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Half and Half's Essence Atkins Says 'I Do'

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Actress Essence Atkins married her beau Jaime Mendez in Pasadena, Calif., on Saturday. It was a match made in Internet heaven.

The couple, who tied the knot at the Ambassador Mansion and Gardens, met on on Valentine s Day of last year.

“I wrote him a quick little note that I had read his profile, and then I signed off, Happy SAD Day – that’s Single Awareness Day,” says Essence, 37, who appeared on the UPN sitcom Half and Half.

A week later the couple went on their first date, and they were engaged a year later.

The bride wore a Stephen Yearick gown for the ceremony and an Angel Rivera dress for the reception. “I felt like a princess,” she says.

Her former costar Valerie Pettiford performed original music at the reception. Plus, the bride surprised her husband with a salsa band to celebrate his Puerto Rican heritage.

“We’ve been taking salsa lessons. It’s part of what we ve been doing together as a couple,” she says.

The menu, created by chef G. Garvin, blended Puerto Rican and traditional soul food dishes, which included mac and cheese, roasted pork, peach cobbler and plantains.

As party favors, guests received match books and travel-sized candles. But singles guests were given six-month memberships to

“When people leave, I want them to feel like they ate well, that they had fun, that they enjoyed themselves and they were there to celebrate a union.”