When we say that Quanei and Maurice go way back, we mean way way back. The first time they locked eyes, they were 12 and 13 years old. Maurice’s older brother was dating Quanei’s sister, and one day when his mom decided to take his brother to visit with his girlfriend, Maurice wanted to tag along. Escorted into the living room, it was then that he would meet Quanei, and from there, time stopped.
“I met the girl of my dreams,” he recounts to ESSENCE. “She was lying down watching SpongeBob. When our eyes locked it was literally love at first sight.”
She agrees. “I honestly realized I found the one when we locked eyes at 12 and 13. It was like our souls aligned immediately. I cannot truly describe the feeling in words, but butterflies filled my stomach, and we stared into each other’s eyes for quite some time.”
He adds, “Just when I decided to finally have the courage to say something, I hear ‘Lil Man it’s time to go.’ Seriously, mom?”
Some time would pass and things eventually ended between Maurice’s brother and Quanei’s sister, so chances to see Quanei ceased. But the two would finally cross paths again sophomore year of high school. Despite his excitement, he was shy. She was the first one to speak, letting him know that he looked like someone she knew. She would tell him that often — literally for months, her way of possibly saying “hello” — until she finally found a name. “She said ‘Ahmad! You look like Ahmad.’ Me laughing I replied, ‘that’s my brother,'” he says. “That same connection was made again; you know the one we made in her living room years before.”
And this time, the connection remained. The two would start dating that year and have been inseparable. They have since attended the same university, welcomed a daughter named Halo (like Beyoncé’s song) and after a disastrous Christmas proposal (more on that later), made it down the aisle to become husband and wife. On June 25, 2021, in front of 80 of their closest family and friends all decked in white, they exchanged vows and went from, as she puts it, “high school sweethearts turned into forever love.” No one is more excited about it than Maurice, which is always refreshing to hear.
“It is still hard to believe that I get to spend the rest of my life with such a perfect woman,” he says. “I thank God for blessing me with her. I won’t drop the ball with this one.”
Check out all the images from their gorgeous all-white nuptials below and learn more about their love story, more than 11 years in the making.
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How the Bride Knew She’d Found the One
Quanei was sold on Maurice back when they were teenagers.
“When we started dating he treated me so well,” she says. “Even without a car, he’d take me out on dates. He’d kiss me so gently and always asked for permission. He opened the car door for me. He prayed with me, oh how we prayed, and he’d come to my church with my family when he wasn’t attending his own. A man of God who worked hard at Papa John’s in the 10th grade, treated me like a queen, and spoke life with me? Yeah he was my husband in my head.”
How the Groom Realized He’d Found the One
“During the fun times, bad times, sad times our connection with each other would never dim. As our relationship grew, she became my comfort and peace,” he says. “In addition to her, I started falling in love with her family, desires, and life goals to the point where many of our thoughts were aligned. That is when I knew she was the one.”
While he had good intentions when he proposed to Quanei the Christmas of 2015, she says he went about things all wrong.
“Maurice proposed in an intimate setting surrounded by his family. I truthfully hated the entire thing,” she says. “My father wasn’t consulted, my family wasn’t involved or notified, we weren’t in a good space, and the ring was what he liked and not me.” Thankfully, he set things straight, including with a whole new ring.
“I was a bit selfish, but all these wrongs led me to my right, my beautiful wife,” he says. “A disaster proposal turned into a beautiful wedding.”
When Quanei said she wanted everyone to wear white, she meant the purest of white. No off-white, no eggshell, no cream.
“Quanei originally wanted an all-black wedding, but she had a dream that caused her to change it to all white with a hint of rose gold, and boy oh boy did our family, wedding party, and guests complain all the way up until the day of when they finally saw it all,” Maurice says. “They were amazed and still talk about it to this day.”
Though they eloped before their official wedding day, they still wanted to celebrate in a big way. The couple chose to do so at The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing, a riverfront restaurant overlooking the city of Richmond. They said their vows outside and took things inside for the reception.
All White — With a Little Bit of Rose Gold
A look at the dreamy decor inside the venue.
A Clever Cake
This gorgeous cake was created by Incredible Edibles Bakery. Fun fact: They also have a gelato cart for events.
The Bride’s Most Memorable Moment
“The most memorable moment was during the ceremony when I walked in seeing everyone looking so put together and like a unit in their all white, then being able to keep walking and finally see my husband standing there looking amazing,” she says.
The Groom’s Favorite Moment
It was the first dance for Maurice.
“We had practiced our movements on numerous occasions as my wife claimed I could not dance,” he says. “What I thought would be a very serious moment turned into our strongest bond: laughter. All that practice was erased seconds into our dance as I stepped on her foot.”
A Second Slay
Quanei made quite the entrance, swapping out a strapless gown for this gorgeous number. Both looks were from David’s Bridal.
Be Our Guest
“Our guest count had to change from 150 to 80 due to COVID, and we ended up doing only family and our closest friends,” Maurice says. “This devastated those who we had to send our regrets to, but they were still very supportive and sent advice and gifts.”
A Message From Maurice
“Throughout the years we went through the good, the bad, and the ugly, but Quanei always stayed true. True to God. True to her inner and outer beauty. True to her humble heart. True to her giving nature. True to her selflessness. True to her loving friends. True to serving her community. True to her goals and dreams. True to this simple cat right here, me.”
What the Future Holds
In a joint statement they say, “We got to grow up together and grow with each other. We’ve been together for over 11 years, but we can both truly say that marriage is a completely different dynamic than a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. This is because in a marriage you have to manage money together, make joint decisions, communicate with each other about day-to-day issues, file taxes together, raise children, etc. Still with all those things, the three foundations in our marriage are God, good communication, and privacy. Yes we have those not so good days, but we work it out together. We pray about it, we talk about it, and we keep it in our marriage. By no means do we play the perfect card. We are always authentic, unfiltered, and make lots of mistakes; but one thing we make sure [of is] we love hard.”