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Joy Bernard & Ernest Mayfield III

One of many ivory arrangements by Darryl & Co.

Festive favors.

The newlyweds ring in the New Year.

Program with dahlia detailing by Renee Rodriguez Designs.

A flower-filled table for 10.

Four tiers of buttercream with cascading orchids by Susie’s Cakes.

Going the Distance

Joy Bernard & Ernest Mayfield III December 31, 2011

A teenage crush blossoms into a grown-up, global love story that conquers all—even a continental divide.

Planning a wedding can be stressful for anyone, but imagine choreographing a Houston fête for 200—while living on another continent.

That was Joy Bernard, 37, who lived in London in the months leading to her New Year’s Eve nuptials. As if that wasn’t challenging enough, her fiancé, Major Ernie Mayfield III, 34, happened to be stationed with the U.S. Air Force in Las Vegas.

To say there was a time-zone difference is an understatement. “A lot of brides and grooms probably fight about colors and things like that, but at least they’re in the same room,” says Bernard, a Texas A&M grad who worked in British Petroleum’s shipping department at the time. “We were on Skype or FaceTime, trying to figure things out.”

Though they only dated a year before Mayfield (an Air Force Academy alum)proposed in South Africa, the two have a life-long history. He happens to be the younger brother of Bernard’s best friend, Courtney—and they all grew up in Beaumont.

“For years, I was a guy that had a crush on a girl who I saw periodically,” Mayfield said in his reception toast, captured by Jeff Brouillet Films. “We had these little moments that we would talk and flirt and for many, many years, that’s all I had—little moments with a girl I was secretly in love with.”

It wasn’t until a mutual friend’s party in 2009 that things took a turn. Mayfield, still living in Las Vegas, asked his crush on a date and within weeks, they were an item. Little did they know that their long-distance courtship would really be put to the test when, a few months later, Bernard was transferred overseas.

Still, the pair made it work, racking up air miles while traveling the globe and, in September 2010, Mayfield popped the question atop a cliff in Cape Town.

The wedding date was a no-brainer. “I’ve always thought of New Year’s Eve as a romantic holiday,” Bernard says. “The midnight kiss, a fresh start, out with the old, in with the new.”

They tapped Danyett Baxter of Two Be Wed to bring together their “Midnight-and-Champagne” vision at the Four Seasons Hotel.

On the big day, the bride wore an ivory ball gown with crystal beading and a dramatic side sash with the diamond solitaire necklace her groom presented her that day. Blue satin Kurt Geiger pumps polished the ensemble and complemented Mayfield’s formal blues.

After saying “I do,” the newlyweds exited the historic All Saints Catholic Church under a saber arch. They kicked off the festivities with help from Darryl & Co. designer Scott Konitzer, who transformed the ballroom into a shimmering sanctuary of crystal candelabras, golden chargers and mirrored tables with towering centerpieces and a sea of tea lights.

Before midnight, the bride slipped into a one-shoulder mermaid gown as groom and groomsmen revealed “party” shirts, Baxter says. “It was so fun when they took off their jackets.”

Revelers rang in 2012 with a countdown, confetti launch and indoor fireworks by Texas Lite and Pyro while Cesar Gil of Unique Style Productions kept the dance floor packed until 2am. After sharing late-night tacos with guests, the couple retired to their suite, basking in their new life and a new year—the one that put distance behind them. Happy, indeed.