Kalshelia Brown and Malcolm Lloyd got to know one another while living in the same dormitory at Georgetown University. "We became instant friends," remembers Kalshelia of their first formal introduction at orientation. "It was like we had known each other for a long time."
That immediate familiarity helped Kalshelia and Malcolm's friendship develop into romance, and just days before Christmas 2004, Malcolm proposed to Kalshelia in the home that they had purchased together. In no hurry to rush down the aisle, the bride and groom enjoyed an almost two-year engagement during which they relished the excitement of planning their big day.
With "unique" being at the top of their list of criteria for a wedding location, the couple chose the lavish Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami for their October ceremony and reception. Drawing inspiration from the museum's Italian Renaissance architecture as well as the rich colors of fall, the bride and groom designed an elegant affair that also paid tribute to their Caribbean heritages.
Every design detail from the save-the-dates to the bridesmaid gowns was done up in an autumnal color scheme of chocolate, gold, burgundy, and burnt orange along with various colorful accents. Many of the decor elements also showcased the couple's new chocolate brown monogram design, which incorporated a modern seahorse motif to represent Kalshelia's Jamaican and Malcolm's Dominican backgrounds. Banners emblazoned with the logo proudly directed guests to the outdoor ceremony area that was arranged beneath trees thick with Spanish moss.
Carrying a bouquet of ivory, gold, orange, and taupe roses offset by bronze orchids and touches of fern curls, Kalshelia made her way down the chocolate brown aisle to the center of the gathering where Malcolm was waiting under a white canopy. In lieu of lighting a unity candle, the bride and groom performed a "sand ceremony" in which they each poured bottles of sand scooped up from the shores of Jamaica and Dominica into a single vase. They also had all the guests sign their custom-designed marriage contract, which listed their wedding vows in scrolling calligraphy. It is now displayed in their home as a priceless reminder of their beautiful celebration.
After the ceremony, the new husband and wife led their guests to a courtyard where revelers could choose from four signature cocktails appropriately named old, new, borrowed, and blue -- the borrowed being Caribbean rum punch, which paired perfectly with the tropical-inspired appetizers. Guests also received small flags representing Jamaica and Dominica to wave as the bride and groom entered the reception, giving the very elegant party a whimsical, carnival-like flare.
Dinner and dancing were housed in a tent on the museum's veranda with the sides open to the breeze coming off the water. The ceiling was draped in chocolate brown fabric to match the crinkled silk linens that covered each table. Gold rimmed chargers, gold flatware, and gold chairs provided a shimmering contrast as they picked up the glowing candles suspended from oversized centerpieces. Even the cake sparkled in the subdued lighting with its layers of copper scrollwork and crystal "L" topper finishing off the look.
In addition to dining on wedding cake filled with dulce de leche cream, guests were given boxed slices of a traditional Caribbean rum "black cake" to take home with them. The lucky attendees also received champagne glasses filled with white chocolate truffles. The tag on each read "For your champagne wishes and chocolate dreams."
And while the details that Kalshelia had meticulously planned awed her guests, there was one surprise reserved especially for her. Malcolm arranged for their exit from the wedding via private yacht, and the newlyweds climbed aboard as the final song of the evening began to play. "We waved goodbye as we sailed off into the night with the Miami skyline behind us," remembers Kalshelia.
After a brunch the following morning with their loved ones, Kalshelia and Malcolm embarked on their unique honeymoon, one they planned as a way to show their gratitude for all the blessings they had received. They spent five days in New Orleans volunteering with Habitat For Humanity to rebuild the ravaged areas left by Hurricane Katrina.