This Romantic Virginia Wedding Was an Homage to the Couple's Roots

ericka meechaeyl wedding couple hugging
Liz Fogarty

After a beautiful engagement surrounded by family and friends, Ericka Brownlee knew she wanted to be a hands-on bride while planning her wedding to Meechaeyl "TK" Keller. "My twin sister (who was also my maid of honor and videographer) partnered with me to plan my entire wedding," says Ericka. "It was awesome working together, as she's obviously one of my favorite people in the world!" The two sisters were quick to map out a unique vision for the event. "Overall, I wanted to be able to honor our heritage in a way that I had not seen before, especially when I was looking through wedding magazines," says Ericka. "I wanted soft lighting and a color palette that wasn't moody, but wasn't devoid of color."

Intent on a romantic, southern wedding theme that would celebrate Black excellence, Ericka drew inspiration from the all-white, end-of-summer fêtes that are a typical African American tradition. "We wanted to capitalize on that and make it our own," she says. "I definitely wanted to include my Memphis roots of backyard cookouts as well as TK's Louisiana roots, so we decided to embrace the Creole tradition of the 'second line parade,' and have a more upscale version of an end-of-summer soirée." The Grand Marsh Estate fulfilled the bride's desire to have all of those details unfold in a garden setting. "It was all I could ever ask for," she says. "A beautiful, creamy, marbled building enclosed in manicured topiary and hedges—just breathtaking." She also had a sentimental reason for choosing the estate: "The grassy knolls reminded me of my late paternal grandfather, who was an avid golfer and would take us (his grandchildren) to the golf course."

The bride made sure that other special touches that honored the couple's ancestors were included throughout the day. "I incorporated the colors blue and white because they were not only our alma mater's colors, but they are also my late maternal grandfather's fraternity colors," she explains. "Similarly, I included a picture of TK's late father on his wedding day back in the 1970s. Finally, I chose a caramel color for the wedding palette because it was the same color as my paternal grandmother's mink coat that my sister and I would play dress-up in when we were younger."

Although she took on the lion's share of the planning herself, Ericka decided to hire a month-of coordinator so her twin could focus on maid-of-honor duties and she could focus on being a bride. And the best advice she has to share? "One of my sorority sisters who got married two months before me implored TK and I to actually write our vows together because in theory, these are the things we are committing to," she shares. "You wouldn't want your future spouse to have expectations in their vows that didn't resonate with you and vice versa. What I loved most about our vows is that we were very intentional in writing them and what we promised to one another."

Watch Ericka and TK's wedding video by Sok Vision.

01 of 24

A Custom Invitation Suite

ericka meechaeyl wedding invites in rust and white
Liz Fogarty

Ericka and TK wanted a wedding invitation suite that was clean, romantic, and classic, and graphic designer Jasmine Ellesse came through with a modern twist. "The invites nodded to the overall color theme of autumn with colored caramels, dusty blues, and crisp neutrals," says Ericka. Pieces of velvet included on the stationery reflected the bridesmaids' dresses; the couple was particularly taken with the vellum printed monogram.

02 of 24

A Timeless Wedding Dress

ericka meechaeyl wedding bride getting ready with maids
Liz Fogarty

After trying on several beaded wedding dresses, Ericka realized that she preferred the clean, classic aesthetic of an unadorned satin dress with plunging lines. Her choice was a sleek, simple fit-and-flare gown with illusion side inserts, an open back, and sweep train by Danielle Caprese for Kleinfeld. "I love timeless classics, so when I tried on my gown, I immediately felt beautiful in a way that allowed my natural beauty to shine through," says Ericka of her ultimate pick. She added drama with a beautiful cape by Champagne + Grit.

03 of 24

Custom Bridesmaids' Dresses

ericka meechaeyl wedding bridesmaids in rust velvet dresses
Liz Fogarty

The members of Ericka's bridal party were outfitted in universally flattering gowns custom made in rich, caramel-colored velvet.

  • 25 Luxe Velvet Wedding Ideas
04 of 24

A Fall-Inspired Bouquet

ericka meechaeyl wedding bride's pastel bouquet
Liz Fogarty

The bride held a delicate bouquet of toffee roses that florist Holly Heider Chapple had flown in from South America. Blue tweedia, dahlias, spray roses, and more blooms rounded out the creamy look with warm textures.

05 of 24

A Delightful Flower Girl Dress

ericka meechaeyl wedding flower girl
Liz Fogarty

Anais, the couple's daughter, donned a white tulle dress that brought a look of pure joy to her face.

06 of 24

A Stunning Engagement Ring

ericka meechaeyl wedding engagement ring in box
Liz Fogarty

Ericka's engagement ring by Ballerina Jewelers featured a marquise-shaped center stone in a beautiful bezel setting with a double band of diamonds.

07 of 24

Thoughtfully Sourced Bridal Shoes

ericka meechaeyl wedding bride's white shoes
Liz Fogarty

Her satin sandals with ankle-ribbon details were sourced from African American designer Aminah Abdul.

08 of 24

A Classic Groom

ericka meechaeyl wedding groomsmen walking down steps
Liz Fogarty

TK wore a white tuxedo jacket with a black lapel that matched his noir tuxedo pants and bow tie. His groomsmen donned timeless black tuxedos for a moment of high-contrast.

09 of 24

Autumn-Inspired Boutonnières

ericka meechaeyl wedding boutonnieres on decorative dishes
Liz Fogarty

Creamy roses were accented with blue tweedia and fall foliage for the groom's and groomsmen's boutonnières.

