Leslie never expected that her college sweetheart would propose to her 30,000 feet in the air, but that’s exactly what happened when Gerard asked her to be his wife on a flight to a vacation. “Somehow he got permission to ask for my hand in marriage over the loudspeaker,” she says. “The flight attendant escorted me to the front and Gerard said the sweetest words and then got down on one knee. It was priceless.”
What was also priceless was the venue the couple picked for their big day: The Parador in Houston. This architectural gem boasts tons of history, with both indoor and outdoor ceremony spaces to accommodate any weather changes. Houston winters can bring about unpredictable weather. Luckily, the skies were clear as Leslie and Gerard said “I do” in the garden in front of their closest family and friends.
Scroll through the gallery to see the best moments from Leslie and Gerard’s winter wedding.
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Change Clothes And Go!
The bride started her day overcome with joy.
Its almost showtime!
The Big Day
"I first knew Leslie was The One when I saw how she interacted and loved her family," says Gerard. "I knew she was an amazing person and would be an awesome mother."
Just The Girls
Because what's wedding prep without some cocktails first?
Leslie flashes a smile in her Martina Liana wedding gown, which fit her perfectly.
Ready To Go
"My bridesmaids and vendors kept telling me everything was so chill," says Leslie. "I thought I was stressed but perhaps I did a good job of just staying positive. The only thing that was on my mind was making sure we had a clear sky for the outdoor ceremony."
Here Comes The Bride
"My father walked me down the aisle to a choir singing "Stand By Me" by Ben E. King. It was PERFECT, and they could SING."
Voices Of Angels
The couple's choir created a heavenly ceremony.
Just Me And You
There were 174 guests that watched them exchange vows, but in this moment, they saw no one but each other.
"We just wanted the ceremony to be short and sweet," the bride told ESSENCE. "The focus was primarily on Gerard and I exchanging vowels, giving thanks to the Lord with prayer and celebration."
"It felt incredible to be marrying the woman of my dreams," says Gerard
From the beginning, Leslie envisioned their bridal party in all black. "I wanted the girls to have a dress that they could wear at another black-tie event. Their floor-length dresses fit them all like a glove."
The Reason For It All
"Having our son there with us was special," says Leslie. "He was almost 1 at the time, but bringing him in after our first dance was pretty amazing. The guest started chanting his name. He loved it!"
Meant To Be
Gerard says he wasn't expecting to fall in love when he did, but affirms that, "the best things happen when you aren’t searching."
Keeping up with their garden theme from the ceremony, Leslie and Gerard's reception tables featured white, burgundy and blush centerpieces with floating candles.
Closer Than Close
Before the start of their day, Gerard and Leslie also did a first look. "I’m glad we had that special moment together without a crowd," Leslie said.
"I wanted to stay away from the traditional wedding cake," says Leslie, "so I asked my baker to make an all-black cake. It was beautiful and different!"
Always And Forever
Nothing like those "just married" butterflies.
Leslie changed into a sequin cocktail dress that evoked the Mardi Gras theme.
Blessings On Blessings
About 75 percent of the guests were from out of town, and the couple was most grateful for their attendance. "Our wedding took place during the beginning of the TSA strike, so I was nervous about people being able to fly to Houston," says the bride. "But God made a way. There is really nothing more I can say other than we are so blessed."
Leslie and her sorors came to represent!
Fat Tuesday Vibes
"During the reception we passed out Mari Gras beads and masks," the couple says. "The men even changed into all black for the reception with purple handkerchiefs."
Leslie's Advice To Brides
"Stay positive. The wedding is a celebration of your union. Do not let anything or anyone steal your joy."