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Real Weddings {California}: Leilani & Reynaldo!


Leilani and Reynaldo met at the Antioch Church of Long Beach, in Long Beach, CA. Their very first encounter was during vacation Bible school. "Everyone was in the community room finishing up the snacks they provided and it was time to go back to our different age-based groups. I (Leilani) was walking towards the door and Rey was just standing there eating and blocking the door. I jokingly said, "Move out of the way now" and he just laughed at me and moved to the side. I thought oh good, he got the joke. That was our first encounter," recalls Leilani. Leilani and Reynaldo eventually became friends and soon their friendship grew into something much more. "We both never thought that what was happening between us was more than a friendship. God has a way of making things happen, we just have to be open to accept them," said Leilani. The two celebrated their union with a beautiful outdoor ceremony in Paso Robles, CA . Check out more photos from their special day captured by Ronald Carter of RSEE PHOTOGRAPHY.

Bride: Leilani Ford, 31, Assistant Director of Alumnae Relations

Groom: Reynaldo Chavez, 25,

Place of residence: Long Beach, CA

Wedding date: 08/10/13

Honeymoon Destination: Ocho Rios, Jamaica

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Engagement story:

So, a few weeks before we got engaged, Rey saw me painting and he said, "I want to paint. Maybe we can have a picnic and paint for each other."I responded, "Yeah that sounds good." He was the one that stated that we should have the picnic and paint for each other on our anniversary. I was in charge of the activities on Saturday and he was in charge of the activities on Sunday of our anniversary weekend. We spent Saturday, going hydro biking thru Napels, CA. When I asked Rey if we were getting each other gifts, he said "Well, I got you something." So Sunday after church when he was acting weird I thought he was just trying to surprise me with a gift. So we went to the park and we set up our picnic, with an actual picnic basket! We pulled out the canvas and paint and we started painting for each other. Rey said, "Let's just paint how we feel about each other."

As we painted, Rey kept saying "I really hope you can understand my painting" and "I really hope you get it." Then all of a sudden he started to hurry me. He kept saying "Okay, let's show it now!" I was like "Honey, you can't rush art, I'm not finished with my masterpiece" (this is clearly a joke as I'm not the artistic type.) So finally after being rushed, I put my paintbrush down and said "Okay." He said, "Okay, reveal yours first." I turned mine around and explained that my work depicted my feelings and it said "You make my heart sing and the music is my laughter." He said, "That’s nice." Then he turned his around and it said "Will you marry me?" I WAS IN SHOCK! My first response was to shake my head; because I couldn't believe it (he still hasn’t let me live this down.) But I eventually got around to saying “Yes."


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From the Groom:

On the day of the wedding, I felt really relaxed. I would have to accredit that to the fact that the night before a few friends spoke some words of affirmation and prayed for me. The day of, my boys kept getting me pumped up. The closer it got the more anxious I became, the more nervous, more excited, more scared, and the more I wanted to say, "I do." When it was show time, I started to take quicker breaths, I just couldn't help it. My Pastor saw and he said “just take deep breaths” and to my surprise it actually worked! I walked down the aisle with my best man and Pastor by my side. Standing up there I thought, I got this, I was cool, calm and collected. However, as soon as I saw my bride walk out I just couldn't help but be in awe and tears just kept streaming down my face. I had never seen a woman with such a glow. We said our vows and sealed it with a kiss! The ceremony was perfect and we had just enough time before the sunset to take our photos. We danced the night away with friends and family. I guess you could say we turned up and got hyphy (lol). Of course, we capped the night off perfectly at our hotel and flew out the next morning to Jamaica.

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Your best/most memorable moment:

The most memorable moment was when I surprised the groom with his ring. I had told him that I was unable to get the ring in time and that we would just pick out something after the wedding. I told him that we would just borrow his best man’s purity ring (since they wear the same size ring) for the ceremony. When it was time to present the rings, he was reaching for not only mine, but his best man’s as well; his best man waved him off and he turned back around to see the Pastor holding both of our rings. As the Pastor presented the rings, the groom finally saw the ring and it registered that he got the ring that he wanted. The smile on his face was the most memorable thing that day.

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From the Bride:

There were so many emotions running through me that day. I was trying really hard not to go into event planner mode, and tried to just be the bride. My bridesmaids were AMAZING and my family and friends all worked really hard to make sure that I was able to just relax and enjoy the day. I was super excited once I got my dress on. The nerves hit once I stood at the door with my father. The butterflies in my stomach danced as I walked down the aisle. The tears formed when I started to say my vows. It was truly unbelievable that I was being blessed in such a tremendous way. It was such a gift that so many of my friends and family members had pitched in to make this day special. It was truly special to share our love with those who love us. The day was truly a day filled with our theme: Romance & Laughter.

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What makes your love special?

We have fun! And we allow one another to be true to ourselves. We acknowledge that we are each other’s balance. We laugh at ourselves and genuinely enjoy one another. Ultimately, our love is special because we realize that it is a gift from God. He has gifted us to one another and we remind ourselves often just how precious this gift is.

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Advice for a Bride/Groom on their wedding day:

For all of the brides who are control freaks (or control freaks in recovery) tell yourself that there is a point where you will just let go and sit back and enjoy. Your special day happens so fast, you want to be sure that you can soak in all of the love and all of the joy that is present on that day. Trust me I understand, the flowers need to be perfect, the name plates should be straight, and your ushers should look uniformed; however at the end of the day, you want to remember the intangible things, because those are the things you can hold on to forever.

Congrats and Happy Anniversary to newlyweds Leilani and Reynaldo! We wish you many more years of wedded bliss.


Photographer: Ronald Carter- RSEE PHOTOGRAPHY


Ceremony & reception location: Private Residence

(the home of a good friend)

Bridal gown: The dress was given to me and I had it altered.

Bridal party attire: Target

Groom’s tux: Classic Men’s Wear


Caterer: The Cheesecake Factory


Favors: CDs with music from the wedding.

Wedding planners: The bride and her mother.

Music: Chuck D


Hair and makeup: Monique Ford Makeup


Engagement Video- Forever After Films-



-3Curated by our Wedding Features Editor, C.K. Alexander. C.K. is the owner and founder of  Love Ink and Brownstone Bridal. Keep up with C.K. on Twitter here: @Love_Ink

C.K. Alexander

C.K. Alexander, is the Wedding Features Editor for BlackBride.com and Black Bride Magazine. C.K. is also a wedding and lifestyle expert and the creator of the Single Bride Blog. She is also the owner and founder of Love Ink, a special occasion writing and coaching company, and Brownstone Bridal, an online shop for custom wedding accessories. Keep up with C.K. on Twitter here: @Love_Ink

C.K. AlexanderReal Weddings {California}: Leilani & Reynaldo!

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  • Lesley Jacobs - August 17, 2014 reply

    Absolutely beautiful!

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