The night Jonathan, 32, was introduced to Denise, 28, at a friend’s party during their law school days, he had a good feeling he’d just met someone special. This was confirmed when the woman he was sitting next to on the couch got up and he noticed Denise was also sitting right there. They shared flirty conversation and eventually exchanged numbers. Their first date was so unforgettable it led to many, many more. After Jonathan proposed over a romantic dinner, he and Denise became husband and wife on August 25, 2012 at Meadowbrook Hall in Rochester, Michigan.
Denise chose the Gemma gown by Vera Wang. "I am busty, but small on the bottom and the mermaid style was much more flattering on me," she says.
Denise hired makeup artist Aisha Benton for herself, her bridal party and her immediate family members. What a sweet bride!
“I knew I wanted very glamorous hair on my wedding day,” says Denise. “I looked at pictures of celebrities at red carpet events and gave them to my stylist, Serena Hampton. I didn’t have a hair trail. I knew that she understood my vision and would execute it perfectly. And she did!”
The excited bride-to-be made sure to personalize every possible detail of her special day with Jonathan — including her bridal robe. Denise, we love your style!
Dazzling diva Denise chose this romantic pair of Jimmy Choos for her big day.
The soon-to-be Mrs. Barnes had a custom dress hanger on hand to pay tribute to her new last name.
Imagine Denise's surprise when she found a love letter from her future husband waiting for her on the morning of their wedding. Sounds like a keeper to us!
“Jon is such a special guy,” admits Denise. “He’s the type of guy that you don’t find — he’s simply sent to you.”
“I wore a light ivory cathedral veil by Vera Wang,” says Denise. Here, she puts the finishing touches on her wedding day look.
Denise’s beautiful bridesmaids and two maids of honor wore navy Monique Lhuillier gowns. “I knew I wanted classic yet stunning dresses,” she tells us. “I also knew I wanted them to have a lot of movement. We came to a happy medium with these gowns.”
“I always said that a man starts to show you who he really is after three months of dating,” says Denise. “It’s then that you can no longer hide who you really are. With Jonathan, after three months he just got better. He was kinder, sweeter and just more wonderful than he was before.”
“I love that I can be myself around Jon,” she says. “I can be silly Denise or serious Denise. Oftentimes you feel like people don’t know the whole you. Jonathan probably knows me better than I know myself.”
“I always wanted to get married outside in a garden, and we both love history, so Meadowbrook Hall was the perfect place for both of us,” says the beaming bride. “I wanted a garden wedding with a tented reception and it allowed us to stick to the plan.”
Denise and her bridesmaids pose for pretty portraits on the beautifully manicured lawn of the Meadowbrook Hall.
“Jonathan was completely in charge of everything related to the groomsmen and his own attire,” says Denise. “He wore an Armani peak lapel tuxedo, a Thomas pink tuxedo shirt, Salvatore Ferragamo tuxedo shoes, Tiffany cuff links (a gift from me when he passed the bar), a Turnbull & Asser velvet bow tie and a mother of pearl stud set.”
Let's hear it for the bridal party! Don't they look amazing?
“Jonathan wanted to achieve a tailored look for the groomsmen without spending a ton of money,” says Denise. “He accomplished this by asking the groomsmen to purchase their own Alfani slim fit tuxedos through Macy’s on sale. We ordered paisley, navy bowties for them too.”
“I wanted the ceremony to look very romantic and classic,” Denise tells us. “Even though the ceremony was in a garden, I wanted it to feel very sacred and formal.” To do so, the couple chose to place small urns with floral arrangements atop white wood-carved stands and setup mahogany Chiavari chairs with white seat cushions.
Jonathan's groomsmen came down the aisle together in rather dapper form.
“We wanted everyone to feel the love and solemnity of the ceremony and our union,” says the beaming bride.
Does a ring bearer get any more adorable than this? What a dapper little gentleman.
Denise’s father, Dollie Linton Jr., had the pleasure of proudly walking her down the aisle. As they made their way toward Jon at the altar, the song “When I First Saw You” by Jamie Foxx and Beyonce from the Dreamgirls soundtrack played.
“Jon loves God, his family and his friends,” says Denise. “He is smart, driven, dedicated and even-tempered.”
Denise and Jon, who are both of Apostolic faith, very much wanted their strong faith in God to be reflected in their ceremony. In addition to reciting traditional vows, they said their own personalized vows to one another.
“Jonathan and Denise was our wedding theme,” says Denise. “We wanted something that reflected us. We are spiritual, yet fun. We are fashionable, yet classic. We are family-oriented, but we love our friends. The evening was about celebrating our love and giving thanks to God for putting us together.”
When it came time to plan their ceremony, Denise and Jon didn’t want to rush through anything. “After all, this was the most important part of the day for us, so we wanted to make sure it wasn’t the shortest part of the night,” she says.
“It felt surreal looking into Jon’s eyes at the altar,” says Denise.
“Jon did cry at our wedding,” admits the bride. “He jokingly told me beforehand not to ‘ugly cry’ for the pictures, so I was so focused on that that I actually didn’t cry at all. Our vows really came from the heart.”
Yup, it's official!
In keeping with tradition, Denise and Jon made sure not to head back down the aisle without jumping over the broom.
Introducing the new Mr. and Mrs. Barnes!
“My husband and I agreed not give each other wedding gifts,” Denise tells us. “To my surprise, he gifted me with a framed photo of my mother, my grandmother and I. My grandmother and I were very close, and she passed away when I was in college. It was very special to me.”
When Denise first tried on her gown she knew it was the ‘The One,’ but she succumbed to pressure from friends and family and purchased a Rivini gown instead. “Though the gown was beautiful, it wasn’t for me,” she says. “Even after purchasing the gown, every day for a month I looked at the Gemma online.” Ultimately, Denise sold her first gown and went back to get the one she really, really loved.
Someone grab a frame for this one. It's beyond picturesque. Hey, beautiful!
This monogrammed floral sweetheart table display was more than fitting for the queen and king of the day. How romantic?
At their sit-down style dinner reception the happy couple decorated the space with a mixture of square, rectangular and round tables filled with lovely arrangements of roses, dahlias and amaranthus.
“I knew I wanted the cake to mimic the dress’s train,” says Denise. “It worked perfectly!”
"We didn't want to see each other before the ceremony, so we took photos separately before the wedding," Denise recalls. "After the wedding we took beautiful pictures on the grounds and throughout the reception."
One hundred and ninety five guests joined Denise and Jonathan to help them celebrate their union. Because of it, the happy couple was overcome with joy.
Because Jon and Denise both lived in Maryland at the time they were planning their Michigan wedding day, they enlisted the help of local planner Ann McQueen from Emerald City Designs to help them make contacts and get things done.
Romance was in abundance at Denise and Jonathan's wedding. Just look at these out of this world beautiful tablescapes filled with crystal vases, roses and candles.
“Like any girl does, I had doubts that I’d find true love how and when I did,” says Denise. “But I had faith that God would send me the right person if I didn’t settle and stayed true to my convictions.”
Denise and Jonathan sneak off for a quiet moment to sign their marriage license.
After an amazing wedding weekend, Denise and Jonathan honeymooned in Jamaica. "We needed the rest!" she says. Did you enjoy their stunning garden wedding as much as we did? Tell us your favorite detail below and leave the newlyweds a little comment love below. Want to see your wedding featured in Bridal Bliss? Email us now!