• Fri. Dec 3rd, 2021

Unsung Wedding Bells: Tampa’s ‘Dearly Beloved’ Event Spotlights Black Wedding Vendors

Dearly Beloved

Don’t let the ‘situationship’ trends fool you, young Black love and marriage are still winning!

Melanin love was celebrated at the Dearly Beloved wedding showcase event at 7th and Grove restaurant and lounge in Tampa, FL. Thursday’s event spotlighted local award-winning, Black-owned wedding and event vendors, and photographers in the Tampa Bay area.

The ‘Beloved’ experience 

The showcase was kicked off with a fashion show that featured custom-made gowns by Black-owned wedding boutique, Royal Bridal. Guests were greeted with complimentary champagne. 

After the show, was a cocktail hour with live music and hor d’oeuvres. The staff at 7th and Grove put a unique finger-food twist on a few of their staples such as their fried macaroni and cheese balls with Thai chili sauce and a miniature version of their ‘Rock The Boat’ dish which includes fried catfish, gouda grits, and the restaurant’s signature creole sauce. 

A candlelit rose bouquet table gave guests the illusion that they were in the middle of an intimate, wedding reception.  And the remainder of the night was filled with Afro-beats, hip-hop, and R&B as guests danced the night away on a rose-covered floor. The only elements that were really missing from this magical event were an actual bride and groom! 

Dearly Beloved at 7th ang Grove, Tampa,FL
Photo by RoyalTee Magazine

A ‘Dearly’ team effort 

The event was a collaborative effort between wedding photographer, Ashley Canay, Jamaris Glenn, the owner of 7th and Grove, and Victoria King, the founder of Royal Events and Services.

“Dearly Beloved is a platform that redefines what Tampa bridal is and has been for a long time,” Glenn tells RoyalTee.  “Fresh young Black talent exists and they bring a different perspective to the wedding arena. Inspiration stems from our culture. The way we eat, gather and commune at weddings gives homage to our past and lights the path to our future rituals.”

Canay, who took the lead on the showcase, says the images of fellow creatives inspired her to create the event, which took almost a year to come to fruition.

“I knew if they [Black vendors] came together, they could create magic,” Canay tells RoyalTee.

Canay is the founder of the  Black Activist Photographers. She and other photographers’ images of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Tampa went viral last year. 

‘Dearly Beloved’ was also an opportunity to shine a light on the local Black-wedding and event industry in the Tampa Bay area. Canay hopes to host similar events in the future where Black businesses will have the opportunity to showcase their skills, services, and talents. 

Canay is part of Tampa’s  Black Wedding and Events Network. This fall, the group is planning a Black wedding expo in Tampa. 


Courtesy of Ashley Canay Photography

Alexia McKay

A working journalist, entrepreneur and founder of RoyalTee Enterprises. Born and raised in Tampa, Fla. The vision of RoyalTee was inspired in 2015 by Alexia’s ambitions to return to her passion for creative writing and publishing and create a platform to showcase the excellence of minority women across the country through professional, personal and social ventures.