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Darnell + Ellen's Swanky Hilton Wedding

Updated: Sep 4, 2018

If there was ever any doubt in our minds that when two people are destined to be together, nothing can keep them apart - not time nor distance, or circumstance - our real bride Ellen’s story has completely changed that. (Yes, Ellen, we are now true believers!)

It’s always a treat for us to learn the stories behind the beautiful girls who wear our dresses, but not everyday that we come across a story that leaves us teary eyed. That’s why we could not wait to share Ellen and Darnell’s love story, along with photos of their oh so swanky wedding at the Hilton Norfolk the Main, and of course Ellen’s uber-chic wedding gown! Read on and enjoy these gorgeous images by award-winning photographer, Keith Cephus.

Ellen and Darnell met at a college party back in 2003 - but get this: Darnell had actually seen a picture of Ellen the year before, and he just knew then and there, looking at her picture, that if given the opportunity, he’d marry her. Ellen and Darnell became a formal couple on Ellen’s birthday, during a “moonlit stroll around Hampton University” a week after they met. They dated for the next six years, shared friends, and their families became close, but new careers paths took them to different parts of the world, and because of distance, ended their romantic relationship. Years later they reconnected and just knew they had to be together (plus 1 adorable little one!). Read the full story here.

The proposal..

It was Saturday, August 19. We were vacationing at my family's home in Martha’s Vineyard. My entire family was supposed to be in town, Darnell planned to propose that weekend. As things happened my family wasn’t able to make it to the Vineyard. We went just the two of us. Saturday we went bike riding and went to the East Chop Light House. Later that day at my Uncle’s house he staged a photo shoot of me. For 30 minutes he took pics of me on his tripod stating that he had to get the “perfect shot” with the water behind me. Finally jumped in the shot and got on one knee. He proposed while his camera was shooting on the tripod. He took our engagement photos here.

Ellen’s favorite things about planning the wedding..

1. My fiancé is the creative type - he’s an engineer, photographer, designer, he makes furniture etc., he had a vision; I’m the executor - I plan and get it done. I loved how we came together to execute the vision.

2. All the togetherness things: cake tasting, flower prototyping, reception tasting at Hilton Norfolk the Main and tasting for our rehearsal dinner at Saint Germaine.

3. The seating chart. I’ll never forget Darnell coming home with a blown up poster board of our seating chart. We cut up post it notes and physically arranged names on the chart. So much fun.

Finding the dress..

I wanted to support a women-owned or minority owned small business shop (Ellen is the founder of @purposefounders a business that supports women entrepreneurs). One of my bridesmaids referred me to Soliloquy Bridal in Herndon, VA founded by Miriam. I booked an appointment and the rest was easy. I told Miriam that I wanted something editorial, slightly couture, lace, flatters my shape and is “not the norm”. Miriam pulled out this dress. It was perfect.

Ellen’s favorite wedding moments..

3 things: Seeing Christian my son in love (step son) when i walked into the church before I went down the aisle. He said, “I was waiting for you, you look beautiful, I love you, let’s get married.” Also when I first saw Darnell before I walked down the aisle, he had a tear in his eye. We locked eyes and I could feel us both saying I love you. I also loved the special dance presentation from the Hampton University Terspsichorean Dance company. I was a member of this company. I had them perform and had a college student named Daizha play me in the dance and one of Darnell’s younger frat brothers play him. They did an entire dance presentation and it captured our story perfectly. Oh and of course jumping the broom.

We hope you enjoyed reading (and viewing) Ellen and Darnell’s lovely wedding story! We’re honored to have such amazing Evelyn Bridal real brides. Here’s to our intelligent, loving bride, Ellen, and her family. You were truly meant to be together, and we wish you a lifetime of love and happiness!


Dress: Cecily | Retailer: Soliloquy Bridal Couture, Herndon, VA

Planner: Memorable Events by April | Photographer: Keith Cephus

Hair: Fawnee at Salon Noa in Va Beach | Makeup: Candice Rauch

Reception: Hilton Norfolk the Main | Videographer: Vizkin


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