Brandon and Kelly (or “Mocha” as he calls her) met while they were students at Spelman and Morehouse college in Atlanta. He first spotted her walking back to Spelman, in her red jacket and jeans, and was immediately taken. You might assume from there that they immediately fell in love, became college sweethearts and rode off, husband and wife, into the sunset. However, their love story isn’t that simple.
“It was bad timing,” he tells ESSENCE of his first attempt to shoot his shot after finally meeting her through a mutual friend. “She had a boyfriend at the time. It took me like 20 minutes to go up and talk to her only to find out she had a boyfriend. I respected that, but I told her, ‘Whenever you want something real, let me know–I think we can be something special.’”
Years later, while she was single, he decided to shoot his shot again, sending a text message. It worked out, as there was nothing holding them back that time.
“Brandon wished me a happy birthday and did a ‘checking on you’ message that led to an hours-long conversation,” she says. “We grew from old friends to newly in love, and here we are today!”
The years, and the distance (she was living in Maryland while he was in Atlanta at one point) could have broken them down, but they remained bonded and in love.
“It took us some years to find our way back to each other, but I always knew that we would come together at some point,” he says. “I knew that I was going to marry Kelly Nicole Harper during our first year of dating, but I knew that she was the one when I met her in college. Our timing never aligned until several years after college, and that’s when I knew that God orchestrated our reunion.”
Sure they were placed together through divine intervention, when Brandon had his chance, he made his biggest move yet: He asked Kelly to marry him. He popped the question in 2019, giving her a handwritten poem he put in a bottle (a romantic message in a bottle moment) during a romantic anniversary dinner. After she said yes, they planned their big day for September 2020, not knowing that COVID-19 would arrive and throw a major wrench in things. But after years of waiting to be together, they decided they could wait a bit longer.
Brandon and Kelly would become Mr. and Mrs. Lee on June 25, 2021, returning to Atlanta, where it all started. They married at the Piedmont Room in front of 130 guests in person and 70 over Zoom. The ceremony and reception was full of fun, charming details: a jumping of the broom; a Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated stroll from Kelly and her mom (also a member of DST); Kelly’s dad, a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated “hopping” for guests, and the use of some beautiful sparklers to help the bride and groom make their exit. It was a celebration guests and the couple won’t soon forget.
Check out lovely photos of their big day, learn more about how it all came together after being halted by the pandemic, and learn more about how these almost college sweethearts ended up #HappiLeeAfter.
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Planner: Kristin Veronne of Pop + Fizz
Cake: Cakes by Anna
DJ: DJ JayBee of Exquisite Sounds Entertainment
Makeup Artist: B.Gandy of B For Beaute.co
Bride’s Attire: Sweet Elegance Bridal
Groom’s and Groomsmen Attire: Big Man Culture
Florist: Stylish Stems
Premarital Counselor/Officiant: Rev. Michael and Larraine Forrester of A Relationship Ministry
Venue: The Piedmont Room
Getting Ready With the Girls
Kelly says getting dressed with her bridesmaids was one of her favorite moments of the day.
“I had eight amazing, funny, and loyal members of my bridal party: my two sisters, my best friend from Spelman, linesisters, Brandon’s sister, and friends from college and high school.”
“One of Brandon’s groomsmen, Michael Moss, designed all of the groom’s and groomsmen’s custom suits through his company, Big Man Culture,” Kelly says. “Brandon’s a tall guy, and our tallest groomsman was 6’5″, so it was important for us to create a custom experience. Men need to feel special, too!”
How He Knew He’d Found the One
For Brandon, he loves that Kelly is a God-fearing, loving woman who prioritizes family and enjoys making new traditions with him.
“Kelly may be small, but her personality and energy fill up any room that she’s in,” he says. “I realized early on that there is no one like Kelly, and I knew that I had to have her as my wife and life partner.”
How She Knew She’d Found the One
Brandon, who coaches football and has a business that develops great offensive lineman to play on the collegiate level, impressed Kelly with his dedication to his players.
“Witnessing how attentively his players listened to him and how passionate that Brandon was in their success was so powerful for me,” Kelly says. “When one of his players made a few mistakes on the field, I watched how Brandon motivated the player from wanting to give up to going back onto the field and helping the team ultimately win the game. I knew that he would be a phenomenal father and a strong leader for our future household.” She also loves how attentive he is to her needs.
“I never have to question how Brandon feels about me. He learned my love language early on and he is constantly trying to find ways to make me feel loved and supported.”
The Piedmont Room in Atlanta was on the couple’s radar after friends married there. It also helped that the venue was in a great place.
“Given that the overwhelming majority of my guests would be flying in from out of town, we wanted to pick a venue that was centrally located, could host both the ceremony and the reception, and had good food,” Kelly says. “The Piedmont Room was a major win because it was only a few minutes from the host hotel (Loews Atlanta Hotel) and has a stunning view of Piedmont Park and the Atlanta skyline at night.”
A “Romantic” Setting
For the theme, Kelly says they were going for romance meets glam.
“From our monogram that adorned the wall, to the ‘dancing on the cloud’ during our first dance, we wanted to have a cohesive flow with a clear attention to details. Our signature cocktail was ‘Black Love,’ a testament to our love and our love for Black romantic comedies.”
The Last Dance
“With all the madness and chaos of the last 48 hours calming down, for five minutes and eight seconds, it was just the two of us under the spotlight listening to ‘All of Me’ by John legend,” Brandon said of his favorite moment, their last dance before the day ended. “We never said these words during that dance, but in our heads we were thinking, ‘We did it!’”
Instead of using children to be traditional flower girls, the couple opted to have their grandmothers in the role. “Flower Grannies” is what they called them.
“My paternal grandmother and Brandon’s maternal grandmother came down the aisle right before I did. People were so shocked and excited to see them as the flower girls they started clapping and cheering!” Kelly says. “It’s even more special for Brandon and I that they were able to walk down the aisle because they are our only living grandparents left, and they both overcame incredible health challenges in order to be there for our special day.”
Let Them Eat Cake
The cake, which fit the romantic and glam theme perfectly, was created by Cakes by Anna.
A Dude’s Dessert
Brandon had his own groom’s cake, inspired by his love of football and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Ain’t No Party Like an ATL Party
“Our reception was LIT!” Kelly says. “From my dad’s Omega Psi Phi solo ‘hoppin’ moment (you had to be there) to Brandon serenading me to Freddie Jackson’s ‘Rock Me Tonight (For Old Time’s Sake)’ to strolling with my linesisters and sorors of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, I barely sat down the entire time! My mother is also a Delta, and her linesisters (my Delta aunties) also were in attendance, and I loved watching my momma stroll!”
The father and daughter represented for their respective organizations during the reception.
The Newlywed Life
A Stunning Send-Off
The couple exited their celebration as husband and wife with help from their guests, who waved around sparklers as the Lees shared a kiss.