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MEMORABLE WEDDINGS
Kirbi and Lanny


The bride’s veil is fastened by her mother.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY LEN BENNETT OF THE LENNZ PHOTOGRAPHY

Their high school years seemed like a scene right out of the movie “Love & Basketball.” Lanny Smith first spotted Kirbi Thomas in the gym at Hightower High School. He was an incoming freshman destined to be a basketball star, and refers to this early part of their relationship as “the 1st quarter.” Sophomore Kirbi, a basketball player in her own right, was one of the popular girls. According to Lanny, “She didn’t give me the time of day,” which meant he was stuck in the “friend zone.” Throughout high school Lanny was all-district, all-state, MVP, Player of the Year, and most of the girls at Hightower loved him. But to Kirbi he was just “Lil Lanny.”

During what Kirbi calls the “2nd quarter” of their story, she left for Spelman College. “I took a poem Lanny wrote for my high school graduation and taped it to the wall in my freshman and sophomore dorm rooms,” she says. Throughout college they remained good friends, and she often called to check in. They gave each other encouragement and a strong listening ear during Lanny’s basketball endeavors at University of Houston. But Kirbi (embarrassingly) only managed to attend one of his collegiate games. One time she and her father and friends drove to an away game in Dallas, but arrived after the game was finished. “I’m certainly glad Lanny and I have worked on our communication since then,” she notes.

 

First Date

Now came what both call the “3rd quarter” and an unusual first date. One night Kirbi, Lanny and his best friend Mike went out for the evening and ended up in the car talking for hours. Mike asked why Kirbi and Lanny never dated. “The next thing I know, they kicked me out of the car while they talked about it,” Lanny recalls. Something happened that night, because Kirbi began looking at Lanny differently. To this day, Lanny isn’t sure what they talked about, but suddenly he slipped out of the friend zone and into Kirbi’s heart.

“I remember praying specifically about what I wanted in a mate and realized the Lord opened my eyes to a wonderful man and friend,” says Kirbi. Lanny asked her to be his girlfriend on September 11, a date that was an unfortunate reminder of the 9/11 tragedy. She asked if they could revisit his question (as if he hadn’t already waited forever), and they became an item three days later.

 

Courtship 

Each focused on their education and careers during an official courtship that lasted three years. Kirbi was still living in Atlanta while Lanny was in Houston, and they flew back and forth to see each other. Kirbi obtained both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education and became a high school teacher. Lanny earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and played in the NBA Development League in China, the Philippines and Korea. The couple visited Hawaii, NBA All-Star games in Los Angeles and Houston, ice skating rinks, Pinot & Painting, and R. Kelly, Dru Hill, Jagged Edge, Jay Z, Kanye West and 4 Kings of Gospel concerts. They also went to culinary classes.

Lanny began sharing his dream of starting a business. Little did they know that a knee injury would propel his dream into a reality — Active Faith Sports, a Christian athletic apparel brand. They entered the “4th quarter” of their relationship facing a huge decision. Lanny suggested that Kirbi move back to Houston and be a part of the business, although it meant giving up her job and friends in Atlanta. Again she prayed and received an answer: She should follow her own “active faith” and join Lanny in his Active Faith Sports enterprise.

 

Proposal & Engagement

“I wanted to do something special for the proposal,” says Lanny, who had an artist paint various symbols of their relationship onto canvas. He had the painting hung in the BeHuman Art Gallery, and unbeknownst to Kirbi he rented the venue for the evening of March 16, 2013. Friends and family hid out of sight while a photographer and videographer wore “second hats” as decoys as they waited to capture the big moment.

After a romantic dinner at Eddie V’s, Lanny and Kirbi walked into the gallery to admire the art. When they strolled by the special painting, Kirbi recognized some of the symbols. At that moment Lanny got on his knee and proposed while friends and family emerged to surprise her. They celebrated with music and food in an art gallery engagement party like no other!

The proposal was followed by a short engagement. Kirbi immediately began planning for her August 2 nuptials, less than four months away!

 

The Wedding

Style: The couple envisioned a wedding that would be a direct representation of who they are. “We wanted each guest to “take a walk down our relationship lane,” says the bride.

Attire: The bride wore a white satin ball gown with a contour neckline and off the shoulder dimensional floral straps by New York designer Amalia Carrara. The drop waist bodice was embellished with delicate metallic floral embroidery adorned with Swarovski crystals and mercury beading. The skirt featured delicate matching embroidery, floral patterned beadwork and a scalloped hem. A sweeping cathedral length train with a unique Greek key pattern gave the gown a dramatic vision. Putty/Silver open toe jeweled heels by Antonio Melani, a great aunt’s bracelet from the 1940s, and a blue garter completed the ensemble.

The maid of honor wore a Mikado floor length bridesmaid gown with a ruffled one-shoulder bodice, trumpet skirt and sweep train by Lazaro. Bridesmaids wore strapless Mikado floor length gowns with a sweetheart neckline, corseted bodice and lace-up back atop A-line skirt flowing into a sweep train. All wore open toe sand colored heels adorned with smoke crystals from Zara.

