Many of us have spent lots of time and energy searching for the right wedding gift for someone special. This bride discovered the gift of time and family while planning her wedding.
Bride: Shanee Burgess, 34, social worker, native of Atlanta, Georgia
Groom: Fredderick Burgess, 36, warehouse mgr., native of Spartanburg, South Carolina
Current Residence: Columbia, South Carolina
Wedding Date: April 3, 2021
Venue/Location: Seibels House and Gardens, Columbia, South Carolina
(Shanee) We met in 2010. Fred had relocated to Atlanta for school and ended up staying for work. It was a transition period for me. I had recently graduated from Georgia State University and ended up moving back home for a while. I hadn’t been able to find work in my field yet when I met Fredderick and he invited me out.
(Shanee) We agreed to meet at the bowling alley and get something to eat afterwards. The funny thing was that he was about 40-45 minutes late because of Atlanta traffic. After he finally got there, we had a great time bowling. I didn’t have much experience with bowling, so he ended up having to basically teach me how to roll the ball and things like that. Then we went to a Chinese restaurant. The food was awful, but we were having so much fun, conversing and hanging out, that we really didn’t notice how bad the food was. The chemistry was there, and it was fun.
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(Shanee) I began to realize that Fredderick was different from the men I had dated in the past by our third or fourth date. I remember us going to a pizza restaurant and spending a long time just sitting and talking about many different things including music and which shows we liked. It felt different because I could be myself. I felt comfortable just being me.
I’m kind of quirky at times and we had that in common. We had a lot of common interests and that really connected us. Our relationship seemed more serious. By the third or fourth year of us being together, I knew that he was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
(Shanee) We had already been talking about marriage, that we both were ready and wanted to go to the next step. We were thinking of how we wanted it to happen; if we wanted it to go overseas, or maybe get married locally. But I guess the official proposal caught me by surprise.
Fred proposed in December of 2019. In the weeks before Christmas, he began giving me a gift every day. I didn’t realize it was leading up to the proposal. Each gift was accompanied by a note that gave a hint about the gift and talked about our love story.
One of the gifts was a backup camera for my car. I had an older car, so it didn’t come with a backup camera. It was a feature that I wanted so he got one for me and I had it installed. The note said, “Looking back, we’ve enjoyed everything that’s behind us, but we’re going forward in our next chapter.”
I remember opening the last gift. At first, I thought it was just a tumbler because I’m into different cups and tumblers. The front of the tumbler said, “Mrs. Right.” I was like, “Oh wow, nice. I could always use another tumbler.” Then I realized that there was something in the cup. As I was looking at it, Fred got down on one knee and gave me the ring. It was really sweet. I just love the way it felt unique. I’ve kept all those notes that led up to the proposal. It was all very special.
(Shanee) Wedding planning was definitely a family affair. My mom had passed away, so her best friend, who I call Aunt Dorothy, planned and decorated the wedding. She was in Atlanta, so we did a lot of video calls to each other. She came to Columbia to see the venue and get some of the decorations.
She is very creative and actually handmade most of the things for the wedding. She put together the bouquets, decorated Masons jars with gemstones, and made the napkin holders. She did all of this while sick. She ended up having an episode of illness during it all, but still pushed through and made everything happen. It turned out more beautiful than I would have even thought.
I also had my mom’s sister, Aunt Tina. She was awesome as well. She was my coordinator and definitely helped me get a lot of things together. She was also the mother role for me because I didn’t have that. She was the one that went with me to pick out my dress and came to all my fittings and made sure that I had everything I needed. She helped coordinate the day of as well, making sure all the small special touches were together.
The wedding was originally supposed to be in October 2020, but we had one family friend who was really concerned about COVID. Just to be safe, we pushed everything back to April. Doing that caused wedding planning to coincide with us buying a house. During the whole wedding planning process, we were also in the middle of buying a house. That added some stress.
(Shanee) Our wedding was modern, very small, and very intimate. We didn’t want a big wedding. We had about 35 to 40 guests, mostly immediate family and friends. We didn’t do a lot of the traditional things. I didn’t have a ring bearer or flower girl. My sister was my matron of honor, and my best friend was my maid of honor. Fred’s best friend was his best man, and another friend was a groomsman. We lit a unity candle but didn’t do any of the other traditions most couples do. So, we did things differently. We wanted to make it our own and didn’t want to feel pressure to include things in the wedding just because, if we didn’t really care for it.
One of the most memorable moments for me was getting to dance with my sister and dad. We did a different kind of father daughter dance. It wasn’t rehearsed or anything. My dad and I danced to an upbeat song. Then I called my sister to come join us, and we all just had fun. It was good just seeing the smiles on their faces and being able to be in the moment. After my mom passed away, we’ve had some hard moments in our lives. So just seeing my family there for a positive celebration, that was everything to me.
(Shanee) We went to Cozumel, Mexico, to an all-inclusive resort. That was our first time in Mexico and our first time at an all-inclusive resort. We didn’t have any excursions but enjoyed lots of activities at the resort. There was a fire show, karaoke and we played beach volleyball. It was fun and the food was amazing.
(Shanee) If you are getting married, choose wisely and take your time and know that this is the person for you. If you are planning a wedding I would say, get as much help as you can. Just remember to include what you and your spouse really want in a wedding. It doesn’t have to be traditional. Add your own special touches and leave out whatever is not your style.
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Photography: Gadson Photography and Design
Venue: Seibels House and Garden
Wedding Planner/Decorator: Dorothy Wilson – Dottie Dreams Come True
Decorator: Jazzy Creations
Coordinator: Tina Harris
DJ: DJ Prime
Cake: Parkland Cakes
Makeup: Nzavi Beauty
Hair Stylist: Reddhead Stylist