It was summer 2014 when a beautiful woman slipped into a church pew just one row ahead of attorney Kedric Payne. The corporate counsel at Amazon noticed her immediately, but he missed his opportunity to say hello as CNN correspondent Rene Marsh was already engaged in conversation with another churchgoer. By fate, however, that same exact week, the two ended up in a room again, this time at a party. Payne then went out of his way to introduce himself and a little over a year later, they were engaged.
The bride and groom subtly nodded to the beginning stages of their love story by asking Pastor Dr. Judy Fentress-Williams of Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, to officiate their nuptials. “[She serves] at the same church where Kedric first saw me,” Marsh tells The Knot in an exclusive interview. They, however, wanted to put a slight distance between their city and the actual venue, opting for a fall wedding at a Northern Virginia vineyard.
“It was exactly the feel we wanted: romantic and modern,” explains Marsh, the Aviation and Government Regulation Correspondent at CNN. Thankfully, the day of the wedding was “absolutely perfect,” she adds, despite a slightly bumpy road leading up to the ceremony.
“I saved too many last-minute errands that coupled with severe traffic, and that put us on the path to be an hour late to our rehearsal,” Marsh laughs. “So we decided to forego the rehearsal and start the rehearsal dinner early. We all did it cold on the wedding day, but with such a small wedding party, there were no issues.”
In retrospect, the bride says her favorite moment fell within the ceremony itself. “We chose to do our own vows,” she says. “That was my favorite… exchanging vows.” After the couple was officially pronounced husband and wife, Marsh says she let out a big sigh of relief. “I felt like, ‘We did it!’” she recalls.
Check out the couple’s wedding album (captured by photographer Genevive Leiper) and accompanying details below.
Marsh and Payne chose to marry at the Morais Vineyards & Winery in Northern Virginia—for sentimental reasons. “My fiancé loves Italy and I really wanted to feel a touch of Tuscany on our wedding day,” she explains. “The winery was the perfect fit and it was just far enough from D.C., to feel like a nice escape.”
The couple opted to go without the traditional flower girl and ring bearer, choosing only very close family members to partake in the ceremony portion of the wedding. The groom and the wedding party walked out to a saxophone solo version of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” while the bride made her entrance to “All of Me” by John Legend.
“Both of my parents walked me down the aisle. I always said I’d do that,” Marsh explains. “I love my parents and they both supported me and cared for me throughout life. To me, it made perfect sense on that special day for both parents to give me away.”
The couple didn’t immediately seek the help of a planner, but eventually brought on Darling D Events to help execute their wedding day vision. “I did a lot of the ground work,” says the bride. “I found the vendors, and researched venues with my fiancé. We brought a planner into the process to take over three months before the wedding day, to help coordinate logistics and execute the vision.” (We recommend starting with The Knot Style Quiz to lock down your specific vision.)
On the day of the wedding, the couple’s planner, Darcie, handled everything. “She took charge,” Marsh says. “Just what you need on wedding day. She was great.”
The couple wanted an elegant, romantic and classic wedding, opting for a champagne, white, gold and magenta-infused color scheme. “We scattered white rose petals along both sides of the aisle leading to the altar,” she explains. “Plus, a sheer and soft flowy white drape pulled pack on each side with faint pink hydrangeas and a crystal chandelier hanging at the center.”
“I lived on Pinterest during wedding planning,” says Marsh. “My colors included hues of pink—I opted for faint and deeper color pink roses with baby’s breath for my bouquet. The centerpieces were white dendrobium orchids with white hydrangeas as fillers. I loved this arrangement the first day I saw it. I love the untamed look of orchids and the beautiful tall clear trumpet vases.”
Marsh chose a gown by Pronovias, which she discovered in the Love Couture Bridal boutique in Potomac, Maryland. The sweetheart gown featured a snug bodice and a dramatic skirt with an equally long train. “I loved it!” says the bride.
For the reception, Marsh swapped into a simple white gown by Halston Heritage, complete with a bracelet by Alexis Bitter. “It allows me to dance freely,” she says.
The Groom’s Look
“I loved my wedding dress,” she muses, “and I really loved my husband’s tuxedo.” Payne wore a midnight blue and black tuxedo complete with detailed black buttons and cuff links. “He was perfection,.”
The bride and groom chose Caribbean Caterers to handle their mouthwatering wedding menu, which kicked off with a cocktail hour complete with their ceremony saxophonist offering up a melodious backdrop. “Our specialty cocktail was called the ‘Payne Punch,’ [a rum punch as] a nod to my Jamaican heritage,” she explains. “It was a hit.”
For dinner, the couple served jerk chicken, an herb-crusted mahi-mahi with lemon butter sauce, paired with Calypso rice and broccolini. “Our caterer was amazing,” she says.
The couple opted to honeymoon in multiple locations, starting in Dubai and moving over to Cape Town, South Africa, rounded out by a wine tour and a safari trek. “It was just as perfect as the wedding,” she says.
It’s Marsh’s job to listen to others, and that skill was certainly upheld the day of her wedding. After a busy season of planning, she can confidently impart her wisdom upon others: “It’s the advice everyone else gave me,” she pauses. “Be present in the moment.”