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A Luxe ‘Black-Tie Tropical’ Wedding in Miami

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Khiari McAlpin and Curtis Lee Knox Jr. went to the same high school back in the early 2000s. They were just friends back then—at least according to Khiari. As for Curtis, “I knew she would be my wife one day,” he says. “I would say that daily to myself every time I saw her.” But, nothing came of it at the time. 

“After several years had passed, it was through social media that I saw Khiari at a wedding and I gave her a friendly compliment about how nice she looked,” Curtis remembers. “A few months after that, we ran into each other at a mutual friend’s wedding in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I guess you can say it was over after that. This time it was Khiari offering the compliments—about my suit—and from there we began dating.”

Two years later, right before Halloween 2020, Curtis orchestrated the perfect proposal. Khiari owns a child development center and she was hosting its annual fall festival. Curtis was there to help set up and break down. “Everyone was dressed in their Halloween costumes, making it hard to determine who was who,” the couple remembers. “As the festival was wrapping up, the children wanted to perform a play they had been working on for their families. Khiari was recording the play, not knowing the skit was going to end with the words, ‘Curtis said will you marry me!’ Khiari turns around and sees Curtis standing directly behind her on one knee. The whole time her closest family and friends were there at the festival, disguised under their costumes.”

The Atlanta-based couple originally envisioned a destination wedding in Cabo, but wanted to be mindful of older relatives’ difficulty traveling overseas during the pandemic. “Curtis and I absolutely love Miami and vacation there often,” Khiari says. “When we found Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, it was the perfect blend of what we wanted, but stateside. We wanted a venue that represented something tropical, but was also royal, romantic, and elegant.”

They called in Khiari’s sister Brittany, the wedding planner behind The Sharp Standard, to bring to life their “black-tie tropical” vision. “There was no doubt that Brittany was going to execute the wedding of my dreams,” Khiari says. “Her work is impeccable and always so luxurious.”

Read on to see all the luxe details from their 300-person celebration on November 11, 2021, planned by Brittany McAlpin Sharp of The Sharp Standard, with day-of coordination by KeAira Chantell Events, and photographed by Amy Anaiz Photography.

Planner Brittany McAlpin had a plan for the aesthetic immediately. “I knew I wanted to incorporate some of the existing tropical elements in that setting, but I didn’t want it to be cheesy,” she says. “I decided to bring in the tropical element through the colors instead of through palm leaves and tropical flowers of that sort. I used a very bold and dramatic color scheme: black, chartreuse, coral, and gold. We also infused some really cool textures.” It began with the acrylic invitations, which arrived in customized suede boxes.

Khiari got consistent facials leading up to the wedding, and prepped her skin with a lineup of Biossance products she uses daily: cleanser, eye cream, moisturizer, and rose oil. She gave her makeup team free rein, but for hair she had a specific vision. “There was a high ponytail look that I fell in love with, and that pretty much set the tone for the rest of the beauty,” she says. “I just wanted to feel regal, but still look like myself.” Her almond shaped nails were ombré with a hint of silver chrome, and she spritzed on Á la Rose by Maison Francis Kurkdjian.

The getting ready attire was a vibe all its own. Khiari donned a custom one-shoulder robe from London Couture, while her bridesmaids looked sexy in Champagne-hued slip dresses by Mia Bella The Label.

Vainglorious Brides was the last salon Khiari visited, and she’d almost given up hope of finding a dress. “We had searched for so many dresses by the time I got to Vainglorious, that I was kind of over it,” she admits. “Nothing was making me feel excited! And then I stepped into one of Leah Da Gloria’s dresses and I knew she was the designer I would go with.” But, Khiari couldn’t wear just any Leah gown. “We were able to have her custom make a one-of-a-kind dress for me, that allowed me to get everything I wanted in a dress. I left feeling like I had landed the dress of my dreams.”

Curtis was particular as well, to equally stunning results. “I dress up a lot, but I wanted something that took my formal look to another level,” he says. “I worked with a custom designer Miguel Wilson to create a one-of-a-kind look, but that would also work well with my groomsmen’s attire.”

“With Khiari’s dress being so detail heavy, I wanted a bouquet that would not compete,” Brittany says. “I asked florist Ines Naftali to keep her bouquet light and airy, with only whites and nudes. It was perfect.”  

“Originally, we weren’t going to do a first look, as I was so opposed to it,” Khiari recalls. “However, my amazing photographer, Amy Anaiz, convinced me that since the sun would have set by the time the ceremony ended, we should consider doing a first look. That was truly one of the best decisions we made.” 

Just like the bride, Curtis kept his look a secret so they were both surprised. “The moment was super special for us both,” Khiari says. “When Curtis turned around, I instantly started crying and he was completely speechless. I couldn’t get over how handsome he looked.”

“It was imperative that we had beautiful bridesmaids’ dresses, because they truly set the tone for the bridal party,” Khiari says. “Phylicia Ellis created eight different looks in an olive green color that allowed each lady to have a look that reflected her style.” Adds Brittany: “We brought in some coral florals to pop against the dresses. We also infused some of the pampas and dried florals from Khiari’s bouquet, to ensure that all of the personal florals were cohesive.” 

