On July 8, 2011, college sweethearts Ayanna L. Banks, 32, and Nicholas B. Harris, 32, were married in an oceanfront ceremony at The Cliff House in San Francisco, California.
Natural beauty Ayanna chose a dazzling statement necklace for her wedding day, and we must say, it was the perfect choice to pair with her stunning silk taffeta dress by Nicole Miller.
The groom’s earth tone suit was purchased at Nordstrom. The best man, bride’s brothers, father of the bride, and father of the groom all wore Perry Ellis linen suits.
The bride’s mother made the bouquets and boutonnieres. A picture of the bride’s paternal grandmother, who recently passed away from cancer, hung proudly from her bouquet.
Since the beginning, Ayanna and Nick have been all smiles when they’re with each other. Here, we see the groom happily preparing to meet his lovely bride at the altar.
These gorgeous and glitzy heels completed Ayanna’s bridal style.
These gorgeous heels added a little glitz to Ayanna’s earthy glam style.
Many couples plan a special “first look” right before the ceremony, so the groom gets a chance to see his beautiful bride for the first time that day before they meet at the altar. Ayanna met Nick on the stairs at the InterContinental San Francisco.
Ayanna and Nick’s wedding rings proudly displayed on the custom guestbook.
For her “something old,” Nick gave Ayanna a bonnet that was given to him at birth. The bonnet included a poem that instructed him to snip away a few threads so that the bonnet could become a handkerchief to be used by his bride on their wedding day. Such a precious idea — we fell even more in love with these two after learning this.
Nick took care of Ayanna’s something old, and to complement it, she wore a necklace from her mother as her something new, a Carolina blue garter represented her alma mater, and she borrowed a pair of pearl earrings.
Knowing they’d found “The One” was the easy part, Ayanna tells us, but dealing with the distance was much harder. “I think we both knew about the same time,” she says. “When we were still living in separate states we spent so much time on the phone laughing, discussing politics, sharing our dreams of the future, which were so similar. When we traveled to see each other I hated when we’d separate.”
Family portraits were taken at the hotel before heading over to The Cliff House patio for the couple’s intimate seaside ceremony.
Unable to contain his excitement, Nick gives Ayanna a big squeeze. Aww!
“It was important to us to be near the water and enjoy the majesty of God’s creation,” says Ayanna. “We kept our guest list to less than 110, as we wanted to be surrounded by our family and very close friends.”
“To acknowledge our ancestors from which we pull our strength and inspiration, we honored their forced tradition of jumping the broom,” Ayanna shares.
On their wedding broom the couple included two pictures; one from the groom’s parents wedding which has all of his grandparents pictured, and one from the bride’s parents’ wedding which includes her grandparents as well.
“We chose The Cliff House because of the beautiful view and wonderful staff,” says the bride, who remembers dining there as a young girl with her family. She didn’t know until after they selected the spot that it was also her parent’s favorite place to dine back when they first moved to the city.
Even the little ones were amazed by the beauty of the couple’s wedding location and the specialness of the day.
During the couple’s ceremony they included a very sentimental sand ceremony. The bride’s Godfather brought sand from Africa for the base of the vase. Nick’s mother carried a small vase of sand captured from a beach in North Carolina, where he was born and raised. Ayanna’s mother carried sand from a beach in California, her home state. The mothers presented the sand to the couple, who then added it to the larger vase. What a sentimental way to symbolically blend two families.
Nick and Ayanna greet their guests as they make their grand reception entrance as husband and wife.
For their first dance as husband and wife Ayanna and Nick kicked things off grooving to Kenny Lattimore and Chante Moore’s version of “You’re All I Need to Get By,” then had the DJ switch it up and play Method Man and Mary J. Blige’s version of the song midway through.
Wine corks decorated with the phrase “Live Laugh Love” held printed seating cards.
The couple chose starfish to display their wedding bands — a great way to subtly incorporate their romantic beach theme.
Prior to getting engaged, Ayanna decided to make the transition from wearing her hair naturally curly instead of straight. It became important that she wear her hair curly on her wedding day, because it was a special request from the groom.
“In keeping with our non-traditional wedding theme, we opted not to have a cake,” says Ayanna. “The Cliff House served our guests Chocolate Marquise. We chose to feed each other ’It’s It,’ a San Francisco tradition we enjoy each time we travel to the Bay Area.”
The bride and groom had such fun with their guests they had to extend their reception party twice throughout the evening.
Ayanna and Nick’s number one goal was to ensure that their wedding day reflected their unique personalities and personal history and to share the joy in their hearts with the guests. Both Mr. and Mrs. Harris will tell you, they succeeded all around.