virginia weddings

REAL WEDDING: Stephen & Erykah

Virginia Bride features weddings weekly here on the blog. Being featured in the blog does not necessarily mean they are featured in the print magazine.

Bride: Erykah Hatch25, Fashion Designer

Groom: Stephen Coates25, Project Controller

Date: October 14, 2023

Venue: The Renaissance, Richmond, Virginia

Guest Count: 130


In August 2016, Stephen and Erykah met through a mutual friend during their first year attending Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia.

On August 25, 2016, Stephen, Erykah and a few college classmates attended a Washington Nationals baseball game in Washington, District of Columbia. After the game, Stephen and Erykah went to dinner at TGI Friday’s restaurant in Mclean, Virginia. And the rest is history!

I Love You

Erykah was the first to say, “I love you.” Stephen reciprocated immediately. The couple dated for 3 years before Stephen proposed. 

When I asked Erykah what she loved most about Stephen, she said, “He has a great sense of humor.” “I love Stephens’ eyes.” “He has the prettiest eyes and I get lost in them sometimes.”

Stephen told me, “I love Erykah’s drive and ambition.” “And how she cares about others.” “I relish her sassy childish nature.”


Stephen proposed to Erykah on Valentine’s Day 2020. Stephen surprised me with a pear-shaped 2-carat diamond ring with diamonds around the white gold band,” Erykah said.

“We joined friends for a Galentine’s Day dinner, said Erykah. “Stephen had planned to propose during dinner but was too nervous to do so in front of everyone.” “Later that evening, he proposed to me in the privacy of his apartment in Arlington, Virginia.


September 2023, the groomsmen and bridesmaids hosted a joint Jersey Shore-style bachelor and bachelorette party for Stephen and Erykah. The party was held at a rental beach house in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. 


The couples’ guests received a wedding invitation created by Erykah.

VENUE – The Renaissance
“Our property is in the heart of Richmond, Virginia’s hottest area, the Arts District,” said Tommy Waters, The Renaissance’s onsite Event Coordinator.” “Built in 1887 as a Masonic Temple, It’s beauty and grace are perfect for weddings.” “Our original plaster molding, 3 crystal chandeliers and hardwood floor in the ballroom provide a unique experience that exists nowhere else in our area.” From the moment you step through the doors of The Renaissance, you will immediately know you are in store for a day where your fairytale dreams will come to life.”

“We selected The Renaissance because of its inclusivity, staff and affordability,” Erykah said. “After touring several venues, we felt we could not afford what we wanted until we met with Tommy.” “He assured us that our dreams were possible.” “He became our fairy godmother and made our dreams come true.”


Dani Tate with Let’s Get Married RVA was the couple’s wedding coordinator. She helped Stephen and Erykah plan their wedding day, with particular attention given to the ceremony’s circular chair seating arrangement. 

“It was my pleasure to get to know and work with Stephen and Erykah, said Dani.” “I worked to turn their vision into reality.” “I offered strategies and timelines to ensure their day was flawless from start to exit.” “My goal was to relieve the couple and their family of unnecessary stress.” 

Stephen and Erykah’s color palette was emerald, champagne and white.


Erykah made both her ceremony and reception attire.


“I wore a bodysuit corset bodice,” said Erykah. “My long skirt was made of crepe fabric.” “It was a fit and flare style skirt with a 2-foot train.” “On each shoulder, I wore a detachable sheer cape made of tulle fabric with pearls scattered throughout.”

Erykah was adorned with emerald and gold rectangle drop earrings with crystals. She also wore her great-aunt’s diamond and sapphire ring. She finished her look with a gold and pearl headpiece.

Erykah wore platform heels. The ankle straps of the shoes were made of 2 pearl strands.

Reception Attire

Erykah wore the same corset bodice to the reception. And she replaced her ceremony skirt with stretch crepe pants for an evening of dancing. She also changed her cape for the reception. The new cape was made of mesh fabric with glitter vines that shimmered in the light. Erykah finished her evening look with crystal drop earrings that spelled M.R.S.


The bridesmaids wore emerald-colored dresses. Each bridesmaid selected a different style of dress.  


Stephen wore a champagne-colored suit and brown shoes. His attire was accented with an emerald bowtie and vest. 


The groomsmens’ suits and vests were emerald-colored. They wore champagne-colored bowties and brown shoes. 


Erykah’s bouquet was a cascade of lilies. The bridesmaids’ bouquets were stems of lilies. The boutonnieres were single lilies.


