“I just met my husband!” Shawnte’ Moore told her friend following a first date with Eric Lane. His feelings were similarly strong. “It was obvious that we had great chemistry, and I will never forget the feeling I had talking with her that first night,” he affirms. Their relationship blossomed, and after traveling to his girlfriend’s hometown in North Carolina, Eric knew he wanted to propose. “Family means everything to me and I believe that one of the beautiful things about a marriage is families merging,” he muses. After retuning to Southern California, Eric called his sweetheart’s mom to obtain her blessing.

With the help of his recently married best friend, Eric went ring shopping and found the perfect sparkler to give his beloved. He had not one, but two events on his side to help make the proposal special. Knowing Shawnte’ loved having friends and family present for major milestones, Eric secretly invited her loved ones to Los Angeles for a New Year’s Eve party. Her 30th birthday was January 2nd, so the plan was for the New Year’s festivities to turn into a surprise birthday party, which would then become a celebration of their engagement. Despite having to change the venue with only two-days notice, Eric successfully surprised Shawnte’ when their private dinner turned out to include her closest friends and family. “Of course I cried and then proceeded to the dance the night away, thinking that this was the coolest way to celebrate my 30th birthday, with everyone that I love,” she shares. “I still had no idea that there was more to this fun party.” Later, a speech thanking everyone for coming began to switch focus onto their love story. “Before I could wrap my head around what was happening, he was down on one knee asking if I would marry him,” reveals Shawnte’. She said yes, and they rang in the New Year as an engaged couple.

Initially the couple planned to tie the knot in June of the following year, but then they were surprised and delighted to find out they were expecting a baby boy! Their son’s due date was coincidentally during their original wedding weekend, so they moved their nuptials to September. Selecting a venue was easy, as Shawnte’ had always dreamed of getting married at a country club in her hometown of Raleigh. A classic color palette of white and gold was captured beautifully in photographs by Kesha Lambert.

Beneath a custom acrylic arbor lined with orchids, roses, and hydrangeas, the bride and groom exchanged traditional Christian vows. In order to show commitment to Eric’s daughter Jaelynn, the couple included vows to her as well. “For me, as her new stepmom, I wanted her to know that I will always love and support her no matter what,” Shawnte’ confirms.

The importance of family continued during the reception. In addition to a mother-son dance, Eric also shared a dance with Jaelynn. As her father sadly passed away when she was only eight years old, Shawnte’ chose to share the moment with her uncle – dancing to “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge. “This kept the mood upbeat; I did not want to get overwhelmed with emotions because I wish I had my dad to share this moment,” the bride reflects. The aesthetic of the ceremony also continued on, with the acrylic arbor framing the six-tier cake. Long estate tables were set up for immediate family, decorated with lavish floral arrangements and orchid-wrapped candelabra. Long-stemmed calla lilies and floating candles adorned the round tables, and white sofas surrounded the dance floor to create a lounge feel.

As the wedding came to a close at midnight, the only thing the bride wished they had done differently was to have a shorter engagement in order to live life as a married couple sooner. She says smiling, “At the end of the day, however, we know that everything happened as it was meant to be.”