LAKISHA GUNN & CAPTAIN MUNNERLYN
Carla Eustache | Style Perfect Events
Captain Munnerlyn knows a thing or two about timing. The Mobile, Ala. native and cornerback holds the Carolina Panthers record for career interception returns for a touchdown. Recently signed to return to the Panthers from the Minnesota Vikings, Munnerlyn, 28, also relied heavily on timing when it came to scoring his bride.
The first time Panthers No. 24 met LaKisha Gunn was at Suite nightclub in uptown Charlotte’s EpiCentre. “It was love at first sight,” says Captain. “I knew she was the one.”
But the timing was off; LaKisha was already in a relationship.
LaKisha, 32, is originally from Danville, Va. and had landed in Charlotte following a career move to a skilled nursing facility. “I was just looking for a bigger city, for a change,” she says. Just how much her life would change, she could never have imagined.
“When I first met him,” LaKisha says, “I thought, I don’t care who you are or what you do, I have a boyfriend.”
It was that tenacity that kept Captain’s interest. “Every time we’d see each other out, we’d talk,” she adds. Three years later, the couple met at another club and, again, Captain approached her.
This time she was available.
“He has the prettiest teeth!” LaKisha says. “His smile will get you. It captures you and you’re just like, ‘Wow.’ And he kept me laughing, which was awesome.”
But still, she hesitated. “I thought, I don’t know, I don’t really want to date an athlete.”
Her cousin and would-be maid of honor, Charmain, urged her to give Captain a chance.
“I wasn’t the girl into sports,” LaKisha says. “I never thought I would marry a professional football player, and I still don’t believe it sometimes. He’s just a regular person to me.”
Captain proposed on a cold, Wednesday evening, December 10, 2014. It was LaKisha’s birthday.
“We were getting dressed, and he was putting on this nice button-down shirt and a bow tie,” she recalls. “I thought, ‘Why is he looking all cute? It’s my birthday.’ ” She quickly changed into a nice dress, slipped on a pair of heels, and the couple headed out to Cov, a romantic restaurant on Lake Minnetonka. LaKisha was confused when, as they exited the car, a photographer followed.
“[Captain] reassured me that the holidays were around the corner, and everyone just wanted family pictures,” she says. Santa was there; that made sense.
After dinner, Captain presented her with gifts, one after the other, and the next thing LaKisha remembers, he was down on one knee with one final box to open.
Her reply was nothing less than her signature flair: “Damn right!”
When it came to the dress hunt, LaKisha knew she wanted something form-fitting. But as timing would have it, the couple’s first baby was due to be born just two weeks before the wedding date. She had to compromise.
“[The Vikings] were playing the Atlanta Falcons, so I went a few days early with my maid of honor,” LaKisha says.
While at Winnie Couture, she found a top she liked and a bottom she liked, so the team made what they called a “LaKisha dress,” combining both elements into a custom gown.
“It came out beautifully,” LaKisha says. “I just had to roll with it, I really did. But I loved every bit of it.”
On the big day, the Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte housed over 200 of the couple’s closest family members and friends.
“I couldn’t believe I was really marrying the perfect woman for me,” says Captain.
LaKisha says the couple just wanted everyone to have a great time. “We wanted to be sure the food was really good and there were unlimited drinks for everyone. And the DJ and décor were also really important.”
Dinner included a filet mignon, salmon, stuffed chicken, or veggie option, with a potato bake and asparagus. And since purple is LaKisha’s favorite color and blue is Captain’s, those colors—with gold accents—filled the Ritz-Carlton’s Urban Garden.
LaKisha’s parents, who split years ago, both walked her down the aisle. “It was a great experience to be able to share that with them,” she said.
Captain’s son from another relationship, Captain, Jr., 6, was the ring bearer—and the life of the party.
Another star stole the show when LaKisha’s maid of honor walked the couple’s newborn baby, Champ, down the aisle. “That was the cutest thing ever,” LaKisha says.
Captain’s 3-year-old daughter, Eden Rose, was a flower girl.
“The wedding exceeded my expectations in every way possible,” says Captain.
PHOTOGRAPHY:Milanes Photography || CEREMONY, RECEPTION VENUE: Urban Garden, Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte || WEDDING PLANNING AND DESIGN: Carla Eustache of Style Perfect Events || CAKE Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte || FLOWERS: CLux Florals || HAIRSTYLIST: Monet Crotchet || MAKEUP ARTIST: Yaneek Brinson, Canvas Beauty || GOWN: Winnie Couture, Atlanta || VEIL: J. Majors Bridal Boutique || BRIDE’S SHOES: Jimmy Choo || BRIDESMAID DRESSES: Dillard’s || TUXEDOS: Groomsmen, Men’s Wearhouse || TUXEDO DESIGNER: Groom, Alba || CLOTHING DESIGNER: Jill Evans || INVITATIONS, STATIONERY: Olive Paper || CINEMATOGRAPHY: Crown Alley Films || MUSIC, ENTERTAINMENT, BOOKING AGENCY: Key Signature Entertainment (jazz duo for cocktail hour), Split Second Sound (ceremony and reception) || RENTAL PROVIDERS: photobooth, Shutterbooth Charlotte; linens, Style Perfect Events; ghost chairs and plate chargers, Party Reflections; stairway draping, party tables perimeter; draping and lighting, Spark By Design || ENGAGEMENT RING DESIGNER: AJ the Jeweler, Miami, Fla. || WEDDING RINGS: AJ the Jeweler || CLERGY: Pastor Calvin Simmons || REHEARSAL DINNER: Strike City in Charlotte || WEDDING NIGHT HOTEL: Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte || BRIDAL REGISTRY: Bed, Bath and Beyond, Williams-Sonoma || FAVORS: RESQ water, custom LED foam sticks and Shutterbooth photo strips.