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July 23, 2014, 12:04 pm

Wedding Story: Ashley N. Johnson, Vincent E. Long

Ashley N. Johnson was absolutely stunning as she was escorted down the aisle by her father to exchange vows of marriage with Vincent E. Long. The ceremony took place at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas on April 21. Father Martini Shaw, rector of the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas of Philadelphia and Father Robert Wright of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, officiated. Wright is the rector of St. Paul’s in Atlanta, where Ashley worshiped while living there. It was especially meaningful to the couple that he assisted with the ceremony and provided the homily.

Ashley’s parents, Ronald G. Johnson and Brenda Johnson Best, gave their daughter in marriage. Ashley wore an elegant ivory A-line lace gown with a tank-style bodice and sweetheart neckline designed by Mia Salono. Beautiful lace detail with sheer shoulder straps and an elaborate sheer lace back adorned the dress. A gorgeous brooch accented her gown and she wore a unique birdcage veil with a rhinestone headpiece.

The Bride

Ashley, 28, is the daughter of Brenda Johnson Best and Ronald G. Johnson and is a native Philadelphian. She earned her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Florida A&M University and a master’s and doctorate in electrical and computer engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.

The Groom

Vincent, 32, is the son of Kathleen E. Long and Robert Long, III and is originally from Chicago. He earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Florida A&M University. Both Ashley and Vincent are controls engineers for a specialty glass company.

How They Met …The Proposal

Ashley and Vincent met as engineering students at Florida A&M. A friend can be credited with pointing out handsome Vincent to beautiful Ashley in the atrium of the engineering school. They became friends and even had a few classes together. Their friendship flourished after Ashley graduated and moved from Tallahassee. The couple continued to communicate by phone. Ashley and Vincent knew they could count on each other for sound advice. Love prevailed and the rest is history.

Ashley describes Vincent’s proposal as, “simply amazing.” He proposed during dinner in a private wine cellar at Café Aldo Lamberti in New Jersey. Immediately after dinner, the ecstatic couple celebrated with friends and family at a fabulous surprise engagement party that Vincent had planned in another wine cellar of the restaurant.

The Wedding Party

Maids of honor Tiara Jeter, the bride’s best friend, and Cemere James were lovely, wearing azalea strapless shantung dresses. Bridesmaids, wearing the same style dress in desert rose, were: Sharonda Eggleton, Tiffany McEntyre, Shaquita Ridley, Kayelyn Richardson and Karen White.

The groom and groomsmen wore gray tuxedos. To add a personal touch, the groom had bowties made from Knits and Knotts, based in Chicago, for himself (in white), his groomsmen (azalea and gray) and the bell crier (in white).

Joslin Mourillon stood as the groom’s best man and groomsmen were: Robert Long IV, Steven Evans, Christopher Long, Brian Long and Andre Watkins.

Tamara Long and Chloe McEntyre were beautiful flower girls. The bell crier, Jamaal Jackson Jr., entered the church ringing a bell and announcing confidently, “The bride is coming.”

Kristin Bright, Dr. Tammy McCoy and Gay Brown served as hostesses and Noble Ali and John Thimote served as ushers. Readings were offered by Gay Brown and Lauren Hughes. Sherilynn Kimble, Gay Brown and Margaret Wright of Philadelphia served as wedding coordinators.

The Reception

A joyous reception followed the ceremony at the Philadelphia Hilton on City Line Avenue. Ashley and Vincent’s first dance as husband and wife was to “We Both Deserve Each Other’s Love” by L.T.D. Ashley and her father danced to “You’re a Big Girl Now” by The Stylistics and Vincent and his mother danced to “A Song for Mama” by Boyz II Men.

Ashley’s bouquet included a mixture of cream and pink roses. To add a personal touch, an azalea-colored satin ribbon was wrapped around the bouquet to complement the wedding palette.

Several of Ashley’s line sisters and sorority sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. serenaded her during the reception.

To add a few personal elements to the wedding, the couple had a signature cocktail named “Longevity,” a Words of Wisdom Wedding ad lib for guests to complete and Ashley wore pink Kate Spade shoes with a rhinestone bow and added a special “I Do” decal on the soles of the shoes.

Among family members and friends sharing the very special day were: Ashley’s aunt, Amanda Walker from Winter Park, Fla.; cousins, Kimberly Sherman and Missouri Peters from Nassau, Bahamas; cousin, Trecie Cooke from Orlando, Fla.; and her godparents, Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Vaughn from Lake Mary, Fla.

Vincent’s aunts, Muriel Williams and Faye Bright, traveled from Chicago, as did his cousins Kristin Bright and Victoria DeSalle and family friends Jeanette Spears and Mr. and Mrs. Maxie Allen.

Reflections

Ashley’s thoughts: “It’s difficult to select just one thing that was special about the wedding. Vincent was involved in the planning; he actually selected the cake flavor and our first-dance song. The two most memorable parts of the wedding were walking down the aisle toward my future husband with trumpets playing and exchanging vows that we personally wrote.”

Vincent’s thoughts: “The toasts from the best man and maids of honor meant a lot to me, as they reflected on how they could see the love between Ashley and me and how it’s developed over our years of dating.”

Ironically, the bride and groom surprised each other with tablets as wedding presents. It shows that they are both “techies.”

When the couple first started dating Vincent surprised Ashley with an iPod nano that was engraved with the words, “It’s Official.” To bring their story full circle, Ashley surprised Vincent by engraving his wedding band with the words, “It’s Official.”

“Vincent and I are nothing short of blessed, and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect wedding day and start to our marriage. We really appreciated our family and friends flying in from across the country,” Ashley said, beaming.

The Honeymoon

The couple honeymooned in St. Thomas and St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands. “The beaches were absolutely amazing! Our favorite parts of the trip were snorkeling with the sea turtles in St. Thomas and hiking to a semiprivate beach named Honeymoon Beach in St. John. We didn’t know this until after arriving, but St. Thomas was celebrating its 60th carnival. That made for an added level of fun.”

Congratulations and very best wishes are extended to Mr. and Mrs. Vincent E. Long for a lasting and happy union!