Ashley and Brandon’s lives were paralleled long before they officially met. They grew up 20 minutes away from each other. Both spent their childhood summers in the Carolinas, and even went to the same amusement parks as kids. However, they didn’t officially meet until years later while living on the West Coast.
Ashley had begun her forgiveness journey and wanted to produce a docuseries on it. She had asked Brandon for his help, and he happily accepted. “Who knew saying yes to work on that project would change my life in so many amazing and fulfilling ways,” Brandon told ESSENCE. “God’s plan!”
After getting engaged on Christmas Eve, the couple decided to get married at The Governor’s Club in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Aside from the fact that it was located close to family members who could help them liaise with the venue, the venue another huge selling point.”They only do 1 wedding a day!” says Ashley. “So we had the entire venue to ourselves and didn’t worry about being rushed.”
Scroll through the gallery to see the best moments From Brandon and Ashley’s southern ceremony.
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Meet The Deeses
Ashley Shante Hall, TV Producer/Writer, 33
Brandon Gerard Deese, TV/Film Producer/Director, 37
Modern & Ethereal
Venue: The Governors Club
Chapel Hill, NC
Allure Couture, Mariposa Bridal Boutique in Anaheim, California
Bridal Veil: Julie Harris Designs
in Studio City, California
Groom's Tux: Friar Tux
, Glendale, California
Makeup: Tai Invidi Makeup
Shavonne Hunter from Luxe Beauty Lounge
in Durham, NC
Wedding Planner: Sabrina Seymore Events
Photographer: Riley McLean Photography
Videography Editing: A2B Productions
Florist: Embellished Blooms
Cake: Cake Couture Boutique
Venue: The Governors Club Chapel
Chef Ben Guaman @ The Governors Club
See Why Designs
Rentals: American Party Rentals
Dr./Pastor Kedrick Lowery and Dr. Siti Lowery
The couple saved big by getting their stationery done through Minted.com.
Wedding Day Glam
Ashley went for a champagne pop for her eyeshadow and nude natural lips. How stunning!
The bride's moment of getting ready was filled with nothing but pure joy and bliss. "The morning of and the ceremony, I kept thinking 'am I dreaming?' It felt unreal to have dreamt about getting married since I was a young girl, to have it actually occurring."
Ready For Forever
The groom and his dad share a moment before the ceremony.
To begin the day, the couple touched hands before officially becoming husband and wife. "Brandon put his hand through the door. Having his hand let me know no matter what happened, it was already fine," says Ashley.
A Twist On Tradition
Ashley put a special twist on her aisle walk. "I had a pre-recorded audio message that I wanted to say to my husband, which played before the doors opened. Then when the doors opened, I walked down to 'New Balance' by Jhene Aiko. It’s a song that we used to listen to in the car all the time in the car."
Made With Love
A cherished detail at their altar was the wreath the couple stood under while exchanging their vows. This impressive masterpiece was made by the groom's mother. "It was so nice, the Florist ended up buying it from her after the wedding," the couple tells ESSENCE.
Our Day, Our Way
"We made our wedding our own. We were married by a pastoring married couple and had our guests also stand and say vows. They vowed to always support us, and help protect our marriage. I have a blended family, so when the pastors asked who was giving me away, my mom, step-father, dad, and grandmother stood and said 'we do!'”
You May Now Kiss This Bride!
Officially Mr. And Mrs. Deese!
For The Love Of Her
"When Ashley believes in something, she believes with her whole heart," says Brandon. "She will go to the mat in order to see justice be served and the people she loves protected."
"One thing I love most about my husband is his kindness and patience. It is so rare and I admire it."
Dressed To Impress
"We had all of our guests wear black and white," says Ashley. "We wanted everyone to feel like they were a part of the wedding. It also made the pictures better too!"
A Perfect Fit
"Finding my wedding dress was a breeze," Ashley says. "I ended up with a trumpet style Allure Couture gown, which was totally opposite of what was on my board. The consultant says that happens all the time. I wanted long sleeves, but ended up with a strapless dress that I added drop cap sleeves to. When I tried it on, there was no question that was THe dress."
A Small But Mighty Circle
"I chose not to have a large bridal party," says Ashley. "Instead, I just had my 2 best friends. They were my Man of Honor & Matron Of Honor. They’ve been my best friends since I was 14 years old."
"Before our entrance, we played a comedic video that we produced called 'Dynamic Duos,'" says Ashley. "In the video, Brandon and I change into different iconic famous couples like Martin & Gina, MLK & Coretta and Quincy & Monica from Love & Basketball. It was a major hit!"
The Deese's wedding cake was a multi-tiered, butter toffee crunch with double chocolate. To save money, they went with a faux cake for display and served their guests a sheet cake from the kitchen. "That was such a great decision because we have the faux tier as a keepsake in our house."
Showered With Love
The couple was adorned with flowers during their first dance.
Ashley calls her florist a rock star for nailing her vision for the reception tables. "I am not really huge on flowers, but I am a plant lover. So we included more lush greenery with touches of white florals. There were lots of candles also. It was so light, romantic, and ethereal."
Love, Peace & Soooulll
One of the bride's favorite memories was seeing her grandmother dance down the Soul Train line at their reception. "I was so happy for her to see me happy," says Ashley. "She is my biggest cheerleader."
The band was a hit, but the bride stole the show!
Now We Feast
Ashley and Brandon's guests dined on steak Diane, shrimp and grits and roast chicken. There were also vegetable-forward options served for vegan guests.
Light My Fire
The reception guests get their sparklers lit to usher out the couple.
Ashley's Advice To Brides
"Spend money on what will last ( photography and videography!) Make sure you and the groom have the wedding YOU TWO want to have. Don’t get coerced into doing what family members desire. It’s your wedding, you only have 1 (hopefully lol)."