An Arts-Inspired Wedding With Local Touches

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Shirlette Ammons & Laura Ritchie

Shirlette Ammons & Laura Ritchie

Photography by Carly Romeo & Co.,

Date Oct. 16, 2021

Occupations Laura is a community arts organizer and curator. Shirlette is a musician and film producer.

Crossed Paths The couple met at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro in 2009, where they both worked at the time. They connected about art and politics and had a long friendship before they began dating in 2014.

The Proposal The decision to get married was mutual, and the pair designed their custom-made Bario Neal rings together. A couple months after their original wedding date was postponed, Shirlette surprised Laura with a “proposal” and another ring that was crafted by Carrboro designer Emily Triplett. “It was such a sweet gesture in the midst of an otherwise depressing time, and I absolutely love the ring,” Laura says.

The Big Day Joye Speight of Virtue Events helped plan the Saxapahaw River Amphitheater ceremony and Haw River Ballroom reception. Guests got comfortable on indigo-dyed pillows crafted by textile artist River Takada while enjoying the sounds of singer-songwriter Kamara Thomas accompanied by Chris Boerner on guitar during the ceremony. Arrow Studio owner Evvie Rumsey handled Laura’s hair and makeup, and Jada Skyy created a natural look for Shirlette “that made me feel confident and still like myself.” Shirlette completed the look in a suit by Brian Burnett of Glenwood South Tailors and Alterations. Lee Moore Crawford of Hana Lee designed the florals from local bee-friendly sustainable growers. Renowned chef Matt Kelly catered a meal of whole hog barbecue, potato salad, Saint James Seafood hush puppies and more, which was inspired by both family’s regional foodways, before The Shakedown got everyone on the dance floor and kept the party going.

Shirlette Ammons & Laura Ritchie

Most Memorable Moment “It is impossible to pick just one!” Laura says. “Some standouts: entering the amphitheater to cheers from our loved ones; Ms. Jaki Shelton Green’s poem during the ceremony; the amazing sunset after a day worrying about the rain; words from our celebrant, Jim Lee, and family members.”

If you live in Durham or are from here and you’d like your wedding featured in Durham Magazine, please fill out this form in its entirety.

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