If you see the same good-looking man twice in one week, here’s your sign that he may just be your future husband.
Back in 2018, D.C. resident Lori, co-founder and head of marketing agency Pop’N Creative, had a business meeting scheduled at one of her favorite restaurants in the city. It was a random Tuesday night, and her bed was calling her name. Despite a desire to cancel, she decided to go through with the dinner meeting after all because, more than anything, she was excited about the food — steaks, seafood and pasta at RPM Italian.
While meeting up with her business partner, Che, chef and sommelier, caught her eye. It was brief because she was trying to focus on her business meeting, but he’d quickly made an impression.
Four days later, she was asked by a friend to return to this same restaurant and this time, without hesitation, she said she’d be there. She says that was, again, because of the food, but conveniently, when she walked in, Che was the first person she saw.
“I was taken aback because I remembered him before and he was just as good-looking,” she tells ESSENCE. “I asked Che if he could take some photos of my girlfriend, her mom, and me, and he said, ‘Of course. Weren’t you here earlier this week?’ I sheepishly smiled, secretly elated that he remembered, and simply said, ‘Yes! You’ve got a good memory.'”
Throughout the rest of the night, Che came around to make sure that Lori and her party were enjoying themselves, even surprising them with a dessert they didn’t order. By the end of the evening, she was hoping he’d come back around and ask for her number, but she couldn’t find him. So, she went outside, prepared to make her way home.
“I went to the valet to wait for my car, still secretly hoping I’d see him, and it was my luck that I saw him contemplating whether to come outside or not…and he did,” she recalls. “He formally introduced himself to me, thanked us for coming, and gave me his card. I happened to tell him that I walked to work that day so I could ‘afford’ the calories from dinner, so when I texted him later that night to say thanks for the hospitality, he responded with, ‘There are a lot of great restaurants in DC worth walking to work for that I’d love to take you to sometime.'”
And thus began the love story of Lori and Che, which took off like a rocket from that text. By 2019 they moved in with one another; on Christmas Eve of 2020, pandemic be damned, they got engaged; and in 2022, they celebrated two major milestones: the arrival of their son James and jumping the broom.
The couple exchanged vows at the Grand Velas Riviera Maya in Playa del Carmen, Mexico in front of the palm trees and Caribbean sea with the eyes of their loved ones (the ones who really love them as Lori jokes) on them. It was a party from the minute Che danced to his place at the altar, through to the end of the night as everyone joyously celebrated their union under twinkling lights, surrounded by gorgeous florals while sipping on speciality cocktails. This is also evident in the gorgeous images from their special day, taken by REEM Photography. Scroll down to learn more about their love story, their road to the altar, and their favorite moments from their wedding celebration in this week’s Bridal Bliss.
The bride and her bridesmaids share a laugh on the morning of the wedding.
Che and his dapper circle pose for the camera ahead of the ceremony.
“Che and I always had super fun dates, and every time we met up, I was super excited,” Lori says. “It was always a high for me to spend time with him on our half-dates, where we did activities like group runs or working out, and our full dates, like going to art installations, movies, or concerts. Starting with our second date, Che always told me, ‘I’m serious about you,’ and I would smile because I was hoping he was serious, but in the dating world, you never know! He always made sure I knew that he wasn’t taking our dates or our budding relationship lightly, and that meant the world to me. All of the dates he planned for us were super thoughtful and creative, and I could feel myself falling for him even more each time. I always wanted to be around him, talk to him, or just share a joke or two.”
“It came in waves for me,” Che recalls. “After two weeks, I knew that I liked Lori. She’s beautiful and fun, and I always love listening to her. I think she’s brilliant. Early on, I knew that this was a relationship that I valued, and I wanted to make sure that she knew that I was serious about her.”
He adds, “I was really sure that this was a life thing during the pandemic. We moved in together in October 2019, and when the pandemic started in March the next year, all of a sudden, the trips slowed down, and we weren’t hitting the restaurants and bars like we used to. We just had the time to enjoy each other, and it turned out to be the absolute best! I was working at a restaurant at the time, and every day I went to work, I would spend all day excited to come back home and spend time with her.”
