Soap Opera Digest: Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, you had been planning a ceremony in Carmel, CA, for June 6. Why did you decide to move forward with a wedding closer to home on that date rather than postpone it?
Briana Nicole Henry: We ultimately decided to move forward because we felt really passionately about continuing to face all of the upset and pain going on as a complete unit, which emotionally we already were! But legally. We had already been engaged for over a year and truly just wanted to start moving on with the next steps of our lives. We had planned our original wedding for well over a year and although fun, it was time-consuming. And with the pandemic being unpredictable we had no real idea of when we may be able to postpone to realistically. I think all that was bubbling to the surface in our country with the topic of race and the pandemic put a lot of things into perspective. We realized that the wedding was always supposed to be about solidifying our love and commitment to each other. And after getting through the last few months we felt even more like a team. It just felt right to make it official.
Digest: How did you choose the location and the guest list for this more pared-down wedding?
Henry: Well, the pandemic made that a little easier, ha! We didn’t have many options. About a week and half before our wedding date, Kris asked how I felt about just getting married in the backyard of his studio. We had been contemplating renting an Airbnb or just going to the courthouse. Truthfully, it felt like it would be easier to control an environment that was ours, so it seemed to be the safest decision. As far as the guest list goes, we ultimately couldn’t have everyone we wanted there, including my dad. My dad lives in Miami and having been really exposed because of the type of work he does as a cop, he didn’t feel comfortable hopping on a plane and risking us or himself. As far as the others, Kris invited his groomsmen that were L.A.-based and I luckily had all of my bridesmaids here. Our parents being there was a no-brainer, as they all felt comfortable with the risk, and we were even able to have Kris’s grandparents there — they watched the ceremony from inside the house out of two windows looking into the backyard. A few close friends and family watched on Zoom. We actually recorded the Zoom session of everyone watching us during the ceremony. It was really beautiful. I didn’t think having that would be as special as it was.
Digest: What precautions did you put in place to make sure it was a safe event for all involved?
Henry: This was super-important to us. The idea of people getting sick because of something that was done in and for love was a very scary thought, so ultimately we asked that everyone get tested days before the wedding. We asked everyone to be conscious about who and what they were exposing themselves to prior to, as well. And we also had custom masks made! Instead of the traditional cake cutting we got a bunch of cupcakes from one of my favorite dessert places and had mini individual champagne bottles for people to drink from.
Digest: Tell us all about the dress! Was it the same one you had been planning to wear originally?
Henry: My original dress could not be fitted in time due to the fact that Vera Wang had shut down a lot of their operations due to COVID-19. And truthfully, Kris and I had decided we were going to go through with our date a week and a half before our actual wedding! So knowing this, I went online to this boutique called Shona Joy and ordered a cream dress that I thought would do the job. It turned out being more beautiful than I had expected.
Digest: How did you handle your hair and makeup?
Henry: Honestly, these were thought about the day of! I was so busy trying to get everything in order that I hadn’t put much thought into it. I decided as much as I love my hair, I didn’t want it to be the center of attention, so I went with something a bit more subtle. My best friends helped me with my makeup! I’m not a big makeup gal so truthfully, I felt more myself than I originally figured I would on that day.
Digest: Your father relayed a special video message during the ceremony. Tell us about that.
Henry: Oh, man. That part of the ceremony wrecked me. He articulated how he felt and things he wanted me to know so beautifully. It was a walk down memory lane and a reminder that he was proud of me and would always be there for me.
Digest: Did you and Kris write original vows?
Henry: We did! Kris’s were incredibly romantic and he actually wrote me a song in his vows based on the letters of my name. I think he probably regrets it now because I ask him to play me “my song” all the time now.
Digest: What was the reception like?
Henry: It was important to us that we got the high-risk people out of there as soon as we could. So a little after our ceremony and after pictures with our parents, the judge and Kris’s grandparents all headed out. Kris shares a studio space with his manager, and his manager’s portion of the studio has this beautiful outdoor deck. We put down a bunch of blankets, ordered some vegan pizza and ate vegan cupcakes. We had all been quarantining for so long that it felt incredibly special to get to share space with each other. It was truly just a big lovefest until about 1 a.m. No music, no dancing, just talking, laughing and catching up with each other.
Digest: Do you harbor any sadness over not having the wedding you’d originally envisioned?
Henry: Of course, there are elements of that wedding that I wonder about. I’m fortunate to be able to wear my original dress at another event since it doesn’t look quite like a wedding dress anyway. I think what I felt saddest about was not having the big dance party reception I was looking forward to afterward. But we’ll host something we can all dance to with each other one day, not a wedding, but something. Truthfully, this wedding felt more reflective of who Kris and I really are. There was so much love present. I don’t think I could have imagined a ceremony filled with more love than the one we got. And it will make for a helluva story one day.
Digest: As you reflect on the day now, what stands out to you most vividly?
Henry: I think how supported I felt by everyone there, including Kris. It was truly a reminder that things work out the way they’re supposed to, especially if they’re done with love and gratitude. I felt overwhelmed standing across from Kris with so many people that own little pieces of my heart and his present. It was an overwhelming feeling, to say the least. We felt so tremendously loved. I think it was also a testament to what a great team Kris and I are. We were really proud of ourselves for making something that was important to us come to fruition.
Henry’s bridesmaids “wore a variety of different things they all had in their closets. We were all on a group chat organizing which dresses looked best next to who and what colors we thought would be best.”
“Marlee could not be trusted to be at the actual ceremony because she is quite the attention-grabber with all her barking,” reports Henry.
Henry’s original florist, Charlotte And Daughters, came through, even after the couple adjusted their plans last-minute.