The groom wore a black custom slim fit tuxedo with satin lapels, custom black and red vest by Lucho, black bowtie, black shoes, and a black leather band silver face watch by Michael Kors. Groomsmen wore The Black by Vera Wang tuxedos, white shirts, black bowties, black vests and black shoes.

Floral Decor: The bride’s bouquet included 30 Picasso calla lilies. Bridesmaid bouquets included white hydrangeas, vendela cream roses and three stems of Picasso calla lilies. Flower girls waved magic wands with vendela cream roses and white spray roses with bells. The groom wore a boutonniere of Picasso calla lilies with a touch of greenery. White gladiolus, white hydrangeas, lavender snaps, purple stock, vendela roses and lavender roses filled the sanctuary.

The Cake: A round and hexagon-shaped white and vanilla cinnamon cake soared five tiers and was topped by a representation of the couple, along with a miniature basketball. The icing and decorations were inspired by the bride’s wedding gown. The basketball court groom’s cake was decorated with a miniature groom and his groomsmen as players.

The Wedding Party: Pastor Marcus D. Cosby united the couple at Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church. Earl and Rosiland Thomas, parents of the bride, joined Clarence and Alfreda Smith, parents of the groom in witnessing the marriage of their children.

Rebekah Robinson served as maid of honor. Brigette Wright, Kelli Coleman and Giana Humphrey served as bridesmaids. Taylor Thomas was the junior bridesmaid while Sydney Thomas and Arianna Luckett were flower girls.

Chris Smith served as best man. Earl Thomas, Oliver Lafayette, Jahmar Thorpe and Dion Dowell served as groomsmen. Nick Thomas was the ring bearer and Jayson Thomas was the broom bearer.

Top Moments: The bride counts the breakfast journey with her mother the morning of the wedding as a special moment, while the walk down the aisle is something she’ll never forget. She anticipated seeing Lanny’s expression as he looked at her gown for the first time, but the camera flashes prevented it. “I remember just breathing in and out and reminding myself to relax!” she says. The jitters disappeared the minute she joined her groom at the altar.

The couple will always remember exchanging and reading letters they wrote to each other. “My favorite part about my ring, other than it being beautiful, is that Lanny had our initials engraved on each side,” says the bride.

 

The Reception

The Petroleum Club reception was beautifully decorated with clusters of white hydrangeas and white draping calla lilies. A basketball “pre-game style” introduction and a “surprise” groom and groomsmen dance delighted guests. In keeping with the “love and basketball” theme, silver sequined basketball jerseys with numbers adorned each table.

The newlyweds danced to “Love of My Life” by Brian McKnight and “Love of My Life” by Justin Timberlake. Father and daughter danced to “Daddy” by Beyonce. Mother and son danced to “Mama” by Boyz II Men. One funny memorable moment occurred when a couple married 45-plus years won the “Celebration of Marriage” dance.

In a special flourish, the bride and groom exited the reception in a horse carriage.

The Honeymoon: The couple honeymooned in Anguilla and returned to Houston in their roles as COE and COO of Active Faith Sports.

Top image caption: The bride’s veil is fastened by her mother.

Lanny delighted Kirbi with a custom painting and a surprise proposal!

Lanny delighted Kirbi with a custom painting and a surprise proposal!

A stunning bride is surrounded by her beautiful bridesmaids

A stunning bride is surrounded by her beautiful bridesmaids

Lanny and Kirbi celebrate their mutual love of basketball

Lanny and Kirbi celebrate their mutual love of basketball

Lanny and his best men strike a pose on a basketball court

Lanny and his best men strike a pose on a basketball court

The bride’s shoes sparkled, along with her ring.

The bride’s shoes sparkled, along with her ring.

Gorgeous Kirbi relaxes before her big moment.

Gorgeous Kirbi relaxes before her big moment.

The bride is buttoned into her gown

The bride is buttoned into her gown

Guess what perfume the bride wore?

Guess what perfume the bride wore?

The shoes confirmed the bride’s “I do.

The shoes confirmed the bride’s “I do.

The bride incorporated rich hues and unique jersey table numbers amidst the beautiful reception decor.

The bride incorporated rich hues and unique jersey table numbers amidst the beautiful reception decor.

The groom’s cake showed the groomsmen “in action.”

The groom’s cake showed the groomsmen “in action.”

Guests were treated to wrist bands, courtesy of Active Faith Sports

Guests were treated to wrist bands, courtesy of Active Faith Sports

Exquisite place setting included a menu.

Exquisite place setting included a menu.

Kirbi and Lanny share their vows.

Kirbi and Lanny share their vows.

ather and daughter prepare for the walk down the aisle.

ather and daughter prepare for the walk down the aisle.

The bride shares a moment with a friend.

The bride shares a moment with a friend.

The groomsmen steal the spotlight during a special dance

The groomsmen steal the spotlight during a special dance

The couple cut their white and vanilla cinnamon cake.

The couple cut their white and vanilla cinnamon cake.

Father and daughter dance to “Daddy” by Beyonce.

Father and daughter dance to “Daddy” by Beyonce.

The newlyweds jump the broom.

The newlyweds jump the broom.

Everyone had fun on the dance floor.

Everyone had fun on the dance floor.

he bride addresses guests at the reception.

The bride addresses guests at the reception.

The groom dances with his mother.

The groom dances with his mother.

 


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