Next time someone asks to set you up on a blind date, you might want to take them up on the offer. You could find love like Cindy and Keith did. Again.
The two became acquainted through her aunt, a real estate agent, in 2021. They were both new to the city of Nashville (technically, she had grown up there but did not live there as an adult until 2020), relocating to the Music City for work. Both had also been married before. Looking for a home to buy in Nashville, Keith was utilizing the services of Cindy’s aunt when she told him about Cindy.
“My aunt called me one day and said she had a new client who was a nice guy, who also worked in healthcare and would be interested in meeting me. I jokingly told her that I would not agree to meet until after the transaction closed, to ensure that I was not part of the sales incentives. However, because the closing was extended several months because of the long wait to get appraisals completed, I agreed to meet before the closing,” Cindy tells ESSENCE.
They would meet up for lunch in July 2021. Keith would admit that he “Google stalked” her before their date, and in the process, ran across a commencement speech she had given. “I quizzed him a bit by asking his favorite part of the speech, and surprisingly he answered with depth and precision—I was definitely impressed,” she says.
As it would turn out, that speech made an even greater impression on Keith than Cindy realized.
“I knew that Cindy was potentially the one when I first heard her 2019 commencement address for Vanderbilt’s business school. I found her energy and her magnetic intellect, not to mention her beautiful smile, drew my interest as someone that I would love the opportunity to get to know personally,” he shares.
Both impressed with one another, they continued to date until they realized, three months after meeting, that they didn’t want to date anyone else. And while a curveball would be thrown their way, with Cindy needing to move from Nashville to Austin for work a month after they became boyfriend and girlfriend, distance couldn’t hamper the love that was growing between them.
“Although we spoke daily, we only saw each other every one to two weeks when I would fly back to the home that I was maintaining in the Nashville area,” she says. “But Keith was so patient and unflappable and being together was always easy.”
After exchanging I love yous, Cindy saying it first in May 2022, Keith reassuring her in July, by October of that same year, he was ready to show her how much he really loved her. He asked for her hand in marriage on the bank of the Seine River in Paris, right across from the Eiffel Tower during what was supposed to be a photo shoot with two of their good friends. Other tourists and locals in the area applauded as the pair officially became engaged in the City of Love.
In the summer of 2023, on July 15, Cindy and Keith married in Asheville, North Carolina at the stunning Biltmore estate with the mountains as their backdrop. Despite all the spacious beauty, the couple said “I do” with only two of their good friends as guests. It couldn’t have been more special.
“We both wanted something small and intimate,” she says. “My first wedding had almost five hundred people and was a complete whirlwind of activities from beginning to end and I wanted a completely different experience. I wanted to savor every single moment of the process.”
A microwedding in practice, the nuptials were still grand in their display as Cindy and Keith became one. See images from their special day and learn more about their journey finding love later in life in this week’s Bridal Bliss.
In addition to things being “easy” with Keith and their communication being open and comfortable, she was taken by how well he got along with her friends and family. “I intentionally asked my closest friends, who live all over the country, to fly in to meet him early on in the relationship and EVERYONE repeatedly commented on how well he treated me and how lovingly he looked at me when I didn’t notice,” she says. “While I am a very high strung ‘type A’ and Keith is mister ‘calm, cool and collected,’ we complement each other in the best possible way.”
For Keith, he knew he’d found his person because they had the type of rare connection that he knew was a gift. “From that first date I knew that my first impression of her was on point,” he says. “From the beginning we’ve had this uncanny level of comfort and ease with each other no matter the surroundings. Because of that and how consistently we were (and are still) able to communicate openly on a multitude of subjects, I fell in love with Cindy. I credit our flow mostly to Cindy as a very thoughtful and insightful person who asks me questions that make me think about things in a way I’ve never done before.”
During a group trip in Europe, which started in London and ended in Paris, Keith popped the question. With help from photographer Rachel Calvo, Keith and their friend Eric pulled off the perfect surprise proposal. “It was on the west bank, which was crowded with tourists and locals who cheered and clapped all while Rachel captured it all on film!” Cindy recalls.
