In the fall of 2012, Keyva just knew she was due for a change. One year after leaving the military, she was living in Florida and decided to apply for a job in Atlanta on a whim. Within a few weeks, she was off to ATL. “Everything about that move felt like it was meant to be, so off I went,” Keyva told ESSENCE. A few months later, she ran into the love of her life, Gerard, at their office cafeteria. Though she didn’t expect to find love at the moment, it seemed the universe had other plans.
After getting engaged, Gerard and Keyva discovered The Dekalb History Center as their perfect venue. “The marble walls, beautifully arched windows and high ceilings in the main event space were just what I was looking for,” says Keyva. “We saw a few other beautiful venues, but I knew where my heart was.”
After locking down the date, The Dysons put their trust in Shatila Davis of All That Sparkelez Event Planning to plan their big day. “We know the journey to our wedding would have been a lot more stressful if we hadn’t made the smart decision to hire her,” the couple told ESSENCE.
Scroll through the gallery to see all the heavenly whites and golds of Keyva and Gerard’s Georgia wedding.
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Meet The Dysons
Keyva Johnita Fontnette, rating specialist, 35
Gerard Durand Dyson, privacy officer, 38
Dekalb History Center, Decatur, Georgia
Timeless Elegant Glam
Dress: Rita Vinieris
Bridal Shop: Bridals by Lori
Groom & Groomsmen Tuxedos: Men’s Warehouse
Bridesmaids Dresses: David’s Bridal
Shatila Davis, All That Sparkelez Event Planning
Cathi Milanes, Milanes Photography
Videographer: Jason Rene
Florist & Design: Perfect Creation & Design
Draping: Event Drapery
Dance Floor & Uplighting: Indaglow Productions
Andrea Weithers, Sweet Details
Caterer: Endive Catering
M.U.A: Cierra Elise
Hair: Ahjahnae Smith
Invitations: Elegant Wedding Invites
Chair & Table Rental: We Rent Atlanta
When We First Began
Keyva had just moved to Atlanta for a new job. Though she wasn't particularly looking for anyone special, she and her future husband bumped into each other at a local cafe. "I get to the register to check out, and the cashier said my breakfast was already paid for," Keyva remembers. "I didn’t know his name or where he worked, so I rush off to try and catch him before he gets out of sight."
"The first time I saw Keyva, she caught my attention immediately," Gerard says. "After our first encounter, I asked her on a date and she told me the four words no man wants to hear. 'I have a boyfriend.' A month or so later, I contacted her and she mentioned she was single. It seems as if Keyva came into my life at the time appointed and destined by God."
Heart To Heart
Keyva and her niece get ready for the day.
Dressed To Impress
Gerard and his groomsmen looked way too sharp.
Ready For Forever
"The entire day of the wedding I felt so relaxed. I woke up with my girls by my side and we started out the day in excitement."
The Dress That Stole Her Heart
To find her dream dress, Keyva ventured to the popular 'Say Yes To The Dress Atlanta' shop, Bridals by Lori. "In keeping with the theme of my wedding I knew I wanted a dress that was timeless and traditional to pair with a dramatic veil," says Keyva. "I slipped on a Rita Vinieris Alyne Collection Gown straight off the runway. I didn’t want to take it off."
All Eyes On Him
Keyva and Gerard's dog bearer almost stole the show!
"I was nervous when the doors opened, and I was nervous on my walk up the aisle until I landed on his face. Once I locked eyes with him all of my nerves went out the window!"
When I See You
"The actual wedding ceremony was perfect," says the couple. "Looking into each other’s eyes and reciting our vows to each other was really special. We also are so thankful for our officiant who we felt gave good advice to us as he blessed our union."
A Forever Type Thing
Right before Keyva and Gerard were pronounced husband and wife, they performed the unity candle ritual as Tamia and Eric Benet’s "Spend My Life With You" played in the background.
Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Dyson
"What I love most about Gerard is how he can find some slice of good in just about any situation," says Keyva. "He has such big hopes and dreams for our life and our future family, and it’s impossible not to latch on to that infectious energy!"
Always In Our Hearts
Gerard proposed to Keyva on a cozy Friday night at home, just before they headed to Florida for her grandmother's 80th birthday. Shortly after, Keyva's grandparents passed away. "I’m really thankful that I was able to share the news of my engagement with them before they passed," says Keyva.
White & Gold Wonder
Like the ceremony space, the couple's reception had a romantic feel dominated by florals and an abundance of candlelight. "I really wanted as much of a wow factor with the florals that our budget would allow," says the bride.
"Our cake was four tiered with different flavors: one tier had strawberry champagne, one tier was vanilla beam dream, and two tiers had chocolate salted caramel. It was an overall champagne lush finish for the icing, sprinkled with icing flower and accented with the same gold monogram that we had on our dance floor."
Dance The Night Away
"We have so many pictures of people who didn’t even know each other out on the dance floor together, breaking bread, sharing drinks over laughs, and just having the best time! For us, that’s really what it was about."
Keyva's Advice To Brides
"Enjoy every second of your wedding day, even some of the more stressful moments, because it all goes by so fast!"
Forever My Lady
"Keyva is the most ambitious, bravest, and sweetest person I've ever met," says Gerard. "She’s hard working and brings that ambition and ethic to every are of her life."
Day 1 Down, Forever To Go!
"Just as I thought, my dream Queen made my wedding day the most memorable day for me, my family, and friends," says Gerard.