Activists Brittany Packnett and Reginald Cunningham have devoted their lives to standing up for Black rights. Fittingly, every aspect of their New Orleans wedding honored those who stood before them. Studio BE was the perfect venue for their celebration of Black love, as it perfectly symbolized the pillars of pride and tradition that keep their love alive.
“Reggie and I met at a protest in St. Louis, our hometown, in 2014 during the Ferguson uprising,” Brittany told ESSENCE exclusively. “We were friends for two years, forging a bond on the street, organizing, protesting, and finding community along with the hundreds who made immense sacrifices for our freedom that year.” After discovering the commonalities in their lives, they realized the timing of their relationship was perfect.
What also came together was the location of their wedding. After they initially started dating, New Orleans was the first city Brittany and Reggie ever visited together, and quickly became their favorite. Not only did the couple return years later for a stunning ceremony rich in love and culture…they also did a bang up job with the “R&B Sunday” themed reception. Think of it as a ’90s house party all dressed up!
Trust us…you’ve never seen Black love celebration quite like this! Scroll through the gallery to see more photos from Brittany Packnett and Reginald Cunningham’s New Orleans wedding.
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Love At First Fitting
Brittany had her wedding dress altered by a Black-owned shop in D.C. “At each fitting, I would FaceTime my mom. Her eyes would well up with tears and so would mine. There wasn’t another dress for me. “
Beauty In Every Hue
“We found the bridesmaids dresses at a small bridal boutique in Northern Virginia,” says Brittany. “We selected a light fabric for the warm Louisiana climate, with style varieties for our gorgeous bridesmaids to feel their best.”
The Groom’s Look
“I searched for months for the right tuxedo and just happened upon a suit shop while my father and I headed to our weekly cigar happy hour,” says Reginald. “The Hall brothers were cordial, understanding, and super helpful in assisting me in designing the perfect suit for our wedding day.”
Brittany originally picked a dress a year prior but knew it was a premature choice. At the suggestion of her wedding planner Fresh Johnson, she visited Winnie Couture in Los Angeles for a 2nd try. “I wanted a dress unlike the typical, but one that still felt timeless,” says Brittany. “The sheer back, long sleeves and clear sparkle gave me touches not seen on most brides, but was still elegant and playful.”
“Just as we had envisioned, we got married standing between portraits of Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King, who were depicted on a mural the length of the entire room with the words Love Supreme.”
A Performance To Remember
“Our friend and Essence Fest ‘19 main stage performer MAJOR. sang his famous love song ‘This Is Why I Love You,’ as I walked down the aisle,” Brittany says. “He also personalized it for us and had our village lift their voices together with him on the chorus.”
“As my groomsmen and I walked down the aisle, everyone started cheering, which was so powerful! And once I saw my bride, I couldn’t help but shed happy tears knowing we were about to become one.”
From The Heart
The Cunninghams wrote their own vows, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
You May Now Kiss The Bride!
Introducing Mr. And Mrs. Cunningham!
Midnight & Marsala
Brittany and Reginald found their bridal party’s “Midnight and Marsala” color scheme on Pinterest. “We wanted something that worked for an evening formal wedding, but was unexpected just like our venue,” the couple told us. “Navy was the perfect replacement for basic black, and the burgundy looked incredible against our colorful backdrops and brown skin.”
This is Joy
“We second lined out of the ceremony and into the streets, dancing by the very railroad station where Homer Plessy was arrested for attempting to integrate a segregated rail car. This was the basis for the Plessy v. Ferguson ‘separate but equal’ doctrine that governed the land for decades. We danced in our triumph in streets that were once home to our traumas.”
Our Day, Our Way
For their reception entrance, the couple entered the room to “International Players’ Anthem (I Choose You),” and swapped out their ceremony shoes to Jordans.
The Sweetest Thing
“You always hear people say their wedding was the best day in their lives, and it sounds very cliché,” says Reginald. “But I understood once our day was here. I felt blessed knowing that this woman wanted to marry me, commit to me for a lifetime, and I the same.”
House Party Vibes
“I had sent our DJ an email full of cultural musical references to ensure he understood the unique mix of 90’s R&B, trap music, gospel and Afrobeats we wanted at our wedding,” says Brittany. “I wanted it to feel like a fancy house party where everyone could be themselves.”
This Is Our Song!
“Without fail, our village came through in what turned out to be the most loving, epic, spectacular, perfectly Black first dance ever. Our friends George, Major, and Ahmed started stomping their feet, and led the entire room in singing SWV’s, ‘Weak.’ Little did they know it was the first song I ever sang to Reggie at Karaoke.”
“We danced the night away and ended the night with beignets and coffee.”
“Everyone left more in love with themselves and one another,” the couple told us. “We had done what we came to do.”
“My groom ended his vows with the famous Ruby Dee quote that: ‘Today is ours, let’s live it. And love is strong, let’s give it.’ That same quote sits next to a portrait of Ossie and Ruby-a couple that has always inspired us with their art, love, and revolutionary spirit- in Studio Be.”