On the day Miesha and Aleigha met at Philadelphia’s Pride weekend, neither of them planned to on being at Penn’s Landing. “I was a complete goof,” says Miesha aka Esh. “I was so awestruck by Lei’s beauty I was literally at a loss for words. I forgot my phone number, so I had to go ask my best friend to borrow her phone and look it up.”
Lei pulled off a romantic and seemingly off the cuff proposal at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, and Miesha, tearfully, said yes. Throughout their wedding planning, the couple was adamant about choosing all Black vendors from the photographer to makeup artists. “We wanted to have Blackity, Black elegant wedding,” they told us.
The couple shared only a handful of wedding photos on social media (which have since been reposted on a bunch of wedding pages), but decided to let ESSENCE share a few more. As they look back on their big day, they have zero regrets. “I married my best friend,” Lei says. “Everyday, I wake up I see her and I am reminded that God is real and I am highly favored.”
Scroll through the gallery to see more photos from Miesha and Aleigha’s black tie wedding.
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Meet The Sweetenburgs
Bride: Miesha Cooper, Cosmetologist, 29
Bride: Aleigha Sweetenburg, federal employee, 33
Theme: Black Excellence
Photographer: Ryan Powell
Wedding planning: Soiree Events, LLC
Miesha's Wedding Gown: Vera Wang
Away From Tradition
"We decided, a traditional religious ceremony wasn’t for us," the couple says. "We had already been legally married for a year before our wedding, so instead of a priest, we had one of our best friends marry us in a beautiful outdoor ceremony."
How cute is the flower girl in her adorable jewel tone dress?
A Mother's Love
"We wanted to make sure our mothers were part of our big day," says Lei. "Instead of the whole 'who gives this woman to this man' thing, we had our mothers step up to the altar and each make a promise to love her new daughter in law and formally welcome her to the family during the ceremony."
She's All Mine
"Being a bride was indescribable," said Lei. "I got to marry the most beautiful woman in the world."
Miesha opted for a classic Vera Wang gown. "I wanted a gown that was dramatic but would still have a timeless feel. I didn’t want to be too trendy on my wedding day. I want to look back on my wedding day and still love my dress."
We Are Gathered Here Today...
Miesha and Aleigha had an intimate group of 75 friends and family to witness their ceremony.
When Two Become One
The couple incorporated a sand pouring ceremony during their vows.
Jumping The Broom
"I was so happy to be her bride," Lei says of their big day. "I was marrying my soulmate, it was really happening. That feeling is one I will never forget."
Matters Of The Heart
"Lei takes care of my heart, my mind, my soul in ways I can’t begin to explain," Miesha says. "I know I can be vulnerable with Lei and she will be there to be my strength when my cup is running low."
A Chic Squad
"We both knew we wanted our bridal party to look very chic," the couple says. "We had Lei’s aunt design and make the bridesmaids gowns and we found an amazing tailor to do the suits for the girls and guys."
Feels Like Home
"A home I didn’t know I needed exists in Lei," Miesha says. "I couldn’t imagine a life without her. She was and continues to be the light of my life."
A Rainbow In The Sky For Our Love
"While we were taking pictures, Lei looked up and there was a rainbow in the sky stretched directly over our wedding. I mean what are the odds of a rainbow appearing over a lesbian wedding?! It was amazing! It stopped everyone in their tracks."
"Music and food are very important to us," the couple told ESSENCE. "We took quite a bit of time curating the music for our wedding. We also take pride in supporting black-owned businesses so we made sure to use Black vendors including our photographer, DJ, wedding planners, and our makeup artists."
Pinch Me If I'm Dreaming
"I honestly still can’t believe she married me, or that I married her," says Miesha. "My wedding day was more than I ever imagined it would be."
Just Go With It
Lei says her wife Miesha chose the jewel tone color palette for their reception. "I was indifferent about that, I just wanted everyone to look nice and have fun."
A Party To Remember
"We had a blast, and we’re looking forward to doing again at our five year anniversary."
Miesha and Aleigha's Advice To Brides
"After all the planning and all the logistics, grab your partner and take a moment to step away from the party and look around. Take it all in and look at the magic you’ve created. You’ll see why it was all worth it."