Alexa Williams and Cortez Settles’ West Bloomfield wedding pays homage to the couple’s hip-hop hero, Kanye West. They share details from their timeless and memorable day.
By Leena Rao
Photography by Evan Davies
Kanye West is an unlikely matchmaker, but it was the rapper who brought Cortez Settles to his soulmate, Alexa Williams. “He’s outspoken and authentic,” says Settles, a 30-year-old outreach coordinator for Detroit’s Department of Elections. “A true trendsetter, just like us.”
Settles met Williams — a 25-year-old healthcare administrator at Beaumont Hospital and the owner of organization company Glamorous Planning — through a mutual friend. Their first encounter: a blind breakfast date at the International House of Pancakes in Southfield. For Settles, the setup was clinched when his friend told him about Williams’ taste in music. “My friend said she’d never met anyone who loved Kanye as much as I do,” he says.
The duo found that beyond their mutual love of Kanye, they shared a passion for travel and discovering new experiences abroad. Within the first few months of dating, Settles and Williams traveled to Chicago — a test of Settles’ hypothesis that true chemistry means being trapped in a car together for four hours. Their next big adventure was a two-week jaunt to Italy. So when Settles decided to propose, it was only appropriate he planned to pop the question during a trip to Paris in 2017. Keeping the secret from Williams was, he says, “the most challenging moment of my life.”
The couple, who live in Detroit, knew they wanted a fall wedding because they love the season’s natural beauty. They were sold on a venue after visiting Planterra Conservatory, a botanical garden and event space in West Bloomfield.
To complement the beauty of the gardens, Williams worked with Planterra to choose white florals for the ceremony and luscious blush-and-burgundy-rose centerpieces for the reception. She wore a simple, sleek white gown with a train and cathedral veil from L’Amour Bridal in Farmington Hills. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Settles took inspiration from Kanye for his wedding attire — he sported a custom tuxedo modeled on one the rapper wore in his 2010 “Runaway” video. (Settles went all the way to Texas to find a tailor who could actually replicate the tux.) The jacket was white with black lapels; black pants and Gucci loafers completed the look.
Williams and Settles say their families were central to making the day perfect. Williams’ grandmother and Settles’ mother signed the couple’s marriage license at the ceremony, and they had an empty chair with a single rose on it to honor Williams’ late grandfather.
For Williams, it was also important to include Settles’ 8-year-old daughter, Linda, in the ceremony. Linda stood alongside Settles and Williams as the three of them each recited their own vows to one another. “Being that I don’t have children of my own yet, Linda has taught me so much about motherhood and myself,” says Williams. For Settles, seeing his daughter and new bride side by side was incredibly emotional. “There wasn’t a dry eye during the ceremony,” adds Williams.
Post-ceremony, 100 guests cheered the newlyweds on as they were whisked away in a car from Motor City Vintage Rentals and taken to a separate part of the venue to celebrate with Champagne. Eventually they rejoined the crowed to sip on signature cocktails (like “the Settle,” which included the couple’s favorite liquor, Crown Royal whisky, plus blueberry and lemonade) and dine on roasted chicken and vegetables.
Throughout the evening, Settles and Williams kept reflecting on advice they heard prior to the wedding. “Someone told us, ‘Don’t forget that the wedding is for [you] and that it shouldn’t be a job,’” recalls Settles. “We embraced every moment. We celebrated ourselves in the company of others.”
A highlight of the night was when the DJ threw on a five-song tribute to — who else? — the couple’s favorite rapper. It included tunes like “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” and “Good Life” and brought every guest to the dance floor. “It was the best party I’ve ever been to,” says Williams. Adds Settles, “There wasn’t one photo where everyone in the picture wasn’t smiling or laughing.”