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Weddings of the year

LIKE a diamond, real love is durable, shines brightly, and has many facets. In 2003, couples celebrated some of those facets with creative and stylish nuptials, from an island affair for hip-hop's most sought-after bachelor to a 50-yardline wedding for a female professional football player to a million-dollar matrimonial extravaganza for a pair of noteworthy ministers.

Although there were more breakups than hook-ups in Hollywood and on celebrity row, there were major weddings this year from coast-to-coast.

Hip-hop star Ginuwine The Bachelor took a bride, rapper Sole, in an island setting that featured actor Tyrese as best man, and more than 15 attendants, including the couple's children together--two young daughters--and their three children from previous relationships. Bootleg photos of the event circulated on the Internet, but Ginuwine embargoed official photographs, perhaps to preserve "The Bachelor" image he made famous on his CD of the same name.

When Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles superstar quarterback, wed his college sweetheart Raquel-Ann Sarah (Roxie) Nurse, in a Chicago suburb, wedding guests included football greats like Jerome Bettis and Eddie George.

The "million-dollar" wedding of Dr. Juanita Bynum, well-known evangelist and author of the best-selling Matters of the Heart, to Bishop Thomas W. Weeks III featured a wedding party of 80, all friends and family, 1,000 guests, a 12-piece orchestra, and a 7.76-carat diamond ring. The black-tie wedding cost "more than a million," the bride said, and included flowers flown in from around the world. "My dress," she says, "took nine months to make. All of the crystals on the gown were hand-sewn. The headpiece was sterling silver, hand-designed."

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Why did she spend so much time and effort on the wedding?

"This," she said, "was my once-in-a-lifetime wedding, and I did it this way because I plan to stay married."

The Winans family made news on several romantic fronts. Gospel scion Marvin Winans Jr. married Monique Lauren Johnson, a marketing representative, in a big wedding attended by his father, Gospel great and pastor Marvin Winans Sr., and his mother, Gospel great Vickie Winans, who were divorced several years ago. Before the year ended, the mother walked down the aisle with executive Joe E. McLemore at the Bellagio Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. The son and his bride honeymooned in Hawaii. The mother and her groom honeymooned in Aruba. Both couples will make their home in Michigan.

In an added twist to the "Weddings of the Year," three prominent couples celebrated golden wedding anniversaries with large gatherings attended by their children, friends and family. Celebrating 50 years of Wedded bliss in 2003 were Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan and his wife, Mother Khadijah Farrakhan; Dr. Frederick K.C. Price, founder and pastor of Los Angeles-based Crenshaw Christian Center, and his wife, Dr. Betty Price; and David and Delores (Mom and Pop) Winans, parents of a Gospel music dynasty that extends several generations.

Family was a big theme for the wedding couples. Jessie Drew Pottsdamer of Atlanta was escorted down the aisle by her grandsons when she exchanged vows with Gordon Eugene Watson in a sunset ceremony at Marco Island Resort in Florida, presided over by the Rev. Andrew Young.

Jonathan Jones escorted his sister, Ebony Fashion Fair Commentator Jada Jackson, down the aisle when she wed Gospel singer Ernest Collins in Orlando last year.

So whether the ceremonies were intimate or extravagant, whether the love expressed was new or graced with wisdom, couples in 2003 expressed hope for the diamond-like durability and beauty of lifelong love.

"Million-dollar" wedding of Evangelist Juanita Bynum to Bishop Thomas Weeks III was held at the Regent Wall Street Hotel in New York and featured a wedding party, of more than 80 men, women and children and over 1,000 guests. Her platinum-colored satin gown was embroidered with Swarovski crystals on the bodice, hem and 25-foot train.

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Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles' star quarterback and his bride, the former Raquel-Ann Nurse, were wed at Valley Kingdom Ministries International in Oak Forest, Ill., a Chicago suburb. The pair shares an intimate first dance to the song This Very Moment. The newlyweds honeymooned in the Dominican Republic.

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Mother and son of the famous Winans family married last year in separate ceremonies in Detroit and Las Vegas. Marvin Winans Jr. (pictured above in wedding party), son of Gospel greats Vickie Winans and Pastor Marvin Winans Sr., wed Monique Lauren Johnson at the majestic Straight Gate Church in Detroit. The bride and groom are shown here with their wedding party which included the groom's father (1.) The groom's mother (below), Gospel recording artist Vickie Winans, and Joe E. McLemore, CEO of JO-DAN Ltd. Inc., a Michigan-based dairy company, were married in November at Las Vegas' Bellagio Wedding Chapel surrounded by family.


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