The nuptials took place in Dana Point, Calif., but Detroit was in the hearts of Jemele Hill and longtime love Ian Wallace as they tied the knot on Sunday at the 5-star Monarch Beach Resort, which was coincidentally the site of the couple’s first date.
“Once we realized this was where we had our first date, I was super sold,” Wallace told Essence. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is such a perfect full-circle story.’”
The bride wore a custom, strapless, minimalist high-low wedding gown with a convertible sheer skirt by Vera Wang, while the groom chose a custom-made white tux from Atlanta-based celebrity tailor Miguel Wilson.
“I got some really good advice from friends of mine to not look at too many dresses because after a while they kind of start to blur together,” Hill says of her dress choice, which was reportedly inspired by Michelle Obama. “ I wanted something that can transition into the reception. The dress was so comfortable, I wanted to keep it on as long as possible.”
Essence had the exclusive scoop on the wedding festivities (to our benefit, since the couple had a strict no cell phone policy), which boasted a black female event planning team, Slomique Hawrylo’s Carpe Diem Events.
“We kind of had that instant connection with Slomique,” said Hill, who met fellow Detroit native Wallace during the 2014 homecoming weekend for their alma mater, Michigan State University, where Hill was that year’s parade grand marshal (h/t New York Times). “Ian was very focused on having a celebration with great music and vibes. I wanted the food and the ambiance to be great,” Hill continued. “[Slomique] was able to combine both of our priorities and put them together to create what we think is an impeccable vision.”
As the couple told Essence, one of those priorities was using as many Detroit-based and black-owned vendors as possible—and Wallace’s groomsmen were all from Detroit, as well. “There’s not a lot of diversity with my groomsmen,” he joked.
In contrast, four of the six bridesmaids in Hill’s bridal party were friends from her days at ESPN, including maid of honor Kelley Carter, who did manage to post a sneak peek of at least one celebrity guest...and a very sweet note from the bride.
While guest Gabrielle Union was sporting long braids, Hill abandoned her trademark braids for her bridal look, opting instead for a blown-out updo topped with a jeweled headband for the ceremony, let down into relaxed, cascading waves for the reception.
The reception found its centerpiece in the six-tiered modernist wedding cake created by Californian bakers Sweet Traders, which featured marble and rose gold elements in addition to light features and even a flower floating dramatically in an acrylic tier. For entertainment, Musiq Soulchild serenaded guests with several love songs after the couple’s first dance.
What wasn’t present at the Hill-Wallace nuptials? According to the groom, there was no trace of Bridezilla tendencies in his new wife.
“I learned that Jemele is very accommodating,” says Ian. “It’s her wedding, but she’s thinking about others. She’s also very decisive.”
To see more photos—and video!—from the wedding of Jemele Hill and Ian Wallace, head over to Essence for coverage of their big day.
(Updated 3/3/22 with new details)