Arielle and Steve were college sweethearts whose love didn’t blossom until their senior year. At first, Arielle insisted on being just friends. But then an “aha” moment brought her closer to her truth. “One night, he was getting dressed to go on a date with another girl and my antennas went up,” she tells ESSENCE. “I was like hol’ up, hol’ up. I don’t want him dating anyone else.”
Their careers briefly took them to different cities, but they continued dating long distance for the better part of a decade. Steve eventually proposed in front of Arielle’s closest family and friends, and although she had a feeling it was coming, she swept away by his grand gesture. “I was truly in shock to see that Steve had coordinated the attendance of my closest friends (and goddaughter) along with my family. I loved his attention to detail and was blown away by the grandness of it all!”
True to their relationship, everything about their wedding was the balance between quality and cost. Pinecrest Gardens in Miami offered the couple beauty and an affordable price. To add a unique factor, they opted for a brunch reception complete with tropical centerpieces and the finest Haitian cuisine. They also shut down the notion that day weddings can’t offer a knock your socks off reception. They partied until the sun went down and offered their guests an unforgettable experience. Best of all, they did it all under budget!
Scroll through the gallery and get into Arielle and Steve’s magical, tropical wedding day.
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"I had a kind of dramatic look with the headpiece and bold lip and I felt really pretty."
The Power Of Love
Steve gets emotional as he goes over his vows.
A Touch Of Tradition
Arielle's "something blue" was this gorgeous pair of wedding day shoes that looked straight out of a fairytale.
Closer Than Close
Arielle and Steve didn't have a bridal party, but Arielle found a creative way to include her girls. "I asked my closest girlfriends to wear nudes/blushes and join me for a few photos before the wedding ceremony."
Drama Meets Classic
Arielle knew she wanted a dramatic yet timeless look for her wedding day. Bridal shop Ivory And White helped her find the dress of her dreams. "It was a Monique Lhullier gown with a lace overlay, massive tulle underskirt and amazing bodice. I knew when I put it on." Her gorgeous pearl headpiece was found an Etsy.
On The Way To Forever
Arielle was walked down the aisle by her father as the song "Moon River" was played by a string duet.
The couple asked the officiant to read “You Came Too” by Nikki Giovanni. They also had a family member from both sides (Arielle's uncle and Steve’s oldest sister) to say a prayers in English and Creole.
Just Go With It
Despite accidentally seeing the groom before the ceremony, Arielle says it didn't take away from their special moment at the altar. "I remembered some advice I got ahead of the big day. That person told me no matter what happens on your wedding day, let it go and simply don’t think about it."
When You Know, You Know
"I think in a way I always knew Steve was the one," Arielle says. "He’s been a dear friend and a constant companion."
Make It Official
The couple sealed their union with a kiss at the altar.
Surrounded By Nature
One of the reasons Arielle and Steve fell in love with their venue was the beauty of its outdoor space. "The fantastic thing about this venue is it’s a very lush garden," Arielle said. "It required little decor beyond a few flowers."
The newlyweds shared a moment of embrace surrounded by this stunning tropical ambiance.
So Much Love
This photo of the bride with her hubby and dad is too cute.
Our Day, Our Way
"I truly believe weddings should be a celebration of love," Arielle told ESSENCE. "Not a time to stress or stunt. I didn’t care what anyone thought of me or my wedding as far as cost or expectations. We made decisions that fit our taste and more importantly our budget."
The Statement Piece
One of the bride's favorite details of the reception was the King Protea centerpieces. "This flower won over my heart. So ugly, yet so beautiful," she says. "I knew it was the perfect centerpiece for my tropical nuptials in both color and style."
They've Got My Back
Arielle credits her wedding planners with helping the day go smooth. "Day of, my planners all did a good job. They kept us on schedule very well so much that guests even commented on their successful management."
The couple found creative ways to save money, like doing away with a wedding party and having a brunch style reception. With what they saved, they splurged on details that gave the tables a wow factor. "We splurged for gold flatware which we just had to have. We felt like they made the tables really pop."
Get On Down
Music from DJ Dro had partygoers on their feet.
After the ceremony, guests were treated to a cocktail hour feauturing Haitian-inspired appetizers including griot cups, soup joumou and beef patties.
"Our cake was simple," Arielle says. "I felt like the fresh flowers really took it to the next level. I find that when you don’t want to spend a lot, keep things super simple and they’ll usually look more expensive than they are."
Arielle's Advice To Brides
"I learned that perfection is not a real thing. Focus on what did go right and laugh so hard until you can’t breathe."
All Love, No Regrets
"We made decisions that fit our taste and more importantly our budget," the couple says. "We would relive our wedding day over a million times."
An Epic Honeymoon, But First...
Arielle says she put a day between the wedding and the honeymoon so she could make this major beauty trasnformation. "After years of straightening my hair and wearing extensions, I cut it all off the day after my wedding."