10 of 24

A Fabulous First Look

ericka meechaeyl wedding couple first look
Liz Fogarty

TK was ecstatic as he took in his bride for the first time in the courtyard of the Great Marsh Estate.

11 of 24

A Striking Ceremony Site

ericka meechaeyl wedding mansion front steps ceremony location
Liz Fogarty

White chiavari chairs formed a semi-circle facing the grand front porch of the estate's main building. Columns were wrapped in toffee roses, wound with greenery, and accented with blue-and-blush blooms.

12 of 24

Powder Blue Vow Books

ericka meechaeyl wedding couple's vow books
Liz Fogarty

The bride and groom penned their coordinating vows in lovely booklets personalized for the day.

13 of 24

A Proud Flower Girl

ericka meechaeyl wedding flower girl walking down aisle
Liz Fogarty

Anais took her job as flower girl very seriously, sprinkling petals until she ran out—she had to be coaxed the rest of the way down the grassy aisle.

14 of 24

A Picturesque Processional

ericka meechaeyl wedding couple processional
Liz Fogarty

Live musicians performed "Nothing Even Matters" by Deangelo for the bride's march down the aisle. Guests clad in white provided a seamless visage.

15 of 24

A Personalized Ceremony

ericka meechaeyl wedding ceremony kiss
Liz Fogarty

An associate minister from the couple's church presided over the ceremony. The pair exchanged vows that they wrote together before sealing them with a kiss.

16 of 24

A Beautiful Broom Jump

ericka meechaeyl wedding ceremony broom jump
Liz Fogarty

Following the ceremony, Ericka and TK took part in the African American tradition of jumping the broom before recessing up the aisle.

17 of 24

An Elaborate Bar

ericka meechaeyl wedding bar and topiary
Liz Fogarty

The highlight of the cocktail hour was a beautiful white bar with gilded accents and an ivy-covered backdrop that featured the couple's monogram.

18 of 24

Sweet Signature Drinks

ericka meechaeyl wedding cocktails and fruits on serving tray
Liz Fogarty

Guests enjoyed two cocktails, one of which was named "The Blackburn" after one of the central buildings on Howard University's campus; the other was called "The Meridian," the name of the dorm that both Ericka and TK lived in during college.

  • How to Choose a Name for Your Wedding's Signature Cocktail
19 of 24

A Walk to the Party

ericka meechaeyl wedding party walking with umbrellas
Liz Fogarty

Ericka, TK, their wedding party, and their guests formed a second line—umbrellas and all—for their walk from the outdoor cocktail hour space to the indoor reception.

20 of 24

Breathtaking Reception Tables

ericka meechaeyl wedding reception tall floral centerpieces on long tables
Liz Fogarty

The couple worked closely with their florist to design one-of-a-kind tablescapes. "The reception hall was dressed in ivory draping with greenery draping the chandeliers," Ericka recalls. "Long king tables were centered on both sides of the dance floor. The florals were a Holly Chapple original design: Flowers sprouted out of a golden frame, while tea candles hung from the frame. Long taper candles lined the tables, as well."

21 of 24

Alluring Accent Tables

ericka meechaeyl wedding floral centerpiece
Liz Fogarty

Round tables draped in ivory linens framed both sides of the king tables. Centerpieces reflected the flowers in the bride's bouquet, and were gathered in golden bowls. Tea lights added a touch of romance.

22 of 24

Contemporary Place Settings

ericka meechaeyl wedding place setting at table
Liz Fogarty

Black napkins on the round tables were reminiscent of the ebony linens on the king tables. Faceted stemware added sparkle, while black utensils rounded out the contemporary look.

23 of 24

A Grand Wedding Cake

ericka meechaeyl wedding mustard yellow cake
Liz Fogarty

The duo's towering, multi-tiered cake by Couture Cakes by Sabrina was iced in gold fondant and featured fresh flower accents.

24 of 24


ericka meechaeyl wedding couple walking in garden
Liz Fogarty

Photography, Liz Fogarty

Venue, Great Marsh Estate

Event designer, Argot LLC

Month-of coordinator, Favored by Yodit

Videography, Sok Vision

Flowers, Holly Heider Chapple

Invitations, Jasmine Ellesse

Bride's attire, Danielle Caprese for Kleinfeld (gown), Champagne & Grit (cape), Anthropologie (reception jumpsuit), Nazemi Bridal (alterations)

Bride's accessories, Lele Sadoughi (jewelry), Aminah Abdul Jillil (shoes)

Bride's hair, Demetress Valentine Glam

Bride's makeup, Ciara Talley Beauty

Bridesmaids' dresses, Désir Couture

Bridesmaids' jewelry, Borcik

Flower girl dress, Pantora Mini

Groom and Groomsmen's attire, The Black Tux

Engagement Ring, Ballerina Jewelers

Guest book, The Confetti Home

Bartenders, 876 Cocktails

Music, Deenah (ceremony), Trent Cokley Music (ceremony), Phase II Band (cocktail hour), DJ Premonition (reception)

Catering, Talk of Di Town

Cake, Couture Cakes by Sabrina

Rentals, Allied Party Rental, Bella Villa Vintage Rentals, Select Event Group

Favors, Dxhycc (sandalwood fans), Kingsnow (ribbon wands)

Seating chart and Guest book signage, The Confetti Home

Photo booth, Chris Styles Events

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles