There are so many ways to transform a rustic venue into a glamorous space. Danielle and Theodore did just that! Check out the behind the scenes of this glamorous affair.
How did you all meet?
Teddy and I met during our freshman year in 2005 at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. We were born and raised in what seemed like worlds apart. I am from Ellicott City, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore and Washington DC, a power corridor, the fast-paced north of the south, the East Coast. He is from New Orleans, Louisiana, famous for architecture, culture, cuisine, music, and Mardi Gras, the Deep South. I am the second of Paul and Suzanne Haley’s four children. He is the only son of Virgil and Loretta Jonson. Our story of friendship, family, resilience, faith, growth, and love.
Teddy and I were both in the School of Business at Hampton and shared several friends and classes. Over time, we discovered we were similarly natured and would regularly (and lightheartedly) compete for the highest grade on test scores and assignments. Our friendly competition and academic comradery led to what would eventually become a beautiful friendship. One evening, a study session turned into a long conversation that lasted until the sun came up. We talked for hours about any and everything, realizing in that moment that we had made a much deeper connection.
I admired Teddy’s authenticity, respect, attention to detail, sense of humor, and his polite, southern demeanor. From the moment Teddy met me, he says that he knew there was something unique about me- my standards were high, yet I remained relatable, kind and compassionate to everyone. We developed a close friendship and on Valentine’s Day 2007, we officially become a couple!
We graduated from Hampton University in 2009, but our careers took us in different directions. We spent four and half years in a long-distance relationship; I was in Maryland and Teddy was in New Orleans. Being in our early 20s, building our careers, and adjusting to post-college life while in a long-standing relationship was a profound challenge, and a season that remains an integral part of our story. Our love and respect for each other, trust and faith in God, and support and encouragement from friends and family were the glue that held us together during that time.
In March 2012, I accepted a job position and moved to Atlanta. Shortly after, Teddy followed. Our courtship expanded our understanding of each other and, in the fullness of time, confirmed we were meant to be together. Our relationship is marked by God’s grace, unconditional love, patience, and support for one another. We have grown up together, been there through many seasons to cheer each other on every step of the way, and strived to be our best and truest selves. Strong and resilient, our relationship has stood the test of time.
While I anticipated the engagement was coming soon, I had no idea when or how it would occur. On December 14, 2017, what I expected to be another fun date night, ended up being much more. In the middle of the beautiful Garden Lights display at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Teddy asked me to spend the rest of my life with him and I said “YES!. This was a sleepless night for both of us because of the excitement of our engagement, the way our relationship had come full circle, everything and the joy of knowing it was all in perfect timing. We were engaged for a little than 10 months before our wedding day on October 12, 2018!
In countless ways, God revealed and confirmed to us that we were created for each other. And we were ready and couldn’t have been more excited and happy about our marriage.
Anything super unique about the big day?
We really wanted our wedding and reception to capture the true essence of who we are, individually and collectively (from guest hotel room favors, to the ceremony, to cocktail hour Hors d’oeuvres, and reception
entertainment), for God’s role and presence in our lives to be apparent, and for guests to truly have fun and enjoy themselves.
The classic, elegant ceremony had hints of uniqueness throughout: we shared our vows with each other, but also used a portion of the ceremony as an opportunity to allow the officiant to charge, encourage and celebrate all of the married couples in the room. The ceremony concluded with a Bounce (type of music originated in New Orleans) version of “Our God is Awesome”. The Cocktail Hour Hors d’oeuvres included common staples from Maryland, New Orleans, and Atlanta- shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, crab cakes, etc. During cocktail hour, a magician floated from group-to-group in an effort to bring guests together and keep them entertained! The guests had such a great time – many of them walked straight to the dance floor from the cocktail hour!
