Vanessa Williams didn’t follow a traditional bridal dress code for her July 4th wedding to Jim Skrip.
Instead, the actress wore two custom designs by Carmen Marc Valvo for her big day, a sleek skirt and top combo for the ceremony and a gown covered in gold leather petals for the reception.
“It almost looks like it’s metal, but they’re little petals made out of leather [sewed] on top of organza,” Williams tells PEOPLE exclusively of the ivory design she wore for her first dance with her new husband. “It was magnificent. I felt like an Egyptian goddess and that was exactly the theme I was going for.”
Williams met Skrip in Egypt, so it was important to the actress to celebrate that memory throughout the day. The couple, both 52, got married in Buffalo, New York — another locale that has meaning to them, since Skrip is from there and so is Williams’s mother.
As for her beauty look, Williams says that, unlike most brides, she opted for a look that’s not typical for her. Her makeup artist Sam Fine gave her a bold blue smoky eye.
“Honestly, when I saw Vanessa walking down the aisle, I didn’t even notice her dress. We locked eyes and I got caught up in the moment, full of happiness and joy,” he tells PEOPLE. “When I finally noticed the dress, it was perfect for Vanessa: sleek, simple and sexy. She then had another surprise for me: she did a quick change into another beautiful gown for the vows ceremony. She was stunning!”