One Couple Personalized Their Elegant Southern Wedding with a Few Caribbean Twists
During her undergraduate days in Atlanta, Niara Simon hosted a volunteer event at a nearby homeless shelter. Allan Hollis was one of the first volunteers to show up, so they had plenty of time to talk before other students arrived. Allan spent the day preparing hot dogs while Niara was serving baked beans, but the two still found time to flirtatiously glance at each other across the soup kitchen. Though they hit it off, the first date didn't happen for a few months, when they attended a fashion show put on by the African Student Association and went out for dollar sushi afterwards. That's when their romance blossomed.
After a few years together, Niara's friend invited her to an interactive haunted house (Halloween is her favorite holiday). "Prior to the show starting, there was a bar in the house where we could order drinks, I noticed that one of the 'creeps' was staring at me and even following me around a bit, and when I turned around, he was on his knee," Niara says. "It was Allan! I was so shocked. It was awesome to see the effort he put into coordinating the whole thing."
A year-and-a-half later, on April 29, 2018, the pair chose a house of a different sort for their big day. The Tate House—a historic mansion with a pink marble exterior—set the scene for their destination wedding with 135 guests. Niara (who works in marketing for 21st Century Fox) and Allan (a software engineer for an aerospace engineering company) left their home in Los Angeles behind in favor of a wedding in the state where they first crossed paths.
It was the first Sunday in April that it didn't rain, and the day was made even more beautiful thanks to a color palette highlighting their favorite color: burgundy. An underlying theme of "La Vie en Rose" was combined with West Indian touches, symbolic musical choices, and shimmering metallics for an unforgettable event.
Rose Gold Invites
A Stately Location
"The Tate House was one of the most beautiful venues I've ever been to," Niara says of the historic pink marble mansion 45 minutes north of Atlanta—and not too far from Niara's mom, who helped plan the wedding.
Their Formal Attire
Both the bride and groom love the color burgundy, and since it's such a flattering hue on Allan, he opted for a tux jacket in that rich color from Friar Tux. He paired it with a classic black bow tie and pants. Niara chose a lace ball gown by White by Vera Wang, Givenchy earrings, a necklace from Macy's, and a bracelet borrowed from her mother. Her boldest accessory was her Mac Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolor in a vibrant red.
Niara wore these feathery flats by Blue by Betsey Johnson for the ceremony.
Tate House arranged Niara's bouquet of ivory and blush pink blooms, which was accented with ferns and eucalyptus.
Ladies in Black
Dressed in strapless black Bill Levkoff dresses, the bridesmaids carried bouquets with pops of red in them.
The groomsmen and ring bearer donned sleek tuxedos from Friar Tux.
The Processional Music
A harpist played Nat King Cole's "When I Fall in Love" for the bride's processional. Niara explains the significance, saying, "I have this memory of being a child and having an unusual obsession with Nat King Cole (probably after watching the Lindsay Lohan version of The Parent Trap), and I remember playing his album and watching my grandmother hum along. My grandmother is no longer with us, but I felt like playing a classic song was a good way to honor my grandparents."
A Favorite Moment
The groom bit his lip in excitement at the sight of his soon-to-be wife walking down the aisle. Niara felt the same way, noting that seeing Allan at the ceremony (along with everyone who had traveled to attend) was her favorite part of the celebration.
Chandeliers lit the aisle towards the ceremony in the covered pavilion, where an arch was decorated with ivory flowers and greenery. The Christian ceremony incorporated personalized vows, the exchanging of rings they'd selected together, and more music by the harpist.
Jumping the Broom
The couple jumped a broom made by Niara's cousin. "I feel like our ceremony was the best part of the entire day," says the bride.
The newlyweds were all smiles as they recessed up the candle-lined aisle and to their cocktail hour, where everyone mingled and mixed, and enjoyed passed appetizers like mini crab puff pastries and sipped on Champagne punch.
The couple's parents were dressed sharply and smiling from ear-to-ear.
A Shimmering Reception
Upon arrival in the ball room, guests found rose gold sequined linens covering each of the round tables, which were set with gold chargers and a mix of rose-filled high and low centerpieces. The signature color of the day came in to play in the form of napkins.
The couple entered the reception to John Legend's "Good Night." Then, the bridesmaids danced into the party to the sound of Drake's "Nice for What." As for their first dance, Niara and Allan knew that "Get You" by Daniel Caesar would be their song a whole year before the wedding.
The reception music was primarily old school R&B, trap music, and Caribbean music (calypso and kompa). Niara's parents are both West Indian and there were many family members from that region in attendance, so the couple wanted to play something for everyone.
Her Second Dress
A Metallic Cake
The Confection Perfection cake was red velvet and pink champagne with cream cheese frosting inside and brushed with rose gold on the top of each tier's exterior.
That wasn't the only cake at the wedding though. Niara's aunt Carole made black cake—a traditional West Indian dessert made with rum and served at weddings. She wrapped them in pink fabric bags for each guest.
A Sparkler Sendoff
"This was such a wonderful moment because we got to see how happy people were for us," Niara says of being surrounded by loved ones for the sparkler sendoff.
Photography, Unique2Chic Photography
Location, Catering, Flowers, Rentals, and Lighting, The Tate House
Officiant, Rev. Sandy Pace of Allen Temple AME
Cake, Confection Perfection
Bride's gown, White by Vera Wang
Makeup, Makeup by Gray
Bridesmaids' dresses, Bill Levkoff
Menswear, Friar Tux
Groom's and groomsmen's shoes, The Rail
Groom's watch, Nixon