After postponing their wedding due to the Covid pandemic and purchasing a home, Shakeel & Nia finally tied the knot on May 8, 2021 at Morais Vineyards and Winery in Virginia. The wedding coordinated hues of black, gold and emerald. The couple started their journey as friends in high school. They later attended Howard University together where they developed a romantic relationship during their senior year. Shakeel & Nia are both from Brooklyn, New York. They moved to DC and stayed there after graduating from Howard University. They have been in each other’s lives for over 15 years as very close friends which makes their love story that much more special. The Coordinated Bride Nia shares all the wedding details below.
New Year’s Eve going into the year 2019, Shakeel proposed at the Dumbo House rooftop facing the Brooklyn Bridge. I was told by a friend to check upstairs out. When I went to the rooftop on the elevator, it was quiet and no one was outside. I thought it was a mistake until I peaked out the elevator and saw candles, flowers and a photographer. It was magical and unforgettable.
The Perfect Venue
Together we had various ideas of the kind of wedding we wanted. Of course that started with the venue. After putting our guestlist together of over 250 people we knew we needed to find a beautiful venue that could house all of our friends and family. I think we visited about 4 locations before we came across Morais Vineyards and Winery. We visited the vineyard during the summer when the flowers and trees were fully bloomed. As soon as we drove into their gates I was sold. The location was tranquil, scenic and breathtaking -everything I wanted for my experience and the experience I wanted for my guests on my wedding day. Most of our family and friends traveled in from major cities, with the chaos of everyday living we knew this peaceful vineyard would be quite the experience for them.
The vineyard was picturesque. Everything we needed throughout the day was in one location and that was important to me. There was a groom and bridal suite on sight. The bridal suite was built a couple of years ago and was probably the reason we signed the contract right away. An indoor/outdoor bridal suite set up for hair and makeup, a living room with a fireplace and a private courtyard. What more can a girl ask for? For pictures, the venue recently added a glass atrium which they purchased from Disney. I couldn’t wait to get photos of my bridal party outside of it.
My custom dress was an over 25 pound hand beaded crystal dress made in Albania, Eastern Europe. My mother and designed the dress but it was made by Albina Dyla. I communicated with the company via chats, email and phone calls to get the dress perfect. My tailor, Kieu measured my entire body to perfection for this dress to fit like a glove. The top of the dress was a boned corset with a sweetheart plunge neckline. The dress had a fitting mermaid shape to accentuate my curves. Following me down the aisle was a 10 foot crystal train.
Shakeel wore a custom velvet emerald green, Indochino tuxedo with calf hair Salvator Ferragamo loafers. He looked sharp.
The ceremony space was one of my favorites, with the aisle of 10 Crape Myrtle trees cascading down which blooms white in the summer. At the end of the aisle off the pond is a pergola with a fountain nestled right behind it. Guests were able to enjoy views of the entire vineyard during our ceremony. We commissioned a live band to play during the ceremony as well. Everyone arrived in black tie and was greeted with hor d’oeuvres. There were doves at the entrance upon arrival across from the Welcome sign. The pergola was filled with chandeliers, draper and white florals. Garden roses, orchids, hydrangeas, eucalyptus and many other seasonal white florals draped the pergola columns. Guests were seated, and the ceremony began. I walked down the aisle to a vocalist singing “At Last” by Etta James.
After the ceremony, the wedding party took photos and guests were escorted to the courtyard for cocktail hour. Our guests were serenaded by a live steel pan player from New York. Shakeel is of Trinidadian descent so this was very special to him. Everyone enjoyed a premium open bar along with our signature cocktails. “His” a moscow mule and “Hers” a spicy margarita. Eventually the foyer doors opened where there were shelves with champagne coupe glasses with each individual’s table number on it. “Coupe’d with the Luke’s” on each shelf. The guests were seated and the reception began.
