“I knew Renaldo was the one about two hours into our first phone conversation,” gushes Chanelle. “I didn’t want to get too excited, so I kept my cool, but I knew. I was so tired of the dating scene and meeting this one and that one. I just finally prayed to God to send me my soul mate.” Her prayers were answered the day she locked eyes with Renaldo on her lunch break.
Unable to pick just one gown for her special day, stylish bride Chanelle chose three. She wore a simple, white H&M dress from the hotel to the ceremony. “It was cute, short and sassy,” she recalls. At the church, she changed into this ivory, Vera Wang ballgown. “It was the only dress that made me feel like a bride when I tried it on,” she adds. She even had a reception dress. “Because the ceremony gown was so bold, I figured I would want something a little easier to move around in during the reception.”
Chanelle’s lovely bridesmaids were all smiles after receiving their bridal gifts—custom silk robes and fabulous evening clutches adorned with peacock feathers.
Chanelle enlisted the help of hair stylist Bea Brown and makeup artist Evie Bernard to help her glam up for the big day.
“Over our years of dating, we found out we had so much in common,” says the bride. “He was caring, genuine, and most importantly, God-fearing, persistent and consistent. I just knew he was it for me.”
Chanelle planned every single detail of she and Renaldo’s wedding day to a tee. Even her wedding shoes were decorated with love. She added the words “I do” on the soles.
Dapper groom Renaldo joined in the fun and featured the words “Me Too” on the bottoms of his shoes. Now that’s what we call couple coordination. Too sweet!
Beaming bride Chanelle wore a diamond flower necklace and the diamond tennis bracelet Renaldo gave her as a wedding gift. We love to see brides accent their wedding gowns with powerful statement pieces. It’s always a winning look.
“Renaldo is genuinely my friend, my confidant and my love,” gushes Chanelle. “I just could not possibly imagine my life without him. He loves me without any limits every single day. He just makes my heart smile.”
Chanelle carried a bouquet of hand tied purple phalenopsis orchids, green cymbidium orchids and Picasso calla lilies accented with tealeaves and flowering jewels. The stem of her bouquet was wrapped with silver diamond mesh.
“I knew that Chanelle was the woman for me after our first weekend trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,” Renaldo recalls. “It was so comfortable being with her. I felt like I knew this was where I should be and it was a very different feeling than I’d had before with any other woman I’d ever dated.”
Chanelle and Renaldo shared heartfelt cards with special messages inside on the morning of their wedding. We love this idea!
“I was ready for love, and I knew that God knew the desires of my heart and what was best for me, so I put it in his hands,” Chanelle shares. “When I met Renaldo, he was everything I wanted in a husband and more.”
Chanelle’s sister Shahera Williams was her maid of honor and her four closest friends, Nekita Gaither, September Kemp, Leslie Somuah, and ESSENCE.com Beauty Editor, Nicole Marie Melton (to the bride’s direct right), served as bridesmaids. The ladies were a vision of beauty in their plum Bill Levkoff gowns.
Renaldo and his groomsmen found their dapper outfits at Men’s Warehouse. The groom chose the tuxedos; he wanted a modern, classic look that was still comfortable for the fellas. He decided to do away with the vests, bow ties, cummerbunds and boutonnieres.
For his half of the bridal party, Renaldo chose the most important men in his life: His best friend Marrin Ellis was the best man, his son Jordan Williams was the junior groomsman, and Chanelle’s brother Carlton Williams II, and the groom’s close friends Shoppery Shuler, Cedric Thompson and Carlton Williams II were groomsmen.
“My parents have been married for 35 years,” Chanelle tells us. “I am the middle child, and the first of my siblings to get married, so my Dad was beyond ecstatic about his duties for the day, and I would not have had it any other way.” They walked down the aisle as “The One He Kept for Me” by Maurette Brown Clark played.
Renaldo could not maintain his composure when he caught his first glimpse of lovely bride Chanelle coming down the aisle at Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Fort Washington, Maryland.
The church where Renaldo and Chanelle exchanged vows is very special to them. “I grew up in this church with my family, and Renaldo and I often attended service there when we were dating,” says the bride.
“I felt very blessed looking into Chanelle’s eyes at the altar. Blessed just to have the opportunity to marry such a beautiful woman that I can call my wife and best friend,” says Renaldo. “It was a feeling beyond words I could ever speak.”
The new Mr. and Mrs. Williams snuck in another kiss on their way back down the aisle, which made for a lovely photo opp.
Chanelle and her flower girl, the groom’s cousin Chyna Wilkens, pose for a pretty picture with matching smiles. This shot couldn’t be any more adorable!
Chanelle took advantage of all of the photo opps she could get in her stunning ballgown because she knew she had plans to make yet another dress change for the start of their reception party.
“Being a bride was everything I dreamed it would be,” says Chanelle. “I felt regal. I wore three gowns, I loved the shoes and I had family and friends be a part of our day. The whole experience from start to finish was amazing. But, most importantly, I married my best friend, which was the very best part of it all. There’s just no greater joy than that.”
“I was really ecstatic about being a groom and getting married,” says Renaldo. “As a man, you always want to find that right one, and then to be able to now call her my wife is just the cherry on top.”
In lieu of hiring a wedding planner, Chanelle decided to embrace her crafty side and take on all of the planning duties herself. Does she have any regrets? “If you are a DIY bride, like me, and you want to be very hands on and involved, you really can do without a planner and do things yourself,” she insists. “But, I absolutely would recommend a day of planner if you don’t do anything else, because it is quite hard to focus on making sure things are in order with the wedding as you are trying to prepare yourself to walk down the aisle. Your focus just should not be on those things.”
On their wedding day, the newlyweds could not keep their hands off of each other. And, can you blame them? Their dream wedding went off without a hitch!
Jay Z’s hit “Public Service Announcement” played loudly as the happy couple danced their way into their reception party.
Renaldo and Chanelle grooved to the sounds of Jeffrey Osborne’s “Love Ballad” when they hit the dance floor at The Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel for their first dance as husband and wife. “Renaldo actually found the venue,” says the happy bride. “It was fresh, modern, and close to the city – everything we imagined our wedding reception to be. We both loved it.”
When it came time to plan out the guest list, the couple chose to divide things a little differently than most. Over 200 people were invited to witness their ceremony, 60 guests joined them for a private cocktail reception and dinner, and then 100 guests were invited to their dance party reception.
Chanelle created her own unique décor theme for their modern purple and silver wedding style – “peacock chic.”
We loved all three of Chanelle’s wedding dress choices. Here she posed to perfection in her final outfit of the evening.
“When Renaldo and I were dating, we would talk about the future, and he would always say, ‘It’s bigger than us.’ He was referring to God having this all under control, and that this was a relationship designed by God. When we got into the wedding planning journey, with all the celebratory parties and gifts, and the abundance of love we received from family and friends, he and I came together and decided we would go with the wedding theme of ‘A Love Bigger than Us.’ It just really resonated with us.”
“My favorite wedding photos are really all of them,” says Chanelle as she reminisces about her wedding day. “As I looked through them, it brought back memories that I can only relive now through photos.” Kudos to their photographer for capturing the magic in such an unforgettable way!