Donovan, 42, had a hunch that Amber, 38, was the woman for him the very moment they first met. It took her a little while to come around, but after a few months of intimate phone conversations, Amber realized he was right all along.
Kudos to the couple's photographer for capturing this lovely getting-ready-moment between the bride and her makeup artist, Meredith Marshall.
"My dress was designed by Rivini," says Amber. "The process was somewhat simple. I went to three stores in downtown Philadelphia with an open mind. I tried on everything that I loved."
"I wanted a no-fuss, romantic hairstyle so after a few searches on Pinterest, I decided on a classic, loose chignon with side swept bangs," says Amber, who trusted stylist Nneka Tatum to create the look for her. "It was perfect!"
To complement her stunning modern gown, Amber wore Badgley Mischka heels, a custom birdcage veil by Artikal and custom made jewelry.
"Donovan is the most loving person I know," says Amber. "He is God-fearing and loves me whole heartedly. He inspires me every single day with his 'can do' attitude."
"My something old and something borrowed were rhinestone hairpins from my maternal grandmother," says the lovely bride. "My something blue was my garter and my something new was my wedding dress and shoes."
Even the flower girl got to enjoy a little pampering before it was time for the ceremony to begin.
"I was a little surprised that so many dresses looked good on me, so I went for the one that was classic with a modern twist," Amber shares.
Amber and Donovan tied the knot at the Rose Garden Ballroom inside the Hyatt at the Bellevue in Philadelphia, then kicked off an elegant reception party at trendy restaurant, XIX Restaurant, which was also located inside the hotel.
Donovan wore a custom black Gucci suit with a white shirt. All of the groomsmen wore classic black suits with white shirts and black ties to match.
Amber's bridesmaids wore charcoal grey gowns with hints of black and the matron-of-honor wore a Vera Wang White selection. "Each dress was different and matched their personalities perfectly," says the beaming bride.
Let's hear it for Donovan's side of the bridal party. The fellas wore those tuxedos well.
Amber and Donovan chose their wedding flowers based on the season and the recommendations of their florist, Hiram Smith of Hiram Style Designs. "They were a mixture of blush and ivory roses, white calla lilies, white hydrangeas and white francoas," she adds.
"I knew that God would bless me with someone special but I had no idea when, where or how," says Donovan. Then he met Amber.
"My wife is the most beautiful woman I know," says Donovan. "She is equally as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. Plus, she is caring, funny and smart."
"I really wanted a romantic feel to the ceremony, so we used lots of floating candles and flowing sheer fabric hung from the ceiling," says Amber. "We used soft pink up-lighting to add to the romance. We chose to have the ring bearer carry a decorated wedding bible down the aisle instead of a ring pillow."
"Our guests were very surprised when they saw our ceremony program," Amber tells us. "With Donovan being from Louisiana and living in Houston and me hailing from Philadelphia and living in Brooklyn, New York, we wanted a way for all of our family and friends to get to know us better. We designed a magazine to serve as the ceremony program. The magazine featured ceremony details along with photos, interviews and tidbits about us and our relationship. Our guests are still talking about it today."
Amber calls her father her hero. That's why she was thrilled to have him there to escort her down the aisle to the sounds of "The One He Kept for Me" by Maurette Brown Clark.
Amber and Donovan exchanged vows beneath a gorgeous chandelier.
"My cousin, Rev. Isaac Patterson V, officiated our wedding," says Amber. "We selected him because it’s a family tradition. He’s the oldest of 18 children and has married so many couples in our family."
We love to see a happy couple who are all smiles at the altar. This picture made us smile even bigger. (Even dad couldn't stop grinning.) What a precious and unforgettable moment.
"When I looked into his eyes, I felt peaceful," Amber admits. "I am an introvert and with all eyes on the bride, I was a little nervous. When our eyes met and we held hands, I felt peace and my focus wasn’t on anything except me and him."
Amber and Donovan bow their heads in prayer. "I felt that my time had finally come and that what I wished for came true," says Donovan.
Mr. and Mrs. Casanave wore matching grins on their way back down the aisle.
"Meeting Amber was the best thing to ever happen to me," Donovan insists.
Amber and Donovan's goal was to throw a simple and elegant wedding with flair. To pull it off, the bride enlisted the help of her best friend, event planner Simone Jones Tyner, who owns an event planning company named TRUE Marketing, Media & Events.
"Donovan was a big help with planning the wedding but, for the most part, I planned the wedding with my event planner," Amber reveals. "The experience was nice because we had the same vision."
"The format of our ceremony was traditional," says Amber. "We gave standard vows and took communion, which was our first act as a married couple. The ceremony was beautiful."
"Meeting Amber was the best thing to ever happen to me," says Donovan. "One of many reasons why I married her is because she loves me so deeply and we are equally yoked."
"Music played a big part in our wedding," says Amber. "We exited our ceremony dancing to Stevie Wonder’s 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered' and entered our dinner reception to Beyoncé’s 'Love on Top.' Our first dance song was John Legend’s 'So High."'
The couple had a formal dinner reception. Rather than use typical escort cards, they chose an eclectic mix of mirror and glass picture frames as seating charts to direct guests to their seats. The reception décor featured rhinestones, mirrors and mercury glass to accent the focal point of the room—a stunning 19-foot handcrafted chandelier of dangling pearls. Each table was set with a custom charcoal gray runner to highlight the rich dark wood tables and flowers in mercury glass vases, mercury glass candle holders and floating candles.
Now this is a cake! The all white fondant and flowers make this an elegant masterpiece.
Happy newlyweds Amber and Donovan couldn't wait to enjoy sweet reception traditions like cutting the cake and toasting with their guests.
"Oh, I did have one surprise for Donovan," says Amber. "I sent him a gift box that contained a pair of socks with a label that said, 'Just in case you get cold feet, Love, Amber.'”
"Our favorite memories were at the reception where we danced," says the happy bride. "The Soul Train line was the best. Also, my father and I surprised guests with a salsa routine (we practiced for weeks) for our daddy-daughter dance."
A toast for the happy couple!
Their guests received small boxes of Godiva white chocolate pearl candy tied with a bow and a note of thanks as their wedding favors.
"My husband is intelligent, compassionate, easy going, creative and oh so handsome!" Amber gushes.
"I never dreamed of being a bride, so to speak, but the feeling was wonderful," says Amber. "I was filled with joy, love and laughter." If you enjoyed their wedding day as much as we did, don't forget to leave the happy couple a little comment love below. Want to see your wedding featured in Bridal Bliss? Email us now!