There are plenty of sayings out there about love and how to go about obtaining it. Everyone’s heard like, “Love will find you when you stop looking,” and other phrases that they’ve rolled their eyes at, but there’s some truth in all of them. For bride Courtney of Milwaukee, the saying “Love will find you when you’re ready” is most fitting. When she first connected with Torrey through Tinder in 2014, she wanted a certain kind of relationship that he couldn’t offer due to his travels for work. Because of that, she ended up ignoring his advances and communication.
“At the time, Torrey was living in Oregon and I was living in Atlanta, not interested in dating long distance,” she tells ESSENCE. “Therefore I ‘ghosted’ Torrey and we never met in person.”
Thankfully, Torrey didn’t completely give up on her. After she went quiet on him, he slid in her DMs in 2018, four years later, and encountered a matured Courtney (her words) who allowed herself to take the time and chance to truly get to know him. When they ultimately met in person, there was no going back for either party.
“Shortly after we started talking, he had a long layover in the Atlanta airport and asked me to come grab a bite to eat with him. After four years of knowing each other through an online presence only, we finally met in person” she says. “By this point Torrey had moved to Milwaukee and I was still in Atlanta but more mature and open to dating long distance. After our airport date the rest is history!”
From there, despite being in different cities, the pair wouldn’t go long without seeing each other. In no time, Courtney realized that the man she almost passed up on was the one she was meant to be with.
“During my first visit to Milwaukee, Torrey asked a simple question: ‘What do you need from me to be comfortable starting a long distance relationship?’ That really stuck with me because his intentions were clear from the beginning. I didn’t have to wonder if he saw me as a fling or if he was ready for a serious girlfriend. It removed all fear and anxiety I had about potentially getting my heart broken, and it allowed me to show up as a more confident and secure woman.”
They initially agreed to see each other at least once a month and eventually found themselves flying in between Milwaukee and Atlanta every three to four weeks, often times more frequently than that, for two years. Weekend visits became week-long trips, and they quarantined together for a short time in Torrey’s apartment last year. For him, that time made him realize Courtney was his person.
“Initially it was tough because we were working from home and trying to give each other space was nonexistent, but after some time it became my new normal. I really enjoyed it and it made our relationship stronger,” he says. “After almost a month Courtney went back to Atlanta and I found myself being lost without her. That’s when I knew that she was the one.”
The couple, whose journey began in such a unique way, would solidify their love by saying “I do” on July 4, 2021. They tied the knot at the famous Biltmore hotel in Atlanta in front of close friends and family on the same day that Courtney’s late grandparents had married many years prior. And while they certainly didn’t meet the way she and Torrey did, the couple plans to have the same kind of lasting love as they enter into married life.
See photos from this couple’s big day, learn more about their journey and find out about the unconventional and beautiful personal touches they included into the festivities to truly make the day one to remember.
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“I went to dinner with one of my best friends and her mom who was in town. Had a normal dinner, went back to my place and they suggested we have a glass of wine on the rooftop of my building,” Courtney says. “When I got to the rooftop, Torrey was there with his family, my family and our closest friends (with John legend playing in the background of course). I was overwhelmed with emotion. In fact it took me a second to even get the words out – YES!”
“It was really special, but since I knew she would say yes, honestly my favorite part was being able to surprise her,” he adds. “Courtney is very curious and inquisitive, so I felt very accomplished being able to pull that off!”
In Memory Of
The couple chose the same day to marry that Courtney’s grandparents wed back in 1954. Her grandfather passed away in 2017, and unfortunately, her grandmother passed less than a month before the wedding. “I was heartbroken but my family now jokes that my grandfather was not going to let her go to the wedding without him, so she joined him in heaven and I know they were there in spirit.” She honored them by adding charms with images of them (among other family members) to her bouquet.
With both of their families mostly in Georgia, an Atlanta wedding was best for the couple. “The Biltmore was in a great location and it was the chandeliers that did it for me,” Courtney says of what sold them on the space. They enlisted planner Shatila Davis and designer Andy Beach to bring their vision to life. While she initially wanted to go with neutral colors, Torrey’s recommendation of copper, bronze and gold accents ended up being a winner. “You usually don’t hear grooms speak up much about decor, but I’m so thankful he threw in his two cents!”
The Most Memorable Moment
For the bride, seeing the execution of her ideas is something she will never forget. “I was blown away at how flawlessly my vision was brought to life. Also, of course, the turnup was epic!” she says. “Torrey and I have a lot of energy and love to dance and enjoy each other. Our guests brought the same energy.”
A Pandemic Party
While COVID-19 threw a wrench in the plans of many couples featured in ‘Bridal Bliss,’ for Courtney and Torrey, they got engaged in the middle of the pandemic and wed well after the vaccine became available, so things went off without a hitch.
“We’re so blessed and fortunate that the pandemic did not largely affect our plans,” she says. “It did, however, make the day more special because it was the first opportunity for us to see several friends and family that we hadn’t seen since before COVID.”
For the groom, the most memorable moment was getting to dance and have fun with his new wife and all of his loved ones.
“The way all of our friends and family were on their feet celebrating and dancing the entire night, the dance floor was packed before the food was prayed over!” he says. “A lot of love and joy in the room.”
The Groom Wore Jordans
…for photos and at the reception that is! A sneaker enthusiast whose collection of more than 100 shoes has always inspired awe from his friends, Torrey got all of his favorite guys a pair of Jordans, each one tailored to each man’s style, as a gift to say thank you on the big day.
“After so many years of them asking I felt like it was a perfect opportunity to show my appreciation to them for begin such a big influence in my life,” he says. “I got one pair for each groomsmen as well as the father of the bride.”
His father received a pair, too!
The Bride’s Look
The bride’s gown came from Winnie Couture in Atlanta, but she got creative when it came to adding extra oomph to her look.
“I added sparkle tulle underneath so that the entire dress would be sparkling all night. I also added the clip on sleeves since I knew I didn’t want a veil,” she says. “The sleeves were everything! I wore the sleeves down the aisle and took them off for the reception. My hair piece, I got it on Amazon for $7!”
The Jordans Were a Hit, Including With the Bride
“The men decided that after the ceremony they would change into their Jordans for the reception and it was a hit,” Courtney says. “They all looked wonderful and it was such a nice touch! I still can’t get over the gold in Torrey’s shoes and how perfectly it matched the decor.”
The Bride’s Tribe
Courtney snapped this gorgeous shot with her bridesmaids on the big day.
The Small but Standout Details
The invitations, seen here with the couple’s rings, were made by Kimberly Davis of Bliss Creative in Atlanta.