Stephen and Erykah’s ceremony was held in The Renaissance Ballroom. A memorial station was placed at the ballroom entrance. The room was decorated with candle lanterns and lilies.

The guest’s chairs were arranged circularly so that Stephen and Erykah’s ceremony could be held in the center of the ballroom, engulfed by their guests. “I wanted us to be in the center of our guests, said Erykah.” “I could feel the love from every angle.” 

Erykah’s dad saw her for the first time as he prepared to walk her down the aisle. He said, “Wow.” “And we both fought back tears,” Erykah said.

Stephen and Erykah were married by their pastor, Ruben Boyd. They wrote and recited vows to each other. 

Cocktail Hour 

The cocktail hour was held in The Grand Foyer. The spacious foyer boasts of the grandeur of days gone by with its sky and cloud ceilings, murals, oil paintings and tall crown moldings.

“During the cocktail hour, our DJ played Rhythm and Blues music while our guests enjoyed an open bar,” said Erykah. My signature drink was a Mango Margarita and Stephen’s was an Old Fashion.” “The Renaissance catering staff prepared a fruit and vegetable station and a charcuterie display of cheese and crackers for our guests.”


While guests enjoyed the cocktail hour, The Renaissance Ballroom was transformed into an elegant reception space. 

Both bar and standard-height tables and chairs were set up throughout the ballroom. The tables were covered with white linens. Each table was decorated with a flower centerpiece. The sweetheart table was decorated with emerald and gold accents.


Stephen and Erykah entered the reception to the song “Family Ties” by Baby Keem. The wedding party entered and danced to the music “I Just Wanna Rock” by Lil Uzi.


The Renaissance catering staff served heavy hors d’oeuvres during the reception as guests enjoyed an open bar. And as guests danced into the night.


With our DJ’s help, our playlist included songs from various genres: Rhythm and Blues, House, Hip-Hop and Go-go. 

First Dances

Stephen and Erykah’s first dance song was “Golden Hour” by JVKE. Father and daughter danced to “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder. Stephen danced with his mother to the lyrics of “7 Years” by Lucas Graham.

Guest Book

“As part of our guest book signing, our guests wrote cute notes for us to read later,” Erykah said. “They also signed jumbo Jenga wooden pieces.” “We will treasure our wedding memories every time we play Jenga.”


The couple’s dessert bar included cupcakes, cake pops, chocolate-covered Oreos, pretzels and marshmallows. 


“Our favors were cupcakes with a personalized note from Stephen and me,” said Erykah.


As Stephen and Erykah prepared to exit The Renaissance, their guests roasted them with a spirit finger celebration.


The couple is planning a 1-year anniversary honeymoon.


Stephen and Erykah recommend that couples make the best decisions for themselves, not everyone else.

BRIDE: Erykah Hatch Coates – @amerykahh


VENUE: The Renaissance – @renaissance_rva


ENGAGEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER:  Samshots – @samshotsphotovideo

WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER: Kapturly – @kapturly

VIDEOGRAPHER: Kapturly – @kapturly

PLANNER:  Dani Tate – @letsgetmarriedrva

OFFICIANT: Ruben J. Boyd

RINGS: Zales – @zales

WEDDING ATTIRE: AmErykahh LLC – @amerykahhfashion

RECEPTION ATTIRE: Amerykahh LLC – @amerykahhfashion

SHOES: SheIn – @shein

MAKEUP: Rikki –

BRIDESMAIDS’ DRESSES: New York Dresses – @newyorkdress


INVITATIONS: Erykah Coates @amerykahh

FLOWERS: Howard Pitt 

CATERING: The Renaissance – @renaissance_rva

PHOTOBOOTH: The Renaissance – @renaissance_rva

MUSIC: DJ Blendmaster – @djblendmasters

DESSERT: Cheryl Hollins

If you are planning a wedding in Roanoke Virginia, Richmond Virginia, Fredericksburg/Northern Virginia, The Shenandoah Valley, Coastal Virginia or in Charlottesville/ Lynchburg Va. we can help with your wedding planning and ideas.

The author: Debra Shepperson

Debra is a native of Virginia, having lived in both Roanoke and Richmond. She is the co-owner of Relish – Say I Do!! Officiant & Photographer. She is an artist who aims to create ceremony scripts and capture photos that evoke positive emotional responses, inspire others, and deliver nostalgia. Debra holds a graduate degree from Virginia Commonwealth and an undergraduate degree from Saint Leo University, Florida. Before gaining more than ten years of wedding-related experience, Debra was a human resource executive. She has been happily married to the co-owner of Relish for more than 20 years.