melissa’s big cascading curls — it’s so romantic. “My hairdresser, Kim Gaskin, had a vision for my hair, and I always trust her gut, so we went with it,” says Melissa. “She did an amazing job!”

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Ryan attended prestigious military institution West Point for his undergraduate studies. He joined the Army and served two tours in Iraq. Melissa says staying behind while her Captain was deployed wasn’t easy but they made it through. He has since left the military.

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Melissa had three MOHs, her two sisters and best friend since high school. Her bridesmaids were high school and college friends and her husband’s sister. The ladies wore pretty lilac, strapless cocktail gowns by Bari Jay.

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When it came time to make floral selections for her wedding bouquets, Melissa wanted no fuss about it. “I just told my florist what colors I wanted,” she says. “He ran with it.” Judging from this lovely row of perfectly sculpted bouquets, clearly Melissa was in good hands.

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Melissa was a vision of beauty on her wedding day, pairing a romantic cathedral length veil with her curve hugging mermaid gown.

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“I wanted a venue that was as grand as our story,” says Melissa.

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“We really are best friends, and have been for a long time, so we’re laughing all the time about things that seemingly only we find funny,” says Melissa. “We’ve known each other for so long there really are too many precious memories to count.”

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The couple’s ceremony was scheduled to begin at 5 p.m., but an accident on the freeway caused them to kick things off a little bit behind schedule. Both the bride and groom refused to let a little bump in the road detour their happiness on their wedding day.

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Here comes the bride. (And would you look at that spectacular ceremony venue?) Just stunning!

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“Both of my parents walked me down the aisle,” says Melissa. “They both played an integral role in making me the person I am. It only seemed right that they both walk with me.”

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“There was a disney movie called Fantasia in 2000,” recalls Melissa. "I felt that one of the segments that was set to Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite” — one of my favorite classical songs — mirrored our story in the sense that there was triumph over adversity. We had been through so much with multiple deployments in Iraq, I decided to walk out to that song instead of the traditional wedding march."

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When it came time to find ways to save on wedding expenses, Melissa relied on the talents of her bridal party. “One of my best friends is a concert violinist, so she played during the ceremony and my sister made the programs at her wedding, so she made my programs, table names and menus.”

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We love the way Ryan looks at his bride Melissa. You can really feel the love between them — it’s not hard to tell that these two lovebirds have been smitten with each other since childhood.

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Ryan’s brother stepped up to be his best man on the big day and his three closest friends from childhood and five West Point buddies served as groomsmen.

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It’s official!

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Mr. and Mrs. Clinton were all smiles at the conclusion of their ceremony.

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“When it came to decor, I really didn’t have a theme,” Melissa admits. “I just knew I wanted something classic, romantic and purple.” Mission accomplished!

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“We had a traditional army sabre salute at the start of the reception,” says Melissa.

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“I’m a lover of great architectural works, and the ceilings, iron work, arches and other details that Vibiana has were just breathtaking,” says Melissa.

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Before the sit-down reception began, Melissa and Ryan’s guests were treated to cocktails outside while staff flipped the decor in the room. Utilizing one venue space for both your ceremony and reception is a great way to save money when booking your wedding vendors.

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Handwritten escort cards lent a personal touch to the couple’s formal wedding style.

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Melissa and Ryan’s wedding cake was a real beauty. The four-tier masterpiece was filled with strawberry, white and marble cake and decorated with a classic monogram cake topper to represent their new shared last name. “My mom really wanted a pretty cake, and I didn’t have any preferences, so I let her choose the style,” admits our no-fuss bride. “The design she chose really went well with the venue and my dress.”

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“I think the lighting and flowers really set the mood I was going for,” says Melissa, shown here sharing the dance floor with her new husband Ryan during their first dance.

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Short centerpiece vases filled with pretty blooms made it easy for Melissa and Ryan’s guests to converse at the tables with ease and enjoy the fellowship of the evening. (Note to brides: Tall centerpieces are lovely, but never ideal for guest interaction.)

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“We had a DJ and a photo booth for our guests to have fun with during the reception,” Melissa shares. We haven’t seen a wedding this year that didn’t have a few fun party upgrades for guests. If you’re planning your big day right now, consider splurging on a couple party entertainment extras for your guests. They’ll love you for it!

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The fastest way to turn a blank venue space into an elegant masterpiece is to add spectacular lighting effects. See? Melissa’s lighting vendors nailed the ambiance she and Ryan were going for in a flash and created a romantic vibe that guests raved about all night.

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“My DJ must have played every last one of my favorite songs,” says Melissa. “It was so much fun!”

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“Each guest recieved a gift-wrapped traditional Belizean white cake or black cake,” Melissa tells us. “I wanted to incorporate my husband’s family culture into our wedding. My mother-in-law, Ryan’s aunt and other family members were nice enough to make over 200 of them.” Now that’s love.

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Ryan happily removes his new wife’s garter belt as his boys play it cool while lining up for their shot at catching it.

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“From being fifth grade pen pals to high school sweethearts, to dealing with deployments and long distance, and then finally getting married, I felt like our love story was pretty epic,” says the proud bride. Leaver your well wishes for the newlyweds below. Want to see your wedding featured on Bridal Bliss? Email us now!

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