Newlyweds Vanessa Williams and Jim Skrip leave the St. Stanislaus Church in Buffalo, New York, following their ceremony. “My friends just look at him and say ‘God, he’s solid,’ ” Williams tells PEOPLE of the Buffalo-born businessman. “He’s a real man. You want somebody in your life who has integrity, who is solid, who knows who he is, who is romantic.”
Williams went for two dresses for the day’s event – the first was this ivory skirt and top with a gold band around the waist, which she wore for the ceremony. Both of the gowns were designed by Carmen Marc Valvo – and were kept a secret from her husband-to-be. Not that he would’ve remembered seeing them. “Honestly, when I saw Vanessa walking down the aisle, I didn’t even notice her dress,” he tells PEOPLE. “We locked eyes and I got caught up in the moment, full of happiness and joy.”
Williams wore her second dress for the vows and the reception. The gold petals may look like they’re metal, but they’re actually leather layered on top of organza. “It was magnificent,” she says. “I felt like an Egyptian goddess and that was exactly the theme I was going for.” For jewelry she chose to stay local, and went to the same Buffalo-based jeweler that did her wedding ring. Jim’s wedding band, on the other hand, was a family heirloom – his grandfather wore it for his wedding at the very same church in 1906.
Skrip’s white suit may look like standard wedding attire, but there’s a story behind it. At the “Welcome to Buffalo” dinner, held to kick off the wedding weekend, the couple handed out postcards of their parents on their own wedding days, and in Williams’ parents’ wedding photo, her father is wearing an ivory dinner jacket with a white bow tie. “I said ‘Okay, we got to do this,’ ” Williams says. So Skrip “wore an ivory jacket so we could keep it traditional.”
For the reception, Williams wanted to transform Statler City, a wedding venue in Buffalo, into a piece of Egypt, where the couple met. Wedding planner Carla Measer-Costamagna did so with colorful flowers, lanterns, gold-and-white tents, belly dancers and drummers, plus hummus, pita and olives to snack on.
Yes, the actual wedding took place at St. Stanislaus, but the couple recited their vows in the ballroom at the Statler, with Williams’ brother, Chris Williams, officiating. He wasn’t the only family member involved: Skrip’s two brothers gave toasts, as did Williams’ mother.
Wilhelmina Slater was known for her icy demeanor on Ugly Betty, but as her co-stars’ attendance at her wedding shows, Williams IRL is anything but! The reception had two Ugly Betty tables (one of them, with guests including co-stars Ana Ortiz and Mark Indelicato, seen here). On top of her Betty pals, she also invited friends from her days on Broadway, as well as a number of other industry friends. She says: “I could’ve probably invited another 100 more but we just couldn’t fit any more!”
The singer had a few of her Broadway buddies croon “Creole Love Call,” Skrip’s favorite song from the musical After Midnight, in which Williams starred last year. “When they finished their performances, Vanessa and I went up on stage to thank them,” Skrip says. “Unbeknownst to me, she headed for the microphone and sang a song she wrote for me. Truly a surprise!” First, she performed “Bill” from the musical Show Boat, singing it as “Jim.” To top it off, she wrote her own tune, “My Jim,” and garnered tons of laughs after she mentioned his flip phone use (still!) in song. “Everybody thought it was hilarious because it nailed his personality,” she says.
The textured gold four-tier wedding cake, created by Muscoreil’s Fine Desserts in Buffalo, contained double dark chocolate with a layer of ganache, chocolate chantilly cream and fresh strawberries. Guests also sunk their teeth into gold crowned cupcakes and individually piped cookie hearts. The custom desserts, Muscoreil tells PEOPLE, took about 15 hours to make.