photos courtesy Clifford-Norton
Danita Harris can legitimately lay claim to having one of the city’s biggest weddings of 2006 — so big, in fact, that her June 10 nuptials to Brad Pratt, a residential therapist for the Youth Development Center in Hudson, were conducted in a church other than their own just to accommodate the approximately 600 guests.
The WEWS-TV 5 morning-and-noon anchor explains that her father-in-law is a bishop in the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, where parishioners invite all members of the “church family” to their weddings. Danita and Brad followed suit and extended the same courtesy to m
Who’s the Star Here?
Brad, a former minister who recently relocated to Cleveland from Springfield, Ohio, didn’t even know who Danita was when he first met her in May 2005. But Danita had heard of Brad through church circles — in fact, she made a point of hearing him speak at a Friday-evening service.
All in the Family
Brad proposed to a sweats-clad Danita on Dec. 17, 2005, at her parents’ Strongsville home, right in front of Mom and Dad. “I just started screaming because I was just so caught off guard,” she remembers. “My mom whipped out a camera.” The family, together with the two children her parents were baby-sitting, celebrated the engagement by going to Johnny Rockets for burgers and fries.
Danita found herself searching for a pair of shoes at Catan Bridal & Fashion in Strongsville two days before the wedding, after she discovered the shoes she originally bought to wear with her gown weren’t dyeable.
Danita’s former co-anchor, Adam Shapiro, now freelancing for WNBC-TV in New York City, was one of the four ushers at her wedding. “We asked him to escort my mother down the aisle,” Danita says. “She adores him.”
Danita chose an edible favor served with the cake — two strawberries, one dipped in white chocolate and decorated as a wedding gown, the other dipped in dark chocolate and decorated as a tuxedo — over a lasting counterpart. “People throw favors in the junk drawer,” she contends. “I wasn’t going to waste my money on that.” — LT
embers of Mega Church, the nondenominational house of worship they attend in Cleveland.
Ironically, the woman so many people watched as she said “I do” had little involvement in preparing for her big day.
“It wasn’t even that I was so busy — I just really didn’t want to be bothered with planning a wedding,” Danita says matter-of-factly. The only reason she didn’t take Brad’s suggestion of having a destination wedding was because of her mother, Cleveland-based Industrial Transport president and CEO Mattie Harris. “My mom has been waiting for this day. I did not want to take it away from her.”
There were a couple of things Danita picked out or planned right down to the very last detail.
The most obvious example was her dress, an ivory satin Demetrios Couture gown featuring a V-neck corseted bodice with crystal-beaded lace overlay and bell sleeves, drop waist, A-line skirt and chapel-length train she picked out at Brides by Demetrios in Lyndhurst. Seamstresses customized the gown by inserting a crystal-beaded-lace inlay into the end of the train and edging the train and bell sleeves in scalloped crystal-beaded lace. The double veil was also modified by adding a border of silver embroidery and pearls to the fingertip veil and a scattering of tiny stardust-like crystals to both the fingertip and cathedral counterparts.
Danita also selected the deep-orange satin dresses for her six bridesmaids — including 13-year-old stepdaughter-to-be Kanecia Pratt — and ivory-satin frocks trimmed in deep orange for her two flower girls, by logging onto the David’s Bridal Web site. Like many brides, she chose a collection of designs available in the same color instead of settling on a single style.
“I’ve been in enough weddings where the style was not always complementary to everyone’s body shape,” she says.
The attention Danita paid to her dress was superseded by that she lavished on the 10 a.m. ceremony at Zion Pentecostal Church of Christ in Cleveland. “I was more concerned with the program, more of the spirituality behind it,” she says. One of the more unusual touches was a reading by four girlfriends of excerpts Danita culled from greeting cards she and Brad had exchanged during their courtship.
The showstopper, however, was when Danita walked down the aisle while Daniel Winans, of the gospel-singing Winans family, sang “I Knew This Day Would Come.” In doing so, Winans fulfilled a promise made to Danita years earlier, after the two became friends while she was working in Washington, D.C., for the BET cable network, that he would write and perform a song for her wedding.
“I had one of those interactive, crazy weddings,” Danita recalls. “My family was cheering, ‘Yea, whoo, whoo, Danita! Whoo!’ ”
Danita’s mother took charge when it came to choosing the flowers and overseeing the addressing and mailing of invitations to two separate events: a public sheet-cake-and-punch affair at a neighboring church hall immediately after the ceremony and a 1 p.m. luncheon for family and friends at LaCentre conference and banquet facility in Westlake. “We couldn’t have everyone at our private reception because it would have been really expensive,” Danita says. “But we wanted people to feel like they were still part of our day.”
The approximately 245 people who ended up at LaCentre walked into a ballroom filled with round tables covered in deep-orange satin, each punctuated by a center arrangement of ivory candles, and surrounded by chairs sporting white satin covers with a single orange chrysanthemum tucked in the back bow.
They dined on a plated meal of chicken breast and green beans while a pianist and acoustic guitarist played, then danced to music provided by a disc jockey until 5 p.m. Dessert was a seven-tier yellow wedding cake iced in buttercream and trimmed in edible pearls and cascades of deep-orange bows, each tier filled with either strawberries and cream or lemon curd. “There was no alcohol at my wedding except for a champagne toast,” Danita adds. Her parents then hosted a Hawaiian luau, complete with roasted pig and disc jockey, for out-of-town guests at their Strongsville home.
The couple left early the next morning to recover in a real tropical paradise: the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.