Sports journalist Jemele Hill is officially a married woman! Though she and husband, Ian Wallace, settled on Monarch Beach Resort in California as the location of their gorgeous wedding ceremony, they were adamant about paying tribute to their hometown Detroit every step to “I do.”
ESSENCE spoke exclusively to Hill and Wallace just before their wedding ceremony and got the scoop about every detail, from Jemele’s custom Vera Wang gown to the couple’s surprise performance by R&B crooner Musiq Soulchild.
Jemele and Ian had a few locations in mind for their ceremony. The couple was initially going back and forth between a destination wedding and a ceremony in Detroit. However, having recently moved to Los Angeles, the pair decided a ceremony on their home turf would the perfect location and compromise.
When it came to hiring someone that could pull their vision together, Jemele says she discovered the planner of her dreams at a tea party thrown by actress Erica Ash. Carpe Diem Special Events by Slomique was the creative genius behind the party’s decor. “We kind of had that instant connection with Slomique,” says Jemele. “She said she had done over 300 weddings and [she gave us] just the right type of energy. Ian was very focused on having a celebration with great music and vibes. I wanted the food and the ambiance to be great. She was able to combine both of our priorities and put them together to create what we think is an impeccable vision.”
Jemele and Ian also gave a nod to their hometown by hiring Detroit-based and Black-owned vendors. As for the flow of their wedding, the newlyweds went outside the box and treated guests to libations before the actual ceremony. “The pre-wedding reception served just wine, champagne and beer,” says Jemele. “We don’t want them to be too lit for the wedding.”
Their special day turned out exactly the way they both wanted, and the journey to the altar taught them a lot about each other. “I learned that Jemele is very accommodating,” says Ian. “It’s her wedding, but she’s thinking about others. She’s also very decisive.”
You won’t see many photos of the wedding on social media, since Jemele and Ian’s no cell phone policy was strictly enforced (why not put the phones down and live in the moment!) However, the Wallace’s were gracious enough to send us a few snaps and a gorgeous highlight reel from their celebration.
See a gallery of Jemele Hill and Ian Wallace’s wedding photos below:
Jemele Hill and Ian Wallace originally met while attending Michigan State University. They were together for almost four years before becoming engaged in 2018.
Though it took some convincing to get Ian on board with doing the first look. (he's always had traditional views about seeing the bride before the wedding), Slomique and Jemele were able to change his mind.
Moment For Life
"Some of my friends that are married have been texting me the last few days and they all say, 'take a moment to enjoy the day,'" says Jemele.
Surrounded By Love
The couple's bridal party included close friends they've acquired over the years. "Four of my six bridesmaids worked at ESPN," says Jemele, which include her maid of honor Kelley Carter.
"There's not a lot of diversity with my groomsmen," Ian jokes. "Everyone is from Detroit and four out of six went to Michigan State with me."
Jemele opted for a custom high-low wedding gown designed by Vera Wang - a dress she thought Michelle Obama might wear. It didn't take long to find her dream dress, either. "I got some really good advice from friends of mine to not look at too many dresses because after a while they kind of start to blur together," Hill says. "I was super cognizant of that part of it and allowed [the tailor] to add detail. I wanted something that can transition into the reception. The dress was so comfortable, I wanted to keep it on as long as possible."
Ian chose a custom-made crisp white tuxedo that went perfectly with the modern theme of their wedding day. "I went to a Black tailor named Miguel Wilson in Atlanta to create the vision for my suit," Ian says. "He did a phenomenal job."
Layers + Flavors
Jemele and Ian's gorgeous wedding cake was provided by Sweet Traders. The six-tiered sculptured cake was mixed with rose gold metallics, marble textures and floating flowers in an acrylic box.
A Full-Circle Love Story
Ian says the first time he and Jemele visited Monarch Beach, he immediately remembered the location's significance. "We pulled up Monarch Beach and I said to Jemele, 'I've been here before. This looks so familiar.'" Soon after, they realized the newly remodeled resort was actually the location of their first date. "Once we realized this was where we had our first date, I was super sold. I thought, 'Oh my God, this is such a perfect full-circle story.'"
Salute To Love
The couple had a big surprise up their sleeves at the reception. "All the couples will join us on the dance floor," said Ian. "And Musiq Soulchild is going to sing some love songs. So we'll all have a moment together, and this will be after our first dance."