“It was something she wanted to do, and it was something that I never really showed an interest in — that’s why I wanted it to be a surprise,” the soft-spoken 34-year-old explains. “More than anything, it was just a congratulations and a thanks for the 10 years of marriage and the three kids. We’ve been together since we were freshmen in college.”
Eric spent almost a year planning the 6 p.m. ceremony and reception that followed, both in The Biltmore ballroom, with the help of his assistant and a local events planner. He managed to keep his secret until a key accomplice — DeShawn’s business manager — left her job late last spring. With no one around to ask his wife casual questions about her preferences in flowers, food, etc. and feed him the information, Eric had to fess up that he was planning a second wedding for them. It was a shock for DeShawn, who pretty much planned their first trip down the aisle by herself.
“I just knew the bare minimum — I didn’t know any of the details,” the 33-year-old owner of EDJ Realty in Atlanta says of her big day. “He did everything — I literally just picked up my dress and showed up!”
DeShawn soon found out just how thoughtful and detail oriented her husband had been. When she arrived at an area bridal boutique a week before the wedding, she found four dresses chosen by a stylist for her review. (She picked out a pair of pearl frocks — a strapless fit-and-flare gown by local designer Anne Barge for the ceremony and a trumpet-shaped satin gown by Badgley Mischka for the reception.) She spent the night before the ceremony in a suite at the Four Seasons Hotel, where Eric had booked a spa package and arranged for a car to take her and some girlfriends to see Beyonce in concert at Philips Arena.
“I was so beat that I just let them have the limo,” DeShawn confesses.
The next evening, a rejuvenated DeShawn was escorted into The Biltmore ballroom by the couple’s 8-year-old son, Eric Jr., and 6-year-old niece, DaeShawn Reed. Eric walked in with their two younger boys, 5-year-old Darius and 4-year-old Jarren. The children, DeShawn later found out, had been in on Eric’s plans. Their incentive to keep quiet? “I promised them that they could stay in the hotel and get room service that night,” Eric says with amusement. “That’s a big thing for them.” After an exchange of traditional vows, he slipped a 6-carat, princess-cut diamond in a platinum setting on DeShawn’s ring finger. Although DeShawn insists she was certain Eric would “upgrade” her 2-carat, pear-shaped diamond flanked baguettes — the couple “traded in” their wedding rings at an Owensboro, Ky., jeweler on their fifth anniversary — Eric is equally adamant that the switch was a surprise.
“She got me a new ring,” Eric remembers. “But I told her I was just going to take her ring and give it back to her during the ceremony.”
After renewing their vows, the couple and approximately 150 close friends and relatives enjoyed a sit-down dinner of beef tenderloin and grilled salmon and dancing to tunes spun by a disc jockey. At the end of the night, Eric and DeShawn returned to the Four Seasons to rest up for a trip to the French Riviera. DeShawn recalls that many of the men approached Eric before they left.
“All of the husbands were coming up, saying, ‘Man, you’re putting me in a bad spot now. My woman’s looking at me like, “Why can’t you do that?” she says with pride.