When Shannelle, 42, set up her online dating profile, she was looking for a “caring, hardworking brother who liked what he saw in the mirror.” Just three months later, she met Sean, 42, who was in search of a good woman sent from God who wanted to settle down. They hit it off famously, and five months later he popped the question one night while they were riding in his car. Their May 12, 2012, destination wedding in Riviera Maya, Mexico, was so romantic. Share their love!
“I was really committed to having a simple, chic beach wedding for my husband,” says no-fuss bride Shannelle. “But he really wanted the wedding. Sean wanted to stand before God, family and friends and make his life commitment to me.”
“I wore Converse Chuck Taylors with simple, classic earrings and a bracelet,” says Shannelle.
“I have beautiful friends who have very different styles and personalities,” says Shannelle. “Each of them has brought a unique joy to my life. I gave them a fabric swatch of the color to guide them and let them pick their gowns. I did not even see their dresses until the day of the wedding. Everyone looked like themselves — beautifully unique.”
“My wedding gown was from the White Collection from Vera Wang,” says Shannelle. “I knew the type of gown I wanted. It was simple, elegant and had pockets. I was sold!”
Although Shannelle was initially taken aback by Sean’s blurry profile photo, she was pleasantly surprised to see a tall, handsome hunk show up for their first official date.
“I wanted my hair in a simple, side chignon,” says Shannelle. “I knew I was going to remove my veil after the ceremony. However, I wanted a hairstyle that would be beautiful with or without the veil.”
Once Shannelle knew she’d found her dream dress, she invited all of her bridesmaids and hostess to the final selection and hosted a “Say Yes to the Dress” party — a fun idea we’re sure was filled with unforgettable moments.
Sean decided to go with a sand linen suit paired with natural-colored Converse Chuck Taylors to match his bride. He wanted the groomsmen in the same attire, but with no jacket — true beach chic.
“I was so touched by Sean’s honesty,” says Shannelle. “He communicates very clearly. He only had three requests for our wedding: 1. To be near the ocean; 2. To wear a suit, but not a tie; and 3. To have the wedding and the reception at one location. So a destination wedding fit all of his requirements.”
“We didn’t give wedding favors, but instead had a hangover kit delivered to [guests’] rooms during the wedding ceremony so it would be waiting for them,” says Shannelle.
“I wasn’t too concerned with flowers,” admits Shannelle when asked why she chose white lilies for her wedding day. “I just wanted to use pretty, white flowers that were in season in Mexico. I knew that we would not be able to take them back with us, so I wanted a flower that was natural to the region and didn’t require us to disrupt too much of the natural landscape to use them.”
The ceremony aisle was covered in orange rose petals to add a romantic touch to the seaside ceremony location.
“We used white lilies for my bouquet as well as for the bridesmaids’ bouquets,” says Shannelle.
“My godfather, Victor Collins, walked me down the aisle,” says Shannelle. “We were so worried about him. He had a heart attack two weeks before my wedding. His doctor advised him not to travel, but he said he had to get his baby girl down the aisle. He told me about the doctor’s warning after we got back home. I just cried.”
Twenty-four hours before the ceremony, Shannelle got a call saying that the air conditioner in the ballroom where they were supposed to have their reception had gone out. The bride-to-be almost fainted. They wound up having their ceremony, cocktail hour and reception in the same space. Luckily, Shannelle and Sean’s planner handed all of the details with ease.
“Our sand ceremony was the mixing of the fiery orange sand (me) with the calm yellow sand (Sean),” Shannelle explains. “Vicky Free, our maid of honor, placed the broom down and we jumped the broom as well.”
When Sean first met Shannelle he knew right away that her love had been sent from heaven and he vowed to hold on to it with all his might and will.
Shannelle and Sean jump the broom with giant matching smiles.
“As we exited the ceremony, we played Natalie Cole’s ‘Everlasting Love,’ and everyone danced their way out,” Shannelle recalls.
Sean left the planning of their big day up to Shannelle, who planned an oceanfront afternoon ceremony at the Secrets Silversand Resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico, followed by cocktail hour and reception.
When the time came to say “I do,” Sean and Shanelle were joined in paradise by 47 dear guests.
Shannelle and Sean focused on keeping to their budget and spent cash only when splurging on their wedding day. It was a good plan because when it was all over they were able to enjoy the memories without the hassle of having debt.
With all of the lovely beachfront resorts in Mexico, how did Shannelle narrow down her choices? With a little help. “My good friends Kelly Williams celebrated her birthday at the resort the previous year,” she says. “She raved about it. I trusted her and I booked everything with the travel agent. It was truly a beautiful resort. Plus. I was able to negotiate a great rate for our guests.”
Mr. and Mrs. Fowler make a grand entrance at their reception.
For their wedding cake, the groom thought it might be nice to try something different. They chose a simple, vanilla trés leche cake, a common Mexican dessert.
“I knew the ultimate décor was the beach and the ocean that surrounded us,” says Shannelle. “There was nothing that I could ever do to top it. It would only distract or take away from God’s amazing gifts. So we kept things real chic and classic.”
“Our wedding photographer Clifton Henri scouted out a number of great locations for our photos,” says Shannelle. “I was clear that I wanted everything to look natural and full of action. I did not want too many ‘grip and grin’ type photos. I wanted to see people enjoying themselves during our special day.”
Delta Sigma Theta member Shannelle says the Sweetheart Serenade her sorors gave her was extra special. “I had sung that same song for two of the same sorors that we singing it to me then,” she recalls.
“We wanted the casualness of a beach wedding, but the chicness that represented our style, which is classic.”
Shannelle and Sean focused on keeping to their budget, and spent cash only when splurging on their wedding day. It was a good plan because when it was all over they were able to enjoy the memories without the hassle of having debt.
“Ultimately having a destination wedding was the biggest money saver,” Shannelle tells us. “We wanted to have a great time and wanted our guests to enjoy themselves as well. We used our American Express points to offset the cost of our first class airline tickets to and from Mexico.”
Nothing says love like his and her wedding bands.
The newlyweds share a sweet, intimate moment on the dance floor. #aww
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