The couple, photographed during their first look moment, became engaged on Christmas Eve in 2020. He popped the question at the Christmas tree. “The proposal happened in December 2020 at Lori’s brother’s house. Family is BIG for both of us, and both of our families don’t play when it comes to Christmas. I wanted to make sure that when we shared this moment, I wanted her family to be there to be a part of it. Travel was super hard at the time, so the best time for it would be when we were going to come to them in Georgia.”
“After getting the ring together, I spoke with the family to get their blessing, and we hatched a plan to get the jump on her on Christmas Eve,” he adds. “I’m sure she would have liked to be more dolled up, but it was an amazing experience!”
“You know who really loves you when they come to Mexico,” Lori jokes when responding to the question of why the couple wanted a destination wedding. They had pre-wedding event to welcome their favorite people. “In all seriousness, it was 2022, and people were finally getting comfortable with traveling after the two years of the pandemic, so we wanted the wedding to be a celebration, holiday, and vacation for our family and friends. We did it at an all-inclusive resort so that when our guests arrived and had everything paid for, they wouldn’t have to worry about anything else. We’ve been to some weddings where the bride and groom get pulled into every direction with their guests wanting their attention, and the actual wedding day feels like a blur for them. Having all of the family together for a few days before and after the big day offered some peace, so we really got to enjoy the experience.”
A look at just a corner of the grand Ocean Terrace where the reception took place at Grand Velas Riviera Maya.
Che passed on a simple walk to the altar in favor of dancing, putting on a show for guests.
Lori made her entrance with a smile, walking down the aisle to the altar arm-in-arm with her father.
After officially saying “I do,” the two shared a kiss, and a dip, as they made their way back down the aisle as husband and wife.
“When people would ask me why I love him, I would always say, ‘he’s a dope human being, not just to me, but to everyone he meets.’ His incredibly kind, fun, infectious, positive spirit was something he shared with everyone, not just me, and I knew that was the kind of partner I wanted in my life forever,” Lori says of her love for Che. “Three months into dating, I told him I would’ve married him yesterday…and I’ve felt that way ever since. He’s my biggest cheerleader, my favorite joke-cracker, and the love of my life. And he can spell well, even in texts (if you know me, you know!). I’m so glad he chose me to do life with.”
The couple’s son, James, was their extra special guest on the big day. “If he could hold the ring without eating it, he would have been the best man,” Lori jokes. “It was a joy having him there for the memory. I am really excited to show him the pictures and videos when he gets older.”
The pair stood in the sun, basking in the joy of their special day. They’d come a long way from meeting at RPM Italian and quarantine dates. As Che says, “After having a life of always being on the move, finding so much joy in being together with her at home made it easy to know that she’s my partner for the rest of our lives.”
The McKissics pose for the camera with their wedding party.
This gorgeous two-tiered cake was covered in some of the same florals the couple had as part of the decor for the reception on the Ocean Terrace.
The couple was all smiles as they prepared to eat, dance and be merry with loved ones.
The McKissics get the party started on the dance floor under the twinkling lights.
After Lori changed into a second look, the newly married pair and their loved ones were free to let loose.
Under a tunnel of sparklers, the couple shared a kiss. But the party did continue, with the new Mr. and Mrs. hanging out with guests during an after-party at the property’s Koi Sports Bar.
“The reception!” Che says of the most memorable part of the day for him. “That thing was a party party!” For Lori, it was the time with family. “It was a blast to see all the siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and parents truly enjoying each other and having a ball!”
Planner: Lemiga Events
Venue: Grand Velas Riviera Maya
Photographer: REEM Photography
Videographer: Amor Amor Weddings
Hair: Onye Sample
Makeup: Sharmayne Hager
Flowers & Decor: Canteiro Weddings
Stationery: Papered Wonders
Linens: Nuage Designs