Wedding Decor and Florals
Morais Vineyards is home to a grand ballroom with Palladian style windows showcasing views of the entire vineyard through every window. The ballroom has two terraces overlooking the pond. For decor, I wanted to go with elegance and chose emerald green as the focus color with black and gold accents. The florals were white and the fabrics were mostly velvets and satins. There were green velvet love seats adjacent from each other with custom pillows displaying our wedding hashtag #TheLukeLoveStory. The centerpieces were my favorite, black candelabras with cascading florals around them. There was a cigar bar on one balcony with custom cigar cutters, custom cigar tags and custom matches. The photo booth was off another balcony with the background being beautiful picturesque views of the vineyard. The bar was full of white rose petals and arrangements.
Our 5 tier, black and gold cake was made by Le Cake Boutique. The guests were raving about how delicious it was. Why? We could not choose one flavor so we chose several for each layer so you can get them all in one slice. The layers were vanilla with a buttercream filling, followed by red velvet in the center, chocolate mousse following and a chocolate bottom. The way the cake tasted with each bite was just as important as the way it looked. It was everything we wanted!
DJ Chubby made the wedding so special, he also went to Howard University with Shakeel and I and DJ’d during many parties we attended in the past. He brought the party to life. Once we entered the reception we had our first dance to Anthony Hamilton, ‘The Point of It All’. The first dance was followed with a medley featuring Pop Smoke, Biggie, Pressure and other artists. The party to follow was amazing.
Pandemic & Postponing The Wedding
The pandemic was very tough planning a wedding, however, having a wedding planner was a life saver. When we said “Yes!” to our venue, we just knew we would be hosting 250 of our family members. The pandemic hit and everything was different. It did not take me long to change my wedding date because New York was the epicenter of the virus in the beginning and that was where all of our family members were. We decided to buy a house in the meantime. When March 2021 came around, Virginia was only allowing 25 people for gatherings. My wedding planner, Khadijah and I came up with a plan A for 100 people, plan B for 50 people and plan C for 25, being that our wedding date was so close to March. It was a very stressful time because more than half of our guest count had to watch virtually. May came around and the gathering restrictions were increased to 100 indoors just in time. The wedding was intimate but beautiful. I loved every moment.
Advice For other Coordinated Brides
Make an email account specifically for weddings. This is very important even if you have a wedding planner. This helps you keep your wedding plans organized, it prevents your work day from being distracted by wedding emails and you will never miss an email. On your wedding website you can also leave your wedding email account for your guests to ask questions, send their Covid results to (if you require testing) and/or just to send comments. The email account can be something fun that you can use throughout the years when hosting events or even sending out Christmas cards. It shouldn’t be something you get rid of after the wedding. Give access to your wedding planner and trust me your life will be easier.
We wanted a venue that we could visit every once in a while to relive our wedding experience. A venue that we can enjoy on a regular weekend if we want to enjoy a bit of romance. Outside of serving as a private wedding location when rented, Morais Vineyard has a space for families to relax while enjoying their wine on the weekend. This vineyard made our dreams come true. I relive our wedding everyday.
Videographer: Claude Robinson @clauderobtv // Wedding Planner: The Superior Collective @thesuperiorcollective // Custom Wedding Dress: Albina Dyla @albinadylaofficial // Bridesmaids Dress: Lexi Clothing @lexiclothing // Grooms Tux: Indochino @indochino // Groomsmen Tux: The Black Tux @theblacktux // Florals: MM Wedding Solutions // Live Band: A.D. Music Entertainment @adlivemusic // Steel Pan Player: Leonard Jack // Photobooth: KreAdiv Collective Rentals // Photographer: Jarret Hendrix @jarrett.hendrix // Second Photographer: Leta Kathryn Photography @letakathrynphotography // Venue: Morais Vineyard & Winery @morais_weddings // Catering: Purple Onion Catering @purpleonioncateringco // Rentals: Select Event Rental Group @selecteventgroup // Hair: Dominique Nicole @dommiecole // Makeup: Shyenne Burton @xoshy // DJ: DJ Chubbe Swagg @djchubbeswagg // Cake: Le Cake Boutique / Dove’s: A Dove’s Love