While they initially thought they’d elope as they desired an intimate ceremony over pomp (again, they both were married before), Keith still wanted to tie the knot in a scenic celebration, with mountains in the background. After doing some research, Cindy’s eyes were drawn to The Biltmore estate in Asheville, North Carolina, specifically, an area with a hill that has a marble statue of Diana, goddess of the hunt marking it. Framing the spot are the Blue Ridge Mountains and the stunning Biltmore House. She applied online to secure the spot, writing a heartfelt letter about finding love again, and why the date of their wedding, July 15th, was so special (it was the date of her late mother’s birthday and Cindy would later find out, the date of Keith’s late father’s birthday as well). And while that date was already taken, the coordinator for The Biltmore was so moved by Cindy’s letter that with the help of the bride already set to marry that day, the couple were able to have their July 15th wedding on the Diana hill — they just had to marry an hour earlier than they initially planned. It was all worth it. “The date, the venue were all surreal and special for so many reasons,” she says.
The couple during their sweet, simple ceremony.
Cindy and Keith share a kiss after their wedding ceremony as the sun shines upon them and their union.
While they opted to do things in a way that wasn’t so traditional (only two wedding guests is certainly unique!), they couldn’t pass up on the custom of jumping the broom.
Keith is photographed with the couple’s only guests for the ceremony, Stuart Turner, Esq. and his wife, Andrea. They were a part of the couple’s big European trip in 2022 that ended in the proposal.
For such a small wedding, there was no need for a behemoth of a cake. Instead, the couple chose a one-layer cake that was both appeasing to the eye and delicious to the palate.
Get yourself a husband who will wear a vest on your wedding day that has a huge picture of the both of you on it. For Keith, he wore one that had a photo from their ‘shoot in Paris, when he proposed, on the back.
We loved this shot of Cindy in Keith’s embrace during their post-ceremony photoshoot.
In addition to the ceremony, which he says was “so comfortable and relaxed,” the couple’s photo session at the arboretum was a close second for Keith. “It was crowded with tourists who were so excited for us and made us feel like celebrities as they clapped and cheered, and gladly stood aside to watch the photo session.” As for Cindy, she loved getting to carry a bouquet that incorporated family mementos, like her parents’ original wedding bands, and sprigs of myrtle that symbolize love and hope. She also adored the ceremony. “Everything seemed to be happening as if I were dreaming it. Keith and I were in our own world. We laughed and talked to each other the entire time,” she recalls. “During the luncheon following the ceremony, we all erupted into laughter when the officiant exclaimed, ‘I don’t think you two heard a word I said because you were too busy talking to each other!’”
Though it can be an inconvenience, rain on a wedding day is considered a sign of good luck. For the couple, they weren’t bothered by it because it didn’t start raining until after their ceremony. But Cindy admits she did go to the Lord in prayer about it ahead of the event when it looked like there was going to be a 60 percent chance of a downpour. “As people of faith, I texted friends and family to begin to pray that our wedding would be spared of rain,” she says. “I hope it’s not selfish, but I prayed and said, ‘Lord, we didn’t come all this way to this beautiful place to get married in a tent. Please have mercy on us.’” In the end, they were spared for the ceremony, but used the rain drops to help them take some of their best wedding photos.
When asked what advice they would offer for people looking for love later in life, Keith, 65, says be patient. “I would say that for me it came when I was not seeking but not being afraid to put myself out there for the possibility,” he says. “I feel that it’s important to not be seeking versus being patient for the organic opportunity to meet the right someone and God will guide you to that person.” For Cindy, 54, she was open to love, even if she wasn’t holding her breath because she thought the chances of getting married again as a Black woman in her mid-fifties were slim. “I’m so grateful that God’s plans are not limited by statistics,” she says. “While Keith was not the typical guy I dated, he is exactly what I needed. He’s loving, sweet, kind, consistent, unflappable (we’ve never had a fight and readily resolve disagreements), and most of all, I feel utterly and completely emotionally and physically safe with him. I could not be happier! So my advice is to be open. Yes, we all have our ‘lists’ of what we want in a mate, but the list should also have an asterisk–to represent ‘whatever else may be best for me but that I don’t have enough insight, foresight or wisdom to ask for.’”
Venue – Biltmore Weddings
Photography/Videography – Phylicia Willis
Planner – Belle Soiree Events: Tamara Heston
Music (Violin and Harp) – Deans’ Duets
Bridal Gown – Pronovius Austin
Groom’s Suit (Custom) – Andrew Porter Fine Clothiers: Andrew Porter
Groom’s Ring (Custom) – Danielle Diamonds and Co.
Bride’s Rings (Custom) – Minor Jewelry: Jesse Minor Jr.
Bride’s Hair – Salon Mogulz: Tanzy Clark Wright