The details are up for debate — they knew they met 13 or 14 years ago on Atlanta’s arts and music scene — but one thing’s for sure: bridal salon owner Gabrielle Lee and filmmaker Raymond Carr were meant to be in each other’s lives forever. Although the couple remained platonic friends for years, a clandestine party changed the course of their relationship forever.
“[Someone] asked me why I wasn’t dating the incredibly handsome and nice guy who had just arrived to save the late night, well, I just didn’t have a good answer,” Gabrielle says. “So many things clicked and I realized he’s been my person for so much longer than we care to admit. Raymond and I shared a first kiss that night outside the bar and c It was pretty much game over after that.
Gabrielle and Raymond agree that they most likely met at the Carroll St. Café in Atlanta, which made it the perfect place to propose to him in February 2021. “Wait in the great outdoors,” she recalled. “I talked about the sweetest bride we helped that day, who brought tears to my eyes as Raymond rummaged through his pockets, finally getting down on his knees and chattering nervously about the ring and about how I made everything happier. There were tears and yeses, and then a few regulars came from the area with champagne and good wishes.
Eight months later, the couple returned to the cafe with 60 of their favorite people to become husband and wife. As the founder of The Sentimentalist, a bridal salon in Atlanta, Gabrielle has helped brides create the day of their dreams. But, when it came to her own nuptials, she wanted to throw a party that reflected her and Raymond.
“I always imagined something late at night, in a crowded restaurant with high fashion, lots of candlelight, lots of levity and an epic dance party,” she says. “Something sentimental and memorable, not too serious, but still so romantic.”
With a little help from Kristine Cooke of Simply Charming Socials, the day was everything the couple imagined: perfect bliss forever to their dynamic romance. Read on for an intimate look at the day, photographed by Jeremy Harwell of Harwell Photography.
We made every move intentionally, to reflect ourselves and nothing else.
From the moment Raymond and Gabrielle got engaged, they knew they wanted to have a marriage that was completely on their terms. “We didn’t feel obligated to do anything ‘expected’ or even just out of necessity,” the bride shares. “We made every move intentionally, to reflect ourselves and nothing else.” The couple kicked off the festivities on the right foot with these clean-lined but cute invites from Press Shop’s Ashley Buzzy.
The Carroll Street Cafe is a base for the couple and their entourage. So it was fitting that he played a vital role in their special day. “I wanted the event to feel like one of the great art parties we’ve attended while dating – a pop-up performance space in a public space that could only be used for a wedding if they didn’t care about the rules,” says Gabrielle. . “It was us and I wanted to find a space to do we Justice.”
Hours after the couple got engaged, Gabrielle slipped on sidewalk stairs, breaking her leg and breaking her ankle. It required a long recovery in the process. Even though she wanted to wear heels on her special day, hitting the dance floor was a lot most important. She said she finally settled on a pair of studded combat boots, which had the “presence and attitude” she needed.
The groom looked dapper in an ivory silk evening jacket and tuxedo pants from Guffey’s of Atlanta. To complete the look, a custom set of gold cufflinks and a crystal necklace chain from Hushed Commotion.
One of the couple’s favorite parts of the day was their first look, which lasted two hours. “We met just across the hall at historic Oakland Cemetery for some snaps in the iconic — and, yes, maybe a bit morbid — Atlanta spot,” the bride shares.
We leaned into a classic shape, reminiscent of a ballet waltz dress.
As the proud owner of a bridal salon, Gabrielle wanted to move away from the typical white dress. Instead, the bride stunned in a black silk moire dress, made in collaboration with Elizabeth Dye. “She was my first boss in the industry and has been a dear friend and mentor ever since,” she says. “We’ve also worn her collection since day one and it’s a constant inspiration. She’s the queen of the colorful bride and her silhouettes are truly vintage-inspired, so we leaned into a classic shape, reminiscent of a ballet waltz dress.
