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Melani & Rakeem’s Secret Wedding Day Photo Shoot

Intimate and Personal Durham Wedding Perfected by Virtue Events

Durham event planner Joye Speight and her team at Virtue Events helped newlyweds Melani and Rakeem capture the magic of their wedding day in a beautiful photo shoot at Suite Four in Durham, North Carolina. Keep scrolling to see how this intimate wedding photo shoot focused on their relationship and future life together.

PLANNER Virtue Events | VENUE Suite Four

True Love and Snoballs

Since the start of their relationship in May 2018, Melani Harris and Rakeem Chambers have appreciated the little things. The couple connected at a party hosted by a mutual friend. Melani left the party with Rakeem’s number in her phone, but deleted it because she assumed she’d never see him again.

Rakeem proved her wrong the next morning by following up with a message on Instagram, “When I see something I want I go after it.” They continued to talk and later met up after Rakeem attended a workout class and before Melani went to her class, although Rakeem was late and Melani missed her class. All was forgiven when Rakeem showed up at Pelican’s Snoballs in Durham with flowers for Melani, something she had told him she never received in previous relationships. The two talked for hours, even after it started to rain!

“I got back in my car so I would not get wet and he stood outside in the rain to keep talking to me for another hour,” says Melani. The couple then went home to dry off and change before meeting again for dinner that night at the Cheesecake Factory. “We talked there until they closed and he drove me home. We ended up sitting in his car for a few hours talking about life until almost 2:00 a.m. He walked me to my door and we had our first kiss. It was random and surprisingly perfect.”

The pair got engaged on Melani’s birthday in March 2020 after COVID-19 restrictions altered her original birthday celebration plans. Before the proposal, Melani and Rakeem got matching ring finger tattoos to symbolize their union with each other and God.

“We had already decided that we wanted to do life together,” says Melani. “Our tattoos are anchors because we are anchored in God and our commitment to each other.”

VENUE Suite Four

Melani & Rakeem’s Secret Wedding Ceremony

When it was time for Melani and Rakeem to say “I do”, they decided against a big wedding due to the pandemic.

“We were going to get married on May 15, 2021 because it was the exact day we met/talked three years prior,” says Melani. “However with COVID-19 and just really wanting it to be about us, we decided to secretly get married on May 12, 2021 and do a wedding day photo shoot. No one knew besides the vendors. We did not even tell our mothers until three days before Mother’s Day!”

Melani and Rakeem recruited several local vendors to help coordinate their intimate day of celebration.

“We got married at Pelican’s Snoballs in the morning on May 12 with just our mothers, my two children, our Pastor and the officiant for the brief ceremony,” says Melani. “We ate at The Cheesecake Factory for lunch.”

Intimate Wedding Photo Shoot at Suite Four in Durham, NC

After recreating their first date to celebrate a new chapter (complete with rain and everything!) Melani got her hair and makeup done and headed to Suite Four in Durham to meet Rakeem for a wedding photo shoot.

The Virtue Events wedding planning team in Durham coordinated a photo shoot that perfectly captured Melani and Rakeem’s relationship. Virtue Events is the largest minority female-owned event planning company in the Triangle. They assist in every aspect of the planning process for weddings, social events, and corporate events in Raleigh, Durham, Atlanta, and Washington DC. Chief Event Designer Joye Speight and her creative team help couples in Raleigh and Durham bring their wedding dreams to life. With intentionality, the Virtue Events team curates event concepts to perfection. Joye and her team’s attention to detail made them a perfect match for helping Melani and Rakeem celebrate their union.

Voted Best Event Planning Team in Durham Magazine from 2012-2017, Virtue Events is consistent in curating classy events for weddings, corporate events and social gatherings. Collectively, their wedding planners have over 25 years of industry experience and can help couples with a variety of wedding-related tasks: budgeting, style and design, catering, day-of coordination, transportation, registries and more. Virtue Events has packages available for various budgets and wedding-sizes, including a package specifically for intimate weddings.

VENUE Suite Four | PLANNER Virtue Events

Melani and Rakeem’s wedding day photo shoot took place at Virtue Events’ downtown Durham wedding and event venue Suite Four. Located within walking distance of downtown Durham’s Industrial District and American Tobacco Campus, Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Golden Belt, and Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC), Suite Four is the hottest spot to be. This versatile venue offers nine different event space options, all complete with an industrial-chic ambiance. Suite Four’s flexible spaces can accommodate up to 250 seated guests or 400 guests for cocktail-style events. For couples interested in tying the knot at Suite Four, Virtue Events specializes in events within the space, streamlining all planning and on-site coordination to make for a relaxing and exciting day.

“It was such an easy, stress-free day,” says Melani. “I was so happy that we made the day about us.”

The newlyweds will forever cherish the intimacy and personality that was evident in every detail of their wedding day.

“It was an awesome experience,” says Rakeem. “I was able to make a covenant in front of people I love. I was very confident that day. It was intimate and I am really happy we kept it small. I felt great. I was at peace and anchored on our wedding day.”

The intimate wedding ceremony and reception helped Melani and Rakeem keep their focus on their partnership and marriage, while celebrating how their love story began.

“I will never forget that we actually recreated our first date by getting married at Pelican’s Snoballs,” says Melani. “It was also raining the morning we got married. That was a nice touch. It meant a lot!”

The day would not have been the same without the glamorous photo shoot at Suite Four with Virtue Events. In fact, some of Melani’s favorite elements from the day were the elegant outfits worn by her and Rakeem during the photo shoot.

“Rakeem’s suit was custom made and my dress was everything!”

At the end of the day, the couple could not have asked for a more personalized, beautiful start to their marriage. From start to finish, it was an amazing reflection of the growth and love they have shared since that first Pelican’s date in 2018.

Melani’s advice for other recently engaged couples is simple and evident in every moment of her wedding day- “Make it about you! Don’t forget the reason for the day and why you decided to get married in the first place. And it’s always great to add those sentimental touches.”

For more information on Virtue Events and their venue Suite Four in Downtown Durham, click here.

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