Just call us Cupid! Jennifer spotted Kurtis in the pages of ESSENCE while making collages with her art class. She contacted him and the creative couple quickly hit it off. Now the ESSENCE Storybook Wedding finalists share the love and joy of their special day.
Bride: Jennifer Drenaye Mack, 34, Arts Educator
Groom: Kurtis Darryl Watkins, 33, Visual Artist
Married On: April 7, 2013
Wedding Location: Maritime Parc, Jersey City, NJ
Wedding Style: Creative Love
A Page-Turning Romance
It was a cold Brooklyn morning in 2010 when Jennifer Mack assigned her art class to create a collage. She noticed a student cutting out a picture of artist Kurtis Watkins from the 2008 ESSENCE “Do Right Men” feature and was immediately intrigued. “I thought he was handsome and very talented,” she shares. “I wanted to meet him, but thought it was a long shot because the magazine was two years old. I emailed him anyway and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.” The couple felt an instant spark on their first date at Jennifer’s favorite Thai restaurant. Six months after meeting, Jennifer moved to Hoboken, NJ to be closer to her new boyfriend. “She has been a blessing,” Kurtis says. “Her moving let me know she was serious about us.”
Fairytales Come True
After two years of dating, Kurtis purchased an engagement ring and thought it was destiny when ESSENCE sent a callout for men looking to propose for the “Storybook Wedding” contest. The duo flew to Walt Disney World for a weekend getaway and a surprise proposal for Jennifer. Kurtis was able to keep the secret, since the weekend was also their anniversary and it was his turn to plan their celebration. The two artists and animal lovers nibbled strawberries and sipped champagne while gazing at exotic wildlife in an enclosure that mimics the African savannah at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Kidani Village. Back when he was single, Kurtis created a romantic painting collection of a couple enjoying many of the same animals. As the sun set, Kurtis brought his vision to life and tears to the eyes of his bride-to-be as he asked for her hand in marriage.
Art of Love
The creative couple planned their own special day infusing their talents throughout the event. “Being artists, we love to create. We designed and printed our own invitations, we hand-wrote table placement cards, and created our own boutonnières for the groomsmen shaped like an art palette,” Jennifer says. “We recommend couples plan their own wedding, which is part of the fun.” Kurtis also surprised his new wife with an artistic performance at their reception to Miguel’s “Adorn.” “Jennifer and I met through the pages of ESSENCE and have been inseparable ever since!” he says.
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