What comes to mind when you think of the Harlem Renaissance? Is it the migration of African Americans from the South to the North? Is it the burst of creativity, including poetry, music, and dance? Perhaps it is fashion of the day? Sean and Brooke chose a Harlem Renaissance theme for their wedding. It was the perfect representation of their relationship.
Bride: Brooke Calloway, 27, project coordinator, native of Charlotte, North Carolina
Groom: Sean Calloway, 28, resident project representative, native of Rochester, New York
Current Residence: Charlotte, North Carolina
Wedding Date: November 19, 2022
Venue/Location: Crystal Ballroom – Rock Hill, South Carolina
How They Met
(Brooke) Sean and I met in 2015 while we were attending N.C. State University. He joined Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated, and I joined Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Incorporated during the same semester. So, we crossed over together. We met through a mutual friend, one of Sean’s frat brothers.
It was the weekend, and a group of us got together for a kickback at our mutual friend’s dorm. We were just college kids hanging out in the dorm room. I thought he was cute, and he thought I was pretty. That lead to flirting, friendship and dating.
(Sean) Our fraternity and sorority were always in similar places, so we kept running into each other. After the third or fourth time, I was like, “Hey, we need to exchange phone numbers. That way, we don’t have to run into each other randomly. It can be deliberate.” Things progressed from there. We started texting all the time.
We developed an instant friendship, which was almost uncomfortable for me. I was a college student focused on my education, work, and friends. I had just crossed a fraternity, so I was preoccupied. But for some reason, we got along very well. It was so natural and different from everyone else I had seen. I knew it was something different.
We ended up hanging out and studying at the library all the time. Then we started spending time outside the library, like going to the movies. Soon, we were hanging out for three or four days straight. Eventually, we agreed to be official.
Their First Date
(Brooke) We were always going places together, but they were not dates. Our first official date was in 2017. We are both fans of poetry, so we went to a local poetry night in Charlotte.
Sean has a personality that draws you near him. It was attractive to me but could also be scary at times. He is a people person, and I love that. However, I sometimes wondered if he showed the same interest to other people because he is so lovely and cool. There was always something different about how he spoke about his feelings and his care for his family and friends. I was able to determine that he had a genuine heart quickly. I could tell he meant it and was not just trying to impress me. Our long friendship helped us see each other’s true side.
(Sean) Brooke is one of the most genuine people that I know. She had a warmth and maturity that was very rare for someone still in college. Many students were about partying or focused on one thing or another. Her energy was very inviting, and she was always very intentional about things. She cared for people, including her family. That was something that we were connected on.
She was also able to occasionally distract me from some of the things I focused on. I had always been able to compartmentalize things pretty well. My priorities were education and work. I would bend a little for her. Plans to go to the library at a certain time became, “I can go later if we were to hang out, or better yet, come with me.” If I told myself I wouldn’t see her until Monday, I found myself saying, “No, I’ll just call her again today.”
When we first met, I did not want to start a relationship. I was almost scared that I was feeling this connection with somebody before I thought I was ready. It made me uncomfortable. I was like, “Don’t do this. You need to graduate.” But Brooke had a different energy than anyone else, almost from the moment we met.
This Is “The One”
(Sean) During the first month or two after Brooke and I started dating, I saw the potential of being married to her. Initially, it frightened me. One day I was sitting in the kitchen with my mom, and it just hit me, “This person is for me, and I am for her. It makes sense. We just clicked so well.” It was like getting great news and wanting to share it with someone. It bubbled out of my mouth, “Mom, I’m going to marry Brooke.” She said, “That is really not what I was expecting, but I am very proud of you.
Brooke) I do not know that one instance convinced me that Sean was the one. One thing that really stood out to me was the consistency of seeing who he was. We had intentional conversations that would go on for hours. When we would see each other for three or four days straight, I thought, ‘I should be tired of you by now, but I am not.” I was not ready to go our separate ways, nor was he. We were connected. Like elementary school friends on the playground, we could not wait to see each other the next day. I think it was that innocence and childlike excitement that I liked. Being with him was just natural. He also had a great smile; I knew I could look at it daily.
(Brooke) We got engaged on July 23, 2021. I suspected it would happen soon, but on the day it did, I was not expecting it.
Sean and I were in the process of buying a house. I am very traditional and wanted to be engaged or married before I moved in. The house was set to close in August, and we both agreed that marriage was what we wanted.
One day Sean came to pick me up after work, and we went shopping. This should have been a big red flag because he does not like to go shopping with me. Instead, I told myself, “Oh, he’s just being sweet.” He told me we were going for a night out with friends and wanted me to look nice.
