“Better Together” blush and navy New Jersey wedding

As we celebrated our story of love, we infused our wedding day with many meaningful moments. We got married on our 11 year anniversary as a couple (after proposing to each other on our 10 year anniversary). We chose “Better Together” as our wedding theme because we truly believe that only God could have brought us together and kept us together despite our different backgrounds and through all of life’s difficulties.

The style of our wedding was an evening of elegant romance, complete with candle light, blush hydrangeas and poetry. Our venue, the Hyatt Regency Hotel, was the first hotel we stayed at together and is also close to where we live. Our wedding colors were blush and navy because Tamara’s favorite color is pink and Deborah’s is blue.

Tamara had a swatch of Debbie’s navy wedding suit sewn into her blush and ivory wedding dress. We chose to do a “First Look” before the ceremony so that we could have a special moment together before being surrounded by our loved ones. Tamara chose to walk down the aisle unaccompanied as a nod to her feminist principles; she was not anyone else’s to “give away.” Tamara chose to walk down the aisle to “Wedding Song” by Black lesbian Tracy Chapman whose words perfectly captured her sentiments on their special day.

In another nod to her feminist principles, and to honor her heritage and love of reading, Tamara included books by Black women (and mostly lesbian) writers on our escort card table. During our ceremony, we included a memorial for Deborah’s deceased grandmother, Mattie Ruth Alston, and for Ammar Simmons, the deceased son of Deborah’s Best Woman, Sharronda.  

Tamara is a poet and she wrote a poem for Deborah every day in the 90 days leading up to the wedding day. Fourteen of those poems were framed and used in the reception décor, 11 on guest tables and 3 on our sweetheart table. We wrote our own vows which incorporated our “Better Together” theme and used the same “I promise…” format.

We also had “Better Together” as our cake topper and engraved those words and our wedding date on our cake cutter and server set, cake forks, toasting flutes, our sweetheart table dinner plates, the gobo on our dance floor and on the photo booth pictures which were our guest favors.

We chose to do the handwashing ritual as the unity portion of our ceremony to start our married life with a clean slate and to commit to a marriage of love, grace and compassion. We also performed the African-American ritual of jumping the broom at the end of our ceremony to honor our African ancestors and to celebrate our union as part of their legacy. Our wedding planner, Donchell Johnson, made the broom for us herself and gave it to us as a wedding gift.

Our something borrowed was our wedding jewelry (Tamara, diamond necklace with pearl drop, diamond bracelet; Deborah – diamond and sapphire earrings) which our jeweler Ellen Ramer of Martin Jewelers graciously loaned us. We bought each other wedding day gifts (from our jeweler Ellen) and presented them to each other on the morning of the wedding.

Tamara gave Debbie a pair of diamond earrings and Debbie gave Tamara two rose gold bands that were engraved with “Better Together, Debbie & Tamara.” In addition to our first dance (to Babyface’s “Exceptional”), we ended our evening of romance and honored Prince, one of Deborah’s favorite artists, with a last dance to his song “1,000 Hugs & Kisses”.


LGBTQ-friendly wedding vendors

Photographer: Oliver Collier, The Big Image
Videographer: Harold St. Louis, F.I.P. Video 
Wedding venue: Hyatt Regency Hotel, New Brunswick, NJ
Florist: Monday Morning Flower & Balloon Co.
Planner: Donchell Johnson
Catering: Hyatt Regency Hotel, New Brunswick, NJ
Cake: Mahogany Johnson, Mastivory Catering Co.
Officiant: Rev. Carol Cissel  
DJ: Richard Anderson, A Man & His Music
Invitations: Weddings2Plan Invitations
Makeup artist: Jhenelle Hill 
Wedding dress: Paloma Blanca Wedding gown 4450
Alterations and custom crystal belt: Eleny Wagner
Veil: Ivory cathedral drop veil with alencon lace edging from Blanca Veils  
Shoes: Badgley Mischka Women’s Roudy D’Orsay Pump in Navy
Hair comb: Allure Jewel Flower Hair Comb from DSW
Bobby Pins: Allure Crystal Bobby Pins from DSW
Clutch: La Regale Navy Rhinestone-accent Tiger Minaudiere
Lingerie: Journelle
Suits: Zara 
Dress shirts: Calvin Klein white dress shirt from Men’s Wearhouse
Suit tailor: Nick del Negro
Shoes: Bride Deborah – Allen Edmonds McAllister Wingtip Oxfords in Walnut Calf and Best woman – To Boot New York
Bridal belt: Allen Edmonds 
Belt: Best woman – Robert Graham
Bowties and pocket squares: Sally Reaves
Socks: Charles Tyrwhitt
Cuff links: Bride Deborah – Thomas Pink andBest woman – Perry Ellis
Jewelry: Martin Jewelers and Gems Galleria
Maid of Honor dress: Adrianna Papell Criscross Halter Gown in Midnight Blue
Sandals: Report
Earrings: David’s Bridal
Bracelet: David’s Bridal
equality-minded LGBTQ-friendly wedding vendors