In just six months, Jessica Burgess was able to plan a dreamy big day for her and her beloved Erick McReynolds. Their love story unfolded after forming a close friendship based on a mutual respect for one another, both personally and professionally. “We are both amazed at how God turned our friendship into a beautiful love story,” confides Erick, who sweetly proposed during a Fourth of July celebration at Jessica’s parents’ annual family gathering. 

The couple admit their hectic schedules made it challenging to plan a wedding and are grateful for the guidance of their planner. “She made the process seamless from start to finish! I just had to be present to give my opinion,” tells the bride, who desired a fairy-tale celebration surrounding the New Year’s Eve holiday. 

They searched the city for an event venue that fit their criteria, finally settling on a gorgeous modern space intermingled with historical industrial elements located right in the heart of the bustling town. “We needed a location that provided amazing options for our guests to enjoy the city if they chose to stay for just one night or make a weekend out of it,” explains Jessica. 

A grandiose ceremony setup was arranged, featuring thousands of flowers in vibrant gem tones, plum chiffon draping, and sleek chairs with gilt backs. As impressive as the décor was, the most meaningful portion of the day was the vow exchange. “It was important for us to include our faith in the service by honoring God and the promises he had over our lives to get us to this beautiful union,” explains Jessica. “We also wanted to make sure we honored the African American culture by ‘jumping the broom’… we used the same broom my mother and father used in their wedding over 40 years ago.” 

Jessica dazzled attendees as she made her way down the ebony-hued aisle runner to the song “Why I Love You” by Major. She was a vision in a bridal gown that showcased a sweetheart neckline and frothy skirt, and she held a stunning bouquet. “It took a lot of muscle strength to carry, but it was gorgeous,” she smiles.

“We wanted to show our love and appreciation to our parents for all of their support and sacrifice over the years.”

Guests shifted from the ceremony ballroom to a lively cocktail hour while the space was transformed for the reception dinner and party. “The cocktail hour was a vibe with a string orchestra that provided a classy feel with modern tunes,” illustrates the groom. Guests discovered their seating assignments on a towering triangular display adorned with additional fresh florals. 

The regal color palette of plum, cranberry, mauve, pewter, and touches of gold carried over to the reception where magnificent tablescapes had been crafted for guests. Oval king’s tables were covered in cranberry velvet linens and topped with mirrors, while the square tables were bedecked with plum sequined linens. Painted foliage, in addition to garden roses, spray roses, orchids, calla lilies, and amaranthus were crafted into wow-worthy centerpieces complemented by candles in slender glass cylinders. 

In lieu of the parents giving a toast, the newlyweds took the opportunity to make a toast of their own: “We wanted to show our love and appreciation to our parents for all of their support and sacrifice over the years,” describes the bride. 

The rest of the evening was filled with revelry, cheer, and love. From a first dance that included pyrotechnics, to taking part in traditional fraternity and sorority songs , and finally, ending the evening with everyone on the dance floor having a wonderful experience – it was exactly what the couple had wished for. Jessica offers her best advice: “Remember the moments!”

This real wedding was originally published in the Winter 2024 issue of Inside Weddings magazine. 

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