What started on a beach around a bonfire in LA eight years ago culminated in a wedding event that celebrated culture, friendship, family and, of course, love, in Braga, Portugal.
Actor and producer Jean Elie, known for Insecure, Send Help and Rap Sh!t, married his longtime love, Randall Bailey, in the Southern European country on September 24. With about 110 guests present, flying from eight different cities in the U.S., the pair made their bond official with all the pomp and circumstance that the bride previously told ESSENCE she was fine with forgoing when they announced their engagement in the summer of 2022. The end result, according to both parties, was beyond anything they could have conjured up in their minds and planning pads.
“Our wedding far and away exceeded all my expectations,” Randall shares. “The food was delicious, the drinks were flowing, music was popping and the guests were surprised at every turn. From the pyrotechnics during the cake cutting to Jean surprising me with a wedding video recap (same day edit) for everyone to see, the day was just filled with so much love. I have no notes. 10/10. But I’m a bit biased [laughs].”
“My heart was filled with joy as I watched our family and friends blend together as if they had known each other for years,” Jean adds. “In addition to the delicious food, drinks, and pyrotechnics, the wedding recap video took the night up a notch and I was thrilled with [videographer] Moisés Soares’s team and the surprised look on Randall’s face along with the guests as they watched it together.”
The images, shot by Monhand Mathurin, display a day filled with a lot of color and plenty of love. Learn more about how the couple ended up saying “I do” in Braga, their favorite moments of the day, and what they’re most excited about when it comes to being #HappilyElieAfter, in this week’s Bridal Bliss.
“I went to three shops before I found my perfect dress,” Randall says. “Well actually my Mom picked it out during my dress fitting at Love Couture Bridal in Maryland. The team there was so sweet and made the experience really special. Thank you Taylor! My dress was designed by Enaura and I love that it is all hand-stitched and has the most beautiful appliqués. Initially, it had shoulder straps, but I was able to make customizations that felt more in line with my personal style. I wanted something soft and romantic with a little vavavoom! Thank you Valerie, the amazing seamstress who quickly turned around all the alterations and made the dress fit like a glove.”
“My designer was Perkens Bien Aime, and we sourced the materials for my suit together,” Jean says of the Haitian tailor and designer. “We had some hiccups in finding the right fabric that matched the aesthetic Randall and I were going for, but it all came together literally four days before I had to hop on a flight to Portugal. We went with neutral tones for our wedding because we wanted the venue to shine.”
Neutral tones were also the choice for the bridesmaids’ gowns. They’re pictured flanking their favorite girl.
Jean’s groomsmen stood out in their dark suits, but the contrast in their ensembles to the groom’s look truly allowed him to shine.
While many men make their entrance to the altar solo, Jean decided to walk in escorting his lovely mother.
Jean and his groomsmen, along with wedding guests, stared with rapt attention as Randall made her way down the aisle.
Randall looked like a dream as she made her way down the aisle arm-in-arm with her father.
The grand ceremony was led by officiant Fred Tessier.
How did the couple choose their venue in Braga? With help from a couple of strangers. “We were heading back to LA after we got engaged in Greece and like many other travelers that summer our flight home was cancelled. So we were stranded in Canada for a night; the next day when we returned to the airport we were in a four-hour long TSA line,” Randall says. “As we were on line there was a couple next to us also traveling back to LA and they were raving about this magical wedding they had just attended in Braga, Portugal. We had never heard of Braga. They showed us pictures of the stunning venue, spoke highly of the staff and the delicious food, and of course, the open bar going until 4 a.m. Once we got home I did some research and discovered that the venue was family owned and seemed to be everything that Jean envisioned for his big day (ha), so we figured we would give it a shot. We contacted the venue and the rest was history. Our only regret was not getting the name of the couple in TSA so we could send them a bottle to thank them.”
The couple chose the venue Solar da Laveda in Braga because they had everything necessary to make the day unforgettable. “The planning process was pretty easy once we settled on Solar because they do everything in house,” Randall says. “We went to Portugal in February to choose all the decor and do the food, wine and cake tasting, which was really fun. We had a dedicated planner, Jose, who was super helpful and recommended vendors who they had previously worked with for other weddings for services they did not provide including a DJ, photographer, videographer, etc. Honestly, the hardest part was corralling our friends and family to make sure they had all their travel arrangements set up properly.”
“We had never heard of Braga before so when I went to visit in fall of 2022, although the trek to get there was challenging to say the least, I was captivated by the welcoming small town hidden in Northern Portugal and the venue was no different,” the bride says. “When I went to the venue I knew all the travel headaches were worth it. You instantly feel like you’re in an oasis. The driveway is lined with fountains and the estate is just breathtaking. Not to mention when I arrived, the staff was preparing for another wedding so it was great to see them in action. And did I mention the price? Very affordable. Now I just had to convince my parents [laughs].”
As you can see from an empty view of the hall where they exchanged vows, Solar da Laveda is stunning.
Jean managed to both move his bride and get guests laughing as he read his vows to Randall.
The couple share their first kiss as husband and wife, to the glee of their loved ones.
The pair were all smiles as they headed back down the aisle and prepared for their photo shoots and plenty of fun to come.
A wedding party that is! And a happy one at that.
An unconventional but fun touch on the day included many members of the wedding party rocking grills, including the groom. “Most of my girls got grills before and they all brought them,” Randall shares. “I lost mine, otherwise I would have had mine too!”
The happy couple pose with their day ones — their parents.
Every guest was special, but a familiar face for all was Issa Rae, who traveled to Portugal to celebrate with Jean and Randall.
The two share a sweet moment while basking in the joy of their day.
The groom let loose with his favorite people.
What better way to cap off the biggest day of their lives? As amazing as this light show was, it was what happened at the reception that stays on the minds of the couple. “Honestly, it’s hard to pick just one moment as I found myself lost in the joy of getting ready for day with the groomsmen, having my parents and sisters in Portugal since we’ve never traveled together as adults, the speeches, and the hilarious cake cutting mishaps between Randall and I that nobody noticed,” Jean says. “The whole day lifted my spirits, especially since I was missing my brother who was watching from the cheap seats above.” As for Randall, she says, “I loved the whole day, from getting ready with my girls to dancing with my dad to the speech from my sister that had the whole room in tears. I was so happy to have all my favorite people in one room and to see their faces light up. That brought me a lot of joy. If I had to pick one stand-out moment it would be when we all watched the same day edit of the wedding video projected on the big screen. It was a total surprise to me and left me speechless. As we were watching it, everyone in the room was cheering and yelling. There was just so much love in the room. I was left in awe and filled with gratitude.”
“We accomplished a lot this year and it’s only the beginning.” Randall says. “I am excited to take some time to rest and reset, to enjoy each other’s company, to eat all my favorite foods. I’m excited to laugh with Jean and go on walks around our neighborhood. I’m a planner so naturally I’m excited to start planning our next adventures, but I promised Jean we can have a break from planning until next year. Mostly, I am just so grateful to be married to the love of my life. Not everyone gets that so I don’t take it lightly.” Jean agrees. “What I’m looking forward to most is building our lives, family and businesses together. Also, we love traveling, so I’m sure we’ll start tackling places on our bucket list next year. Ultimately, we just want to keep dating each other. I think that’s the key to a successful marriage.”
Officiate: Fred Tessier
DJ: Malcom Gray
Custom Suit Designer: Perkens Bien Aime
Hair Stylist: Rochelle Harris-Davis
Makeup Artist: Claudia Pereira
Bride’s Shoe: Amina
Groom’s Shoes: YSL
Groom’s Watch: Shinola
Videographer: Moisés Soares