Photo: Casha Dees Photography
Braxton Henderson had been dating Chalis Sledge for two years when he took a spill on the ice during a Sunday evening skating date — but it was on purpose. Chalis' giggles over his accident soon turned to tears of joy when she realized he'd toppled over with a ring in his pocket, and was now asking for her hand in marriage. "He asked if I knew what was going on," Chalis recalls now, "and I remember I was just overtaken with shock."
Just four months later, the couple tied the knot in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They asked just 30 to join them for their intimate celebration at the Omni William Penn Hotel. "We decided to have a very intimate wedding ceremony that focused on our love and service to God and one another," Chalis explains. But even with their intimate vision, pulling off such a fête in four months was no small feat. "Although it could be overwhelming at times, it was super special planning an intimate wedding and making everything very personal for our guests," says Chalis. A key member of their guest list was Furnace Hill Photography, who captured the joy of their day, and Casha Dees Photography, who handled their portraits.
Chalis says that dress shopping was the first pre-wedding task that really made her engagement to Braxton seem real. "I was still in shock so I went looking at wedding dresses the next week! Braxton had no idea," the bride says. She didn't find her gown until March, though, when she slipped on a taffeta fit-and-flare gown and just knew. "When I first put on the dress I felt classy and sexy at the same time."
Braxton had a two-tone vision for his attire. While he kept his overall look classic with a navy suit, he donned floral socks just for fun. "Braxton loves funky socks," Chalis says.
The bride wore a beaded headband and paired the statement-making accessory with tear-drop earrings that served as her something blue. Braxton wore a pop of color in the form of his pink flower pin, made by one of Chalis' friends.
There were eight crystal brooches pinned into the bride's blush and ivory bouquet. "It was and still is beautiful," Chalis says of the arrangement, which she was able to keep.
The Omni William Penn Hotel's attention-grabbing, star-shaped chandelier drew the couple to the venue, and they exchanged traditional vows beneath it. The bride and groom worked in traditional communion and foot-washing into their ceremony, which was led by Braxton's hometown pastor.
The couple held their brunch reception beneath the same gorgeous chandelier, seated at a single banquet table topped with floral centerpieces made by their friends, as well as candles and glass vases filled with pearls. They noshed on chicken and French toast — the couple's own take on chicken and waffles — as well as eggs, breakfast potatoes, fruit, yogurt, granola, mixed breads, and cereals.
For dessert, the couple sliced into a single-tier strawberry wedding cake and served red velvet, cookie dough, and carrot cake cupcakes to their friends and family.
When it came time to take their first twirl as husband and wife, Chalis and Braxton chose not one but two songs: "You Make Me Feel" by J. Moss and "Color of Love" by Boyz II Men.
Looking back on their intimate, love-filled day, Chalis has this advice for brides-to-be: "Remember the purpose of the wedding," she says. "The wedding ceremony is only one day, but the marriage is a lifetime! Spend your time and energy preparing for a beautiful marriage and a beautiful wedding, not just a beautiful wedding day."
Venue, Catering & Accommodations: Omni William Penn Hotel || Wedding Planner: Big Day, Little Details || Bride's Wedding Dress: David's Bridal || Veil: Blanca Veils || Jewelry: Bijuju and Junghwa || Shoes: Steve Madden || Groom's Attire: J. Crew and Banana Republic || Wedding Bands: Zoaraa || Florist: Amy O'Bridal || Invitations: Minted || Cake: Spinola's Bake Shop || Rentals: Elegant Chair Solutions || Videographer: Jeremy Scott Films || Photography: Furnace Hill Photography; Casha Dees Photography
Want to check out more intimate weddings? Then watch another couple say "I do" in a family-focused celebration in Hawaii.