After hours of dancing to New Orleans classics, what we like to call “good time music”, and songs that take us back to our college days, the reception concluded with a traditional New Orleans Brass Band Second Line send off. One of the most popular traditions in during New Orleans weddings is the famous Second Line. At a wedding, it signifies the start of a new beginning of life for the bride and groom. The brass band, followed by us (with umbrellas in hand), and all of our guests waving handkerchiefs, danced all the way out of the venue to conclude the night! A great time was had by all! When guests returned to their hotel rooms, they were greeted with custom monogramed boxes that included a note thanking them for travelling to celebrate our big day, Mini King Cake (New Orleans Tradition), Popcorn (a staple in my family growing up), custom “Share a Coke with The Jonsons” (reflective of our current residence in Atlanta, Georgia), mints, and an list of all of our favorite places to go in the city.
Any tips you would share with other couples getting married? We always like to separate tips for getting married and tips for planning a wedding, as they are two very distinctly different topics.
Let’s start with the wedding. It is important to identify your collective vision early on. Allow time and patience for open and honest dialogue regarding what each person values, the criteria for the guest list, influencers of the wedding day (parents, siblings, friends, etc), and budget. Remain sensitive to the thoughts and concerns of each other, while being very thoughtful about the guest list- this is the biggest factor that impact the budget. Since most don’t plan a wedding every day, they are not aware of all of the expenses associated with each guest in attendance (food, chairs, décor, favors, etc)- the guest count impacts everything. Be willing to bend, without abandoning who you are or what you represent. Be mindful of your interactions with family and friends, as it is important to treat people with kindness and respect even if it is YOUR big day. Hire a good planner! There are so many details- while it is possible to do on your own, it isn’t worth the stress during what is normally a very emotional season for most. Let them do what they do best!
And now the most important part, the marriage! Keep God in the center, collectively and individually. Be patient and kind to each other, always, understanding that there are so many emotions that flood people and manifest themselves in different ways as they anticipate such a huge commitment and for many, the most important decision of their life. Go through pre-marriage counseling to ensure topics such as family history and influence, finances, goals, lifestyle, etc. have been discussed and addressed prior to walking down the aisle. We also took a pre-engagement class which further confirmed we were ready for next steps and a new level of commitment. Remember that your marriage is just that, YOUR marriage. Make it your own and bear in mind that God gives you the grace you need and has uniquely wired you for your fiancé/spouse. COMMUNICATE! Lastly, have fun, remain true to who you are and, while tempting, don’t let wedding planning take over at the expense of neglecting the care of your current relationship and preparation for your marriage!
What was your planning experience like?
While the bride was known for planning events for her family and friends, she knew this one would require professional assistance and expertise. Teddy and Danielle hired Nicole Kwarteng, owner of MaggieRose Events (MRE) for full planning and design services. MRE assisted with all aspects of the planning, from venue selection, to vendor screening and selection, to wedding party attire, event design and execution of a cohesive theme.
Unique Events by Shollah was hired for the day-of coordination and assisted with creating a timeline for the Big Day and day-of execution!
The overall bridal style was classic and elegant. I wanted to make sure my attire matched my personality and style, the venue décor, and overall wedding and reception theme. I wore hair pinned up for the ceremony and down in loose, tussled curls for the reception. The bride wanted to keep her make up classic and light, and Shiedha Williams, owner of Hellooo Gorgeous fulfilled this promise!
Your Wedding Style
What inspired your theme/style? What was your color palette? Why was it important to you?
Our theme and style were inspired by our backgrounds, New Orleans architecture, and our shared admiration for elegant, classic simplicity. Our color palette was ivory, blush, wine, and gold. It was important for us to capture the true essence of fall, while maintaining a light, airy feel to the design.
During the ceremony did you use and religious or cultural elements or traditions?
During the ceremony, there was a formal charge to the couple, statement of the occasion, the first communion, personal vows, and charge to all married couples. The ceremony commenced and concluded in prayer!
What inspired your reception style?
The reception design was absolutely gorgeous! Tables were complete with gold candles, crystal candelabras and lush florals. Wine satin napkins and custom menus finished table scape.
What menu items did you serve?
Post ceremony, guests enjoyed a New Orleans, Maryland, and Atlanta themed hors d’oeuvres themed cocktail hour of mini chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, and crab cakes.
True to New Orleans tradition, a handkerchief stamped with our names, wedding date, and custom monogram was given all guests to be used in the second line and taken home as a keepsake.