Taira Everett and Kawytae Norals owe their modern-day romance to an age-old story: They met through a mutual friend who introduced the pair at an Atlanta sports bar in 2006. It took two more years before Taira and Kawytae figured out just what they meant to one another, but eventually the couple could no longer deny their growing affection. In the summer of 2008 the pair officially started dating. After five years together, Taira and Kawytae started planning their wedding. "We wanted a romantic, Southern fête that reflected our spirituality, personalities, and style," says Taira. Together they chose a church with classic Georgia charm for the ceremony and a traditional ballroom for the reception so they could dance the night away with their 220 guests.
As excited as the pair was to make their union official, planning their September 20, 2014, celebration wasn't always a breeze since the couple was planning their Atlanta nuptials from outside the city. "The most difficult part was scheduling the time to come to Atlanta to attend pre-marital counseling sessions and pre-wedding events," the bride says of long-distance wedding prep. But the pair was more than thrilled with the fruits of their labor, and with Coryographix Photography there to capture it all, it's easy to see why.
"I remember the day I got engaged like it was yesterday," Taira says. For her 30th birthday, Kawytae whisked her away on a surprise vacation to the Dominican Republic. As the pair flew over Punta Cana on a helicopter tour, he pulled out a halo-style engagement ring and popped the question. "It was totally unexpected," she says. "I was so happy and surprised."
The couple's wedding invitations, crafted by Papered Wonders, featured their color palette of lavender and blush. The ornate invite was complete with a lavender casing that looked just like lace!
Taira's fit-and-flare wedding dress was made from layered tulle, with a lightly beaded bodice and an illusion low-back. "I tried on a lot of gowns," Taira admits. "But when I tried on my gown, I knew that it was the one for me. It was gorgeous and I looked amazing in it."
A cathedral-length veil added the "wow factor" the bride wanted for her wedding day look. Taira carried a traditional round bouquet of white and purple hydrangeas, lavender and pink roses, lavender lisianthus, and white Phalaenopsis orchids. Her jewelry and accessories were borrowed from family. "I wore my mom's beautiful bridal headdress, and my cousin's earrings and matching bracelet," the bride says.
Taira's two maids-of-honor, seven bridesmaids, and one junior bridesmaid wore floor-length lavender chiffon gowns in various silhouettes. "I wanted the ladies to wear a dress that they felt comfortable wearing," Taira explains. "I selected dresses in varying designs and let the ladies choose whichever they preferred."
The groom and his groomsmen wore traditional tuxedos paired with complementing purple vests and white ties. "Kawytae chose this style because of its sophisticated, personalized look," the bride says.
Two tall floral arrangements of purple, lavender, and green blooms decorated the altar of Rock Spring Presbyterian Church, where the couple said "I do," while clusters of purple and green hydrangea hung from pews along the aisle.
Part of the ceremony included placing handwritten love letters to one another in an antique box along with a bottle of wine and two glasses. "The letters were supposed to describe the good qualities we found in our future spouse, the reasons we fell in love with them, and our hopes and dreams for the future," Taira says. "We'll keep the box locked until our five-year anniversary, when we'll read the letters and enjoy the wine. We keep the box in a place of honor as a constant visual reminder of our love and commitment to each other."
While the couple chose mostly classic songs for their ceremony, Taira walked down the aisle to "The Truth" by India Arie, and the couple recessed together to "Treasure" by Bruno Mars. "It was a nice, upbeat song to conclude our ceremony," Taira says.
Inside the Biltmore Ballrooms, guests found traditional columns and ornate ceilings up-lit with purple lighting. A mixture of high and low centerpieces made from hydrangea, roses, stock, lisianthus, delphinium, and greenery topped tables covered with purple table cloths, flickering candles, and mauve linen napkins. Each table was named after one of the couple's favorite destinations.
Taira and Kawytae's sweetheart table was covered in lilac linens and Victorian lace, then topped with a long-and-low arrangement of hydrangea, roses, lisianthus, and lavender, flanked by pillar candles and mercury glass votives.
A four-tiered wedding cake featured layers of red velvet with cream cheese filling and vanilla genoise with lemon and raspberry mousse. It was iced with Madagascar bourbon vanilla Swiss buttercream, and embellished with sugar flowers, a ribbon and bow, and rhinestone broaches.
The couple took their first twirl to Etta James' classic, "At Last," before opening up the dance floor to their guests. A live band kept everyone energized.
Taira's dream was to be whisked from her reception in a horse-drawn carriage, but she was told that because the venue was smack in the center of the city, it simply wasn't possible. "You can only imagine my excitement when we made our way through glow sticks and fiber optic wands being waved by our guests at the end of the reception and I saw the horse-drawn carriage," she says. "It was such a special finale to our wonderful day!"
The couple honeymooned on Mauritius, and has been enjoying married life. Taira advises other brides to remember that it is your special day. "It should be one of the happiest days of your life. Don't allow anything or anyone to compromise your happiness. As you plan, do what is important to you as a couple and do not look back."
Ceremony Venue: Rock Spring Presbyterian Church || Reception Venue: The Biltmore Ballrooms || Wedding Planner: WM Events || Bride's Wedding Dress & Veil: Chic Parisien || Shoes: Saks Fifth Avenue || Hair: Nai'Vasha International || Makeup: Kari Roberts || Groom's Attire: Bloomingdale's || Groomsmen & Ring Bearer's Attire: Men's Wearhouse || Flower Girl Attire: Best Bridal Prices || Wedding Bands: Kay Jewelers || Florist: Tulip || Invitations: Papered Wonders || Music: The After Party Experience || Catering: A Legendary Event || Cake: Frosted Pumpkin || Rentals: Active Production and Design, I Do Linens, BBJ Linen, and Event Drapery || Favors: M. Braswell Jr. Food Company and Atlanta Concessions & Catering || Transportation: Atlantic Limousine and Transportation Services, Brumfield Limousines, and Fantasy Carriages || Accommodations: Renaissance Atlanta Midtown Hotel and Westin Peachtree Plaza || Videographer: J. Foster Media || Photography: Coryographix Photography
Did you love this couple's Atlanta wedding? Then watch another pair say I do in the very same city in the video below.