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Bride: Kristen Danielle Merritt, 27, Pediatric Registered Nurse
Groom: Geno Atkins Jr., 28, Professional Football Player
The Big Day: 6/25/2016
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Theme: Modern Secret Garden
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Kristen showed no signs of nerves prepping on her wedding day. In fact, she was glowing as she prepared for her bridal debut!
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"I selected my dress after trying on only five dresses," shared Kristen about her breathtaking bridal gown. "I almost immediately knew it was the one."
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Kristen had some very special people by her side during her wedding. Her younger sister served as her maid of honor, her sorority sisters and her two sister-in-laws were all a part of her bridal party on her big day.
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Kristen's bridal shoe game is everything!
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Geno rocked a royal blue tux to his wedding complete with a bow tie! What a good choice!
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For her something blue, Kristen opted for sparkly blue sneakers to wear for most of her wedding day. Smart (and cute) choice!
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"We wrote our own vows and presented them to each other in vow books," said Kristen of a joyous moment she and Geno shared before their big day. "I had my bridesmaids deliver it to him and he had his best man bring me mine. We read them separately to ourselves and it was a really special moment."
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We say yes to the gorgeousness of Kristen's dress!
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Geno was certainly beaming with pride before saying "I Do" with Kristen.
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"It was a little overwhelming because everyone was looking at me a lot, and coming up talk, but at the same time, it was such an honor to be celebrated by people I love and care about," said Kristen of how she felt on the big day. "Being a bride was also glamorous for sure. I felt and looked like royalty."
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"I would describe my husband as very patient," said Kristen of Geno. "I’m a little higher strung and he balances me out with his patients and calmness. He is also very loving and wanting to make sure all my needs are met. He is very generous and self-less and always making sure me and our families have everything they need. He is also really funny, adventurous and loves laughing and enjoying spending time with our friends and families."
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Kristen's puppy, Teddy, was close by on she and Geno's wedding day!
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"I said yes because I love him and know he was the man God had for me," said the bride of her groom. I had been praying that if this was the man I was supposed to marry that God would let me know and he did."
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"I knew she was the one the day she graduated from our alma mater, and I knew that day I was going to ask her to be my girlfriend May 13th, 2011, and ultimately I knew on that day she would become my wife one day," said Geno of Kristen.
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"I fell in love with his character and spirit," shared Kristen. "He was hard working but fun loving. He was sop self-less and a great friend. He treated his friends and family like royalty and he was a man of God. Not to mention he was super handsome with an athletic build an a million dollar smile."
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"I choose to make her my wife when I knew she had all the qualities that I was looking for in a woman," said Geno. "Besides her beauty, she really had substance behind it. She was nurturing, caring and compassionate, not to mention she had a relationship with God. She also displayed that go getter spirit by going to nursing school after graduation to become an RN. After she displayed this independence along with all the great qualities I knew about her, I knew she would make a great wife. I had prayed to God to send me this type of woman, and God provided her."
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"It felt great! I felt like a king with my boys there celebrating me," said Geno. It was all I dreamed it could be because my bachelor party was perfect and I was surrounded by my best friends. I felt on top of the world on my wedding day, celebrating with my wife."
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Kristen and her bridal party looked beautiful!
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Geno had some dapper dudes by his side as he swapped vows with his bride. He was surrounded by football teammates from college and the NFL.
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"My father walked me down the aisle because we are very close, and that was definitely an honor that I wanted to give to him," said Kristen of her special moment with her father. "My dad and I are very close and he had loved me my whole life and took a lot time to help me during out engagement."
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Geno shed a few tears during the wedding which is something Kristen was not expecting! "He cried and that totally surprised me and I felt his love for me deep in my heart at that moment. That was the first and only time I have ever seen him cry, so that moment was one I will never forget. When I saw him crying, I was a mess after that."
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During the wedding, the guests gathered for group prayer for Kristen and Geno. "Everyone there prayed over us and our marriage and that was very special and meaningful to me," said the bride.
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...I thee wed!
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"I love that were and still are best friend, said Kristen of she and Geno. "We have seen each other through the good and bad but as friends first, before we ever became boyfriend and girlfriend. While we are husband and wife, we are still each other’s best friends and love spending the most time with each other, and feel safe sharing and talking about anything and everything."
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"What I love most about my wife is that even though things get tough in football and in life, I can always come home to a woman that loves and supports me no matter what, said Geno of Kristen. "After a tough loss or a poor performance she always is positive and keeps my spirits uplifted. She is my best friend and I can always be myself around her."
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"I would describe my wife as someone who puts others first, and is compassionate – she is always helping others on her job and in our home, said Geno. "She does a great job managing the house, and makes sure she handles everything, because football is time consuming and stressful, but she makes sure to have everything taken care of."
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Geno always knew he would find the one who was meant for him, so he asked for God's guidance. "I prayed about it after I met her and during my time after college, and the Lord let me know she was the one for me," he shared. "I didn’t leave my love life up to chance, I made sure to here from the Lord when making a decision."
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"I thought it was possible to find true love when I entered college just because it was a coming of age moment and new season of life, but never thought id find true love the way we did, through a friendship first and then having the love grow between us," said Kristen of knowing she would find true love.
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"I felt joyous and proud of us," said Kristen of how she felt looking at Geno on their first day of forever. "I felt like our connection and bond was super strong. I also felt grateful and humble that God had chosen us to make it to that moment even through all the ups and downs."
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"I felt really excited because I thought about all the wonderful possibilities of our life," said Geno. "Thinking of starting a family, growing old together and making memories brought a tear to my eye. Not to mention se looked more stunning than I had ever seen her."
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Kristen and Geno shared their first dance as husband and wife to "Always and Forever" by Luther Vandross.
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Kristen and her father shared a daddy-daughter dance on during the reception. So precious!
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Geno and his mom had a precious moment on the dance floor!
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"Our wedding cake was 4-5 tiers and lavender and crème coloring," said Kristen. "It was extremely beautiful and tasty. Our flavors were champagne and strawberries and citrus berry. When I had the cake tasting I fell in love with both flavors and couldn’t choose so I picked both pieces so the guests could have a variety. The champagne and strawberries was light and slightly sweet while the citrus berry was tropical and had such rich flavors I couldn’t resist."
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Looks like Geno had a little fun while feeding his bride a piece of cake!
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Kristen had a custom groom's cake prepared for Geno on their special day. It was dedicated to his NFL roots as a member of the Cincinatti Bengals.
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Geno certainly seems to be swept of his feet...all in the name of love, of course!
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Mr. and Mrs. Atkins are all wrapped up in love!
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The groom shared a fun filled moment with some guests during the big day!
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One of Kristen's favorite wedding memories happens to be her bouquet toss. "Prior to, about 5 different women came up to me individually and made me promise to throw the bouquet their way. I told all of them that I would. SO when I threw it I was sure it was going to my husband's sister, who I wanted to get it the most, and when I turned around one or two people were on the floor, and the bouquet was grabbed out of mid air by one of my other friends who was no where near where I threw the bouquet!"
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Kristen and her bridesmaids served nothing but looks during the reception!
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Here's to a happily ever forever!
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