I found the perfect white dress but still did not put the pieces together. When we arrived at Protagonist, a craft brewery in Charlotte, Sean and I were dressed up, but everyone else was super casual. As we walked through the doors, I saw a photographer and friends with roses. I was like, “Oh, shoot. Is this happening right now?”
Sean had arranged for all our family and friends to be there. They were lined up along a spiral stairway and were holding roses. Each of them gave me a rose as I walked up the stairs. When I got to the top of the stairs, I was greeted by a sea of smiles from our family and friends. I couldn’t hold my tears any longer. This was actually happening!
I do not like a lot of attention, so it was very overwhelming. Still, I was super excited. I was taken to a chair at the front of the room. A slideshow showed photos of Sean and me throughout the years. My father and grandfather were there. I could not believe he had pulled all this together and included everyone special to me.
Thank goodness for the chair because I probably would have passed out. Sean sat me down while a friend sang one of my favorite songs, ‘Best Part’ by H.E.R. It was beautiful.
I do not remember exactly what Sean said during his speech because I was freaking out. I do remember when he got down on one knee and asked, “Will you marry me?” I said nothing. One of my friends reminded me to say yes. Finally, I could say, “Yes, yes, of course.” Everyone was cheering.
The evening doubled as our engagement party. We partied, ate dinner, and had a fun time for the rest of the night. It was definitely one of the best nights of my life.
(Sean) Executing our engagement took months of planning and help from many people. I got help from her sister Brittany, my sister Tyler, our mothers, her father, my stepfather, and many friends. Their love for Brooke and willingness to invest so much time and energy into making the engagement special made it even more wonderful.
(Brooke) I am not going to lie; wedding planning was one of the most stressful times in my life. But it was so worth it. It was all hands on deck, primarily my mom, my sister Brittany and me.
I went to bridal shows every other weekend trying to speak with vendors. It took a year to plan our big day, and there were times when I felt like, “Let’s leave it alone. We can go to Jamaica or to the courthouse and call it a day.” But the end results exceeded my expectations.
The venue we chose and the staff that we found made our wedding day easy. Ivy, our wedding planner, was awesome. She gave us vendor ideas and contacts and was very hands-on in the months leading up to the wedding.
(Brooke) We had a 1920s Harlem Renaissance-themed wedding, so all our guests came dressed in their ’20s best fashion. We had all the glitz, glam, and feathers. Our color scheme was black, gold, dark green, and white. The Crystal Ballroom has gorgeous chandeliers that matched well with the color scheme.
We had one hundred seventy guests, along with nine bridesmaids and fourteen groomsmen. The attire for our bridal party was also 20’s themed. I was incredibly nervous on the morning of our wedding, but everything came together beautifully. It was a dream day.
Sean and I are Christians, so my childhood pastor was there. We prayed before we went down the aisle and during the ceremony. On our first date, the poet we went to see performed several custom pieces during our vows and at the reception. That was very unique. Our first dance was to a song that we really liked in college. It was like dancing in the clouds. Just us dancing there together.
(Sean) We created our own special tradition. We brought some soil from our house, and each of us brought seeds that we planted and watered at the wedding. Our idea was to grow the plants together and eventually plant them in our yard. We tried to find them after the wedding, but I think someone had moved or stored them somewhere, and we never found them. We will eventually select something else to plant together and watch grow.
My most memorable wedding moment was when the pastor said, “You can kiss the bride,” and I knew it was official. That part is ingrained in my mind. I looked out and saw our parents in the front row. My family is not very emotional, but they were crying. So was her side of the family. Every aspect of it felt like we were doing what was meant to be.
(Brooke) My most memorable moment was when the curtains opened, and it was my turn to walk down the aisle. I saw all the people, our bridal party, and Sean up front looking at me. It really hit me that this was happening. That moment of walking down the aisle stuck with me.
(Sean) We have not gone on our honeymoon yet. We had a few other trips planned already. We are going to Denmark in the summer with our family. We are looking at Morocco i in the fall for our honeymoon.
Advice to Others
(Sean) We are in a time when the tradition of marriage is not normalized. Our generation is starting to stray away from it. So, I would say focus on what matters to you, regardless of society’s narrative. If you want to get married and feel like that is a step for you, do it. It is a beautiful thing.
(Brooke) Marriage is a beautiful thing. I was very lucky to find the man of my dreams, the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. It is what you make it and how you look at it. We are just blessed, and I wish this happiness to everyone.
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Venue and Decor: Crystal Ballroom
Wedding Coordinator: The Silk Veil Events by Ivy
Photography & Videography: Jina Wilson/ George Street Photography
Caterer: Waiter’s Choice Catering
Cake: Publix Bakery
D.J.: Krazy T Entertainment
Photo Booth: Oh Snap! Photo Booths