Green Wedding Shoes has and will always be about celebrating and promoting love. We do not tolerate hate and we are so sorry to our Black sisters and brothers for the pain you’ve experienced for too long. We are with you and we will continue to be with our votes, our petitions, our donations, our education, and our platform.
This morning, we received a very special quarantine wedding in our submissions inbox. We felt there was no time to waste in sharing Kelli + Omar’s beautiful day and our team worked together to bring their story to your feed as soon as possible. Kelli + Omar planned a dream wedding in Grand Rapids but had to make all the adjustments in light of COVID-19. And then George Floyd was murdered. The night of their wedding, K + O came face to face with protesters, police — and tear gas.
In Kelli’s own words, “We had a wonderful wedding day, surrounded by our people and felt so loved and celebrated. We are just so blessed. When we arrived at the condo where we would be staying, there was a police barricade almost directly in front of our door. The police began to tear-gas the street. We all were hit with it. I held my wedding dress over my eyes as Omar made sure his family (who had gone in ahead of us) made it safely back to the vehicle. We left immediately and stayed at their house instead.
Let me tell you — I cried and pleaded for Omar not to leave the car to walk in front of a line of fully armed police officers but his concern was getting his family into the car safely. All I could think was, ‘What if something happens to him tonight, our wedding night?’ I don’t understand and I will never fully grasp what it’s like to be black but I got a taste of it that night. I was scared for his life. I cannot imagine what it feels like to live with this deep-rooted fear every day. My heart aches and mourns with all of the people of color in America.”
Alyssa McElheny photographed the day and also had some beautiful words to share about Kelli, Omar, and the resilience of love expressed on their wedding day. We’re honored to share her photos and words below:
Kelli is the kindest, easiest soul. You’ll walk away from time spent with her feeling like a better, more confident version of yourself. We all need to be more like Kelli.
Doesn’t she look just stunning?! Kelli wore a mermaid silhouette off-the-shoulder gown from Beckers Bridal.
The First Look
Forever our favorite part!
Kelli carried a beautiful tribute to her nephew and father in her bouquet by Alyssa McElheny.
As a wedding photographer, I’ve had the pleasure of working with this lady (she’s Grand Rapids’ most talented, entrepreneurial hairstylist) on MANY a wedding. When it finally came time for her to wed Omar, I was elated when she tapped me to photograph and ‘floralize’ their day. Omar is Kelli’s perfect match. Together, they care for those around them (and for each other) SO well. I don’t think I’ve met a more others-focused pair in my life.
Together, they planned a wedding. It was finally Kelli’s turn to be the bride. COVID-19 rocked our world. Plans changed. She threw Omar a Vegas themed bachelor party in lieu of the one he had planned. He dressed up in her crop top and headband and gave her the bachelorette party she deserved (which included them sipping mimosas together and him painting her nails). They went viral and were featured on several large news outlets, including Good Morning America!
An Intimate Quarantine Wedding Ceremony
Kelli designed a lovely day for a small group of guests at West End GR in Grand Rapids. An ethereal backdrop was the main focus as guests congregated in styled vignettes around the room in efforts to respect social distancing.
During the day, we all felt the absence of Kelli’s father and nephew who had passed away in previous years, as well as that of Omar’s father, who passed away, and mother, who unable to be with us. Kelli + Omar were grateful to celebrate with those still with us and so thankful to celebrate with Omar’s adoptive family.
COVID-19 seriously could not stop the BEAUTY that is this ceremony! Alyssa shared a few edits K + O made to their original plans:
They cut their guest list, provided their remaining guests with personalized masks and hand sanitizer, planned a post-ceremony car parade reception for all guests unable to attend, sat all ceremony attendees in their own curated chair and tiny table vignette six feet apart from any other guests, organized Zoom calls, and minimized involved vendors. Kelli even did her own hair on her wedding day. Their family and friends came around them and supported them in a way that I haven’t seen yet before.
Cheeky little detail ;)
Light + Bright Reception
Kelli actually provided her own rentals for the reception tables because not only is she a talented hairstylist, she also owns KJ Soiree. Love that!
Cute place cards by Jodi Lynn Calligraphy!
Toilet paper as a wedding favor? Honestly…we’d take it! So funny!
This pink wedding cake covered in flowers by Cakes by Brittany is SPEAKING to us.
Such a sweet moment captured by Alyssa.
Social distance or not — this is a RAD photo.
The Drive-By Wedding Parade
Kelli + Omar hosted guests through a drive-by which is such a fun way to include loved ones when you have to minimize the guest list!
It was a beautiful day that, unfortunately, ended in the face of opposition. But Alyssa tells us that Kelli + Omar choose to focus on the joy, even now.
As if getting married during quarantine wasn’t enough, George Floyd was killed just days before their celebration. Being an interracial couple, this event and those following weighed heavily on Omar and Kelli’s hearts and minds. As they left their wedding and headed to downtown Grand Rapids, where they planned a mini-moon, they encountered a group of protesters, police, and tear gas. On their own wedding night.
Looking back, all of these factors had the potential to ruin their day. But Kelli + Omar chose joy. This was made very clear in messages from members of the bride and groom’s family during their wedding day. Despite overwhelming opposition and difficulty, this pair chooses joy.
And we’ll choose the same — as long as love endures, we’ll keep sharing your stories and messages of hope. GWS is committed to advocating for BIPOC communities. Here are a few ways we’re educating ourselves and the causes we’re supporting.
photography: Alyssa McElheny Photography // venue name: West End GR, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA // event design: Kelli VanHarn // florals: Alyssa McElheny // wedding dress boutique: Beckers Bridal // bride's shoes: Giuseppe Zanotti // getting ready robes: Revolve // hair stylist: Kelli VanHarn // makeup artist: Katie Marble // groom attire: ASOS // videography: Kenzie Warner Storytelling // calligraphy: Jodi Lynn Calligraphy // catering: Donkey Taqueria // cake: Cakes by Brittany // desserts: Sams Club // tabletop rentals: KJ Soiree // music: Calvin Nguyen // officiant: Grant Hofman // jewelry: Givenchy