Miguel Wilson crafted black-tie looks for the groomsmen that complemented the groom’s unique white-trimmed blazer. “We kept their florals sleek and clean with white and tan dried flowers,” Brittany says.

The sun set as the ceremony began, and the side of the venue was lit up with the couple’s custom logo. “We flew in a five-piece orchestra from Atlanta, Orchestra Noir, to greet guests as they arrived at the venue,” Khiari shares. 

“I love ceremonies that are clean and sleek so that the focus is on the bride and groom,” Brittany says. “We worked with Ines to create an opulent look that drew everyone’s eyes to the front of the room. The ceremony was positioned under the most beautiful trees, so we kept the decor low and lush.” It came together like a royal dream. “From the gold mirrored runner lined with beautiful pampas to the grand cherry blossom trees with floating candles, the night was truly magical.” 

“The wedding ceremony songs were ones that were personal to Curtis and I, as well as classic songs we knew would still make us have butterflies 20 years from now,” says Khiari, who walked down the aisle with her father to “Amen” by John Adams.

Khiari’s stepfather, Minister Joseph Kittrell, officiated the ceremony. “Curtis and I wrote our own vows; we wanted to simply speak from our heart and share our own words of commitment to one another,” Khiari says. “I added scriptures from the Bible in my vows. We also took communion to show our union with each other and Christ.”

They recessed out to an aptly named anthem—“I Do” by Young Jeezy and Andre 3000—as their photographer captured some epic portraits. “Our favorite part about the venue was that every section was picture-worthy,” Khiara says. “From the backdrop for the ceremony to the reception area overlooking the water, it was literally everything we dreamed of.”

Cocktail hour featured a signature strawberry mojito and and a welcome cocktail housed in branded coconuts from Coco Reserve. Guests noshed mini Maryland crab cakes, chicken and waffles, and spring rolls with duck sauce before finding their seat. 

“If anybody knows me, they know that I am team over-the-top. So, my sister’s wedding had to follow suit,” Brittany says. “The core of the design were massive five-foot gold cage chandeliers that we had made for the round guests tables. The chandeliers were adorned with florals, then met with more florals on the base. We kept the linens black and chic, and used the prettiest olive green napkins from BBJ Linen.”

She’s a fan of mixing table shapes, so her setup incorporated some square tables as well. “To match the tone of the rounds that were topped with the chandeliers, we kept square tables linenless and opted for glass tables instead, topped with tons of candles and florals.”

“The final touch included a heavy detail place setting,” Brittany continues. “I always tell my clients I want to see the least amount of table surface as possible, so we always pack on the details. From the coral chargers with black and gold flatware to the three-piece stemware that included smoky black glasses and a coral water goblet to the 3D fan menu that was a palm leaf matching the one embossed on the suede boxed invite, no detail was left untouched!”

“We are die hard foodies, so good food was a must for us,” Khiari says. “We had tastings with a number of caterers to not only taste the quality of their food, but to also get an idea of their presentation.” Alexander Event Catering won them over, and served a menu of grass-fed filet mignon and miso-glazed salmon, with mashed potatoes and multi-colored carrots; plus a salad with red wine poached pears, goat cheese, and passionfruit, wrapped in cucumber.

In addition to a top-notch dinner, the couple served up entertainment, too. There was an orchestra, DJ, hookahs, and cigar rollers onsite. 

“Curtis and I did a ‘Total Knox Out’ entrance where we both wore boxing robes and Curtis held a championship belt,” Khiari says. “We first stood on the steps facing backward to the song ‘Waiting’ by Young Jeezy for 42 seconds. Then, our DJ mixed the tape and switched to the song ‘Standing Ovation.’ The maid and matron of honor helped introduce us by holding signs like the ring girls in a boxing match.”

Music was one of the top ways they personalized their wedding. “We both love music and knew that the right tunes would keep our guests on the dance floor and really reflect who we are as people,” Khiari says. Some top song choices? “Love Centric” by Joe for the first dance; My Girl” by The Temptations and “Ski” by Gunna, Young Stoner Life Records, and Young Thug for the father-daughter dance; and “A Mother’s Love” by Major for the groom’s dance with his mom.  

The couple stuck with tradition by doing bouquet and garter tosses. 

“I went back and forth on this cake for months,” says planner Brittany. “I wanted something extravagant, but still soft and romantic. One of my wedding vendors that has become like family, Kristal of K&J’s Elegant Pastries, actually flew in to make the cake. It was all ivory with a cascade of white and ivory dried florals—sleek yet stunning, with silent details that made it really pop without being color heavy. It was displayed on a glass table surrounded by tons of candles.” Inside, French vanilla rum cake alternated with red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting.

The newlyweds took a delayed honeymoon to the Maldives in April, allowing the joy of their wedding day to extend into the new year—and for a lifetime to come. Looking back, the success of their big day came down to choosing the right vendors, the couple shares. “We highly suggest being very strategic with planning who you want to use as your vendors,” they say. “People often get caught on wanting to use vendors because they may be Instagram famous. However, we quickly learned that having a lot of followers does not mean you are the best. We are certainly thankful for learning that early—and having the best of the best vendors at our wedding.”

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