Real Couples // After Nine Years and Three Kids, A Wedding: Dre + Shanai

Dre was born and raised in South Carolina. He has two younger siblings, one brother and one sister, and comes from a very close family. After graduating high school he joined the army and was medically and honorably discharged after seven years. He now drives trucks. I (Shanai) was born in Arizona and raised all over the world. My dad was in the Army my entire life, and we moved around very frequently. I have five brothers and sisters, one of whom is my identical twin sister. I was a very rebellious teenager and caused a little trouble in my younger years.

Dre and I met in high school when my family moved to Columbia. We met my senior (his junior) year but didn't really talk much until the following school year. (I was kicked out of school for fighting! And had to repeat my last semester! OMG I know so bad! ha) We ended up having a physics class together, which I say is fate because we never would have connected had I not been kicked out of school and had to come back!

At first I didn't pay much attention to him, but eventually we had to work together in class, and the entire time all he did was make me laugh. Thats when I think we really connected and fell in love. I was sort of a loner, so for someone to really peak my interest AND make laugh was a win-win. We ended up dating and going to prom together, and the rest is history. Sort of your typical high school sweetheart love story with a bad girl twist!

Our proposal wasn't much of a proposal to be honest. It was more of him telling me he wanted to marry me in a casual conversation, and a week later I had a $15 ring I found at the mall. We were fresh out of high school, he was working at a fast food restaurant, and I wasn't working at all. So even though it was inexpensive, I loved it.

Before we were able to actually plan out a wedding, we found out I was expecting our first child! That prompted Dre to join the military, and we had a quickie ceremony at his family's church. After graduating basic training and going to AIT, Dre upgraded my ring set and got a matching band for himself.

So! Nine years and three kids later, we were finally able to afford a "real" wedding where my dad could walk me down the aisle. We picked Doko Manor because that's where we had our first family pictures done. Kristen actually did those as well!

My family and I did everything ourselves. I wore a mermaid style lace dress with a sweetheart neckline. I actually completely forgot about my $125 veil! It never made it down the aisle. But my sweet friend and photographer made sure I at least had pictures in it! Our music we chose together. Dre is more of an old-school 70s and 80s music lover, and I love the 90s love songs. Our first dance was to Tamia's "Still" because the words were everything I wanted him to know. After nine years, he's still the man of my dreams, and we're still in love.

My ceremony was short and sweet because it was the end of July in the South! I didn't want our guests to sweat too much, but I was also set on an outside ceremony. Dre's uncle, who is a pastor, re-married us. It was his church we were married in in 2008, so we thought it would be special for him to officiate our ceremony. I really wanted my dad walk me down the aisle because he was deployed to Iraq when we got married and wasn't able to do it. So that was really special for me.

We hired an awesome DJ, DJ D-rex. About half of our guests didn't show up like they were supposed to, so our reception actually wasn't as full as we thought it would be, but he made sure everyone there had an awesome time, and I was very grateful for that. After our first dance and the father/daughter and mother/son dances, we started a soul train line! It was a lot of fun watching everyone have such a good time. My sisters, who were my maid and matron of honor, gave really sweet toasts. I was a ball of emotions the entire night! Dre's brother and his closest friends (groomsmen) gave really sweet speeches as well. We feel really blessed to have such special people in our lives who chose to be a part of our day.

Our food actually ended up being a hot mess! My uncle offered to cater the wedding but ended up being super late because of things out of his control. So we only had little finger foods, candy, and alcohol for about half the night until the real food could get done. He also brought fresh blue crabs all the way from Virginia Beach!

My decor was very simple. I'm a plain jane no glitter and bling kind of girl, and I actually hand-made all my centerpieces. I wanted a really clean feeling for my reception. My husband, my girls, and his groomsmen set everything up and took it all down. I also loved that our children were able to be a part of such a special moment.

Words by Shanai, the bride, as told to Amber Marlow. Photos by Lavish Moments.

Bride's accessories laid out, including her oval cut ring
floral and ring detail
bride's blingy sandals
Bride being zipped up
bride with bridesmaids
Beautiful bride with tattoos
Black bride makeup inspiration
Iconic bridal portrait
Beautiful, classic bride
Beautiful flower gilr
flower girl basket detail
Cute flower girl and ring bearer
Bride and bridesmaids in blush laughing on the porch
Groom getting ready in pink vest
groom and groomsmen
Classic groom portrait with groom wearing cream suit and pink bowtie
Classic bride portrait at Doko Manor in South Carolina
Bride with cathedral length veil
First look with Dad
First look with Dad
Doko Manor wedding ceremony
Flower girl dropping rose petals
daddy here comes mama sign
Groom waiting for his bride
flower girl with flower in her hair
Bride and dad walking down the aisle
Bride walking with her dad down the aisle
Groom seeing his bride
Doko Manor wedding ceremony
post wedding bliss!
Bride, groom, and wedding party
Beautiful bride and groom
DIY centerpieces
I still do cake topper
reception speeches
Mother-son dance
groom dancing


Venue | Doko Manor
Photographer | Lavish Moments Photography
Hair and Makeup | The Glamour Principle
DJ | DJ D-rex

Kristen Gorden.png


Hi, I am Kristen Gordon, owner of Lavish Moments Photography a natural light photographer specializing in weddings and lifestyle photography based in Columbia, SC.  I enjoy lots of coffee, red wine and binge watching my favorite shows on Netflix.  I love all things pretty & romantic and my passion is to capture the genuine moments of you and your loved ones that will last for a lifetime! I want to tell your love story through my lens.