Of course, the first-look fun didn’t stop at the big reveal. “We then took a short stroll through some of our favorite places in town, with [photographer] Jeremy Harwell right behind,” adds Gabrielle. “A longtime friend of mine pulled out her 1963 Mercury Comet convertible to drive us around town and eventually to our venue.”
After the couple’s first photoshoot, Raymond and Gabrielle met their family and headed to their ceremony at Atlanta’s Whisper Park.
Since the ceremony began after dark, the couple have placed small votive candles in every nook and cranny. “The inspiration was loosely inspired by the Phantom’s descent deep into the Paris Opera,” the bride shares. “When we walked around the corner to see the fiery secret space, I gasped at transcendence. It was the Christine Daaë moment I couldn’t have dreamed of.
The bride walked down the aisle to an a cappella version of Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend.” “Yeah, we know. It’s a breakup song,” Gabrielle says. It’s the song Raymond played at his DJ nights in Carroll Street every time I walked into the bar, the song that kept me going after my divorce, and in fact, a song that Elizabeth Dye m ‘presented through long days of grief and marriage dress slingin’ to the English department. It’s strange, but it’s our song. I can hardly describe what it was like to hear the softly sung a capella version from the park as we approached.
Raymond kept me so calm and smiling that I was able to stay together while really enjoying the moment
With their friend Tarik – who is also the bartender at the Carrol Street Cafe – presiding over the ceremony, Gabrielle and Raymond felt comfortable reciting personalized vows. “I haven’t been the best at being vulnerable in my time knowing Raymond, so I really wanted to give him a good dose of tender, heartfelt romance,” she shares. “We wrote our own vows. I thought they would feel impossible to read aloud, but Raymond kept me so calm and smiling that I was able to stick together while really enjoying the moment. It was moving, but joyful.
The couple exchanged wedding rings – courtesy of Worthmore Jewelers – and sealed their marriage with a kiss.
Kristine Cooke of Simply Charming Events took the reins of the front desk, transforming the cafe with antique lounge furniture, velvet linens and moody accents. “We replaced all the art in the bar with old mirrors. Philo Floral brought hundreds of red roses and carnations to the wall and mirrors behind the table, occasionally sprinkling lilies or white baby’s breath,” the bride adds.
Although Carroll Street Cafe took care of happy hour, catering company Craft & Curation delivered a mouth-watering menu of Southern classics. Highlights include fried chicken, pulled pork, collard greens, and macaroni and cheese. “She even included a personal pan of banana pudding, topped with cookie chess pieces and folded with fresh whipped cream,” Gabrielle shares. iconic Hotel Clermont. We grabbed plastic forks from the coffee cart and created one of our favorite memories with a handful of late-night friends stunned by banana pudding that magically appeared.
“[There was also] an epic arrangement to hang at the end of the bar,” says Gabrielle. “We kept the dance hall in metallic party mode: disco balls, gold fringes, fairy lights and colored lighting.”
I wanted our wedding day to be a collection of our favorite things, not just a collection of expectations and obligations.
The newlyweds managed to sneak out to take some additional photos with Harwell. “I wanted our wedding day to be a collection of our favorite things, not just a collection of expectations and obligations,” she shares. “Driving around Atlanta, music up and down, taking pictures of our favorite landmarks with Raymond in that costume was downright magical.”
The night was filled with good wishes and toasts from those around them. “We only did what we wanted, invited who we wanted, participated in the traditions we wanted, and that’s what made the night so magical,” the bride shares.
After dinner, Gabrielle slipped into a stunning Tara LaTour marigold dress and joined her husband for their first dance to Gallant’s “The Weight in Gold.” From there, Mike Stazny rocked the night with a catchy playlist.
Although Gabrielle and Raymond had a clear vision from day one, the bride says their dream day wouldn’t have been possible without a team of committed sales people. “Hire professionals and let them do their job, it’s liberating,” she says. “This was our sixth year together and my ninth in the wedding industry in Atlanta, so most of the vendor screening was done before she started,” she shares. “I knew I could insist on vendor selection forever, so I just booked people I like working with, quickly and decisively, and haven’t looked back.”