Photography by Monica S. Photography
Who are you?
My name is Andrea McNeil-Ware formerly known as Andrea Byrd. I am a mother of two beautiful children and a newly married wife. I am a Psychiatric Nurse and aspire to open my own business with my husband. I am passionate about family, adventure and experiencing new things with my loved ones. I like to travel and hope to do more of that in the future. My days are filled with love and life… and sometimes struggle. As an aspiring business owner, it can sometimes become overwhelming—when trying to navigate family life, and my new role as a wife.
My name is Marcus McNeil-Ware and I’ve been Andrea’s beau for the last seven years. We recently married in June, and we have been trying to figure things out since then. I was born and raised in San Francisco and refer to myself as a city boy; I refer to Andrea as a country girl growing up in Sacramento. I am an aspiring entrepreneur with a strong background in business and striking deals. We decided to work on a joint business venture which has both strengthened and tested our relationship. I am a loving father to our children and excited to travel all over with the kids. I am very protective, and strategic when it comes to making family decisions.
How did you meet?
Marcus and I met on a Party bus for an associate’s birthday when I was 21 years old. He later got my phone number from a friend of mine and invited me on a date. Our first date was at Thunder Valley and he would describe me as an open book and talkative. We spent most of our free time together, and moved in with each other part-time. We have had many ups and downs but have lived together for most of our relationship.
The proposal caught me totally off guard. Marcus and I had discussed marriage but not seriously. Every year we throw a Christmas Eve Party at his mother's home and I cook. December 24th, 2017 was no different. I cooked for my own proposal celebration and didn't even know it. Marcus had picked out a ring, asked my father for my hand and swore all of my closest peeps to secrecy. Christmas Eve was a little different in 2017, and Marcus took the liberty of inviting his closest friends and family and mine as well. His excuse for the invites was believable, and I didn't question it. Instead, I prepared a larger Gumbo and (with family being the top of my list) took it all in. He proposed a toast after dinner and began to ramble. Honestly, I thought he was going to give a drunk speech; instead he started shouting out my attributes. He got on one knee, and I was absolutely floored. I couldn't find the words and was covering my mouth. Marcus is goofy and would fake propose all the time; so when I knew it was real…I of course said YES!
What is love?
Andrea: Love is patience. To truly love someone is to continuously show up for them in all aspects of life. To be present and to show them that they matter, especially when your time is precious. Love is learning to fight fair, and do your best to view the other's opinion as you would want them to do for you. Love is getting through hard times and not bailing. Love to me is thoughtful and soft—yet strong and powerful. Being loved correctly could be a super power and challenge you to be the best version of yourself. Love is family and family is EVERYTHING!
Marcus: Love is being able to trust your partner with your life, and knowing they have your best interest at heart. Love is understanding each other's weaknesses and partnering to get things done. Love is apologizing and owning up to your short comings. Love to me is not purely an emotion but a strategy. Love is knowing that you are better off with that person and letting pride take the back seat.
What do you love most about him?
Marcus's outlook and attitude on life is admirable. Marcus's strength and ability to get through the worst of situations only deepens my love for him. Strength is sometimes difficult to muster… but with him it just comes natural. Marcus is a protective individual and with him I've always felt safe. There is no beating around the bush for Marcus and his honesty is refreshing. Marcus's ability to evolve is what I love most about him—and what excites me for the years to come.
What do you love most about her?
Andrea is a hard worker and very passionate. She puts her mind to it, a switch goes on and she just gets it done. Andrea's ability to forgive and be understanding is what I love most about her. She is not easily discouraged and is always there during hard times. Her loyalty is comforting and that's what I love best about her.
When did you know you were in love?
Andrea: I knew I was in love with Marcus about six months into dating him. Marcus seemed to push me to be better right from the start. Marcus lived in some condos when we first met and there was a running circuit that he ran daily. Just to hang out with him, I would run it to. Not wanting to look like I couldn't handle it, I breathed hard and finished every run. Marcus was in much better shape than me at the time, but I appreciated the challenge I felt when I was with him.
When did you know you were in love?
Marcus: I had never met someone that wasn't jaded by life; her happy go lucky, care free attitude was refreshing. She was hard working and worked a lot when we first met. She was a great mother to her daughter, and was always really caring. We became pretty much inseparable, and I gave her a key to my spot after six months.
Marcus Proposed to my daughter at our wedding. That was one of the top three moments for me! We didn't have a wedding planner until about three weeks before the wedding. Grand Island Mansion was the first venue we looked at and booked it that same day.
Marcus and I were not going to honeymoon for financial reasons. Our main reason was that we wanted to be responsible and complete our business goals. Marcus planned our Maui trip on short notice, and I couldn't have been any happier. To go on a honeymoon, to Hawaii, after such an amazing wedding was just surreal. We enjoyed five days in Maui, and the sunsets are like no other there. I learned Sea Turtles are really confident; we were sitting on the beach and two huge turtles swam right up onto the sand, and napped without a second thought.
We had an evening wedding at Grand Island Mansion, in Walnut Grove. Our colors were scarlet red, dusty rose, and gold. I wore a traditional white dress, and Marcus wore an all-black tuxedo. Our children were in the wedding and both wore red velvet. We had 16 people in our wedding party including a flower girl and a junior bridesmaid. We had a wonderful cocktail hour, and a delicious dinner. However, we were most excited about the reception and mixed our speeches all together. We did a very short cake cutting, and got back to partying with our guests. Grand Island Mansion offered rooms for the wedding party, and we got to sleep in the mansion with a pizza party and extended bar. The party continued for our overnight guests (including the little ones) who enjoyed apple cider into the wee hours. The whole wedding process was amazing (a little stressful at times) but overall unreal.
Photographer: Monica S. Photography
Videographer: Serena Rae Visions
Venue: Grand Island Mansion
Caterer: Grand Island Mansion
Desserts/Cake: Mix Baking Co.
Wedding Coordinator: Justea Blakely
DJ: DJ Swanky
Musician: Saxophone player- Shawn Raiford
Hair and Makeup: Miriam Smith, GlowbyChlo
Florist: Esmae Event Stylist
Tux Rentals: The Black Tux
Bride's Dress: La Soie Bridal
Bridesmaid's Dress: Azazie
Rings: James Allen
This story first appeared in Ardent
for Life Late Summer 2019 issue.