“I FELT BEAUTIFUL ON MY WEDDING DAY. I DIDN’T FEEL BEAUTIFUL FOR A PLUS-SIZED OR CURVY BRIDE; I FELT LIKE A BEAUTIFUL BRIDE.”
“I immediately started to cry,” Ashley Turner recalls after seeing the first sketch of what would be her bridal gown. A “Curvy Fashionista” known for her style blog The Curvy Paige, Ashley didn’t have the best experience when she first searched for a wedding dress. As she shared with us last fall, boutiques that had gowns she could fit were filled with offerings that lacked the glamour. Boutiques with better, more flashy options were missing gowns in her size.
Instead of allowing that to put a damper on her wedding planning, she decided to enlist the help of Nma Couture for a handmade gown.
“Nma Couture was a dream to work on creating my wedding dress,” she tells ESSENCE. “Julie Nma had previously made a few dresses for me, so I knew she understood my body, which was very important to me.”
After hearing about Ashley’s disappointing experience wedding dress shopping, and understanding how the bride wanted to feel on her special day, the designer sketched a gown with an enhanced bust, heavy beading and a detachable train for the reception. The end result was a stunning off-the-shoulder gown covered in shimmering stones.
“I knew that was my dress,” Ashley says. “We had several fittings, and she guaranteed me that the dress would fit me perfectly. Needless to say, she delivered. I felt beautiful on my wedding day. I didn’t feel beautiful for a plus-sized or curvy bride; I felt like a beautiful bride.”
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And no one agrees more than Jimmie Captain, the groom who was waiting for her at the altar when they said “I do” on March 12 in Houston.
“I knew she was going to look beautiful, but I couldn’t have imagined how divine she looked on that day,” he says. “I didn’t want to know anything about her dress beforehand, and I didn’t want to do a first look. The first time I saw her was when the doors opened and she began to walk down the aisle with her father. I tried to hold it together, but it didn’t work.”
The couple jumped the broom with help from her father, Houston mayor Sylvester Turner. It was the first wedding in Texas history that a sitting mayor would take part in. It was also a celebration of the talented vendors in the city, as the couple opted to utilize people of color and women only.
Looking back on her big day, and the journey to that moment, Ashley couldn’t be happier to now call herself Mrs. Ashley Turner-Captain.
“It feels amazing! I’ve done quite a bit of reflecting over the last few months, and I keep thinking of the saying, ‘Good things come to those who wait.’ I’m so glad that I waited for Jimmie,” she says. “He is definitely an answered prayer and a reminder that God didn’t forget about me. I know marriage has its challenges, but God has equipped us for our journey.”
Check out the way they celebrated this new journey with photos from their celebration below.
Photography by Aisha Khan with Ama by Aisha
01 A Sweet Moment
Before the couple saw one another at the altar, they held hands, talked, and prayed together, concealing themselves, ahead of the ceremony.
02 A Family Affair
It was Jimmie’s consistency that let Ashley know she’d found her person. “I knew Jimmie was the one in the way that he always showed up for me,” she says. “When we had disagreements, he would listen to my perspective and work to reach a level of understanding and compromise.” For Jimmie, he knew he’d found the one when he realized how taken he was with Ashley’s beauty. “I knew Ashley was the one when I could be mad at her and then look at her the next second and only think about how beautiful she is.”
03 Using Minority Vendors
“There aren’t enough people of color represented in the hospitality and wedding industry. We actively support businesses of color and women-owned businesses in our day-to-day lives, and it was important that it also happened for our wedding,” Ashley says.
04 Choosing a Venue
“We looked at a few venues, and our selection became limited due to our guest size,” Ashley says. “We wanted to host the ceremony and the reception at the same location so our guests would not have to travel. When we toured our venue, we fell in love with the large doors, beautiful chandeliers and the overall beauty of the facility.”
05 The Planning Process
“The planning process was challenging. Planning a wedding is no easy feat by itself, let alone during a pandemic,” Ashley says. “We had to be flexible and patient. We planned on having an engagement party but decided to cancel due to the delta spike. Our vendors wanted confirmations of most things ahead of time because they were concerned about the supply chain issues. We made sure to secure the venue very early in our engagement because we knew many weddings were postponed due to the pandemic, and many people would be looking to host their weddings in 2022. Because the safety of our guests was always top of mind, we asked all attending guests to be vaccinated.”
06 Hot Sauce in My Bag, Swag
Texas knows its hot sauces (it’s hard to find better barbecue), so the couple made sure guests could enjoy dinner with a customized one honoring their special day.
07 A Closer Look
We can’t get enough of the grand florals!
08 Memorable Moments
“The entire day was memorable, but if I had to choose, walking down the aisle to my now husband was one of the most memorable moments,” Ashley says. “Seeing his face when the doors opened and the tears falling from his eyes will be a moment I will never forget. The second moment is definitely the reception. Our guests were terrific, and we had the best time dancing the night away.”
09 Hopes for the Future
When it comes to their plans as Mr. and Mrs., Jimmie hopes that he will “continue to travel and have fun with Ashley, give back to our communities, and be a symbol of love and hope. I hope that people look at us and know that dreams do come true.” For Ashley, she hopes they will continue being a blessing to each other, and others. “I hope that we can always learn from each other, be patient with one another, respect each other’s growth, and continue to have fun. I hope and pray that God will continue to bless us to be a blessing to others.”