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Yandy Smith-Harris and Mendeecees Harris’ decision to recommit to each other comes from a place of deep meaning.
The two Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta stars renewed their vows on May 24 at Bab Al Shams Desert Resort – Dubai. The ceremony, airing on the VH1 hit’s Monday episode, was attended by about 60 people, including some of the couple’s family, friends and castmates. (All guests in attendance were tested for COVID-19 ahead of the event.)
Yandy, 39, and Mendeecees, 42, had originally intended to travel to Dubai as a late honeymoon celebration. But with Mendeecees surprise re-proposal, the couple decided to make the trip a family affair while still celebrating their love.
“When we got married the first time, when we vowed that we would be together through thick and thin, we were literally walking in through some big times,” Yandy tells PEOPLE exclusively. “We had a lot of pressure on us. We had a lot of things over our head that — although we love each other — it was [a] really, really emotional time for us [and] for our family.”
The couple just “wanted to walk into the next six years or 20 years, 50 years, free and clear of all that was over our heads before,” she adds.
When it came down to their vows, Mendeecees says he opted to “say something real short but effective” while Yandy jokes that she “probably talked way too long but it was what was in my heart.”
The international affair, featuring decor done by Ayanna Stephens of Designs by Ayanna, was planned in a mere few weeks. Compared to their “amazing” 2015 wedding, the twosome wanted to scale things down. For reference, the original ceremony was soaked in extravagance, featuring dripping diamonds and over $100,000 worth of flowers.
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“I wanted it just to be us, one with nature, and just us committing to each other. And we literally stripped all of that stuff away,” Yandy says, noting that it was “beautiful.”
Yandy and Mendeecees worked with a U.S.-based wedding planner and a planner out of Dubai. Through that process, it was important for the pair to respectfully incorporate some of the country’s culture into their wedding, which can even be seen in the dresses Yandy ultimately chose to wear.
Yandy’s ceremony dress was a Swarovski crystal-embellished rose gold gown with a detachable Swarovski-encrusted overskirt and a 15-foot train. For the reception, she wore a silk satin ivory white mermaid gown with a corseted bodice embellished with gold Swarovski crystals. Both dresses were designed by Nneka C. Alexander of Brides by Nona Couture Atelier.
Jakeem C. Smith/Rocketpwer
Mendeecees, for his part, wore Eaden Myles‘ Crowned King II suit made of Egyptian cotton.
The duo prepped their faces using products from Yandy’s Yelle Skincare brand, which she says “played a big part” on their special day. Bryant Jamison handled hairstyling, makeup was done by Jonathan Fernandez, and styling was completed by Vladimyr Pierre-Louis of Vlad + Mia. Moments from their special day were captured by M.Renee Photography and Marissa Farrow.
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Things ultimately turned out smoothly in the end.
“Anything that even could have been a problem turned out to be amazing,” Yandy says. “It was just a blessed day.”
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Now, Yandy and Mendeecees are ready to continue focusing on the growth of their relationship. In fact, one thing that has strengthened them over the years is understanding that their love story isn’t “perfect.”
“I think that we really love each other, and we both want this to work. So we’re both willing to put the work in. And I say put the work in, [I mean] every day put the work in,” Mendeecees says. “So of course, like normal couples, we agree and disagree. But the best thing about that is outside the agreeing and disagreeing, we respect each other.”
Love & Hip-Hop: Atlanta airs on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on VH1.