Alisha and Jordan Giles went on quite the journey to eventually be husband and wife. The pair met when they were freshmen at Georgia State University in 2009 while at a campus party. Their connection was strong, but it was initially one of friendship. They became best friends, supporting one another through a number of ups and downs. But as college ended and the years passed, they found themselves going in different directions and ended up losing touch for some time. It wasn’t until 2016, after Jordan returned from a mission trip to Ghana, that he realized he wanted and needed to reconnect with Alisha, but in a much different way than before.
The two became an item, an inseparable one at that point, falling in love. Soon after, Jordan proposed to her and the couple, excited to be reunited and start a life together, set their wedding date for March 2020 in their home of Columbia, South Carolina. They certainly couldn’t have foreseen when they set their date for the 21st of that month and year that a global pandemic would send their plans into a tailspin.
“Four days before our big day, the CDC announced there should be no gatherings of more than 10 people,” Alisha tells ESSENCE. “We were forced to cancel our wedding.”
The pair tried to roll with the punches and reschedule for the summer of that year, but Covid restrictions still wouldn’t allow for gatherings of large groups by that time in South Carolina. When it seemed like forces out of their control were indefinitely going to keep them from saying “I do”, Jordan decided to go the unconventional route to make Alisha his wife. He planned a surprise elopement, flying her down to Palm Springs, Florida for nuptials with just the two of them, the officiant and photographer Reem Virgo. It was intimate and a moment to remember.
But that didn’t mean the couple still didn’t find it worth it to celebrate their love with all their family and friends when the time was right. A year after their initial wedding date, on March 20, 2021, they were finally able to marry with the pomp they always wanted—and in front of 135 loved ones. With the opulent theme of “springtime in Paris,” Alisha and her planners, Emore Campbell Events and Jenkins & Co. Weddings, went all out for the big celebration, making the past scheduling snafus, wait and stress all worth it. Check out the stunning images from the couple’s special day, as well as more info on their love story and the behind-the-scenes work of planning their wedding(s).
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How They Knew They Found the One
After years of being friends, Alisha and Jordan realized they were each other’s soulmates. “I just knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her,” he says. She actually felt something soon after the two initially met at that Georgia State party. “I knew shortly after we met that Jordan was the one. He was just so perfect all around and I loved everything about him,” she says. “I always wanted to be around him and talk to him. It was just easy!”
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Though Alisha and Jordan live in Columbia, S.C., the proposal, which she describes as “perfect” happened in Atlanta. “Jordan told me we were going to a Hawks game. I was excited because we had never been to a game together,” she says. “We also planned to go to brunch with our friends while we were in Atlanta. We got ready for brunch and as we were leaving the hotel we stopped on a secluded floor and Jordan proposed. Out of nowhere I see my sister, the photographer. I was SO shocked. Couldn’t believe it. We drove to the restaurant and we were greeted by all of our close friends — it was actually a surprise engagement brunch! My best friend even flew in from California for the moment.”
While Jordan let Alisha handle the theme and decor, the one thing he did want was for their venue to be versatile. “Once we decided on Columbia, S.C. as our wedding city, we looked for a space that we could transform. We wanted our wedding to look different!” he says. “It was also important to have something indoors to avoid weather mishaps and something big. 701 Whaley fit the bill for all of that!”
Bring on the Drama
When it came to designing the space, Alisha had an eye for the dramatic. Even the cake, a Bonnie Brunt creation stunning on its own, was displayed in grand fashion.
“I have always been over the top! I love glam and dramatic decor,” she says. “I actually pulled a lot of inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram and my lovely designer Emore. I wanted something soft but breathtaking. I also knew I wanted a ton of flowers. I searched for those looks and went from there!”
The Most Memorable Moment
For Jordan, the show-stopping moment from their wedding day was getting to see his bride. “For me, it was seeing Alisha walk down the aisle.”
What the Bride Enjoyed Most
As for Alisha, the most memorable moment was getting to spend some special time with Jordan in their reception hall before guests entered. “I really enjoyed the reception room reveal,” she says. “It was the first time that day Jordan and I were able to have an intimate moment and be emotional. Not to mention the space was beyond beautiful! I literally cried the whole time. That entire moment just really made me happy.”
How the Pandemic Changed Their Outlook
After a year that threw their wedding plans in a frenzy, the couple was simply happy to be in the company of their loved ones on their special day, no matter how many were present. “We actually loved not caring as much about the guest list. After going through such a crazy year, we really appreciated just being able to celebrate!” Alisha says. “It was way less stressful and we were able to actually enjoy the day and focus on each other.”
The couple celebrated in front of 135 of their closest family and friends, who pulled out the sparklers as the couple closed out the night.
It’s the look of love for us!
The Bride’s Tribe
Alisha was supported by her very deep and very lovely bridesmaids as she prepared to become Mrs. Giles.
The couple also shared with ESSENCE some photos from their elopement in Palm Springs last summer. How stunning is this peaceful and nature-focused ceremony?
Great Gowns, Beautiful Gowns
Alisha snapped a photo with her ceremony bridal dress, as well as the reception dress, which was the same gown worn when she eloped with Jordan summer of 2020.