Erica Clift and Marlon Clary: How We Got to “I Do”

In: Bridal & Wedding, Inside the Belvedere

CliftClary_00397bw-0071_JenniferMcMenaminPhotographySay hello to guest blogger Erica Clift! She and Marlon Clary married at The Belvedere on June 15, 2013. Here, she shares the story of how they got to “I do.”

(Wedding photography by Jennifer McMenamin)

How we met
My good friend Consuelo had been telling me about this guy she knew named Marlon who had played football at the University of Maryland with her boyfriend. So, Memorial Day 2011 rolls around, and Consuelo invites me to a small cookout she and her honey were having in a park in DC. I swung by, with a date (not a boyfriend, although Marlon still calls him my little boyfriend!). I’m formally introduced to Marlon, who also has a date (he will try to say they weren’t dating and he considers that OUR first date. Sure…). We all hung out for awhile and then I left and we went our separate ways.

Marlon eventually sent me a friend request on Facebook, but I was away on a girls’ trip to Europe, so I wasn’t able to respond for a few weeks. We exchanged numbers and talked on the phone every day for hours. We finally set up a first/second date.


My first (and second?) impression
When I met him on Memorial Day, I thought Marlon was really nice. He was easy to talk to on the phone, but neither of us was sure if the chemistry would be the same on a real date. But when he walked into the restaurant, he was wearing a red shirt—automatic five points because red is my favorite color. We had fun and laughed a lot. There was definitely chemistry.Erica Smile

The moment I knew he was the one
It was clear that Marlon was a chivalrous, intelligent, old-fashioned guy. He put a lot of thought into our dates, and I knew he was different from any other man I’d known (thank God!). One night we went to see his favorite reggae artist in concert, and when the artist performed one particular song, Marlon told me it was his song for me. He had a way of making me feel really special and at that point, I just knew.M&E Tree

How Marlon proposed
On the final day of a vacation in Turks and Caicos over Memorial Day 2012  (one year after we met), we went to a place with a beautiful view of the ocean called Somewhere Cafe & Lounge. After dinner, the taxi dropped us off at the condo where we were staying. When we opened the door, music was playing and there was a trail of flowers leading to the coffee table with a beautiful bouquet of roses, champagne chilling, strawberries and chocolate, and another trail leading to the bedroom. My mouth just hung open. Marlon said, “Happy Anniversary.”Engagement DayI thought it was really sweet, but still wasn’t thinking This is IT. He poured champagne, we toasted and he disappeared into the bedroom. When I walked in, I saw a heart on the bed with “I Love U” spelled out in rose petals. Marlon hugged me and asked if I loved him, too. I said, “OMG! Of course!” Then from behind his back he whipped out a box, dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him. Now, I never cry when I’m happy, but I burst into tears and said yes!

The all-time high of our engagement period…
Booking the venue! When we were dating we went to The Owl Bar for dinner, and when I saw photos of all the weddings that had taken place in the Belvedere’s gorgeous ballrooms, I told Marlon that if we were going to go all out on a wedding one day, I’d love to consider that location. So after we were engaged, we booked an appointment, saw the ballrooms in person and it was game over! Just knowing that we would have a beautiful, elegant wedding at the Belvedere was awesome.CliftClary_01114-0224_JenniferMcMenaminPhotography

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…and the all-time low
About two months after we were engaged, I became ill from a neurological disorder similar to a stroke, and I experienced weakness on the left side of my body. I was in the hospital for two weeks, and required intense physical therapy for over a year. This was extremely difficult given that I am a former professional cheerleader/dancer and I’m used to being very active. It also meant that I gained weight and didn’t look the way I wanted to on my wedding day. But Marlon was extremely helpful and supportive as I had to learn to use my left side and walk again, and worked to get back in shape. He always made me feel special and I knew he’d be by my side through thick and thin.



The biggest surprise (for better, for worse…) of our wedding day
Our wedding day was amazing. Marlon calls it “Epic.” The biggest surprise was how quickly it flew by! Things went by so fast that I realized there were several pictures we didn’t get and lots of people I didn’t really get to talk to.


We honeymooned in…
Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

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Life as a married couple is…
An adventure!!! Within one year of getting married, we bought a house and we got the surprise of our lives to find out we were expecting…twin girls! They arrived two months early, and spent their first six weeks in the hospital’s NICU. This past year has been challenging, but we’re thankful God has blessed us with Jasmine and Isabella, and he’s shown us how to work together. These two keep us on our toes!Sleeping Babies logo

Family Photo 1 year


  • Who: Erica Clift and Marlon Clary45-CliftClary_01922-0391_JenniferMcMenaminPhotography
  • When: June 15, 2013
  • Where: The Belvedere, in Baltimore, MD. The ceremony was held in the Platinum Ballroom, and the reception in the Grand Ballroom.
  • Music:  Violinist Tami Lee Hughes and pianist Winston Philip for the ceremony; Paul Love Productions DJ for the reception
  • Flowers: My Flower Box Events, in Glen Burnie, MD
  • Food: Maple and Mirin Glazed Salmon; Thyme and Panko Oven Fried Chicken Breast
  • Photographer: Jennifer McMenamin Photography
  • Cake: Cupcakes and Miami Dolphins groom’s cake, by Baltimore CakeryCliftClary_02110-0416_JenniferMcMenaminPhotography
  • Minister: Mike Daniels
  • Wedding gown: Allure Couture
  • Bride’s shoes: Badgley Mischka
  • Bride’s jewelry: Nadri and Anne Klein
  • Hair and Makeup: Fatima Armstead and Arianne Stokes
  • Menswear: Men’s Wearhouse







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